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TVs But No Toilets - A Snapshot Of Daily Life For Brazil's Indigenous

Article illustrative image Partner logo Brazil's indigenous modernizing at a fast pace

BRASÍLIA - Brazil's indigenous people increasingly live an urban existence. Televisions, DVDs, refrigerators, gas ovens and cellphones are all consumption goods that have been integrated into the daily lives of many tribes. And the dream for young Brazilian native people: going to university.

These are among the findings from a survey conducted by Datafolha and ordered by the Confederation of Agriculture and Cattle Breeding of Brazil. In July, 1,222 interviews were held in 32 different tribal villages around the country.

According to the poll, 63% of indigenous people watch television, 37% have a DVD player, 51% own a fridge, 66% use their own gas ovens and 36% call from their own mobile devices.

Still, only 11% have regular access to the Internet, and only 6% have their own computer. Radio, on the other hand, is used by 40% of the interviewees. For Cimi (Missionary Indian Council), "It is evident that technology leads to changes, but this does not mean a cultural clash is at play. Acquiring a TV or owning a cellphone won’t make anybody less indigenous.”

Though a shift to a more modern lifestyle is underway, the numbers remain far behind the average Brazilian household. In Brazil, 98% of people have television; 82% have a DVD player; and 79% have mobile phones.

The study also asked respondents to list the problems in their lives: 29% of those surveyed cite problems getting health care; other difficulties were territorial situations (24%), discrimination (16%), education (12%) and jobs (9%).

There has been a notable increase in the amount of information that arrives in these communities, this has translated into an uptick in family planning measures: 55% of people polled said they were aware of birth control methods like condoms and the pill; 32% said they actually use them. More than 80% had heard of AIDS.

Moreover, most indigenous people (67%) said they would like to go to university.

Though 79% of those interviewed consider it important, only 18% of respondents said they have bathroom facilities inside their own homes. Amongst the facilities that villages include: 69% have medical centers; 88% have schools; 59% churches; 19% markets; and 6% pharmacies.

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