Iepé in english

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.

Indigenous Groups

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.

Areas of Activity

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.

School Education:

  • Teacher training, consultancy assistance in the design and implementation of differentiated curriculums in the indigenous village schools, production of teaching materials, training in school management.

Management training:

  • Courses in Legislation and Administration; apprenticeships for community organization leaders and young people in the management of support programmes for the indigenous communities; support for social control of indigenous organizations; consultancy services for the indigenous organizations; creation of forums to increase communication between these organizations and indigenous peoples in the region.


  • Training for indigenous researchers; support for the documentation of indigenous artistic activities and oral knowledge; training for indigenous filmmakers; indigenous training in the area of museum work; implementation of programmes for the revitalization of forms of oral transmission of knowledge; construction of training and documentation centres accessible to the communities; travelling exhibitions designed for display both within and outside the communities; production of materials by indigenous researchers for use within and outside of the communities.

Territorial and Environmental Training:

  • Permanent training initiatives for indigenous communities in confronting the problems relating to the preservation of their quality of life, their traditional practices of conservation and the sustainable use of the resources of their territories; fostering of sustainable economic alternatives – both social and environmental.
  • Support for forms of territorial occupation, production and commercialization capable of inverting the current indigenous situation of dependency and sedentarization; implementation of participative diagnoses for the identification of sustainable alternatives for development among the region’s indigenous groups.
  • Promulgate forms of indigenous management and knowledge in contribution to the programmes for the conservation of biodiversity in the region, especially those involving the Tumucumaque Mountains National Park, whose preservation benefits all the indigenous groups in the area.
  • Encourage the exchange of experiences between indigenous groups in relation to the question of territorial and environmental control. Consultancy support for indigenous organizations in the management of projects relating to the environment.

Health education:

  • Provision of anthropological and linguistic consultancy services to the training programmes for AIS (indigenous health workers); anthropological training for health professionals working directly or indirectly with indigenous communities. Complimentary training for the AIS through the continuation of their schooling beyond the primary level education offered in the village schools.

Applied research:

  • Undertake and promulgate anthropological, linguistic and ecological research, in partnership with academic institutions, with a view to contributing to the strengthening of cultural practices and the different ways of life of the regions’ indigenous groups.
  • Training of indigenous researchers in diverse areas to enable them to contribute, in their own rhythms and in accordance with their own interests, to the improvement of public policy implemented in their villages.

Monitoring of public policy:

  • Participation and support for indigenous participation in the debate over public policy relating to the indigenous question, in particular that linked to school education, health and the protection of biodiversity;
  • Collaboration with government and non-governmental organizations in the implementation of initiatives appropriate to the interests and cultural contexts of the indigenous communities at local, regional, national and international levels.


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