7 St. Thomas L. Rev. 645 (1994-1995)
The Saga of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil: Constitution, Law and Policies

handle is hein.journals/stlr7 and id is 665 raw text is: THE SAGA OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN
BRAZIL: CONSTITUTION, LAW AND POLICIES
L. ROBERTO BARROSO*
I. INTRODUCTORY NOTE
In 1979, when the military rule in Brazil was coming to an end, I
dedicated some of my time to student political activity supporting the
return of democracy. Several students used to show their political be-
liefs by posting banners on the windows of their cars. I had several in
my car. One of them, probably the one that raised the most curiosity,
read: For the demarcation of indigenous lands. It was very charming,
but none of us knew exactly its real meaning and implications.
As far as I can remember, that was the first time I ever cared
about Indians. This was a pretext to criticize the military, whose ideol-
ogy, at the time, had no room for that kind of humanist view. Some
years later, I started teaching my Constitutional Law course at the
School of Law of the State University of Rio de Janeiro. I must admit
that I do not recall having dedicated more than a few minutes to the
Indian question, although there are several provisions and one whole
chapter of Brazil's 1988 Constitution dedicated solely to The Indians.
These comments may sound personal or parochial, but indeed they
are not. They demonstrate, quite clearly, that even in the academic
world of law very little attention has been given to the Indians. Schol-
arly work is limited to specific issues and is scarce. This silence is elo-
quent and troubling. It shows the perennial difficulty of accepting what
is different and appreciating these differences. It is the silence of indif-
ference. And for those who know, indifference, not hate, is the oppo-
site of love.
This study is a contribution in an attempt to change this situation.
It does not focus on an international or comparative perspective of the
Indian question. It concentrates on some anthropological and legal as-
pects of indigenous peoples in Brazil, as well as in the policies of the
national government and the general attitude of the national community
* Adjunct Professor of Law at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). J.D.,
UERJ (1980); LL.M., Yale Law School (1989). 1 acknowledge the very helpful assistance of
Ana Paula Goncalves.

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