The quilombola community of Conceicao das Crioulas is located in the municipality of Salgueiro, in the central interior of Pernambuco, 550 km from Recife. It has about 750 families and its main economic activities are family farming, ranching and small-scale production in natural fibers, straw and clay. Local people has been fighting for many years for recognition of their territory that has been occupied by large scale farmers for a long time.
The settlement of the Salgueiro region dates back to the 18th century. Until that time it was inhabited by indigenous Cariri. With the conquest of the indigenous territory by Portuguese settlers led by Antonio da Cruz, the region was occupied by cattle ranching farms and cotton plantations. According to the oral memory of the community, Conceicao das Crioulas was founded by six freedom creoles who arrived at the site by fugitive slave Francisco Jose de Sa, which began to occupy land near the remaining villages of Atikum Indians. Working as cotton spinners, the former slaves purchased the land they occupied and built a chapel in honour of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao, giving the current name to the community.
However, the lands of the community continued to be occupied by farmers, causing the community to lose possession of part of its territory. This situation has worsened over the years. From 1987 onwards, the members of the community began to organize to demand that the State recognize their right over the land and expell the invaders of their territory. Titling of the land took place on July 14, 2000 through the Fundacao Cultural Palmares (FCP), however the land remained occupied by farmers.
In 2003, the Instituto Nacional de Colonizacao e Reforma Agraria (INCRA) became the responsible institution for the federal policy of recognition of quilombola territories. In 2004, INCRA began to revise the limits and the legal status of the lands of the community of Conceicao das Crioulas. From then on, the quilombolas were threatened with death by farmers who owned land in the area under study by INCRA. The complaints were forwarded to the Federal Ministerio Publico Federal (MPF) and in retaliation the Associacao Quilombola de Conceicao das Crioulas headquarters was set on fire.
In 2006, the quilombolas occupied the Fazenda Velha to press the State to regulate its territory. New arsons were caused on the site, destroying the home of quilombola Bartolomeu Dias de Paula.
Since 2011, the quilombolas have achieved important victories, when the sites Jurema, Chapada and the Fazenda Velha were expropriated and became officially the territory of the community, totalling an area of about 900 hectares. From that recognition, the community was able to access public funds to take advantage of a number of policies in the community, the most important of these was the signing of an agreement with the municipality of Salgueiro and the Government of the State of Pernambuco to ensure community access to water.