Photo: Evicting the tribal reserve (Exército Brasileiro)
The Brazilian government this week will begin evicting squatters from tribal reserve of the Awa, described by indigenous rights advocates Survival International as the world’s “most threatened tribe.”
The eviction of non-Indians, who have erected about 300 dwellings and other buildings on the reservation in the northern state of Maranhao, was ordered by a federal court, the Funai indigenous affairs agency said Monday.
Last Friday, the army began establishing its main base in the area in the town of Sao Joao do Caru, from where it will provide logistical support for the eviction process.
Starting this week, officials at the Justice Ministry will notify the non-Indians to abandon the reserve within 40 days and they will receive no indemnity for doing so.
After that period, people living illegally in the area who have not left voluntarily will be expelled by force and all the dwellings, fences or any other type of construction they have erected in the reserve will be destroyed.
The government will facilitate the settlement of small farmers in other productive zones in accord with its agrarian reform plan, the announcement says.
The Awa tribe has been known to Brazilian authorities only since the end of the 20th century.
Funai has verified the existence of about 400 Awa individuals, who are distributed across four reserves, but it is known that several other groups live in isolation, without any contact with outsiders.
“The Awa are one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes in Brazil and depend entirely on the rainforest. They have been finding it increasingly difficult to find game and are scared to go hunting for fear of encountering the armed loggers,” Survival International said Monday, welcoming the Brazilian government’s decision to evict the intruders.