Recognition of Indigenous Lands in Raposa Serra do Sol, Brazil

After decades of repression and struggle for their rights, the indigenous communities of Reposa Serra do Sol obtained the recognition of their territory in 2005. Still, the defense of their land and human rights remains a hot matter.


The indigenous people of Raposa Serra do Sol (the Makuxi, Wapichana, Tuarepang, Ingarik and Patamana communities) have fought for 30 years in order to restore and protect their rights to ancestral lands, threatened by fazendeiros and garimpeiros (cattle breeders, rice producers and gold hunters), who have exploited and occupied their lands for centuries.

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Basic Data
NameRecognition of Indigenous Lands in Raposa Serra do Sol, Brazil
SiteReposa Serra do Sol
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Military installations
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIndigenous leaders have been murdered since 1970 seeking for the recognition of their land. The deforestation occurred in these lands is of an equivalent of 22,000 hectares.

The Roraima State extension is of 22,411,800 hectares, out of which it is demarcated as indigenous territory an area of 10,311,679 hectares. The participation of indigenous territory in Reposa Serra do Sol is of a 7.8% while the indigenous population is of 46,309 out of 394,493 in Reposa Terra do Sol.

Today Raposa Serra do Sol Reserve is the second largest in Brazil in extension (1.7 million hectares) and the most populous with 17.000 inhabitants [3].
Project Area (in hectares)10,311,679
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date10/1970
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Brazil, Government of the Roraima State - Brazil, Ministy of Defense - Brazil, FUNAI (Brazil’s indigenous affairs department)
International and Financial InstitutionsInter- American Commission on Human Rights
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMakuxi Indigenous People - Brazil, Wapichana Indigenous People - Brazil, Tuarepang Indigenous People - Brazil, Ingariko Indigenous People - Brazil, Patamana Indigenous People - Brazil, Roraima Indigenous Council (CIR), Sociedade de Defesa dos Indígenas Unidos de Roraima (SODIUR), Rainforest Foundation
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
In 2010 it was reported that invading rice growers had left the indigenous demarcated land in Raposa/Serra do Sol, in Roraima, rice production had gone back.
Development of AlternativesTo accept the recognition of the single continous territory of the indigenous population fo Reposa Serra Do Sol and displace all of the non indigenous population out of that land, as well as their non indigenous practices that affect their lifestyles and the environment.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Even though the territory has been finally recognized, the environmental and social impacts have been too strong and not compensated.
Sources and Materials

Brazilian 1988 Constitution (art. 231) and previous Constitution:

Gold prospecting by a third party on indigenous lands is forbidden.

Law 6001

Decree in 2005 recognizing Reposa Serra Do Sol as a single continous territory, implying it is an autonomous indigenous territory

Supreme Court Decision on December 10th, 2008 confirm the decree from 2005


Amazzonia co yvy ore retama. Giulio Rizzo, 2006
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Terras Indígenas e Unidades de Conservação - O desafio das sobreposições
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Terra: Reforma agraria e direitos territoriais
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[1] CIR Denounces Military Maneuvers And Illegal Arrest in the Raposa/Serra do Sol Indigenous Land, Cimi, News Letters n°490, 2001
[click to view]

Amazonia Um Brasil a parte. Edgard Santos, Taba Cultural, 2003

La freccia e il fucile L'Amazzonia nelle mire della globalizzazione. Zaccaria Silvia, EMI, 2003

General Assembly of the Tuxaua, organized by the Indigenous Council of Roraima, 2002
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Uiramutã village resists threats of the Army, Cimi, New letters n°503, 2002
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[6] Tuxauas General Assembly, 2002 (in italian)
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[3] Illegal mining on the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous land (RR), CETEM
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[2] Formal Request to Initiate Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures To Avoid Immediate and Irreparable Harm To the Indigenous Peoples of Raposa Serra Do Sol, Brazil, And Follow-Up on Brazil’s State Party Report, 22/06/2006
[click to view]


Povos indigenas no Brasil
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Sem fazendeiros, produção de arroz na Raposa/Serra do Sol retrocede a patamar de oito anos atrás, 05/05/2010
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Índios da Raposa Serra do Sol, Survival
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Riconoscimento terre indigene – Raposa Serra do Sol, CDCA
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[4] Direitos são garantidos para povos da Terra Indígena Raposa Serra do Sol, Maurício Hashizume, 25/10/2013
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Projeto Calha Norte (in Portuguese)
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[5] Não a PEC 215! Proposed change to Brazil’s constitution would leave indigenous peoples “in the hands of the multinational corporations”, C. Lang, 15/07/2015
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Other Documents

Commemoration of the 2009 Supreme Court decision Barro, Raposa Serra do Sol, 2013, ReporterBrasil, Maurício Hashizume
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorLucie Greyl and Camila Rolando Mazzuca
Last update18/01/2016