Introduction / History
When the Portuguese first made contact with the indigenous peoples of what is now Brazil, they began a long, tragic process of assimilation for the First Nations peoples. Portuguese men intermarried with indigenous women, and their land and resources were taken from them. The First Nations peoples died by the thousands because of diseases introduced by the European settlers. The first Catholic missionaries, the Jesuits, protected these people until they were expelled by those who wanted to exploit the land and the people.
In the 20th Century, the Brazilian government attempted to protect these peoples by establishing FUNAI. The goal was to keep the indigenous peoples free from potentially harmful outside forces. Many logging, mining, and farming interests have managed to seep in none the less. The rain forest is being torn down, leaving the peoples of the interior vulnerable to disease, economic exploitation, and potential extermination.
At the end of the 19th century there were 1,350 Xambioa people, and that was reduced to 40 in 1959. Their numbers are rising in the 21st century.
Where are they located?
The Xambioa people live in Tocantins, a province in central Brazil.
What are their lives like?
Tocantins is being rapidly populated by Brazilians. There is a new hydropower station thanks to the damming of the Tocantin River. There is now a reservoir in the area used for recreation. Eco tourists come to this area. In the midst of this province, there are "parks" where the indigenous peoples like the Xambioa live, theoretically without outside interference.
What are their beliefs?
The few Xambioa people practice their own religion. In the midst of tremendous loss of their way of life and cultural norms, people tend to cling to their traditional religion. Jesus Christ is viewed as being for the dangerous Brazilians.
What are their needs?
The Xambioa people need ways to adapt to a rapidly changing world in which they have no power to change. They need to find ways to earn a living using the skills and gifts God has given them as a people.
* Pray for God to open the way for these people to enter Brazilian society with a minimum of damage to their dignity and health.
* Pray for God to open the hearts of the Xambioa people so that they will joyfully receive Christ into their hearts.
* Pray for a disciple making movement among indigenous peoples of Brazil that will include the Xambioa people.
Text source: Keith Carey