Traditional Peoples and Communities
Júlia Morim

According to the data of the 1st Regional Meeting of Traditional Peoples and Communities Report, in 2008 there were about 4.5 million people making up traditional communities in Brazil, occupying approximately 25% of the national territory (APUD Souza e Silva, 2009, p.129). Considered traditional communities or Indigenous Peoples are QuilombosRubber Tappers, Brazil nut Gatherers, Babassu nut breakers, Mangaba Gatherers, Faxinalenses (social groups that make up specific areas of the Central region and South Central State of Paraná), Traditional Fishermen, Shellfish Gatherers, River Dwellers, Varjeiros, Caiçaras, Yard Peoples (communities of African cults), Beach Dwellers, Cowboys, Rafters, Gypsies, Pomeranians, Azores, Campeiros, Varzanteiros, Swamp Dwellers, Geraizeiros, Veredeiros, Caatingueiros, Araguaia Retireiros, and others.

Decree no. 6,040, on 7 February 2007, defines Traditional Peoples and Communities as

groups differentiated culturally and who recognize themselves as such, who have their own forms of social organization, occupy and use territories and natural resources as a condition for their cultural, social, religious, ancestral and economic continuity, using knowledge, innovations and practices generated and transmitted by tradition. (BRASIL, 2007).

Two characteristics are strongly evident in these groups. The first concerns territory, which is considered a necessary space for the cultural, social and economic reproduction of these communities, whether used permanently or temporarily. It is in these areas that the memory and the material basis of cultural meanings that make up the identity of the group are symbolically printed. Another important factor is sustainable development: it is common to use natural resources in a balanced way, with concern in preserving the resources for future generations. Communities are marked by subsistence economy.

Decree 6,040/2007 also established the National Policy for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Peoples and Communities (PNPCT). The main objective of this policy is

to promote the sustainable development of traditional peoples and communities, with emphasis on the recognition, strengthening and guarantee of their territorial, social, environmental, economic and cultural rights, with respect and appreciation of their identity, their organization and their institutions. (BRASIL, 2007).

The National Commission on Sustainable Development of Traditional Communities (CNPCT), established by Decree on 27 December 2004 and amended by Decree on 13 July 2006, is responsible for “coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the National Policy of Sustainable Development of Traditional Peoples and Communities.” (BRASIL, 2006). Currently, the CNPCT is composed of 15 representatives from government agencies and entities and 15 civil society representatives, with voting rights. The Commission meets quarterly and is chaired by the representative of the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger (MDS). The Ministry of Environment (MMA) is responsible for the Executive Secretariat. The commission has a deliberative and consultative body. Access to agendas and summaries of Commission meetings can be done through the MMA and MDS websites.

Traditional peoples and communities are increasingly being given voice both in Brazil and internationally. A larger statistical growth of these communities can already be seen, as a result of the self-identification of groups and the need to fight for rights. Development has threatened several of these communities as they begin to come together to ensure their rights to their territory and the preservation of resources. 

Recife, 26 May 2014.
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2015.


BRASIL. Decreto 6.040 de 7 de fevereiro de 2007. Available at:
>. Accessed: 26 maio 2014. 

BRASIL. Decreto de 13 de julho de 2006. Available at: <http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_Ato2004-2006/
>.  Accessed: 26 maio 2014. 

BRASIL. Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome. Povos e Comunidades Tradicionais.

BRASIL. Ministério do Meio Ambiente. Povos e Comunidades Tradicionais. Available at: <http://www.mma.gov.br/desenvolvimento
>. Accessed: 26 maio 2014.
SILVA, Marina. Saindo da invisibilidade – a política nacional de povos e comunidades tradicionais. Inclusão Social, Brasília, v. 2, n. 2, p. 7-9, abr./set. 2007.

SILVA JR., Gladstone Leonel da; SOUZA, Roberto Martins de. As comunidades tradicionais e a luta por direitos étnicos e coletivos no sul do Brasil. R. Fac. Dir., v. 33, n. 2, p. 128-142, jul./dez. 2009.
Accessed: 26 maio 2014.


Source: MORIM, Júlia. Traditional Peoples and Communities. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:
<http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.


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