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Honoring the ones who were in the land before us

In 1943 it was established that 19th of April would be a day to honor the lives of indigenous people in Brazil. But only this year that the name was changed from “Dia do Índio” for “Dia dos Povos Indígenas” - a non pejorative term to honor those who were in brazilian lands in the beginning of brazilian history. When Portugal colonized Brazil, they had intentions to get to India, so they called the Brazilian indigenous people “Indians”, not respecting the diversity and multiple cultures that were part of the native peoples back then.

We are familiar with the multicultural indigenous people that are part of Australian history, and how different groups would occupy different areas of the country. This plurality also happens in Brazil. Joenia Wapichana, the federal deputy who created the law that promoted the change of this public holiday name, defends that by having it called “Indigenous People’s Day” would promote the diversity of cultures that exist inside the indigenous Brazilian communities.

It is estimated that there are around 900 million indigenous people in Brazil, spread in more than 700 indigenous lands and speaking 160 different languages and dialects. The Portuguese language that we speak in Brazil today has some words with origins in those languages. An example would be the word “carioca” - nowadays used to specify those who are born in Rio. The roots of this word (kari’oka) are in the Tupi language and it is the combination of two different words that mean “the house of the white people”.

Do you know any Indigenous words? Comment below.


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