Eliane Potiguara – Brazil

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Eliane Potiguara (1950) was born in an indigenous ghetto in Rio, formed by indigenous people from Paraíba, a poor state in the Northeast of Brazil. Eliane is the founder of Brazil’s first indigenous organization, the Grumin (Woman and Indigenous Education Group), which has now been transformed into the Network of Indigenous Communication. As a writer, Eliane also articulates a group of indigenous authors that fight for the preservation of their culture …

… She says: “In the process of oppression of the indigenous people, women suffered the most. But the spirituality of my people is deep and it will not disappear easily”.

Her personal website in portuguese.


Eliane Potiguara – Brazil

She works for Rede de Comunicação Indígena (Network of Indigenous Communication), and for Rede de Escritores Indígenas (Network of Indigenous Writers).

Eliane Potiguara is the founder and president of Brazil’s GRUMIN (the Group of Indigenous Women Educators).

Eliane Potiguara, also known as Eliane Lima dos Santos , was born in Rio de Janeiro after her family emigrated from the impoverished state of Paraiba, home of the Potiguara Indigenous tribe. At just twelve years old, she discovered her vocation for teaching; working at her neighborhood school teaching students to read and write. In high school, she taught, attended classes and worked as a telephone operator, seven days a week. In an effort to guarantee a better future for Brazil’s 220,000 Indians, she has created a nationwide network of indigenous women. Among her many achievements, she has organized the Group of Indigenous Women Educators (GRUMIN). GRUMIN currently employs twenty-six regional coordinators implementing a basic program of education and consciousness-raising among women in hundreds of villages … (full text).

Video in portuguese: Eliane Potiguara – Algumas Palavras, 9.42

1000peacewomen-text: … Eliane’s memories of her childhood are of a life marked by poverty and exclusion. Raised in an indigenous ghetto near one of the city’s prostitution areas, her family reached to point where they had to live on the streets. Her grandmother used to sell bananas at the entrance of the school where Eliane studied. Her inspiration for her efforts to defend indigenous women comes from the drive and the interest in literature of the women who raised her. “We live a historical violence; my grandmother left her tribe after being molested at age 12”, she says.

Throughout her trajectory of fighting on behalf of indigenous women, she also suffered violence, humiliation and sexual abuse. She is the mother of three daughters and grandmother of two grandsons. She still struggles to support her family. Licensed in education, she was very young when she started to teach in the poor community where she lived. As a writer, she remembers being responsible for letters that her grandmother used to send her family that stayed in Paraíba.

From this grandmother, Eliane inherited the interest in indigenous traditions. For this purpose, she is a part of the Network of Indigenous Writers and she is an advisor at Inbrapi (Brazilian Indigenous Institute of Intellectual Property). In 2004, this Institute promoted, in Rio, the first meeting of indigenous authors.

One of Eliane’s main achievements was accomplished in 1991, when she organized the National Meeting of Indigenous Women, in Rio de Janeiro. More than 200 representatives of different communities attended the meeting. On that same year, in Geneva, she was part of the work group that rewrote the Universal Declaration of Indigenous Rights. “All my strength was determined in my childhood, when I learned, with my grandmother, the value of the indigenous people”, she says.

The Grumin association, founded by Eliane, was the creator of Brazil’s first indigenous newspaper, which was published internationally to divulge the cause of indigenous women. The newspaper played a fundamental role in the integration of the tribes that still survive throughout Brazil. (1000peacewomen).

E-Book indígena divulga trabalho de 11 escritores em defesa de suas tradições, Escritora Eliane Potiguara.

