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Controversial blogger selected to represent indigenous peoples at UN Assembly

Offended by the government's choice to highlight indigenous blogger Ysani Kalapalo at the United Nations, 58 indigenous sub-communities in the Amazon have publicly expressed their disapproval of the chosen representative of Brazil's indigenous people.

Kalapalo comes from the Upper Xingu, a separate area within the same reserve to which the Kayapó belong. In a social media post on September 21, Kalapalo spoke out against Raoni Metuktire, the renowned Kayapo chief that has recently been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

"Raoni is the Chief of his village in the Lower Xingu" she tells her followers. "You can't speak on behalf of all the communities in the Xingu because the Xingu is divided into four parts: Upper Xingu, Lower Xingu, Middle Xingu and East Xingu.

However, a letter from the Association of the Indigenous Land of Xingu (ATIX) addressed to the public, states "the 16 communities of the Xingu Indigenous Territory reaffirm their right to decide upon their own system of governance that consists of each main chief of the Xingu communities. We do not accept the government's indication on our behalf of an indigenous representative without the consultation of those organizations and leaders that we recognise and support."

"The objective of the General Assembly of the United Nations is to unite leaders and members from 193 countries to discuss issues affecting all the planet's inhabitants. We do not accept the Brazilian government's intention to legitimise anti-indigenous policies before the General Assembly of the United Nations by using an indigenous figure to imply that all indigenous peoples in Brazil support its colonialist and ethnocidal policies."

The UN General Assembly meeting is taking place in New York today, September 23.

In recent months, the government has made it obvious that its intention is not in favour of integrating indigenous peoples into Brazilian society as the President says, but to unlock access to their demarcated lands. Ysani Kalapalo has been supporting the policies of Jair Bolsonaro under the guise of integrating her people in society.

There are many young indigenous people who are already integrated in Brazilian society however, yet who make the most of the opportunities in education made available to them by the Brazilian government not in order to distance themselves from their traditions but to defend them.

26 year old musician and member of the Raoni Institute, a local foundation run by the Kayapó and one of the letter's signatories, Matsi Waurá Txucarramãe described some of the actions he and his generation are taking to protect the country’s biodiversity from further degradation. “We are occupying universities and work spaces in order to explain to the public that our ancestors have a strong connection with nature and the importance of our people to maintain our territories in order to preserve the forests. We are fighting alongside the next non-indigenous generation because these are people who are preparing themselves now in order to be leaders in the future.”

Matsi advocates alongside his two sisters. One is undertaking a geography major at the Mato Grosso State University (UNEMAT) and is a nurse at the Indigenous Health Clinic and the other is a Muay Thai instructor in the town of Colíder.

While it will be convenient for the government to have all indigenous people living in cities and abandoning their traditions, according to Kenã Waurá Txucarramãe, "many indigenous youth make it to the city completely helpless and are particularly vulnerable to everything. I started the Mebengokrê Nyre Youth Movement with my sister to protect young indigenous people from the threats of alcohol and drugs and to show them that they're not alone. We come to the city in order to learn Portuguese so that we cannot be lied to, to protect our culture and learn to defend ourselves in society." Watch the full interview here.

80% of the planet's biodiversity lies within indigenous territories. It would seem that only by defending this culture can its extinction be prevented.

Source: Association of the Indigenous Land of Xingu (ATIX)

Related article in Portuguese.

#Amazon #politics #LatinAmerica #indigenous #nature #globalwarming #climatechange #SouthAmerica #conservation #MotherNature #Brazil #Deforestation #Raoni #indigenousrights

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