Allegories Of Wildness ~ The Cartography Of War And Peace: Worlds In Collision
The previous chapter discussed the documentary sources about the Southern Nambikwara mostly from the conquering society’s perspective. On a few occasions the other point of view, coming from the contemporary Sararé oral tradition, brought out some contrasts and coincidences. One such coincidence worth remembering concerns the new tactic developed by Nambikwara local groups when pressures built up within their own territory. By the 20th century they adapted by concealing villages and gardens in remote places or even may have abandoned horticulture for some time and reverted to a hunting and gathering mode of production. The Nambikwara peoples or local groups may have been temporarily forced to be nomadic and, even when they were not, they appeared to be. Thus the imagery projected to the national society of being nomadic hunters without a fixed abode may simultaneously be a partial truth and a tactical deception. The result of partial conquest (as documentary sources indicate areas not occupied) and the active ruse of the conquered combine in the image of the nomadic and elusive Indians disappearing when pursued. From the early years of the century until the end of the empire, this image must have contributed to relinquishing the conquered territory to the warfare practiced by the formally and formerly vanquished. The Nambikwara probably adapted to the presence of the mining villages and the quilombos by creatively designing a new form of occupancy and a new mode of war. The war of conquest waged before provoked a reflexive response from the Indian peoples, and in the end they prevailed. To clarify, the lack of strong economic interest, the attention diverted to more urgent Indian problems, the dearth of government resources, and the diminished general strategic and political importance of a peripheral region all contributed to the relenting attitude taken by the provincial government and the lack of commitment to stronger local initiative. In the meantime, the re-conquest fueled the hatred and humiliation, at least on the part of the local society of Vila Bela, a fact even expressed in writing. The Cabixi offended the sense of natural supremacy of the locals but support in the wider provincial and national context failed to come forward with respect to the necessary investment to resist the continuous and persistent Indian campaign to recover the lost ground. The town of Vila Bela itself probably could not be reconquered by the new modality of Indian warfare[i].
A blank spot on the map and the absence of the state in a very large region it purportedly owns, is in itself a symbolically forceful reason to expand its tentacles into the unknown and savage land and its people. On the other hand, it is with good reason that FUNAI’s policy towards the uncontacted or groups uninterested in contact now is to let them be and not to subject them to a pacification campaign (unless the encroachment of the regional society endangers them)[ii]. At first, after the initial years of the republic commenced and dominated by the positivist military, hardly a change occurred with respect to the treatment of Indians and their placement in the scheme of things. Another head of the new state of Mato Grosso explained that the Indians should be treated humanely but that the more recalcitrant Indians might need to brought into line forcibly and then learn the principles of civilization. The Cabixi posed such a savage threat to the civilized presence in the region of Vila Bela, that they would have qualified perfectly for such a overt domination to transform their “miserable and degrading life” by “the fear of punishment” and “a regime of order and discipline” (Costa 1897: 31)[iii]. The formal change of the institutional framework of the state hardly made any difference in the beginning of what is now generally known as the Old Republic. The Southern Nambikwara of the Valley, therefore, did not enjoy any new privilege in the beginning of the century before the SPI came into existence in the wake of making a limited contact with some of the Nambikwara do Campo groups. Only after the Nambikwara experience of Rondon, when the rules set out by the military positivists began to produce amicable contacts on the Parecis Plateau with the Northern Nambikwara, did some change occur. After SPI’s inauguration, the province president of Mato Grosso mentioned that the task of this federal organization would be to care for these unfortunate uncivilized fellow citizens. Old habits die hard, and many political and general interests were involved, so the governors of Mato Grosso always tried to interfere with such a sensitive subject[iv].
The territory in question was larger than Argentina and had an estimated population of two million. With a figure of this size, even a large margin of error leaves a number larger than many of our provinces and should be conquered for civilization. In 1899, the less harsh current of thought that conceived the Indians as being in the childhood of mankind that reminds us of the first signs of our own society in the evolutionary framework took firmer hold. The Salesians’ attempt to subdue the Bororo was rejected as it tried to mould the Indians into “a passive, obedient and suffering labor machine as in colonial times” (Figueredo 1899: 35). The author proposed “(…) to accept the adult savage as he is, without aiming at changing him except if useful for his own activities; educate the children, but educate him very well in order to return to the villages to live with the savages and dominate them by superiority of education” (ib.: 35). It is vain to try to modify Indian customs and religious beliefs when the nomadic life is the manifestation of an atavist law, a second nature. But the territory and its useful hands can be transformed into powerful elements for progress and civilization by directly intervening in the education of the children. Expectably, the author is a colonel and was no doubt affiliated with the positivist faction that dominated the army and, although they were limited in number, they exercised a large influence in national politics long after the regime change. The arguments now were fixed, the unfortunate Indians left behind by progress and previously subjected to inhuman processes by civilized conquerors foster the compassionate and economic duty to intervene. A humane evangelization must incorporate them, their labor, and their ecological knowledge in the march towards progress (Costa 1909: 10).
