Belo Monte :
Chief Raoni's petition

Now 502905 signatures.


Brazilian Indians fighting for right to repossess Indian museum of their heritage

Brazilian Indians fighting for right to repossess Indian museum of their heritage

Source :
Indians in Brazil recently participated in a public hearing on Saturday with Federal Judge Wilson Witzel, at the headquarters of the Federal Court, regarding the issue of being allowed to stay on historical museum property adjacent to the Village Maracana.

The judge had said the Indians could not stay on the property adjacent to the Village Maracanã. This decision was made following an inspection carried out on site ordered by Judge Witzel.

It all started this past Friday, when 21 Indians and about 40 protesters entered the Indian Museum, in Botafogo, and refused to leave after closing. According to the leader of the Indians, Urutau, whose ethnicity is Guajajara, the group went there to ask for the support of the museum's director, José Carlos Levinho, to give the museum back to the Maracana Village.

Given the absence of the museum director,Levinho, the Indians and supporters decided to stay inside the property. Federias police battalions and Shock and Special Operations (BOPE) were deployed after a complaint from people living near the museum. The Rua das Palmeiras museum had been closed for four hours.

The outcome of the actions by the group, after 15 hours of occupation, was mediated by Federal Judge Joseph Wilson Witzel, who had ordered the arrest of the protesters, but then withdrew it after an agreement was reached to vacate the space. The group was taken to the headquarters of the Federal Court in two buses around 7:30 pm. The judge called a representative (Funai) and a prosecutor's MPF for a conciliation public hearing.

A conciliation hearing was held in the presence of the prosecutrix Marylucy Santiago Barra Funai and ombudsman Paulo Celso de Oliveira, who came from Brasilia to the negotiation. The lawyer for the Indians, André de Paula, highly praised the work and interests of the cause of the indigenous magistrate. On Saturday morning, the lawyer presented the headquarters of the National Agricultural Laboratory (LANAGRO), on the grounds of the Village Maracanã as alternative housing for the Indians.

With the lack of alternatives proposed by Funai, Judge Witzel ruled for an inspection by the offices of LANAGRO, which was celebrated with applause and cheers by the audience. After the inspection was carried out around 1:30 pm, the magistrate found that the site does not provide safe conditions for the indigenous people and then returned to the headquarters of the Federal Court for a rehearing behind closed doors.

After more than seven hours of negotiations at the headquarters of the Federal Court and the offer by the National Indian Foundation (Funai) of hosting for four days in a hostel in Glory, 21 indigenous people - including two children - left the court at the end of the afternoon, without accepting any deal. The group had come from the Maracana Village on Saturday afternoon after the violent clash on Friday, at the Indian Museum, in Botafogo. The Indians also did not want to go to an accommodation offered by the state government in Jacarepaguá.

Outraged by the offer of the Funai of being hosted in a hostel, Indian Guajajara Marcia announced at the door of the Federal Court. "We are not negotiating hosting. We want to preserve a historical center. Nor do we want to go Jacarepaguá. We will not be hidden away. We want to show our culture, stay in a location with visibility - and protest."

Since the negotiations with the Indians, Federal Judge Witzel has adopted a more conciliatory tone. The magistrate even opened his office for the group at around 8 am. Feeling more affable, he hugged the daughter of one of the natives, Sarri, who is only 2 years. The liittle girl stole the attention by playing with the cameras of photographers and the judge. The group was even served a breakfast.

Judge Witzel, who has since become sympathetic to the cause of the Indians, has pledged to personally report to Federal judge Marcus Abraham his impressions of the situation experienced by the Indians and the importance of preserving indigenous monument located in the village of Maracanã, to which he referred as fundamental. The order for the removal of the Indians from the old museum is under the jurisdiction of Judge Abraham.

Judge Witzel concluded, "Unfortunately this is not under my jurisdiction, but surely it will be in the capable hands of the magistrates TRF, who have great moral and intellectual capacity to find the best solution."

The leader of the indigenous, Urutau Guajajara, said the only solution that will be accepted by the group is repossession of the museum to the Village Maracanã. He noted that the meeting with members of FUNAI was something historic, early in the conciliation meeting. At the end of the meeting however, disappointed, he said the Funai does not represent them. "I'm not defending our home, but our heritage. That's my story and that of my ancestors are there. And our heritage is not for sale," said Urutau.

The ombudsman Funai, Paulo Celso de Oliveira, who is also of Indian Pancararu ethnicity, said that state's jurisdiction is to find an alternative to this issue. On Monday afternoon, the Indians plan to seek the support of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and participate in a meeting in the office of the lawyer representing the group to define the next steps of mobilization. They insist on returning to the old Indian Museum at Maracana.

© : original article

Date : 25/03/2013