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Indigenous Territories in the USA and Brazil: Comparative Perspectives on Governance and Management Issues

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Wentzel, Sondra
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/835
Sector: Social Organization
Land Tenure & Use
Region: North America
South America
Subject(s): indigenous institutions
governance and politics
land tenure and use
Abstract: "The situation of indigenous peoples in the USA and Brazil, despite all obvious differences, has a number of interesting parallels seldom explored because of the divide between North and South. Indigenous peoples in both countries are many and diverse but usually rather small, making up only a tiny part of the national population (<1%). In contrast, their territories occupy a considerable portion of each country's area (4.2% USA, 12.6% Brazil) and are of increasing economic interest because of their natural resources. Moreover, 'Indian Reservations' (USA) and 'Indigenous Lands' ('Terras Indigenas', Brazil) are both areas claimed by the respective nation state as federal lands and held in trust by special federal agencies, but are reserved for the permanent and exclusive use by their indigenous inhabitants. They can thus be classified and analyzed as a specific type of commons. "Over the last decades, significant changes have occurred in the governance and management regimes of indigenous territories in both countries. In the USA, since the 1975 Indian Self-Determination Act, the keywords have been 'tribal sovereignty' and 'tribal self-governance', and new relationships between the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the different tribal governments are being negotiated. In Brazil, the 1988 Constitution reconfirmed the responsibility of the state to demarcate and protect indigenous territories and recognized indigenous peoples rights to culturally specific forms of social organization. However, despite considerable advances in the legal recognition of indigenous territories, institutional arrangements for their protection and management hardly exist, indigenous peoples rights to most economic uses of their lands are not regulated, and the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) has only recently started to reconsider its traditionally rather paternalistic role. The paper will report on first results of an ongoing comparative study on these issues, designed to provide inputs for Brazilian and other Latin American indigenist policies."

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