Press release authored by Natalie Monsanto
We are proud to share our latest report: Indigenous Land Defenders of Brazil: In Memoriam (2019-2022). This report was produced in partnership with Cultural Survival and the University of California Digital Investigations Network (UCDIN), which comprises human rights digital investigation labs at the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center, the Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas at UC Santa Cruz, and the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA Law.
Indigenous Peoples in Brazil are engaged in the latest chapter of a centuries-long struggle to protect their ancestral lands from exploitation and abuse. Opposing them are the many actors seeking to separate Indigenous Peoples from their land; people who often portray Indigenous Peoples as barriers to their progress.
The first part of this report profiles thirteen Indigenous leaders and land defenders from seven regions in Brazil killed between 2019-2022, with some caught in the middle of intense environmental crises. The thirteen lives and deaths portrayed in this report are unfortunately only a small glimpse into the larger crisis of hundreds of killings of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, and reflect a deeper systemic issue. Organizations such as Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI) and Secretaria de Saúde Indígena (SESAI) report incredibly high numbers of deaths, including 795 killings during former president Bolsonaro's administration, with 180 killed in 2022 alone.
The second part includes additional information on the seven Brazilian states in which the defenders were killed. Taken together, the individual defender profiles and information about select regions starts to paint a picture of how and why these killings of Indigenous defenders have occurred. More importantly, it links each defender to their territory, acknowledging their interconnection. This part also details an additional six states that Cultural Survival has identified as emerging sites of concern for possible threats and targeting of Indigenous land defenders.
"The lives and deaths portrayed in this report are unfortunately only a small glimpse into the larger crisis of hundreds of killings and murders of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, and reflect a deeper systemic issue," our students wrote. We hope you spend some time with it. Huge thank you to UCDIN project leaders Sofia Kooner, Sylvanna Falcón, Ph.D., Jess Peake, and Sophie Lilinoe Grewell; and to Cultural Survival's Edson Krenak (Krenak/Nakanuk), Jess Cherofsky, and Natalia Jones Herrero for their generous collaboration on all aspects of this project.
UC Berkeley students who participated in this project were: Crystal Choi, Rosie Foulds, Lauren Good, Ana Linares-Montoya, Zaidie Long, Vyoma Raman, and Maddi Wong.