Invading Loggers And Ranches, The Indigenous Amazon Warriors


Xikrin individuals bring it in their own hands under the threat of fire, deforestation and bolsonaro.

The Xikrin individuals from the northern Amazon are threatened by fire, deforestation and invasion.

While the authorities remain idle and the President of Brazil, Mr Jair Bolsonaro, is trying to undermine their territorial rights, the indigenous community has dealt with things by expelling the loggers and ranchers who illegally occupied their territory and set fire in the forest.

In the past week groups of Xikrin warriors armed with rifle and wooden batons have swept through their extensive area in Pará State. Whenever they met fire-scarred soil, illegal clearance and homes, they walked from hut to hut, expelled the invaders and seized chainsaws and other instruments.

The warriors felt empowered at the end of the 40 km expedition. They returned to their homes in the village of Rapkô in a war ritual. They showed portable videos of the raid carried out on intruders ‘ cottages when their families were collected.

“Why do we protect our country? We could hunt, therefore. Our children and grandchildren can live well there,” said one of the oldest warriors, Tikiri Xikrin, at a ceremony in which the group returns safely. “The kuben will only take over the territory if I die.”

Under law, the federal police should do this. In 2000 the government officially recognized the 1,651,000 hectare Trincheira Bacajá indigenous territory. No one except the 1100 Xikrin Community members is entitled to live on this.

But the elders understand that the Government has little hope of exercising its rights. In June of last year the landgrabers first began to crack in the region, using a rough highway, which illegal loggers have cut into the forest. A number of occasions, but in vain, Xikrin has lodged complaints with formal organizations.

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Last month, the slow deforestation trickle turned into a Amazonian flood, which grew by 278% compared to last year. The allegedly protected territory of the Xikrin was one of the worst affected regions. According to the autonomous Imazon surveillance team, land grabbers rased a forest area in July that is 1,500 football pitches in their area.

There are many issues, but Bolsonaro worsened stuff. Instead of protecting territories against crime, critics constantly claim that in his speeches and in his policies he undermines indigenous people. The nationalist president claimed the indigenous groups had used the interest of foreign countries to restrict Brazil’s development during a conversation with the governors of the Amazon region on 27 August.

Bolsonaro recently added: “[ Indian peoples ] don’t talk our language, but in some sense have managed to gain 14 per cent of our domestic land,” adding, “One of the goals is for us to be affected.”

Bekara Xikrin, village head of Rapkô, said the president encouraged the land grabbers. “One man[ among the invaders] has told us that this is a land that is freely available, that Bolsonaro has given it access, that this is not an aboriginal area.” Bekara gave him the short shrift.  “I informed him: this native individual does not want any assistance, the ancient warriors do not want any assistance. There is no permission for deforestation, “he said.

The activities of the Xikrin self-defense have not frightened the tombists. One of these warned that nearly 300 people were preparing an attack on a neighboring Indigenous Village in an audio message circulated by WhatsApp.

Thais Santi, the region’s federal prosecutor, officially demanded police action on 26 August, to avoid violence. She told me that a 24-hour operation had to take place, but nothing happened two days later.

“It is widespread public negligence to handle the case of Trincheira Bacajá,” said Santi. “Claims against their land occupation were registered by Xikrin. The invasion has spread as the police were unable to act in time.

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There is comparable pressure on many other indigenous lands in the Xingu region. The hydroelectric dam of Belo Monte, which led to an influx of businessmen and workers, opened this basin–one of the largest in the Amazon. The town of Altamira is now the first to have fire outbreaks in Brazil.

According to the Brazilian national space research institute, Inpe, a municipality encountered 2.566 blazes from 1 January to 26 August, a 459 percent rise compared to the same period last year.

The Trincheira neighborhood is the indigenous area of the Appytereva individuals of Parakanã, who suffered from a major invasion by livestock farmers. 28 square kilometers was deforested in the area in July, the largest in the area in Imazon that month.

Apyterewa shows how Bolsonaro predates federal inaction. The Federal Supreme Court (STF) decided in 2015 that hundreds of invaders be evicted, but the decision was not implemented four years later. Actually, there have been increased land grabbers.

Nine square kilometers of forest were lost in the same area last month. According to Imazon, the last three indigenous lands in Brazil have been the worst affected.

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The Xikrin’s pressure comes primarily from animal agriculture. Bolsonaro is strongly supported by the cattle farming sector. The town of São Félix do Xingu with the biggest herd in the nation was not far from their land and in 2017 it numbers 2.24 million. Nobody in the Amazon has a degraded grassland of-286,000 hectares, as the agricultural and livestock study organization shows in 2014. “It indicates the deforestation of a large area and the misuse of that area,” Imazon researcher Paulo Barreto says.

Now the Xikrin struggle to avoid experiencing the same destiny on their land. The guerrillas claim they are proud of their actions to protect it, even though a dark realization that they can now face a counterattack has replaced the original feeling of jubilization.

Tikiri Xikrin had a dick in his hands and was distrustful: “Those white invaders don’t scare me. I got bravery. We got bravery. We’ll combat if the Kuben begins a war.

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About the Author: Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on the Guardian's Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: