Indigenous in São Paulo: Erased by a colonial education curriculum

SÃO PAULO — Emerson de Oliveira Souza is among the more than 4 million inhabitants of Tiradentes, a city that makes up part of the conurbation of São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest metropolis. Souza is a school teacher, but he stands out from the vast majority of the 151,000 public school teachers in São Paulo because he’s one of the only Indigenous people to teach in the suburbs. A Guarani Nhandeva native, Souza says the classroom itself (which in the pandemic has gone online) helps perpetuate a pervasive ignorance within Brazil about its own native peoples. He says the country’s educational model is one of the causes of the invisibility and exclusion of Indigenous peoples in cities. At 47 and about to complete his master’s degree from the University of São Paulo (USP), Souza says the school curriculum is a continuation of European colonization. To reverse this process, he says, the facts should also be taught from an Indigenous perspective. “We don’t know the history. It is as if we entered the school to continue the work of the Portuguese caravels, but today the caravels are different,” he says. Souza’s path to an academic chair was not an easy one. “I am privileged to have finished my studies. At the university, we are not Indigenous, we are the poor from the periphery. We get in like everybody else, we become scholarship holders and from that point on we will have other opportunities,” he says. The concrete jungle of São Paulo, with…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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