A year later, the same colonel wrote of the secular usurpation of their rights to be corrected (Costa 1910: 9). Notwithstanding the partial recognition of rights, the right to humane interaction is the right to be pacified. By this time the Rondon’s Mission crossed Nambikwara territory and had acquired fame in the distant coastal states where the federal policy was being decided in favor of what may be called the relative superiority variant of Indian policy. In 1911 this colonel spoke at the opening of the state parliament and mentioned the new charge the federal government had adopted, possibly hastening their incorporation into national society[v]. Yet he also noticed that that a few indigenous tribes showed peaceful intentions with rubber tappers and the Telegraph Line personnel only to betray them later (suggesting a trick to murder the civilized; Costa 1911: 21).The Indian Protection Service and the Bureau of Worker Relocation (Instalação de Trabalhadores Nacionais) did not, however, win an easy victory (Lima 1995). In fact mentioning in the same breath the rubber tappers and the telegraph personnel mixes exactly the locally prevalent proponents of absolute superiority with the supposed executors of Rondon’s approach. Documents from the next year refer to SPI’s establishment in Cuiabá (very appropriately on the national independence day) and under the general direction of Rondon, who was born in this state. His success was eulogized,
“The great tribe of Nhambiquaras and others that until recently create terror amongst our people in the backlands recently entered amicable relations with the personnel of the telegraph commission due to our illustrious compatriot and his dignified and self-effacing auxiliaries. It is expected that they do not return to the life of hostilities and persecutions which they were leading and, on the contrary, will transform themselves into peaceful inhabitants of these backlands and join the civilized in order to make use of the riches that exist over there and conserve the telegraph line now under construction” (Campos 1912: 46).
The fame of the Nambikwara rested firmly on the reputation of terror, as the quintessential fierceness of wild savage Indians. Rondon’s fame is founded on that of the Nambikwara.
The immediate relation between the opening up of the land’s riches, the integration of the labor force, and the use of the Indian’s knowledge is an all too familiar refrain that also recurred in Rondon’s arguments. The major difference voiced by Rondon concerns the sensibility to allow an inverted perspective. As he said once after his contact with the peoples near the line: “They evaded us; they did not allow us to meet them, by virtue of a natural mistrust which they had of the first invaders and violators of their homes. Perhaps they hated us, too, because, from the viewpoint of their civilization, we were all members of that warlike tribe which had caused them so many misfortunes since time immemorial” (apud, translated in Price 1972: 29). Although the aggression in a few rare instances had been acknowledged before, the recognition of their civilization and us being like a warlike tribe constitutes a quite rare empathy to put evolution between brackets and to invert the perspectival stance. In the end, Rondon did not overcome the basic tenets of natural evolution and superiority. After all, he firmly promoted interning the young Indians (mostly Paresi and a few Nambikwara) in a boarding school in order to actualize the indigenous education plan developed by the previously mentioned province president. Rondon’s efforts to solve the Indian Problem garnered prestige. In this period the two major configurations of attitudes and values towards the Indian Problem disputed the hegemony of government policy. The nature of his approach to the Nambikwara figured prominently as to prove its practical feasibility. To that aim the rhetorical style emphasized exactly the terror and the fierceness of this tribe. Incidentally, this relates to the major point of contention with respect to the treatment of the Kaingang in São Paulo, a people who mounted a strong resistance to the invasion. The foremost issue revolved around the question of whether peaceful contact could be established or if the only language applicable was violence. The Nambikwara thus became a prime example in the symbolic definition of the humanity or racial inferiority of the Indians and the very possibility of perfecting this rebellious and evolutionary left behind people. The argument came down to the affirmation that if they could be pacified, any people could be treated thus.
The pacification operated in this case merits attention. In two articles, Price discussed three perspectives on what was supposedly the same first contact made with the Nambikwara by Rondon’s people. The juxtaposition of two civilized accounts and one Indian narrative show not only how the Indians differed in their rendering of the events, but also how the process was fraught with guesswork, misunderstandings, and projections from each one’s unique perspective. First, I will approach the representation portrayed on the national scene. One of Rondon’s men published an article in a newspaper in the capital to show how even the most stubborn savages should be treated humanely, and not like animals. Alípio Bandeira wrote:
“The Nambiquara are a nation native to Mato Grosso held and considered to be intractable – a timorous species of barbarians who, like sentinels in the forest, cunning and vigilant, stood steadfast on their post, as indomitable in their ferocity as inflexible in their hatred for civilization. Mistrustful in the face of continued treachery, suspicious after innumerable disloyalties, fleeing from the whites as from wild beasts, they interned themselves ever more into the distant center, and only when the echo of an unknown voice, some noise or foreign signal reached the door of their huts – only then did they venture forth to defend their frontiers” (apud Price 1984: 41)[vi].
Therefore, the did not Nambiquara people revolt but, vigilant of their land and in defense of their families, they reacted to the penetration” [in the same artistic style the author fancifully continued to describe how the Indians followed the expedition in order to choose the moment of attack; my translation Price 1983a: 612]
“Thus was the Rondon commission received when it first stepped on the lands of this fearless tribe” (Price 1984: 41).