She writes: … The Potiguara indigenous movement focuses 100 percent on preserving Potiguara land and the people’s culture, traditions, spirituality, language, and costumes. Our people went through a very strong deculturization process, and I can’t ignore the fact that the largest destroyers of our land and culture were very paternalistic ideologists like the “cross and sword”. Today, the Potiguara people do not have a “patron.” Our people stand up for themselves. After becoming aware that our people had gone through a deculturization process, we decided to fight for our own history. Now, when other groups want to work with us, it should be on a democratic, equal- to- equal basis, where we all sit around a table to discuss what would be best for our future and in what way they could help us. We’re in need of legal and technical assistance, but we can do without paternalism. The paternalistic way left deep marks in some indigenous nations that became accustomed to receiving things ready-made instead of working and fighting for them. This philosophy is over. It’s necessary for indigenous groups to work, produce, and develop themselves in a sustainable way – economically, socially, and politically. I call this indigenous autonomy, and it can only become real if the process begins inside our own communities. Groups that wish to support us should approach us with a conception of equality and respect. For example, the World Council of Churches supported our work without imposing any kind of ideology. They gave us the freedom to choose what we should do with the money, and we wrote a book called The Earth Is the Indian’s Mother that illustrates how the racial discrimination began that destroyed or weakened our culture and traditions … (full text).

Eliane Lima Dos Santos (Eliane Potiguara) is named changemaker on ashoka.

Eliane Potiguara, a writer and organizer of indigenous women in the Amazon rain forest, who was subjected to threats of violence and a newspaper campaign branding her as a thief and prostitute because of her advocacy of Indian rights. The real issue was her organizing of women and the political exposures she wrote in Grumin, the newspaper of her women’s organization, of latifundia and timber baron atrocities, including chemical pollution and paying their Indian laborers in rum. (women’s world).

Phase 2: World Summit on the Information Society, Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society: “Towards an International Indigenous Portal”, FINAL REPORT, November 14, 2005.

She says also: “God is inside us. We are God in action. If I am God in action and if I am a diversified human being who understands the diversity of religions, then I belong to all religions. God wants us all to belong to all religions. God doesn’t have a specific religion. God is multi-faced in this sense. God doesn’t like religious intolerance which causes wars and conflicts. God wants peace. I want peace. I belong to peace, love, the universe. I am God in action. I have all the religions of the world in my heart and I love all the religions. I love all the Christs, all the Buddhas, all the saints. I love them all. The day when human beings understand this, it will be an important step forward for society and planet Earth. All of us are God in action. There’s no one sitting in a throne up there in the sky. It is us who are seated in the throne. We are God in action. I am Christian, I am Buddhist, I am Muslim, I am all the religions. I am God in action” … (dropping knowledge).

Her book: Ecofeminism, Women, Culture, Nature, 1997, 454 pages.

In the first time I visited the work group about indigenous people at the United Nations, where we discussed the universal declarations of indigenous rights, more than 15 years ago, I was very happy to see those laws we were working on were an international declaration to protect indigenous rights … (full text).


… Brazil, Professor of Indigenous Linguistics, Organizer of the Group of Indigenous Women Educators GRUMIN: Eliane Potiguara, also known as Eliane Lima dos Santos, was born in Rio de Janeiro … (pferdt.de, page 79/112).

Indigenous women organise health campaign in Brazil, 1993.

Amongst the 52 Brazilian women nominated for the “1000 Women For the Nobel Peace Prize 2005″ Project, four indigenous women were included: Maninha Xukuru-Kariri, Joênia Batista de Carvalho, Zenilda Xukuru and Eliane Potiguara … (full text, 04 July 2005).

Video in portuguese: Cacique Kaingang pede politicas publicas, 1.50 min.

Find her on amazon; on Google Group-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Blog-search.


articles on dropping knowledge;

the book: Racial Revolutions, Antiracism and Indian Resurgence in Brazil, 2001, 363 pages.

Eliane Potiguara on the portuguese blog DA MILU;

Literatura Indigena, Brazil;

Indigenous Communication and Indigenous Knowledge;

Indigenous Communication and Indigenous Knowledge, 4 pages;

The HIC Indigenous Communications Campaign;

Rede Grumin de Mulheres Indigenas;

The Cordillera under Siege;

finding humble spaces.

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