Resistance of Indigenous Peoples to the Covid-19 virus in the context of the Pandemic | Land Portal

We represent around five percent of the population of humanity, but we preserve around eighty-two percent of the world's biodiversity. We have a very important role in thinking about sustaining the life of the planet and this responsibility has fallen on us. We believe that if we do exactly with our way of life the protection of all humanity, it is also important that humanity guarantees the life of our people from the territory. When the territory dies, two deaths occur, his and our identity's, because the living body remains, but the tradition dies. A society without indigenous peoples will know the consequences of climate change. It will feel fever, but it will not have the cure. To think about the preservation of the cerrado, of socio-biodiversity is to think about being a guardian for the healing of the planet.
Midwives for me are the first doctors, but today there is a big impact because women are going to the hospital and this has created consequences on the bodies of Xakriabá women. They have been very sick because the care they received from midwives was different. Many fatalities have happened due to the lack of care and protection of midwives. They are in charge of the gestation, birth, and postpartum care. The uterus of Xacriabá women has also become ill due to the change in their diet. After the year 2002, with the arrival of electric energy and food with high amounts of hormone, the uterus of our women became sick. Just as the earth gets sick, so does the women's womb, because we have this connection of this part of our body with the earth. For this reason Xacriabá midwives are important, because they observe women who will have difficulty having children, if the birth will be difficult, if the child will be born from normal birth, or if it will be necessary to practice a cesarean section. It is a knowledge that goes beyond our way of thinking, this place of learning, because it is something born with them. Midwives do not become that, they are born with this knowledge, just like the birth of the science of a shaman.  
My greatest dream is to be able to sleep, to stay alive, because that is certainly our greatest gift.  When they deny the territory, they kidnap part of our dream and also kill our collective abode. Denying the territory, even if we remain alive, part of our body dies. For us the territory is branch, it is sacred, it is the other, it is seed. The territory is ancestral memory. It is to be an animal, to be a person, because only he who knows how to be an animal, a tree, a womb, a seed knows how to be a person. It is to be science, to see beyond, to cross the minds, but above all to cross the hearts.
We indigenous people are what the colonization could not kill and what the mining could not contaminate. The cerrado and we are what the soya didn't manage to poison. We and the indigenous cerrado remain firm because we resist monoculture. We are what every time they tried to bury us, our branches were strong, but above all our roots were deep and that is why they cannot bury the indigenous people, because we are cerrado, we are resistant and even the fire that burns the cerrado historically for agricultural expansion will never be able to burn the strength of our ancestry.
When the APIB (Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) had already published a note demanding a government action in view of this moment that we are experiencing, we indigenous peoples were already within a struggle against the municipalization of indigenous health since last year. One of the first measures taken by the current government, besides the transfer of the demarcation processes of the territory and FUNAI to the Ministry of Agriculture, was the threat of the municipalization of indigenous health, which removes the responsibility of a specific body, SESAI (Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health), and directs this issue to the municipalities that are unable to deal with the problem and are directly related to territorial conflicts. SESAI was created by a broad consultation process and at this time of the pandemic this threat is very serious because the indigenous peoples are not being guided by government measures. 

The indigenous populations initially reacted with fear in the face of this situation. We know that there is still no cure for this virus, but there is a humanitarian sensitivity and solidarity. However, this solidarity cannot be selective. When we spoke of the importance of staying at home, people did not understand that this has always been our struggle, that of guaranteeing our permanence in our home, of staying in the village. The reality is that when many people wanted to stay in their territory, the Brazilian state tried to loot their homes. In this way, many villages live under threat, trying to face simultaneously the pandemic and territorial conflicts. The leaderships have established monitoring measures closing the territories, but during the night we have no control of who enters and leaves the territory. 

For the Brazilian population this moment of viral respiratory crisis may be new, for the world this may be new, but for us indigenous peoples it is not. We already know this story, because we have been victims of mass exterminations, epidemics and also viral crises. The flu, the measles or the contaminated food have represented mass exterminations for our peoples. Brazil and the world have not ended in its entirety, but this pandemic represents for us a real threat. Thinking collectively about fighting the pandemic may be a novelty for the world, but for us it is not. For us it has represented a challenge because by living collectively, we are suddenly restricted to our practices of living together collectively, of sharing objects and utensils, as well as the food that is passed from hand to hand. 

We indigenous peoples are not part of the statistics either. When we talk about mortality rates, murders, or infant mortality, people say: 'it's becoming statistics. Most of the time, indigenous deaths don't even enter the statistics because of the lack of visibility of our territories. Last year in Minas Gerais, four children died from diarrhea deaths. In this sense, it is unimaginable to think that there are also many children who die from malnutrition. Pregnancy is not a disease, but many indigenous women have complications in childbirth, some lose the baby, others have complications as a result of the devaluation of the midwives' work. On some occasions, due to irresponsibilities that happen in the hospitals themselves, there are cases of indigenous women who have been compromised in the womb because the care staff left remains of the birth process in the women's bodies. 

In the first march of the indigenous women, organized last year, instead of a single working group to discuss the strengthening of SESAI, we indigenous women met and held a manifesto within SESAI in Brasilia. We believe that if it is not the right that guarantees the struggle, it is with much struggle that we will guarantee the right. Although we are five percent of humanity, we defend around eighty-two percent of the world's biodiversity. If people do not understand the importance of caring for indigenous peoples now, those who survive this crisis will have to face a second viral war of breath due to climate change. We had already conquered a great importance in this struggle, but if people do not take care of our peoples, they will have to face climate change by losing the world's largest oxygen balloon, which is us, indigenous peoples, who protect the planet's biodiversity. There have been action measures, such as fundraising, launched by the Internet due to the lack of support measures aimed at our peoples. 

At this moment we are making an effort not necessarily against time, but for the resumption of time, because the world has not stopped to have time. Time has stopped with the world and healing is not only located in science and laboratory research, but also in the activation of our principles of life.  Many people wonder how they are going to do it now with their work, school calendar and how they are going to face so many things they have lost, but it is important to understand that we are in a moment of retaking values. Maybe 2021 will be a year in which we begin to reinvent what was not experienced in 2020. If people go through all this without understanding this reflection about a radical change in our ways of life, then they will not be able to understand what is happening. More than staying at home, in the village or in the territory, the reflection is in staying in our first home, which is our body, so that we can reflect on the behavior of our being in the world. 


It is important to look at the indigenous territories in confronting the pandemic, because we do not have structures of laboratories, tests, materials or food to combat this virus. It is not only the pandemic that kills, because hunger, absence of the state, colonization, and agribusiness also kill, and we have no way of saying, at this moment, which of these violence is causing the deaths in our territories. We only know that these violent weapons kill at different speeds. 

Share this page