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Project April 12, 2021

The Hidden Face of Indigenous People in Brazilian Cities



Indigenous people are not just in the Amazon Rainforest and remote rural areas. More than a third of Brazil’s Indigenous population, or about 315,000 individuals, live in urban areas, according to the country’s latest census.

But while in rural and remote areas Indigenous people are threatened by land invasions, mining, and a wide range of development projects, in the cities they face invisibilization and prejudice, despite the intrinsic Indigenous presence in Brazilian culture, from words to habits.

The hidden face of Indigenous residents in Brazilian cities will be unveiled in a series of data-driven multimedia stories published by Mongabay, focused on the municipalities with the highest absolute numbers of Indigenous people living in urban areas, including the country’s most famous metropoles: Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Over the past year, we dived into the census and related databases to produce unique maps and infographics showing not only how the Indigenous residents are distributed in the urban areas of these cities but also showcasing their access to education, sewage, and other amenities, as well as their ethnic diversity. One of the highlights of our coverage is how access to higher education has helped Indigenous people fight against this prejudice and has improved their living conditions. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of Indigenous people enrolled in universities spiked from 10,219 to 80,652.

The project will close with an in-depth analysis of the Indigenous presence in Brazil’s urban areas as a whole, including the cities with the highest percentage of Indigenous residents and other municipalities that don’t appear in the ranks but are very relevant in representing the Indigenous way of living in the urban areas.