Fundação Nacional do Índio

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Fundação Nacional do Índio
'National Indian Foundation
Agency overview
Formed 5 December 1967
Preceding agency
  • Serviço de Proteção ao Índio (SPI)
Headquarters Brasília
Agency executive
Parent agency Ministry of Justice

Fundação Nacional do Índio (Portuguese pronunciation: [fũdɐˈsɐ̃w nɐsjoˈnaw ðu ˈĩdʒu], National Indian Foundation) or FUNAI is a Brazilian governmental protection agency for Indian interests and their culture.[1]


It was originally called the SPI ("Serviço de Proteção ao Índio"; "Indian Protection Service") and was founded by the Brazilian Marshal Cândido Rondon in 1910, who also created the agency's motto: "Die if necessary, but never kill." The agency fell into decline after 1957. Members of the organization tortured and killed off indigenous tribes, e.g. by providing them with arsenic sweets, to obtain their land.[2] Afterwards the organization was re-established by the military regime in 1967 under the name FUNAI.

FUNAI is headquartered in Brasília and is organized under the Ministry of Justice. It is responsible for taking care of the Native Brazilian issues such as land demarcation, defense of Native Brazilian rights and everything that concerns the Brazilian indigenous populations.

Not all efforts of the FUNAI have been helpful to the indigenous populations of South America.[3] It was FUNAI's idea to introduce machinery, pesticides (for farming) and the use of industrial fertilizer for the native people. While FUNAI initially funded the program, the shortsighted and mismanaged delivery of equipment, as well as the timing of supportive services, made the project fail. The little cash earned by the native populations was spent on specialists to operate the new machinery, oil for the machines, and toxic pesticides.[4]

According to Guido Sterkendries, the Indian reserves (which can legally only be entered with special permission from the local Indian chief) are in practice being entered by just about anyone. This includes lumberjacks, oil and gold prospectors, and drug traffickers.[5] Rather than being protected from foreign influences, at least some Indians (i.e. Kanamary-Indians in the Javari-valley, even in close proximity to the local FUNAI-post) live in poverty, and seem to have taken over (bad) Western habits and diseases.[6]


In 2011, Márcio Augusto Freitas Meira, the president of the foundation, was taken hostage by Guarani Indians while visiting their land. The native Indians claimed more rights and a better demarcation of their land.[7]

Notes and references

  1. FUNAI - National Indian Foundation (Brazil), Survival International
  2. "Arsen und Zuckerstückchen". Der Spiegel (13/1968). 25 March 1968.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Muhammad Aurang Zeb Mughal (2012) 'Brazil'. Steven Danver (ed.), Native Peoples of the World: An Encyclopedia of Groups, Cultures, and Contemporary Issues, Vol. 3. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, pp. 579-581.
  4. Ember and Ember. "Chapter 17. Applied, Practicing, and Medical Anthropology." Cultural Anthropology, 13th Edition. Page 306.
  5. (pt) Fundação Nacional do Índio vê ameaça de 'genocídio' de povo isolado em ataque de narcotraficantes,, 8 August 2011
  6. EOS magazine, February 2012
  7. (pt) Presidente da Fundação do Índio mantido refém em reserva, DN Globo, 4 October 2011


See also

External links