Brazil's Indigenous Population Jumps 88% Due to New Census Methods

Aug 15, 2023

The population of Indigenous Brazilians nearly doubled in just 12 years. Better counting methods by the state help explain the surge. That, and a growing desire among many to acknowledge their roots, officials say. 

Brazil is now home to 1.7 million Indigenous people. That's based on the nation's 2022 census. It marks an 88% increase from 2010. The increase happened during a period of slower population growth overall. Brazil is now home to 203 million people. That's 10 million fewer than experts thought it would be. 

Experts said census takers made more effort to travel to remote spots to count people living there. That includes places in the Amazon. That's the world's largest rainforest. They used helicopters to get to places they could not reach before. Census takers also carried forms with added questions. Those questions allowed people to identify themselves.        

Brazil’s Minister of Indigenous Peoples told reporters these native people are more open to talking about their ethnicity than they once were. 

“Before," she said, they had to hide who they were "for fear of being killed."     

Violence against Indigenous people recently surged in Brazil. That was under Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro. He was often accused of doing little to protect them. He was also accused of pushing laws to take their lands for business interests. A year after he took office, acts of violence against Indigenous people rose 61 percent. That's according to the Catholic Church’s Indigenous Missionary Council report. 

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took over for Bolsonaro. He has reversed many of Bolsonaro's Indigenous policies. Da Silva has created a ministry designed to address their concerns. 

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: How can understanding and acknowledging our roots and heritage help us build stronger and more inclusive communities?

Question
Which of the following conclusions is supported by the details in the story? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. Indigenous populations in Brazil have been decreasing over the past 12 years.
b. Brazil’s overall population has doubled in the past decade.
c. The improved counting methods and census questions have helped to reveal a larger Indigenous population in Brazil.
d. Indigenous people in Brazil no longer face challenges related to their identity.
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