Iepé is the term traditionally used by the indigenous groups of the Guianas, to describe a friend and exchange partner in the complex networks maintained between communities.
Today, this term is also used to describe non-indigenous partners, revealing the importance for the indigenous communities of the widening of the network for the exchange of knowledge.
Iepé is a non profit-making organization created to meet indigenous demands for education and training and to strengthen community and collective forms of management. It seeks to contribute to the cultural and political strengthening and the sustainable development of the indigenous communities of Amapá and Northern Pará (Brazil).
The work of Iepé will concentrate initially on this region, known as Guiana Brasileira, where the founding members of the organization have a wide knowledge base gathered during many years of professional experience working in the area.
Unlike those in other regions of Amazonia, the indigenous groups of Amapá and Northern Pará have only very recently begun to face challenges to their autonomy and to the maintenance of their quality of life. Showing very high figures for demographic growth, the overall population of the ten ethnic groups in the region currently totals 7,600 people.
The formal recognition of the territorial rights of these different indigenous groups, which was secured with the help of technical intervention on the part of Iepé members, has guaranteed the demarcation and ratification of indigenous land that currently totals 5,498.962 hectares, or more than 50,000 km. This land adjoins the recently created Parque Nacional das Montanhas do Tumucumaque (Tumucumaque Mountains National Park), a protected area of 3,800.000 hectares or 38,000 km2.
|Indigenous lands||State||Area (in ha)||Indigenous groups||Population|
|T.I.Uaça||Amapá||Oiapoque||470,164||Galibi Marworno Palikur Karipuna||5,200 (aproxim)|
|T.I.Juminã||Amapá||Oiapoque||41,601||Galibi Marworno Karipuna||(included above)|
|T.I.Galibi do Oiapoque||Amapá||Oiapoque||6,899||Galibi do Oiapoque Karipuna||36 (2002)|
|T.I. Waiãpi||Amapá||Amapari, Laranjal do Jarí||607,017||Wajãpi (*)||670 (2004)|
|T.I. Parque do Tumucumaque T.I.Rio Paru d´Este||Pará e Amapá||Oriximiná, Almerim, Òbidos, Alenquer, Monte Alegre||3,071.067 1,195.785||Aparai Wayana Wajãpi Tiriyó Katxuyana||1,491 (2002)|
|T.I. Zo´e||Pará||Oriximiná Obidos, Alenquer||664,465||Zo´e||201 (2003)|
(*) During the year of 2002, management responsibility for the programme of activities developed during the last eleven years among the Wajãpi with the support of CTI (Centre for Indigenous Work) was gradually transferred to Iepé.
Although they belong to very different linguistic groups (Carib, Tupi and Aruaque), the indigenous peoples of this region share the same socio-cultural profile, owing to their historical links to one another through complex networks of communication and exchange. Living in the same region, these groups also confront very similar problems in their relations with the populations living in the areas surrounding their land and with government bodies, religious institutions, private businesses, non-governmental organizations, etc.
In this context, Iepé proposes to strengthen and offer assistance to local communities, whether or not they are represented by indigenous organizations, and to support projects authored by and/or in the interests of the Indians. Iepé s principal aim is to encourage and consolidate autonomous communication between these indigenous communities and the different groups and associations active in the region, assisting the communities in finding ways to defend their interests in the face of the challenges brought by these groups.
In parallel to this kind of assistance, Iepé also focuses on the provision of training initiatives to indigenous communities, developing programmes which benefit young people and adults chosen by their communities to act as community agents and/or representatives of their organizations (teachers, health workers, researchers and documentary makers, members of indigenous organizations’ directorates, etc.). Encouraging debate surrounding questions of collective interest involving all of the indigenous groups is also the best way to strengthen communities’ representative organizations in their relations with external interlocutors.
The knowledge accumulated about the indigenous groups of this region by the members of Iepé and our familiarity with the demands of the communities for training and resources have helped us to identify various thematic areas considered as priorities for indigenous training. The following is a synthesis of planned activities in each of these areas.