Xingu Reserve

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Xingu Reserve

Xingu Reserve (National Indian Park), a reserve for multiethnic indigenous peoples and national park is located in northern Mato Grosso along the Xingu River. The reserve was established in 1961 with two goals in mind: the preservation of flora and fauna for the distant future and the protection of endangered peoples more immediately. It was created by the Brazilian government on the advice of the Villas Bôas brothers. Within the reserve, non-indigeneous settlement, tourism, missionary activity, and commercial enterprise are illegal. The population in 1979 was estimated at 1,800 individuals, representing four language groups: Arawak, Carib, Gê, and Tupi. At establishment, the reserve encompassed 13,200 square miles. However, in 1971, after completion of the Transamazon Highway (BR 080), the reserve's boundaries were changed. Approximately 35 percent of the park was detached for commercial development. At the same time, new territory along the Ronuro, Batovi, and Culiseiu rivers increased the total area of the reserve to 18,000 square miles. This new land is poor-quality campo (a relatively dry savanna), partially occupied by cattle ranchers and unsuitable for habitation owing to a lack of game. While the operation of the reserve has received world acclaim (the Villas Boâs brothers were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize), the living conditions of the people within the reserve have engendered controversy even though they are acknowledged to be better than those of Brazil's indigenous in general. The international attention that the Xingu Reserve receives should not obscure endemic Brazilian problems regarding its original inhabitants pejoratively called "Indians."

See alsoBrazil, Geography; Indian Policy, Brazil.


Orlando Villas Boas, Xingu: The Indians, Their Myths (1973).

Robin Hanbury-Tenison, A Question of Survival for the Indians of Brazil (1973).

Carmen Junqueira, The Brazilian Indigenous Problem and Policy (1973).

Shelton H. Davis, Victims of the Miracle (1977).

                                        Michael J. Broyles