Different from the traditional idea of an indigenous village, the 'Aldeia Maracanã', as it is known here, is a village created and maintained by more than one Brazilian ethnic group. It is located inside and around an old ruined mansion, not far from Rio de Janeiro's city centre and just a few minutes away from the giant Maracanã football stadium. The property, an imperial house dated 1842, was home for important decisions for the Indigenous people in Brazil, but it had been completely abandoned for decades when the first Indians arrived, in the early 2000s.
The indians' arrival in the village is often described as an 'occupation' but 're-appropriation' is the term its residents and supporters prefer to use. After a failed attempt in 2004, the village was finally created in 2006 when there was a large number of Indians and supporters to occupy and maintain this important historical building and to struggle to prevent its demolition. It is currently considered a key reference point for other non-indigenous supporters – people who recognise the value of both material and immaterial traditions.
Today, the village no longer exists. The police, under Rio de Janeiro's government call, have violently evicted the Indians and their supporters. But it used to host an 'Indigenous Cultural Centre', that functioned as a meeting point for ethnic groups coming from different areas of Brazil and abroad, and the Indians were planning to see the building to becoming the first indigenous university in Brazil, to instruct everyone their languages, traditions, and so forth, and also to accommodate indigenous people from all parts of the country.
This video shows the house, the village and some of their residents and supporters views.
Naya (March 2013)
To find out more about the Aldeia Maracanã on my blog at LAB (Latin America Bureau): lab.org.uk/lab-nayas-blog
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