Brazil's Supreme Court says a vast Amazon Indian reserve must remain intact in a ruling seen as bolstering indigenous rights.

Experts say the decision sets an important precedent for laying out and protecting the boundaries for many Indian reserves in Brazil.

The case pitted 18,000 Amazon Indians against a small number of rice farmers.

The farmers had taken over parts of the 4.2 million-acre (1.7 million hectare) Raposa Serra do Sol reservation. The government worked to remove the farmers since the reservation was created in 2005.

Last year, farmers burned bridges and hurled Molotov cocktails at authorities when they tried to evict them.

The court justices voted 10-1 on Thursday.