The BR-174 highway was controversially constructed between 1967 and 1977 in order to connect Boa Vista, capital of Brazil’s northernmost state Roraima, with the city of Manaus in Amazonas. It thereby cut through densely forested indigenous land, causing violent conflict and the almost-extinction of the Waimiri Atroari indigenous group (self-denomination: Kinja).
As part of an economic development offensive for the Amazon region, the road formed the starting point for further large-scale development projects based on transnational capital in the 1980s with the objective to boost growth and urban industries, most notably hydropower production through the Balbina plant and export-directed tin mining (e.g. Pitinga mine). During military dictatorship, public authorities regarded the indigenous population as disturbers and a hurdle to ‘development’ and, as Baines (2008) outlines, FUNAI’s indigenist work at that time was based on relations of subjection and domination, aimed to ‘resocialize’ and ‘civilize’ indigenous people. 
The Kinja people were regularly opposing invaders and trying to defend themselves and their livelihood, as they had always done against violent invaders (e.g. illegal miners and extractivists). When the conflict over road construction intensified in 1974, the military, determined to assure the rapid finishing of the construction at all cost, reacted harshly and attacked with explosives and poison thrown from helicopters. Those who survived were attacked by soldiers on the ground and plantations and several villages were destroyed by tractors or set on fire, leading to the death or disappearance of an estimated 2,000 Kinja people, while also at least 26 non-indigenous died throughout the conflict. The introduction of diseases to the isolated indigenous communities further reduced the Kinja population of originally about 3,000 to an estimated 374 people in 1986.  Also the Piurititi indigenous group has widely disappeared since then, with – as it was found in 2011 – only a few remaining community members living in isolation at the margins of the Waimiri Atorari territory. 
In the years after, the surviving Kinja community continued to face interferences, such as the implanting of military outposts, invasions through mining, the imposition of the Balbina hydroelectric project (see also related case entry in the EJAtlas), and the continuation of FUNAI’s disciplinary indigenist missions, further undermining indigenous rights and livelihoods.
After the end of military dictatorship, the surviving indigenous community however reclaimed land demarcation of parts of their historical territory and the establishment of the Waimiri Atroari Program, which was financed through compensation payments from the hydroelectric dam operator Eletronorte.  When the BR-174 was decided to be paved in 1998, Kinja groups – after a series of protests and road blockades – negotiated increased program funding from Eletronorte to prevent illegal land occupation and extractivism. However, until today the community – which has now grown again to almost 2,000 members – closes off the highway with a chain every night from 18.30 to 06.00 in order to protect wildlife and itself, a practice that is tolerated by the state. Over the last years, the closure of the highway at night has been facing increasing opposition through a movement of agricultural producers and businesses in Boa Vista, inducing street blockades and counter-demonstrations for free circulation.      
The BR-174 has also affected indigenous communities in other parts of Roraima. For example, in the northern municipality of Pacaraima (bordering Venezuela) the road traverses the São Marcos indigenous reserve and local communities recently protested by blocking the street to demand velocity controls after an eight-year-old indigenous girl was killed by a truck. 
The highway has also triggered changes in land use and cover. While the forest within the Waimiri Atroari Indigenous Reserve today remains widely protected, the opening of especially the isolated south of Roraima through the BR-174 (e.g. municipality of Rorainópolis, north of the territory) has provoked increased colonization and cattle ranching in close distance to the road and side roads, thereby also triggering logging and deforestation. According to a 2016 study, timber extraction in southern Roraima is one of the main economic activities but clearly unsustainable, with about 70 percent of the extraction occurring illegally. 
In 2011, the Brazilian government under Dilma Rousseff established a ‘truth commission’ to investigate a series of human right violations during the dictatorship and the questionable official historiography up to that point, leading to a report by indigenous specialists and organizations that shed new light upon the massacre of the Waimiri Atroari in the course of the BR-174 construction, but also practices of mining operator Paranapanema to repress indigenous resistance in the years after.  
In 2013, the federal prosecutor’s office (MPF) of Amazonas opened a law suit in which it accused the Brazilian state of genocide of the Waimiri Atroari population and demanded a compensation of $13 million for the community, an official apology and ceremony as well as a museum and the mentioning of the rights violations in public school books. Since then, legal hearings have been taking place in Kinja villages and elderly members gave testimonies over the witnessed attacks and atrocities, speaking out openly for the first time about the violent past, which brought new public attention to the assumed disappearance and killing of 2,000 indigenous people.  Kinja members reported that after the poison attack on a ceremony, an indigenous village was covered with dead bodies and the few survivors sought shelter in the forest. After the road was opened, they continued to face threats by the Brazilian military and increasingly faced hunting shortages.  One community member stated that “before this road we lived well and in peace, we were healthy” but “after the road, people died and we were threatened” . They also emphasized the importance of Brazil’s recognition of the historical violence, as so far the tragic events of the 1970s have not been critically reappraised. A Kinja leader stated: “Everyone should know what happened here so it never happens again” . A chief investigator pointed to the difficulties in finding evidence for crimes committed long in the past, but said that “to not have a Truth Commission would be even worse. We spent 30 shameful years pretending to the world and to ourselves that everything was ok.”  Hearings also included military representatives, whose versions differed from the indigenous ones. By May 2019, no final decision has been made by the federal judge as results from forensics (e.g. about the use of chemicals) and further testimonies were being awaited.