Wajãpi men in the northern Brazilian Amazon. Photo Fiona Watson / Survival

Death of Indigenous leader Emyra Wajãpi blamed on miners in Brazil

Emyra Wajãpi, a leader of the Wajãpi people in Brazil, was found dead last week and his community blames it on outsiders who have infiltrated their homelands in the Amazon.

Wajãpi, 68, was stabbed to death, according to news reports. Though no one is believed to have witnessed the attack, the Wajãpi Village Council issued a Portuguese-language statement attributing it to an "invasion" by outsiders, said to be gold miners.

“The president is responsible for this death,” Rodolfe Rodrigues, a Brazilian lawmaker, told The New York Times in reference to Jair Bolsonaro, who has encouraged the development and disestablishment of Indigenous lands, even ones that have been set aside as reserves like the one for the Wajãpi people.

President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, seated, with President Donald Trump of the United States. Photo: Alan Santos / PR

Following Wajãpi's death, the Wajãpi council said one of their villages was attacked by "armed non-Indians." Some residents fled to a nearby community and alerted authorities, according to news reports.

FUNAI, the National Indian Foundation, has since sent a team to the region to investigate, according to Portuguese-language news release. The agency is in charge of Indigenous policy in Brazil.

Jair Bolsonaro became president on January 1. He has "made many racist and offensive remarks about indigenous peoples in Brazil, over a long period of time," according to Survival, an international advocacy group.

“If I become President there will not be a centimeter more of indigenous land,” Bolsonaro said during his campaign in 2018.

Bolsonaro met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., on March 19. A statement from the White House did not disclose whether Indigenous issues were discussed but the two governments signed a letter of intent addressing "sustainable development of the Brazilian Amazon."

"Among the many parallels between their administrations, Bolsonaro and Trump are both taking extreme action to strip the hard-earned rights of indigenous peoples to the benefit of extractive industries and commercial farming," Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), one of the first two Native women in Congress, and Joênia Wapichana, the first Native woman in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, wrote in The Washington Post prior to the meeting.

"These policies present threats to our communities, the integrity of ecosystems on our lands and the stability of our climate," the lawmakers wrote.

The attack on Wajãpi homelands came as news organizations last week carried video footage of the Awa, an isolated group in the Amazon. Survival released the clip, which was filmed by a neighboring tribe, to highlight the dangers facing the community from loggers.

Read More on the Story
Miners Kill Indigenous Leader in Brazil During Invasion of Protected Land (The New York Times July 27, 2019)
Amazon gold miners invade indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed (The Guardian July 28, 2019)
Brazil's indigenous people: Miners kill one in invasion of protected reserve (BBC July 28, 2019)
Armed miners clash with indigenous tribe in Brazil, killing leader (UPI July 28, 2019)
Brazil miners kill tribal leader in Amazon land invasion (The Telegraph July 28, 2019)
Brazilian miners reportedly murder Amazonian tribal leader during land invasion (The Journal July 28, 2019)
Brazil investigates reported attack on indigenous village (The Associated Press July 28, 2019)

Survival - "Astonishing video of uncontacted Indians released as loggers close in"

News Coverage:
Footage shows isolated Amazon tribe threatened by loggers (CNN July 23,2019)
Video appears to show rare Brazilian tribe threatened by loggers (CBS News July 23,2019)
Video of uncontacted Amazon tribe highlights threat from illegal loggers (The Guardian July 22, 2019)

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