The commission did not plan to plan to do any harm, but countless adventurers came before them and did not bring the “generous peace of civilization but the miserable war of avarice” (ib.: id.). The self-image of the Rondon Commission as the vanguard of real civilization, and not the rubber tappers reported to have attempted earlier incursions shortly before, agrees with the general civilizing mission entrusted to the positivist military. In the same sentence, Rondon’s positivist idiom drew the opposition between the fraternal embrace and a betraying attitude. This was a precursor to the fraternal protection the officers planned for SPI. It is no shock that, “The Nambiquara took vengeance and, as it is, vengeance is the nectar of gods and savages” (Price 1983a: 612). The savages just like the pagan gods are without the civilized restraint exercised by the Commission’s military participants. Bandeira does not yet use the famous commandment “to die, if necessary, but not to kill”. However, the next scene firmly established the difference between the sweet taste of revenge and the exceptional peace of Colonel Rondon compared to other Whites. “Well, colonel Rondon was an exception, he really was at peace with his spirit, as well as with his heart and his actions” (Price 1983a: 613). This was an exception in more than one way; only a man at peace with his thoughts, sentiments and actions, his whole being engaged in this venture would react so civilized to the next incident. Rondon changed directions after the first bellicose contact when the Indians defended their lands. The Indians obstinately followed his tracks, and when they thought the expedition penetrated too far in their territories, they attacked again. This time Rondon escaped miraculously and famously nearly took an arrow in the heart. This is the incident when the arrow was deflected by a bandolier that caused his fame among Sabanê and Northern Nambikwara. Nevertheless, the valiant colonel Rondon did not allow any reprisal against the Nambikwara. For all the justification of the reaction of the Indians, the attitude of the colonel is impressive. Then, he changed directions again. Note, incidentally, the epithet valiant applied to Rondon above. This usage preempted any weakness or cowardice on Rondon’s part. After all, according to the more general mores, a man must react to an attack on his physical integrity.
In fact, the position of the savage reads like the inverse, the mirror image of the predicates attributed to one’s civilized characteristics. In that sense, as shown by the future of the Nhambiquara, the evident superiority so obviously displayed tends to shift the fraternal embrace towards a fatal embrace[vii]; or, perhaps more aptly, from encirclement to entrapment. The article continued in the rhetorical style characteristic of the time with all sorts of embellishments regarding details of the events the writer did not verify but supposed he can safely get away with in an article for the educated public in the large city. Take as an example the adjective fearless applied to the Indians. This could not possibly have been objectively verified by December 1910. In reality, this reflected projections by the author and his colleagues, rather than information revealed by ethnographic examination. While the nudity, sleeping in the sand, or stone axes are not imagined, they are interpreted in a pre-conceived framework of evaluating the actions and objects of the savages. This rhetoric agrees with hawkish hard-liners advocates of the legitimacy of violence to subdue the fierce tribes. Both camps concur on these distinguishing traits and the advocate of the notion of all peoples being of ‘one single humanity’ even stresses them to cast the making of contact into a favorable light. Thus, the strong emphasis on fearless warriors is relevant. On the other hand, by laying the blame on the intruders and justifying the violent response as the defense of their home and land, the savages acquire a different character that is understandable to westerners. They are, after all, not so distinct in their ways. If the strange Indians are human, then a common ground must exist. The commonality of humanity apparently justified the free interpretation of the sentiments and thoughts of this strange people. Therefore, the Indians comprehend Rondon’s actions and adopt an attitude of expectation allowing the Commission to work in peace. These observations were only the prelude to the main episode Bandeira wants “to call to the attention of reader” (Price 1983a: 613).
The initial events set the stage and provide the major notions which will be applied to the events that lead to contact. The example and leadership of Rondon must be established beforehand as he did not play the role of the protagonist of first contact himself. One day two military men rode out too far away from the main body of the expedition and ended up severely wounded by arrows. One arrow pierced the graduated officer Lt. Bueno Horta Barbosa in his lungs. Another one stuck in a tree, just as was the bullet fired by the lieutenant to frighten away the assailants. Some workers nearby rushed to their aid, but the wounded officer forbade any retaliation. The tree remained there as the monument testifying to the situation, an arrow and a bullet – the two potentially mortal objects of the opposing sides – lodged in its trunk. The very place for a “touching scene of reconciliation” (Price 1984: 42). Then “(…) the loveliest passage of this sylvan epic, in which the generous sentiments of a truly civilized man and the ingenuous affection of the uncultured sons of the forest will swiftly meet in a moving exchange of tender friendship – as soon as he managed to recover” (ib.42). When the gravely injured officer recuperated, he acted gallantly, in a way worthy of his rank. He returned, cleared all of the vegetation around the sacred tree of his martyrdom and left gifts for the irresponsible malefactors. Then he emphasized what he thought was a corresponding Indian action, and stressed that they fully comprehended the nobility of his act, swapping the delicacies under the tree with food. At first sight both the reference to aristocratic values and religious simile may seem out of place but, the positivist influence in the army aside, the vast majority of the elite were Catholics and the country recently emerged from an empire with a politically dominant nobility. The non-converted elite needed convincing, at least partly in its own terms. Rondon’s prestige needed to be couched in a symbolic language accessible to the intellectuals and to the powerful in the federal capital who shared in the shaping of federal policy.
