In the context of a polarized reality, vaccination of the Akroá-Gamella, Tremembé da Raposa and Tremembé do Engenho, in the state of Maranhão, can be considered a winning process in the fight with the federal government. This is because the entire history of deterritorialization and violent conflicts that mark the existence of these peoples was not enough, they are now faced with the return of an old debate on the “criteria of Indianity” established by official indigenism. The current dispute arises because of plans and deliberations of indigenous policies put in place by the federal government, especially since the launch of the National Immunization Plan (PNI) [1] , in which the category of “indigenous people living in demarcated lands is established” village ”, and the publication of Resolution no. 4/2021 of FUNAI, in which legal criteria are created to know who is and who is not indigenous. [two]

We are a family owned and operated business.

We are a family owned and operated business.

As might be expected, indigenous movements, through their associations and supporters, vehemently criticized both the category of “villagers Indians” and the fact that the federal government once again deliberately intervened by imposing “criteria of Indianity ”, Despite the legal provisions in force, such as the 1988 Federal Constitution and International Conventions to which Brazil is a signatory, in particular ILO Convention 169. Secretary Francisco Gonçalves, of the State Secretariat for Human Rights and Popular Participation - SEDIHPOP, also spoke in a column published by a major newspaper in the state of Maranhão, contesting the criteria adopted by the PNI. [3] More recently, the STF minister, Luís Roberto Barroso, deliberated on the matter ensuring the right of indigenous people who live in cities and territories not demarcated and approved to be vaccinated as priority groups. This decision recognizes that the fourth version of the General Plan to Combat COVID-19 for Indigenous Peoples, remains generic and without sufficient technical elements, demonstrating “profound disarticulation on the part of the bodies involved” and, in turn, the inefficiency of the federal government in establish concrete and articulated measures to fight the pandemic. [4]

We are a family owned and operated business.

We are a family owned and operated business.

The decision also calls attention to the unconstitutionality of Resolution no. 4/2021 and FUNAI's “insistence” on establishing criteria for distinguishing between indigenous peoples, further affirming the unconventionality and violation of precautionary measures already established by the STF with regard to the fundamental criterion for the recognition of indigenous peoples, which is self-declaration.

We understand that in order to better understand the ballast of what is being called “villagers” and their interests, as well as the insistence on adopting “criteria of Indianity”, which Minister Barroso warns about, it is necessary to return to them historically, perceiving them as model of action and population management of the Brazilian State. It is not today that the question about who is or is not an “Indian” is asked. Since the European invasion in the Americas, questions of an administrative, political, legal and religious nature have sought to give meaning to indigenous existence. The first big question for Portuguese colonial policy was whether the indigenous people had a soul or not, whether or not they were human, whether or not they were fit for work, whether or not they were able to answer for their actions.

The answer came through the establishment of the villages. If we asked any Brazilian about the street to which this term refers, we would probably not have a statistical margin that would escape his connection with the indigenous people. The term village is intrinsically linked in Brazil to indigenous populations. This seems clear because of the model of action practiced since the first Catholic missions in the Americas in the 16th century. The village was a practice instituted by the Jesuits to catechize the indigenous people, to control the territories of interest to the Crown and to insert the indigenous people into the servile labor system. Controlling indigenous souls and bodies has been the ideal pursued since the colonial period. Settlers and Jesuits vied for control of the indigenous labor available in the villages. However, it was not long before the yearning to promote the annihilation of the settlements, consequently of the indigenous people to occupy the lands where they lived.

A few centuries later and the spoliation and occupation of indigenous territories was confirmed, the republican period - mainly with the creation of the Indian Protection Service (SPI), in 1910 - consolidated policies based on the consideration that the indigenous being was a transitory condition. It was enough to bring them harmoniously into contact with "civilization", to adopt educational and labor practices so that they could be gradually assimilated into "Brazilian" society, thus making them integrated, that is, Brazilian citizens.

Legally deprived of full capacity, it was up to the State to govern the indigenous peoples, to say how and where to live, what lands to occupy and what they can or cannot do in these territories. Ownership and guardianship began to converge in the legal framework of indigenous policies. However, as the indigenous people did not cease to exist, as was supposed and planned, the issue of specific and differentiated rights for the population as a whole arose due to the organization of indigenous movements during the period of redemocratization. Attempts by the official indigenist body to get rid of undesirable indigenous people also grew, that is, those that the State did not recognize their “indigenous condition”, or those whose state administration washes their hands because the indigenous people do not remain within the established limits administrative acts of demarcation and homologation of indigenous lands.

It is true that recognition of indigenous rights - including territorial rights, which shape state actions - has always been an extremely indigestible issue for republican governments. However, the most uncomfortable moments in accepting the existence of indigenous differences and their specific historical processes of territorialization were certainly those marked by civil-military regimes with a marked nationalist character. It was especially during these terms of office that the question of whether or not to be indigenous took on a more critical profile and heated debates. The ideal of building a nation-state, politically and economically strong and culturally homogeneous, had driven them towards the march of effective occupation of the entire national territory, disregarding all the existing socio-biodiversity.

Undoubtedly, it was during the civil-military dictatorship (1964-1984) that the theories of acculturation that were in vogue among sociologists and anthropologists from the 1940s to the 1960s - many of them worked on the formulation of public policies and, consequently, on the formulation of politics indigenist -, had their own readings and gained strength in the ideological plan of dictatorial governments. With that, they changed the statute of acculturation. The concern, to a large extent, on the part of the researchers fell on the concern that the Indians could be extinct in a short period of time, given the accelerated process of social, cultural and environmental changes that were occurring in the period. The intentions of assessing the degrees of acculturation of the indigenous people by Funai administrations, whose presidency and leadership positions were held by the military, were different.

