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The Guarani people in Brazil are divided into three groups: Kaiowá, Ñandeva and M’byá, of which the largest is the Kaiowá which means ‘forest people’.
They are a deeply spiritual people. Most communities have a prayer house, and a religious leader, whose authority is based on prestige rather than formal power.
Although there are different Guarani sub-groups, all share a religion which emphasises land above all. Land is the origin of all life, and is the gift of the ‘great father’, Ñande Ru.
In the last 500 years virtually all the Guarani’s land in Mato Grosso do Sul state has been taken from them.
Waves of deforestation have converted the once-fertile Guarani homeland into a vast network of cattle ranches, and sugar cane plantations for Brazil’s biofuels market.
Many of the Guarani were herded into small reservations, which are now chronically overcrowded. In the Dourados reserve, for example, 12,000 Indians are living on little more than 3,000 hectares.
Source: Guarani – Survival International