Lt. Barbosa believed that the Indians’ countergift demonstrated that they understood his gallant intentions. He left unexplained how he could be so sure of his interpretation of this gesture. This Indian behavior resembles closely the delayed reciprocity prevailing between allied groups or the commencement of the process of alliance. One party proposing to reach an amicable relation with the foreign group leaves gifts and waits for the opposite side to act. If the strangers return the gift likewise, then this is considered a first move to alter the prevalent state of actual or potential violence. Notably in the initial gift of the delicacies the question of the interpretation by the Indians is resumed to his own standard of evaluating food. The Indians, on the other hand, left manioc, a staple that was not considered specially valued food. They also deposed arrows, probably a medium of stating both good intentions and the wish to exchange the non-food goods habitually traded between allies. It seems possible that part of the interpretation correctly assumed the action to be the first overture to a non-hostile relationship even when exaggerating the Indian’s positive attitude. The notion of the noble savage underscores the idea that the generous sentiment of the truly civilized man was recognized, as only the noble correctly infer and could recognize this generous sentiment, exchange gifts and accept contact. This was not just an example to the Indians, but to everybody. Rondon’s men were the paradigm of civilized men even in national society. The savages, on the other hand, corresponded as the junior partners in this sylvan epic with the ingenuous affection of uncultured sons of the forest. Good savages are simple, sentimental people without real culture and close to nature. Implicitly their position resembles the civilized child, a natural product to be transformed by education into a son of civilization of which the other protagonist is the icon. Therefore, ‘the sons of nature’ demonstrate comprehensible behavior to the ‘bearers of culture’ and still are to be classified as irresponsible, just like immature ‘sons of civilization’. The foreshadowed implication about the status of evolutionary rebellious children to be coaxed to civilization is obvious. Nature is always to be transformed by the civilized action of culture. This applies to children and savages, as both need tutelage.
The lieutenant collected the tokens and left new gifts. “The natives similarly returned, and on this occasion they left – for there is nothing else which adventurers require in their dominions – balls of smoked latex, they naively thought that this was the best gift they could make” (Price 1984: 42). In effect, this exchange is quite remarkable. Firstly, by virtue of the evident knowledge the Indians display of the frontier closing up on them. They knew what interested the Whites and, more significantly, knew how to smoke rubber. In this epoch the milk gathered had to be smoked for storage and transported in the form of rubber balls. If this was the gift, the Indians learned the tapper’s way of producing rubber, a notable feat for a supposedly isolated and totally uncontacted tribe. The gift eloquently demonstrates the extent of their knowledge. There are certainly not as naïve as the author presumes, and this act is almost premonitory. The SPI later promoted rubber production and later, corresponding to American demand, even founded the Espirro Indian Post with a contract to secure the collection of this resource. This offer leads to the reasonable implication that the previous contact with rubber gatherers somehow earned the Indians metal tools. The Indians took the initiative and invested in the demand for economic material exchange of particular goods to obtain more. Around this time it was written that from a hidden vantage point the Indians observed, the fraternal maneuvers of their friend. Surely though, the Indians did not consider the fraternal movements as more than a phase in the construction of friendship. Then they entered into the second phase of this process:
“(…) they appeared and confidently approached speaking. Unfortunately the language of the Nambiquara is excessively strange, wherefore the two sides could only trade gestures intelligible as affectionate and reciprocal comradeship.
Well, these beginnings, beyond being sufficiently promising in their own right, prove magnificently that the Nambiquara are not, as was believed, indomitable. It is already realistic to expect from them not only loyal friendship, but more, their full cooperation, which is of incomparable use in these remote localities, as in the case of the Pareci employed by Colonel Rondon in the construction of the telegraph line” (Price 1984: 42).
“Therefore, the myth of their ferocity of this noble nation is unproven, as was to be expected. There is only one obvious thing, never before have courageous and principled men used appropriate methods in their relations with the natives” (Price 1983a: 614).
History revealed the author’s confidence about these very tenuous beginnings to be unjustified. The optimism of the story and the projection of sentiments and feelings into the opposing party constitute part of the rhetoric of a hero tale, or, more precisely, a tale of two heroes. If an Indian told this narrative, it would have been classified, to use an older scientific concept, as a civilizing hero myth. The whole factual story to be told is much more a supporting tale to the present conclusion, invoking its own ancestral spirits: “Colonel Rondon’s school, inspired by the wise council of José Bonifácio, Azeredo Coutinho, and other great spirits, is thus consecrated once again by its practical results”. As always, the results count, and hence the optimism of finally overcoming the unconquerable. Again, if the Nambikwara can be conquered by these brave methodical men, they can deal with all already settled or still wandering tribes and everything indicates that this great task will shortly be accomplished. As if all the most indomitable peoples originally were nomadic. The indigenous peoples, the innumerable tribes on our vast plains, in this still grandiloquent style, will be called to social fellowship by the prominent hero, the illustrious chief. This incorrectly suggests that they do not participate in any social congregation with other peoples and the civilizing hero will foster true social life. Finally, this project merits all the more support due to the qualities of the people brought to the bosom of society: just as adapted as anyone else, as sober, hardy, acquiescent and close to the soil as the best foreigner (contra the proponents of the superiority of the racially better qualified Europeans) and a lovely race, too. In referring to the Indians as the legitimate sons of Brazil he implied the right to a humane treatment as well as the usual symbolic misappropriation of identity and autonomy. Jointly the ecological, racial, and aesthetic dimensions are promised to produce a relief for the interior deserts (extinguishing them), so as to till the soil, and encourage industry[viii]. This undeniable capacity is not only posed in definite terms as it is generalized as the acceptable stereotypes applicable to all Indians. The Indians were more alike than different despite belonging to different peoples. The positive qualities predominantly state more about the wishes and projections of the author and his group than about the created class of people. Thus, an enormously favorable imagery was fashioned mainly to please the citizens of the city who were interested in the utility of the Indians, and, consequently, of the Rondon School which was embodied in the new Service[ix].
