Xingu Forever Alive

Back to Resources
First published on
This resource has been tagged as a Letter

We, representatives of indigenous peoples, river bank dwellers, gatherers of forest products, family farmers, urban dwellers, social movements, and non-governmental organizations of the Xingu basin met in the Xingu Forever Alive encounter, in the city of Altamira, Pará state, Brazilian Amazon, between May 19 and 23, 2008 to discuss, recognize, and repudiate the threats to the river which is ours, and of which we are part, in order to reaffirm the type of development that we want for our region.

We who are the ancestral inhabitants of the Xingu Basin, whose course and whose tributaries we navigated to meet here, from where we catch the fish that nourish us, on the purity of whose water we depend on to be able to drink without worrying about getting sick, on the regime of whose floods and ebb we depend for our agriculture, whose forest products we collect, and which we pay reverence to and whose beauty and generosity we celebrate with every new day; our culture, our spirituality, and our survival are deeply rooted in the Xingu, and we depend on it for our existence.

We who have maintained and protected our forests and the natural resources of our territories in the midst of the destruction which has bled the Amazon feel that our dignity has been demeaned and that we have not been respected by the Brazilian Government and private dam-building groups planning dams on the Xingu and its tributaries, principally Belo Monte Dam. At no time have they asked us what we want for our future. At no time have they asked us what we think regarding the building of hydroelectric dams, and not even the indigenous people were consulted – a right guaranteed to them by law. Despite this fact, Belo Monte has been presented by the government as a done deal, even though its viability has been questioned.

We are aware that diverting the Xingu at its Big Bend will cause permanent flooding upstream, displacing thousands of river bank families and residents of the city of Altamira, affecting agriculture, extractivism, and biodiversity, and flooding our beaches. On the other hand, the dam would practically dry up more than 100 kilometers of the river, making navigation, fishing, and the use of water impossible for many communities, including various indigenous lands and reserves.

We are also concerned about the construction of Small Hydroelectric Dams (PCHs), on the rivers at the headwaters of the Xingu. Some have already been built and others have been authorized, without any evaluation of the impacts that these dams will cause to the 14 indigenous peoples living in the Xingu Indigenous Park. These dams profane their sacred sites and can destroy the fish which nourish them.

Therefore, we, Brazilian citizens, publicly communicate to our society and to our federal, state, and local government authorities our decision to defend our rights and those of our children and grandchildren to live with dignity, to keep our homes and our territories, our cultures and ways of life, honoring our ancestors as well who left us a healthy environment. We will not accept the construction of dams, large or small, on the Xingu and its tributaries, and we will continue fighting against the imposition of a development model which is socially unjust and environmentally destructive, and which today is represented by the increase in the illegal grabbing of public lands, by illegal logging operations, by clandestine gold mines which kill our rivers, and by the expansion of agricultural monocultures and extensive cattle ranching which cut down our forests.

We, who know the river at its every bend, wish to tell Brazilian society and to demand from public authorities the implementation of our development project for the region, which includes:

1. The creation of a forum bringing together the peoples of the basin in order to permit a permanent conversation regarding the future of our river, eventually creating a Xingu River Basin Committee;

2. The consolidation and effective protection of Conservation Units and Indigenous Lands and the investigation and legalization of land titles on public lands in the Xingu basin;

3. The immediate creation of the Middle Xingu Extractive Reserve;

4. The immediate demarcation of the Cachoeira Seca Indigenous Territory, and the fair resettlement of its non-indigenous inhabitants, as well as the removal of invaders of the Parakanã Indigenous Territory;

5. The taking of measures which effectively halt deforestation, including illegal logging and land grabbing;

6. Additional public policies providing incentives for sustainable extraction of forest products and support for family farming on an agroecological basis and which value and stimulate the commercialization of forest products;

7. Public policies capable of promoting the improvement and the installation of urban water and sewer treatment systems.

8. An increase in public policies to meet the demand for healthcare, education, transportation, and public safety, in a manner consistent with our reality;

9. Development of public policies which broaden and democratize social communication media;

10. More public policies for recuperation of gallery forests and areas degraded by ranching, logging, and mining;

11. Prohibiting the damming of the Xingu headwaters, as already took place with the construction of the Paranatinga II small dam on the Culuene River;

12. The effective protection of the great biodiversity corridor formed by the indigenous lands and conservation units of the Xingu.

We, who have protected our Xingu River do not accept the invisibility with which they wish to impose decisions upon us, nor the way we are treated with disdain by public officials. The way we are presenting ourselves to the country is through our dignity, the knowledge we have inherited, and the teachings by which we can transmit the respect that we demand.

This is our desire, this is our struggle. We want the Xingu forever alive.

Altamira, May 23, 2008.

