Minority Rights Group International (MRG) Deputy Director, Claire Thomas, writes this opinion piece for the Thomson Reuters News Foundation.+ LEARN MORE
Nambiquara are located in the north-western region of Mato Grosso and are located in 10 villages along the Porto-Velho-Cuiabá highway. Nambiquara are known as Southern Nambikuara, Nambikuara do Sul and Nambikwara. They are primarily hunter gatherers.
In 1960 the BR-364 highway, part of the Polonoroeste project, was bulldozed straight through Nambiquara land, and the tribe was relocated to a small and arid reserve. The highway brought settlers who took over land for farming; logging and mining also intensified. In 1985 the remaining 1,200 Nambiquara, who were struggling to survive on this reserve where they suffered malnutrition and imported diseases such as typhoid and yellow fever, led protests against the invasion and the
proposed construction of a hydroelectric dam on their lands. In September 1993 the logging company Anilton Antonio Pompermayer was ordered to pay an indemnity of US$200,000 to a group of Nambiquara for illegal invasion and logging in their Guaporé reserve.
Nambiquara have conducted their own community census and their population is growing slightly. Medical and educational services are being offered with greater frequency throughout the community, but more support is still needed. The last indigenous census conducted by the Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI) in 2002, identified just over 1,300 Nambiquara. However, while the community as a whole has grown since then, many sub-groups within it have effectively disappeared. Other smaller communities, reduced in number, have effectively amalgamated with other populations.
Minorities and indigenous peoples in