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Courts Put a Stop to Work on Dam That Would Affect Sacred Indigenous Areas

Courts Put a Stop to Work on Dam That Would Affect Sacred Indigenous Areas

Planned to be built near indigenous land, the dam will flood places that are considered untouchable by the indigenous

Source : Folha de S.Paulo
The Brazilian justice system ordered work suspended on the São Manoel hydroelectric dam, on the Teles Pires River, which sits on the border between Pará and Mato Grosso - in an area of the Amazon forest - that could affect "villages of the spirits" of the Kaiabi indigenous tribe.

Inhabited by mythological characters for at least two centuries, they are located in areas about to be affected by the dam, which has an estimated value of more than US$ 763 million.

Planned to be built just 700 meters away from indigenous land where 900 Kaiabi and another 8,000 Munduruku live, the dam will flood places that, although outside the demarcated areas, are considered untouchable by the indigenous.

Both the Monkey Hill and the Seven Falls waterfall would disappear due to the construction of the dam.

"This network of spiritual communication involving hills and waterfalls is a fundamental aspect of indigenous cosmographies [descriptions of the world] and works in the territorial claim," says anthropologist Frederico César Barbosa de Oliveira, whose doctoral thesis is on the Kaiabi.

He says the spiritual network is part of the intangible heritage of the indigenous, which "is very difficult for government technicians to measure" and ends up being disregarded.

For the Federal Public Ministry, there is a risk of genocide and the indigenous were not consulted.

For the government, São Manoel does not interfere with indigenous territories because it will lie outside of them.

The Union also said that the indigenous had "the opportunity to learn about the project, to speak and influence the process."

© Folha de S.Paulo - translated from portugese by Jill Langlois / original article

Date : 30/01/2015