The positivist military needed more to champion their cause than to report research. Even if SPI had been inaugurated a few months earlier, one of its founders still employed all the habitual rhetorical means of the time to convince the literate higher classes more thoroughly of the utility, efficacy, and future of both Indians and SPI led by the hero Rondon. Important in this respect, once again demonstrating that things change but remarkably stay the same, was the international pressure when the Kaingang killings were denounced in international forums like the 1908 Americanist Congress (by people like Fric; Price 1984: 37). The Nambikwara, in this sense, were more instrumental to the cause than the object of any concern in themselves. A very appropriate example, due to the fame firstly acquired locally and now reaching the national level. They were a prime example of what the poetry and history of the tree doubly stricken by human discord transformed into “an altar of alliance with an aboriginal people, who – exploited and persecuted, without land in their own land and without a country in their own country – rise again for the glory of labor, civilization, and liberty” (Price 1984: 42-3). That is the final phrase and final stroke. The Nambikwara were not without land or country, in the larger sense of the word. Yet, only after not conceding them their own land and country, they can be taken up in the glory of labour, civilization and liberty, all concepts entirely distinct from their own. This was done by taking away their particular sociocultural mode of labor, civilization and liberty. With such lofty and high ideals, the facts did not matter much. Price contrasted these prior assertions about the heroic story of the celebration of transcendence of death and discord by means of the human capacity to understanding with other accounts from the Commission. From these it appears that the first contact really took place by another officer a year earlier and on another river. This factual error does not diminish the sincere thrust of the argument though (Price 1983a: 611). It does show the prevalence of the cause over the limitations of the facts, consistently discernible in the exaggerations and embellishments. This is a more symbolic and pragmatic beginning to the relationship between the Nambikwara and SPI. First, the beautiful promises about civilizing the Indians and the subsequent contribution to society never materialized. Second, as Price (1983a: 616) carefully pointed out, the Nambikwara mainly gained nothing but neglect. Only a handful of Indians were treated in the course of the epidemics, the only enduring Indian Post served the express purpose of producing rubber and the first land was set aside only in 1961, consisting of 258 km2 of a territory originally two hundred times larger. The promise of a bright future turned out to be a miserable failure for one of the parties involved. The history of SPI ended in disgrace.
Of the first peaceful contact no narrative seems to exist, despite Price’s efforts in collecting all the material of Rondon’s commission. In 1909, Rondon chose the base camp in Campos Novos to construct a permanent point of support with buildings, pastures and animals. A year later, the manager of Campos Novos gradually succeeded in approaching the Indians that visited the gardens. The manager, by the way, wrote his report in a very simple and direct language that the Commission corrected before publication. This indicates that the manager had minimal formal education but certainly was no officer. The tone is descriptive, narrating the sequence of events without pretension and with no heroes. The Indians visited the gardens, took food, and the manager immediately left gifts like tools, in accordance with Rondon’s strict instructions. The steel implements produced a tremendous success among the different groups of visitors. The two parties also respectively shot arrows and fired in the air at a few opportunities. The Indians killed some mules and an ox. This caused the manager to reprimand the offenders, attempting to make them understand this was behaving badly. He did not mind the digging up of garden produce but later on the Indians did compensate with objects like arrows, artifacts, and food. Some even left a message the manager did not understand: seven arrows stuck in the ground and thirty-two scratches in the dirt. The arrow symbolized each man and the scratches the number of days until their return. Incidentally, this demonstrates that even though their language lacked number words this large, they easily and creatively bypassed this linguistic limitation. Maybe this is part of the reason that the manager failed to decipher the message; he never expected the Indians capable of such detailed communicational abilities.
