|Federal Deputy for Roraima|
|Assumed office |
1 February 2019
|Known for||First indigenous attorney in Brazil, first indigenous attorney to argue before the Brazilian Supreme Court and first indigenous woman deputy elected to Brazilian National Congress|
Joênia Wapixana (officially Joênia Batista de Carvalho; born 1974) is the first indigenous lawyer in Brazil and a member of the Wapixana tribe of northern Brazil. After taking a land dispute to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Wapixana became the first indigenous lawyer to argue before the Supreme Court of Brazil. She is the current president of the National Commission for the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
She was elected federal deputy for the state of Roraima, from the party list of the Sustainability Network (REDE), in the 2018 general election. Batista de Carvalho is the first indigenous woman elected to the Chamber of Deputies and the second indigenous federal deputy since the election of Mário Juruna in 1982.
Joênia was born in the Brazilian state of Roraima and grew up in isolated Amazonian villages like Truarú or Guariba, where traditional ways of life flourished and few of the elders spoke Portuguese. When her parents were brought from their village to register their births and those of their children, a clerk chose the official name Joênia Batista de Carvalho for her identification papers. She identifies herself by her first name and her tribal affiliation as Joênia Wapixana. By the time she was seven or eight, Joênia's father had left the family and her mother moved to the state capital, Boa Vista, seeking economic opportunities. The children were enrolled in school, though three older brothers dropped out to go to work. Joênia completed her high school education in the early 1990s and initially considered becoming a doctor, as she was uninterested in the usual avenue for educated indigenous women, teaching. She enrolled in law school, working nights in an accounting office to pay her way through school. In 1997, Joênia graduated from the Federal University of Roraima (UFRR) as the first indigenous lawyer in Brazil.
Batista de Carvalho began working in the legal department of the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR). In 2004, she filed an action with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, asking them to compel the Brazilian government to officially set out the boundaries of the Indigenous Territory of the Raposa Serra do Sol, which are the traditional homelands of the Ingarikó, Makuxi, Patamona, Taurepang, and Wapixana peoples. In 2005, the Supreme Court of Brazil (STF) ratified the boundaries of the reserve and declared it an environmental conservation area in which native rights were constitutionally protected, but altercations between loggers, miners and the native communities continued. In 2008, Batista de Carvalho became the first aboriginal lawyer to argue before the STF. The case concerned whether the government had the right to divide the lands of the Raposa Serra do Sol into fragmented areas to support claims to the land by prospectors and rice producers. Batista de Carvalho argued that the constitution forbade such divisions and would be a violation of the protections in the constitution for ineidgenous rights. On 19 March 2009, the STF, in a vote of ten to one, confirmed the exclusive right of the Indians to occupy and use the reserve lands of Raposa Serra do Sol.
In 2013, she was appointed as the first president of the recently created National Commission for the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The post was created by the Order of Attorneys of Brazil as a means of monitoring legislation which might impact native rights. The role of the commission is to support and intervene if need be in legal matters of the lower courts or Supreme Court in cases which impact indigenous rights.
Awards and recognition
Batista de Carvalho received the Reebok Human Rights Award in 2004 and in 2010 was honored with the Ordem do Mérito Cultural by the Brazilian government. In 2018 she was awarded the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.
- "País elege primeiro indígena deputado federal desde 1982". www.msn.com (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2018-10-08.
- Rohter 2004.
- Ministério da Cultura 2010.
- Rodrigues 2013.
- Schertow 2008.
- Santos & Carlet 2009, p. 80.
- Sales de Lima 2008.
- Parellada 2005, p. 202.
- BBC 2009.
- Última Instância 2013.
- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Brazil 2013.
- Government Portal Brasil 2014.
- "2018 United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights". OHCHR. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
- Parellada, Alejandro (2005). "South America: Brazil". In Vinding, Diana; Stidsen, Sille (eds.). The Indigenous World 2005. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. ISBN 978-87-91563-05-8.
- Rodrigues, Léo (6 March 2013). ""Há um longo caminho para que o direito do indígena seja garantido", diz Joênia Wapixana" ["There is a long way to go before the rights of the indigenous are guaranteed," says Joênia Wapixana] (in Portuguese). Brasilia, Brazil: Empresa Brasil de Comunicação. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- Rohter, Larry (13 November 2004). "Using Courts in Brazil to Strengthen an Indian Identity". The New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
- Sales de Lima, Eduardo (27 August 2008). "Joênia Wapixana, advogada índia defenderá oralmente a causa no STF" [Joênia Wapixana, Indian lawyer India to orally defend cause in the Supreme Court]. Instituto Humanitas Unisionos Notícias (in Portuguese). São Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil: Unisinos. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- Schertow, John Ahni (10 December 2008). "Courts to decide on Indigenous territory Raposa Serra do Sol". IC Magazine. Olympia, Washington: Center for World Indigenous Studies. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
- Santos, Boaventura de Sousa; Carlet, Flávia (2009). "Chapter 4: The movement of landless rural workers in Brazil and their struggles for Access to law and justice". In Ghai, Yash; Cottrell, Jill (eds.). Marginalized Communities and Access to Justice. New York, New York: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-135-23613-7.
- "Advogada Wapichana fala de seu projeto à frente de Comissão indígena" [Lawyer Wapichana speaks of her project at the beginning of Indian Commission] (in Portuguese). Sao Paulo, Brazil: Última Instância. 26 February 2013. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- "Joênia Wapixana" (in Portuguese). Brasilia, Brazil: Ministério da Cultura. 2 December 2010. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
- "Joênia Wapixana é a primeira mulher indígena formada em direito" [Joênia Wapixana is the first indigenous woman to hold a law degree] (in Portuguese). Brasilia, Brazil: Government Portal Brasil. 3 February 2014. Archived from the original on 13 May 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
- "Joênia Wapixana foi eleita presidente da Comissão de Direito dos Povos indígenas da OAB" [Joênia Wapixana was elected president of the Law Commission of Indigenous Peoples of OAB]. Noruega o site official no Brasil (in Portuguese). Brasilia, Brazil: Royal Norwegian Embassy in Brazil. 1 March 2013. Archived from the original on 21 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
- "Land boost for Brazilian Indians". London, England: BBC. 19 March 2009. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- Joênia Batista de Carvalho's oral arguments before the Supreme Court of Brazil, 2008 with English subtitles