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Project July 13, 2021

COVID-19, Fake News and Misinformation Among Indigenous Peoples of the Upper Xingu



The COVID-19 pandemic made Indigenous peoples in Brazil face different threats. The disease itself has especially devastating effects on these populations, as they are often far away from hospitals and have an intense shared community life. In addition to it, Brazilian Indigenous peoples have also come across fake news, which circulates on cell phones in the villages and creates misinformation, increasing the risk of these populations.

The Brazilian government under Jair Bolsonaro rule has itself been a source of misinformation since the beginning of the pandemic, insisting that people should not socially isolate in order to avoid getting infected. Bolsonaro is still a stronger defender of treatments without scientific evidence, such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

In the Xingu Indigenous Territory (central Brazil), fake news impacts are pretty concrete, and have reinforced the Indigenous vulnerability to the virus. Despite the high rates among local Indigenous groups, the Kuikuro people managed not to have any casualties, thanks to a series of medical care and an awareness-raising process with the help of local leaders.

Through a short documentary and a written report, this project will address the issue of the pandemic in Alto Xingu, focusing on the following matters: a) the circulation of fake news and its effects; b) the dissemination of treatments and medications without scientific proof and the disincentive to vaccination; c) what ways have the Indigenous people found to protect themselves against the misinformation that aggravates the health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic.