A Brazilian Indian leader at the forefront of his people’s struggle to reclaim their ancestral land has been assassinated. João Natalício Xukuru-Kariri was reportedly stabbed to death last month, outside his home. Seu João, as he was known, was heavily involved in the Xukuru-Kariri tribe’s campaign to live on their ancestral land, a right enshrined in Brazilian and international law.
Another Xukuru-Kariri leader told the Brazilian support group CIMI: “The region has a history of violence resulting from the land struggle. Seu João was a respected leader of our people.”
Land theft is the biggest problem the Xukuru-Kariri and other tribal peoples face. Around the world, industrialized society is stealing tribal lands in the pursuit of profit. But for tribal peoples, land is life. It fulfills all their material and spiritual needs.
Brazil’s Congress is currently debating a proposal to drastically weaken indigenous peoples’ land rights, which, if implemented, would be catastrophic for tribes nationwide and would further worsen their plight.