The entire process is replete with misunderstandings. He could not know, of course, that the Nambikwara saw the mules and oxen as atasu, usually translated as bad spirits but more like potentially evil beings that can take the form of large animals (already confirmed by Lévi-Strauss 1948:363). The Sararé or Katitauhlu and the Wasusu, for instance, now describe the hatasu as a gorilla (the aspirant is a small dialectal difference of the Sararé with the Nambikwara do Campo and Wasusu). Moreover, the author, in the beginning proudly stated that he succeeded in embracing and immediately clothing twelve Indians. Price observed that for the Nambikwara this physical contact was extremely uncommon except between potential or actual brothers-in-law. To them, this is a joking relationship between men who may marry each other’s sister and, incidentally, contrary to what Lévi-Strauss believed, such acts have no homosexual connotation. The direct intimate physical contact in Brazilian usage signals the friendly relations between the two parties. Hence, the manager happily reported the fact convinced him that such a feat opened the way to a full alliance. To him, his insistence on clothing the Indians also signified something like being the civilizing benefactor of the poor. The second thing he immediately set out to do was name the man he took to be the leader with the title captain. Therefore, by generously handing out gifts (tools and even sugar occasionally), and clothing and naming the leader at the first opportunity, he followed the template of pacification almost to the letter. In the report he confidently transcribed the Indians’ utterances. Price disagreed with the translations he offered, and claimed some are indecipherable or unrecognizable as Nambikwara language (Price 1984: 36-8). Unwittingly the Brazilian may have facilitated the process of approximation by singing and playing the flute. Later a group responded by likewise singing and dancing. Singing is very important among the Nambikwara, probably among the whole ensemble. Songs help bring about desired results and are conducive to all sorts of activities. There are songs for hunting, war, and spirits (research among the Mamaindê; Avery 1977). Singing and dancing are done for the benefit of allies to enhance the alliance. Almost seventy years later, the Latundê danced on the first night in the presence of the previously unknown visitors, Fonseca and the Indian partners.
From this account, the clash of interpretations at times can be discerned, and at times only reasonably inferred or guessed at. From the short commentary of Price and the general knowledge of the Nambikwara, the same events emerge as evincing the two quite distinct sociocultural perspectives applied to their interpretation. The Brazilian side was too confident in interpreting the acts, sentiments, and thoughts of the opposing party. In this way, on a much more modest scale, the protagonist of the events echoes the swollen rhetorical exuberant confidence of the military officer writing in the city’s daily paper. The gulf between the opposing parties was larger then they actually imagined and they both filled it with their own imagery imbued with general preconceptions of the savages. However, it is difficult to interpret some incidents. One of the Indians witnessed very attentively something being written down. He asked for the pencil and copied the movement: “(…) and having traced a tortuous line he showed himself satisfied, as if he, too, had written something. I made him a present of the pencil and paper, which he received with special pleasure, scratching at the paper all the time” (Price 1984: 38). This happened almost thirty years before the famous incident described by Lévi-Strauss in Tristes Tropiques in which a Nambikwara also wrote something down, making the author read it afterwards. The scene provoked Lévi-Strauss to ponder the implications of writing as an instrument of power (Lévi-Strauss 1984). The early precedent apparently denotes an immense and focused curiosity. What the person thought and how he interpreted the drawing wavy lines will remain unknown. Even Price, who naturally recognized the similarity, did not suggest an interpretation (Price 1983a: 622). The illustrations of objects collected by Roquette-Pinto show, at least for the more northern peoples of the Savanna and for the Northern cluster, they painted calabashes with realist and wavy lines motifs. So, in that sense, the medium and canvas may have been strange but there people were already familiar with a similar practice[x].
Meeting the Bean People: the first encounter and conceptions of exchange
In his articles on the pacification of the Nambikwara, as represented by Rondon in the Savanna, Price organized three different narratives to demonstrate the style and content by the implicit contrasts, with few direct comparisons or profound analyses. His aim seems to be to present the distinct versions of the contact, grounded within their separate contexts, and especially to give voice to the Indians’ point of view. As he published in Natural History (1984), he purposefully restricted the amount of jargon and analysis and saved more detailed remarks for the expanded version of a more scholarly journal (1983a). He began by outlining the issues involved in pacification, discussed above. This was published much later by the Commission as another factual example of the efficacy of the approach. Then he set the national scene to expound the role of the Nambikwara in persuading the public of the utility of Rondon’s School and prestige to frame the local context. Finally, after completing such rhetoric culminating in its impact to the reader unfamiliar with the other’s point of view, he transcribed the narrative of the oldest living Nambikwara do Campo when Price did fieldwork for his thesis. It is probably one of the earliest attempts to reveal to the non-familiar western reader an understanding of the other side of the story. As his narrator was the oldest living Indian in the savanna at the time, Price asked him about his recollections of Rondon and the first Brazilians penetrating their territory. By now Rondon “(…) was a semi-legendary figure known locally as the general” (Price 1984:43). Just like the Sabanê and other Northern Nambikwara it is very possible Rondon entered into their mythical history. The narrative of the old man concerns the arrival of the Brazilians. Although he knew about skirmishes and violence, with the current peace he refrained from mentioning any of these incidents in a story about the commencement of friendly relations. Of course, if for the Whites hostility was the main reason to pacify this fearless tribe, this narrator believed that his people absolutely did not require taming by the strange Bean People. On the contrary, they must be taught to behave as people who may be allies.