Signed by:

Kayapó da Aldeia Kriny, Kayapó do Bacajá Xikrin, Kayapó de Las Casas, Kaiapó de Gorotire, Kayapó Kubenkrãkênh, Kayapó Moikarakó, Kayapõ Pykarãrãkre, Kayapó Kendjâm, Kayapó Kubenkàkre, Kayapó Kararaô, Kayapó Purure, Kayapó Tepore, Kayapó Nhàkin, Kayapo Bandjunkôre, Kayapó Krânhãpari, Kayapó Kawatire, Kayapó Kapot, Kayapó Metyktire, Kayapó Piaraçu, Kayapó Mekrãnoti, Kayapó Pykany, Kayapó da Aldeia Aukre, Kayapó da Aldeia Kokraimoro, Kayapo Bau, Kayapó Kikretum, Kayapó Kôkôkuêdja, Mrotidjam Xikrin, Potikrô Xikrin, Djudjekô Xikrin, Cateté Xikrin, Ôodja Xikrin, Parakanã da aldeia Apyterewa e Xingu, Akrãtikatejê, Parkatejê, Munduruku, Araweté, Kuruwaia, Xipaia, Asurini, Arara da aldeia Laranjal e Cachoeira Seca, Arara do Maia da terra Alta, Panará, Juruna do Km 17,Tembé, Kayabi, Yudja, Kuikuro, Nafukua, Kamaiurá, Kalapalo, Waurá, Trumai, Xavante, Ikpeng, Apinayé, Krahô, Associação das Mulheres Agricultoras do Assurini, Associação de Mulheres Agricultoras do Setor Gonzaga, Associação dos Moradores do Médio Xingu, Associação dos Moradores da Resex do Iriri ,Associação dos Moradores da Resex Riozinho do Anfrisio, AFP- Associação Floresta Protegida do povo Kayapó, Associação Indígena Kisedje – povo Kisedje (Parque Indígena Xingu), Associação Pró-Moradia do Parque Ipê, Associação Pró-Moradia do São Domingos, Associação Yakiô Panará – Povo Panará, Associação Yarikayu – povo Yudja (Parque Indígena Xingu), Articulação de Mulheres Paraenses, Articulação de Mulheres Brasileiras, ATIX – Associação Terra Indígena Xingu (Parque Indígena Xingu), CJP- Comissão de Justiça e Paz, Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI), Prelazia do Xingu, CPT- Comissão Pastoral da Terra, FAOR – Fórum da Amazônia Oriental, Federação de Assistência Social e Educacional (FASE), FETAGRI- Federação dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura Regional Altamira, Fórum de Direitos Humanos Dorothy Stang (FDHDS), Fórum Popular de Altamira, Fundação Elza Marques, Fundação Tocaia, Fundo DEMA, Grupo de Mulheres do Bairro Esperança, Grupo de Trabalho Amazônico Regional Altamira (GTA), IPAM- Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira (COIAB), MAB- Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragem, STTR-Altamira, Pastoral da Juventude, S.O.S. Vida, Sindicato das Domésticas de Altamira, Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Educação Pública do Pará – SINTEPP, Movimento de Mulheres Trabalhadoras de Altamira Campo e Cidade – MMTACC, Movimento de Mulheres do Campo e Cidade do Pará – MMCC, Movimento de Mulheres do Campo e Cidade Regional Transamazônica e Xingu, Fórum de Mulheres da Amazônia Paraense, SDDH- Sociedade Paraense dos Direitos Humanos, MNDH- Movimento Nacional dos Direitos Humanos, MMM- Movimento de Mulheres Maria Maria, SOS Corpo, Instituto Feminista para a Democracia, Instituto Socioambiental – ISA, Fundação Viver Produzir e Preservar (FVPP).

Supported by: 

Alternativa Verde (Peru), American Anthropological Association (USA), Amazon Watch (USA), Amigos da Terra Amazônia Brasileira (Brazil), Associação de Proteção ao Meio Ambiente – Cianorte/Paraná (Brazil), Associação Terra Laranjeiras (Brasil), Asociación Ambientalista Eco La Paz (Argentina), Asociación de Ecología Social de Costa Rica, Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation (Canada), Centre for Organisation Research & Education (Indigenous Peoples’ Centre for Policy and Human Rights in India’s Eastern Himalayan Territories), Center for Political Ecology (USA), Chile Sustentable, Coalición Ciudadana por Aisén Reserva de Vida (Chile), Convergencia de Movimientos de los Pueblos de las Américas (Mexico), Cultural Survival (USA), Ecologia e Ação (Brazil), Ecological Society of the Philippines, Ecosistemas (Chile), Environmental Defense (USA), Fundación Proteger (Argentina), Global Response (USA), Grupo Ecologista Cuña Pirú (Argentina), Heinrich Boell Foundation (Germany), Independent Platform against Nuclear Dangers (Austria), Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Brazil), Instituto Madeira Vivo (Brazil), International Accountability Project (USA), International Rivers (USA), Jubilee Kyushu on World Debt and Poverty (Japan), Living River Siam (Thailand), Matilija Coalition (USA), Movimiento de Ecociudadanos Venezolanos (Venezuela), Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos, Oilwatch Costa Rica, Oilwatch Mesoamerica, Otros Mundos, A.C./Chiapas (Mexico), Quatro Cantos do Mundo (Brazil), Probe International (Canada), Probioma (Bolivia), Rainforest Action Network (USA), Rainforest Foundation US, Rainforest Foundation Norway, Red de Organizaciones Sociales Encarnación-Itapua (Paraguay), River Basin Friends (India), Sierra Club Canada, Sierra Club USA, Sobrevivencia – Amigos de la Tierra Paraguay, Society for Threatened Peoples International (USA, Germany), Southern Ute Grassroots Organization (USA), Sunray Harvesters (India), Survival International (UK), Taller Ecologista de Rosário (Argentina), Urgewald (Germany), Water and Energy Users´ Federation (Nepal)