Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Figure 4.3. Guarani students at school on the Área Indígena Guarani do Krukutu, São
Paulo City, 2000.
A careful discussion about the identity, and location in time and space, of each one
of the 60 workshop participants brought into focus an interesting phenomenon: non-
Indigenous teachers heard, in many cases for the first time, reports from Indigenous
educators about the importance of mathematics for native Brazilians' autonomy and
self-determination. Sovereignty was a concept that most non-Indigenous teachers
had never heard of, while those familiar with the concept did not know how to
define it. Why does the legal history of “tribal sovereignty” start with colonialism?
Edevaldo Catuí, a Kaingang mathematics teacher at the Terra Indígena Vanuíre,
reminded everyone that Portugal, France, England, and other colonial regimes
explicitly based their sovereignty claims on religious doctrines decreed by the
Catholic Church, which had the power to grant titles to portions of Brazilian land
for purposes of Christian civilization of all “heathen” Brazilian Indians. “When
we measure our land,” he said, “we have to keep in mind that most of it was taken
away in the process of Western colonization.” The result of colonial assertions of
sovereignty was that Indigenous nations were legally stripped of their independent
status. Their existence was oftentimes not recognized at all and their lands treated
as terra nullius - legally “vacant” or “unowned.” In Brazil, Indigenous Peoples are
still declared to have a “right of occupancy” or “possession,” but not ownership
of their lands. The fundamental principle of the 1988 Constitution of the Federal
Republic of Brazil is that supreme legal authority over the lands and lives of its
original inhabitants lay outside Indigenous nations altogether. Article 26 of the UN
DRIP, however, claims that
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