Price suggests the Bean People probably received this name in recognition of the beans grown in the garden of the appointed manager in Campos Novos. It is likely that the consumption of the beans contributed to the designation, different as it was from the Nambikwara notion of proper food (meat and manioc; the Wasusu never eat meat without manioc; Serafim 2000: 49). This is current throughout the region even today, and even the Latundê use it in a somewhat pejorative way[xi]. Simultaneously, the narrator uses the name Salt People, “(…) the Nambiquara, who did not use this substance, found the Brazilian food disgustingly salty” (Price 1984: 43). Indeed, Brazilian food was, and continues to be, eaten with an abundance of salt. Price suspected the Salt People to be an old, probably somewhat archaic term (1983a: 625). Just as with salt, coffee and juice were commonly drunk with much sugar. Both usages must have been noticed immediately by the Nambikwara after consuming anything given to them by the telegraph personnel. In the initial times of contact some Nambikwara already had a taste of salty food, as the manager offered the visitors some food (after taking a bite to allay any fears of poisoning). Interestingly, the Sabanê made a kind of salt for their food from a vegetal source, but the salt consumed by the Brazilians was much more poignant and used in greater quantities in their food. In time the Nambikwara developed a liking for salt, almost as easily as they did for sugar. Sugar, of course, did not need much getting used to, and continues to destroy Nambikwara teeth even in small and newly contacted communities like the Latundê. In these observations the typical Nambikwara mode of naming occurs. As with the naming of the neighboring local groups, the villages and village-sets and peoples, a particular feature strikes the observer and is used for designation. Larger more distanced units appear to be named after their ecological setting: Savanna People, Jungle People (for the Valley seen from the Savanna), or else something more specific in the environment and, probably somewhat likelier to occur for lower levels: People of the Pequi Fruit, People of the Buriti Palm, and Alligator People (all examples from Price 1981a: 16). Ecology determines food and hence the names circumscribes the kind of consumable foods available. The Bean or Salt People’s name thus derives from the Nambikwara style of naming where the kind of food is a significant distinguishing feature. Incidentally, Lévi-Strauss (1948: 363) even in his time noticed the impact the salt made and stated the Nambikwara “(…) cannot bear to eat salt”. Food is the substance of making people and the food consumed creates the substance of the person. A similar argument was made for of the Sabanê and the general principle accords with recent research (Viveiros de Castro 1992; Gow 2001). Hence eating different food fabricates distinctiveness and intrinsically divides different people. Intensive sharing within the villages pools the consumption and, in this sense, founds their being made of the same food. Aspelin (1979) took the Mamaindê to their word and, measuring the actual redistribution, discovered the hunted meat really was distributed fairly according to the estimated size of the families.
From the beginning the intruders were fundamentally different[xii]. The very distant strangers, what the Brazilians and Cinta Larga were, and in a way still are, belong to the most distant category to which a human being can pertain, hàitsú, that is foreigners or barbarians (Price 1987: 14). The civilized or Whites, as they themselves prefer to be known, refer, it may be said, to both their own conception of their identity and their particular relation of genetically transmitted substance. In their case the genetic constitution of the person contains family characteristics that influence the person’s behavior. The genetic substance functions as a sociomoral vector determined by family background acting on individual behavior (Reesink 2001). Different substances, different people; but with the former it concerns bonds created in time, with the latter content in part transmitted by inheritance (and then joined with personal input). The notion of being the barbarian, outside of the Nambikwara social universe, is such a radical inversion to Brazilians that it must seem entirely preposterous coming from a naked savage who sleeps in the sand. It would be simply too outrageous to believe. The wide gulf of profound misunderstanding possibly was larger than most protagonists involved realized. The Indian side tried to decipher the invaders from its own frame of reference and constructed their own particular interpretation. Some indication of the initial profoundness of the ethnic chiasm can be discerned from the translated narrative of the Nambikwara elder. At the time of the events, the narrator was an adolescent and not part of the older men who decided on what actions to take. Comparatively, as an adult storyteller, now also known by the Brazilian name Vitorino, the other Indians saw him as a repository of traditional lore and myths. Vitorino was also an excellent speaker and had what was described as a beautiful and rich style characteristic of older respected men. In a way, he had become one of the older men he mentioned in the account as the ones interpreting and deciding on the course of events. This set of men probably is the group of adult men that discussed and attempted to reach consensus on group decisions (Price 1983: 624). Their problem was founded on the uncertainty of what to make of the strangers. The translated narrative loses much of its linguistic flavor because the language has many grammatical categories absent in European languages (Price 1983a: 616). Still, a hint of the cognitive challenges can be detected (following is an English translation supplemented with excerpts from the enlarged Spanish version):
“The Bean People who made the road did not put up the posts in a hurry. Before there was any wire our people walked and walked and walked and walked, crossing bridges and going along the trail (…)” (Price 1984: 43). “(…) As there were few older men, they worried if the constructors of the road might be dangerous. In the beginning there was no cable and we waited while the road was advancing” (Price 1983a: 617). “We noticed that the owners of the road didn’t use it very much, and we thought they must be dangerous. The owners had crests like birds and wrappings of various colors with stripes on them. So people said they must be dangerous” (Price 1984: 43).
“Well, after they made the road they only went by one more time, placing the cable on post after post. The older men went over there but did not encounter anyone despite the fact that the general at various opportunities camped at the site where the telegraph line crosses the headwaters of the Hakkatá. The general’s people made something similar to a trail right through the Mata das Cangas and they went on, went on, went on, went on, constructing a way for the posts that keep up the posts” (Price 1983a: 617).
