Into the Heart of the Amazon - The Greenpeace Deni Indian Expedition

Feature story - October 18, 2001
In September 2001, Greenpeace sent three international teams of volunteers into the Amazon to help the Deni Indians demarcate their land to save it from loggers. On October 2, the Brazilian government attempted to stop the demarcation. The Deni continued the demarcation with the help of Greenpeace and on October 18th, it was announced that the Brazilian government would formally recognize the demarcation, permanently setting aside Deni Indian land for their sole occupation and use, thereby protecting it from industrial uses and logging.

The Deni Indians live in a remote area of the Amazonian rainforest in the southeast of Amazonas State of Brazil. They are dependent on the forest for their sustenance and survival.

In 1988, the current Brazilian Federal Constitution gave weight to Indigenous rights including the right to traditional lands. A formal process of boundary identification, called "demarcation" was established. Under current Brazilian law, until Indigenous lands are legally demarcated, they continue to be at risk from invasion by loggers and developers.

For the Deni, demarcation turned out to be a hollow promise. Although a government working group identified the limits of the Deni's lands in 1985, their lands have still not been formally demarcated and are therefore still vulnerable. This vulnerability was seized upon. The Malaysian logging company, WTK, purchased a large tract of Deni land, 151,000 hectares, from a Brazilian businessman, with the goal of establishing industrial-scale logging on the land.

Since 1999, Greenpeace has been working alongside the Indigenist NGO's (CIMI and OPAN) to ensure that the demarcation is successful and to assist the Deni communities to develop the practical information and skills needed to take direct charge of the demarcation of their land.

In September 2001, Greenpeace sent three international teams of volunteers into the Amazon to help the Deni Indians demarcate their land to save it from loggers. On October 2, the Brazilian government attempted to stop the demarcation. The Deni continued the demarcation with the help of Greenpeace and on October 18th, it was announced that the Brazilian government would formally recognize the demarcation, permanently setting aside Deni Indian land for their sole occupation and use, thereby protecting it from industrial uses and logging.

Learn more from the Amazon expedition website.

Topics