How do they live?
The Wichí traditionally supported themselves by hunting, fishing, and growing food in small gardens. Their land was once fertile grassland and forest which supported them and provided them with all their needs.
But the introduction of cattle onto their land has turned it into a dry sandy desert, leaving them vulnerable to periods of real hunger and starvation, and much more dependent on occasional employment by outsiders for their survival.
What problems do they face?
The Wichí’s land has steadily been invaded over the last 100 years. Since then, loggers have felled their forest, and settlers have introduced cattle. These cattle not only turn the land already stolen from the Wichí into desert, but also break into the tiny plots of land which the Wichí have managed to hold on to, destroying their crops.
The Wichí have been left almost landless and without their livelihood. The local Salta authorities have, since 1966, repeatedly promised to recognise Indian territory in their province – but have failed to fulfil one single promise.
On the contrary, they have worked with the landowners to continue to deny the Wichí their land, handing it to settlers, and authorising its deforestation.
The local government wants to build a trunk road connecting the bridge into Paraguay to the state highway system, opening up the area to further commercialisation.
How can I help?
- Click here to donate to Survival.
- Click here to write to your MP or MEP (UK).
- Click here to write to the President, your senators, congressmen or other elected officials (US).
- Write to your local Argentinian or Bolivian embassy, click here to find out the address.
How does Survival help?
Various different Wichí communities have formed associations or joined together to try to win recognition of their land rights. They have presented bills to Congress and petitioned the national government.
Survival is supporting them in their struggles. Survival is urging the national government to pressure the Salta provincial authorities to fulfil their promises to the Wichí, and to ensure that Wichí land rights are recognised, in accordance with international law and both the national and provincial constitutions.
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News from the Wichí
Six Indigenous children die of malnutrition in Argentina
Government inaction blamed for chronic hunger and water shortages
Argentina: President keeps Wichí waiting, then won't see them
For the second time in fifteen days ten Wichí representatives made the long and costly journey from their lands in northern Argentina to the capital to meet President Kirchner. Once again, the promised meeting did not materialise.
Wichí appeal for help
A Wichí community has appealed for help as its lands are fenced off.
Supreme Court backs Wichí
The Wichí Indians of northern Argentina have won a resounding victory after a seven-year legal battle with the province of Salta.
Judge sides with Wichí against land barons
A Wichí Indian village has won an important victory in its battle to hold on to some of its land, in the face of a brutal campaign by absentee landowners.