"For indigenous peoples land is much more than a mere way of subsistence – it is the support of social life and is directly linked to the system of beliefs and knowledge." (RAMOS, Alcida Rita. Sociedades Indígenas In: FUNAI). The Federal Constitution of Brazil acknowledges this relationship and emphasizes the subject. Article 231, paragraph 1, presents the concept of lands traditionally occupied by Indians as: “those on which they live on a permanent basis, those used for their productive activities, those indispensable to the preservation of the environmental resources necessary for their well-being and for their physical and cultural reproduction, according to their uses, customs and traditions.”
The demarcation process of indigenous lands is the administrative means used for defining the limits of the territory traditionally occupied by them. According to FUNAI – Fundação Nacional do Índio (National Indian Foundation), demarcation provides the basic conditions for their physical and cultural survival and preserves Brazilian cultural diversity. Besides, the defense of indigenous territories constitutes a strategic measure that ensures the preservation of the huge Brazilian biologic heritage and of the knowledge built about it by indigenous peoples.
According to the Population Census, in 2010, around 897 thousand Indians lived in Brazil. Out of these, approximately 517 thousand were distributed by the 688 recognized indigenous lands. However, there are still non-contacted indigenous groups and also some groups seeking recognition of their status by the indigenist institution – FUNAI.
In Rio Grande do Sul, in 2010, there were approximately 18.5 people belonging to Guarani, Mbia Guarani, Kaingang and mixed ethnic groups groups. In 2015, according to FUNAI, there were in the State 7 declared area; 2 delimited; 20 regularized e 16 under study¹. A quase totalidade delas encontram-se na área de domínio da Reserva da Biosfera da Mata Atlântica.
¹ According to FUNAI, declared lands are those that have obtained the issuance of the Declaratory Ordinance by the Minister of Justice and that have the authorization to be physically demarcated, with the materialization of landmarks and georeferencing. Delimited lands are those that had their studies approved by FUNAI Presidency, with their conclusion published both in the Official Journal of the Union and of the State, and which are in the administrative contradictory phase or under analysis by the Ministry of Justice for decision on the dispatch of Declaratory Ordinance of traditional indigenous ownership. Regularized lands are the ones that, after the decree of homologation, were registered in a Registry Office on behalf of the Union and in the Secretariat of the Patrimony of the Union. And the lands under study are the ones object of anthropological, historical, land, cartographic and environmental studies, that base the identification and delimitation of indigenous land. (In: http://www.funai.gov.br/index.php/indios-no-brasil/terras-indigenas)