General Carlos Nobre da Veiga, president of Funai (1979-1981), increased the mandatory emancipation project, which had been articulated by President Geisel's Interior Minister, Maurício Rangel Reis, creating the famous “criteria of Indianity” and, In this way, he declared that "the Indian [would] be emancipated in five generations". Subsequent president, General Paulo Moreira Leal (1981-1983), commissioned studies to officials of the agency, aiming at the emancipation of the Guarani (from the south of the country) and Tembé (PA / MA), based on “criteria of Indianity”. Subsequently, Romero Jucá (1986-1988), in May 1988, signed an ordinance creating a WG to assess the degree of acculturation of the indigenous people, with a view to liberating traditional territories for mining.

The idea of ​​emancipation was supported by a clear political and economic interest in promoting the official invasion in traditional indigenous territories, incorporating them - in the physical and ideological sense - into Brazilian territory through the opening of roads, the construction of hydroelectric dams, as well as to initiate the opening of mining processes. Behind the rhetoric of “integrating” indigenous people was that of “handing over” indigenous lands to large projects and large private companies. Furthermore, consolidating the emancipation of indigenous people would mean guaranteeing their assimilation into the “world of whites”, and thus destroying them with specific and differentiated rights.

Untying them from the tutelage of the State had, therefore, nothing to do with giving autonomy to the supposed emancipated. What was intended was to place them outside the law. The legal instrument for the defense of the indigenous population at that time was Law 6,001, of November 11, 1973, known as the Statute of the Indian. Today, after the breach of guardianship by the Federal Constitution of 1988, the attack is against the Magna Carta itself and other legal provisions that guarantee indigenous peoples, regardless of their historical process, their collective rights as indigenous and autonomous peoples to defend their rights. .

The National Plan for the Operationalization of Vaccination against Covid-19, by distinguishing between villagers and non-villagers, as well as the Funai Ordinance in establishing “criteria of Indianity”, highlights the federal government's project to promote the exclusion of public policies aimed at indigenous peoples.

In this way, we return to the initial guiding thread regarding the vaccination of the Akroá-Gamella, Tremembé da Raposa and Tremembé do Engenho peoples, in the state of Maranhão, characterized from the category of “non-villagers”. Even in 2020, they had denounced the refusal, by the Special Indigenous Sanitary District in Maranhão (DSEI / MA), to provide specific and differentiated care in the treatment against Covid-19, under the justification of fulfilling the “criteria of Indianity” and the claim that they should be served by SUS in the municipalities where they are located. Still in 2020, the Supreme Federal Court (STF) decided, in a historic action, that SESAI should extend the services of the Indigenous Health Subsystem to village peoples located in unapproved lands and to non-village indigenous people (STF, 2020) [ 5] .

On January 25, 2021, the Akroá Gamella and the Tremembé (from Raposa and Engenho), together with the Anapuru Muypurá, the Kariri and the Tupinambá, peoples located in the state of Maranhão and who are in the process of retaking their territories , wrote the Open Letter [6] denouncing their exclusion from the National Vaccination Plan against Covid-19, arguing that “they are doubly violated and penalized” and that “the plan left out the indigenous people living in urban centers, the which, according to data from the 2010 IBGE Census, are about 46% of the indigenous population in Brazil ”.

After the Open Letter of the peoples, SEDIHPOP manifested itself through a Note [7] published on February 3, 2021, guaranteeing that the Gamellas were already included in the PNI and that, for the same reasons, the State Government, through from SEDIHPOP, and COEPI defend the inclusion of Tremembé, from the municipalities of Raposa and São José de Ribamar. SEDIHPOP guaranteed in a note that both Tremembé and Akroá Gamella had started the immunization process, in addition to reinforcing the work of the Maranhão State Health Force (FESMA) to work with the DSEI in the vaccination process of the indigenous people. He was also in favor of dialogue with the Kariri, Anapuru Muypurá and Tupinambá peoples to guarantee their vaccination, in addition to dialogue with social movements, representatives of CIMI and CNBB and other interested parties. Rede (CO) VIDA, at the invitation of the indigenous people themselves, followed an online meeting on March 2, 2021, with leaders of these peoples and representatives of SEDIHPOP, FUNAI and DSEI / MA, whose agenda was about the continuity of the vaccination plan.

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The construction of the right to vaccination of these peoples, in dialogue with the state government, via SEDIHPOP, can be considered not only a victory in the struggle with the federal government, as we pointed out at the beginning of the text, but also possibilities for expanding public power. in addressing indigenous issues. This dynamic also corroborates the efforts made by the political organizations of these peoples in the process of fighting for the guarantee and retaking of their territories, for the recognition of being native peoples and, consequently, for the guarantee of differentiated public policies (in this case, health policies ). Therefore, deconstructing the logic of the “criteria of Indianity” supported by the federal government.

The pandemic scenario has revealed insecurities, disorientations and uncertainties in all levels of social life. In what concerns the reading of the Rede (CO) VIDA, we shed light on an old ideal of integration of the indigenous peoples to the national community and how this ideal is recovered by the federal government with the objective, once again, of forging at the national level the idea that there is no need for differentiated rights for indigenous peoples as established by the Constitution. What is at stake in Bolsonarism is to affirm that the indigenous people are legally equal to the “white” and that, for this, they have the same rights and duties as the population as a whole. Therefore, they do not have differentiated rights, be they territorial, health and / or education. Indigenous people can make their land private property and, thus, sell it to the interests of the commodities financial market; they can follow the vaccination line, without access to special health and be vaccinated three, four years from now; or still stick only to the blessing of the Christian "god", who did so much for them during the centuries of colonization, so that they do not become alligators.