Urban Indian population grows in Brazil's poorest neighborhoods

An aerial view of a favela in Rio de Janiero. Photo from chensiyuan / Wikipedia

Forced out of their homelands by loggers, miners, farmers and drug traffickers, tribal members in Brazil are ending up in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro.

An estimated 22,000 tribal members live in favelas, as the slums are known in the Portuguese language. There they face other problems -- crime, gangs, poverty and discrimination.

"The word ‘Indian’ is synonymous with laziness and stupidity," Twry Pataxo, a member of the Pataxo Tribe who moved to Rio 15 years ago, told the Associated Press. "So if you’re living among strangers in a favela, where as long as you don’t dress like an Indian or act like an Indian you can pretty much blend in, why would you admit to being Indian?”

According to the AP, indigenous people make up 0.5 percent of the country's population. But nearly a quarter of them live in urban areas as they search for jobs and opportunity.

Get the Story:
Brazil’s indigenous seek out city, end up in slums (AP 9/16)

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