The observations of the construction of the Line closely confer with the rhythm of work and the extended period it took to penetrate the region. This was because they only worked during the dry season and took care especially to avoid surprise Indian attacks. Such incidents, Price noted, are conspicuously absent. He suggested that these are purposefully left out for diplomatic reasons, in light of the alliance between the Indian peoples and the state. Still, it merits closer examination. The Nambikwara do Campo had already suffered from the encroachment of the rubber tappers, and conditions worsened when WWII refuelled demand. The land appropriation, the debt system which more closely resembled debt slavery with the attendant negative effects of diseases and problems over lack of women, left an indelible mark on the region’s Indians. So much so that when an investigator proposed to register their past and they jointly decided what would be the subject, the Nambikwara in question chose to recollect the time of rubber collection, and not, for example, the time of the penetration of the road BR364 through the highlands. The road brought its own series of problems, as is obvious, but the army liberated the local groups from the hands of the rubber patrons and thus are recalled more positively than one might expect (Costa 2000). To them closing the dark epoch of rubber extraction and dominance counted more than the negative effects the road builders propitiated by the further opening up of the region. Possibly this means that the army is remembered for its actions in favor of the Indians and is not held accountable for the effects caused by the road. Alternatively, in this conception, accountability may be usually individual, based on the set of direct personal actions. This is the same conclusion as surfaces above in the Sararé historical story of their contact with the villagers on the edge of the Parecis Plateau.
Moreover, there is no mention of any previous historical experience with the strange or even weird people who resembled birds by the odd things in which they encased themselves. To people who did not wear clothes and whose distinctive features concerned piercing their nose and lips, the clothing seemed quite outlandish. The previous experience of the other Southern Nambikwara does not filter into this account as clarifying knowledge. Either the Sararé local groups were in little contact with the Nambikwara do Campo or their experience in the continuous state of war also did not permit witnessing anything much different. The bird simile derives from the exterior aspect of the Whites and alludes to the gaudily colored military uniforms worn by officials. The Nambikwara do not generally wear any clothing, aside from specific attire used during rituals, so perhaps it reminded them of people always too fully dressed for ritual. And male birds usually show themselves most conspicuously in order to attract the less adorned females. Note also that birds are some of the least desirable hunted animals. On the whole, however, I cannot be certain that the bird metaphor implies some derogatory connotation in the Nambikwara classification of beings[xiii]. Regardless, such garments insinuated dangerousness. One hypothesis would be that, in accordance with the tendency of stressing knowledge rather than appearance or the material objects that create a covered body, this external visible difference did not indicate a friendly disposition. Of course, anyone coming in from the outer fringes already is presupposed to be dangerous and considered so until proven otherwise. The gradual process of approximation can be accounted for as the proof of the Whites as being more human than birdlike and less dangerous than initially thought.
There is still another exclusion worthy of attention. The narrative does not venture the possibility that the intruders might have initially been considered by some as the dangerous spiritual entity atasu. Perhaps this too was omitted for politeness. The primary atasu of the savanna, for example, is a simulacrum of a human and in myths disguised himself so few recognized him for what he really was, and those who did not died (Pereira 1983: 47-50). The mules were thought to be evil spirits. Even at the end of the 1960s Price (1981b: 698) witnessed a Sararé man kill a strayed cow as an evil spirit. The people in the Guaporé Valley continued to kill stray cattle until the beginning of the 1970s. Those in the central Valley eventually became so enveloped by the new fazendas that in one case they insisted in firing arrows and killing cattle because the animals not only were left free to invade their gardens but, at the Zilo Ranch, the cows viewed “(…) the Indian house as food” (Agostinho 1996: 645). This did little to convince the Indians that the cattle were not destructive spirits (ib.). For a long time the Indians believed that the meat was inedible because the animal did not pertain to the domain of the forest and was not similar to any recognizable game. When Price suggested that they bore a similarity with deer, the Sararé answered that the anatomy of its stomach was too different. Therefore, the cow seemed to be a bizarre animal, it was neither a pet (normally never eaten), nor a wild edible animal (Price 1989b: 34; and the Wasusu myth about the origin of animals is quite different from the Sabanê myth discussed earlier and Harpy Eagle plays a major role). Today, by the way, the situation is different. The people of Aroeira buy beef and the Sararé sometimes get the head of an animal at the adjacent ranch. Still, as far as known for all the peoples examined here, no one prefers this meat to the wild animals. Thus, the strangeness of these unclassifiable animals initially caused concern. Little could they surmise that the peoples and the villages of the Guaporé Valley would come to be seen as the obstacle to the transformation of their territory into valuable property populated by cattle. The goal of the frontier’s expansion was the displacement of the Indians to make space for these strange animals. Without knowing it, for more than one reason the utmost care was called for.
“They made the road big, almost like a clearing where it passed through the forest. Then they went along in the middle, taking out the stumps. They only took out the stumps in the middle of the road, leaving all the rest; and they didn’t set fire to them. On the way home, on the trail to Taikíyená, we stopped to rest. We laid down and talked. “They’re not doing anything very fast about those posts on the road. They’re all just lying along the trail”.
“The older men didn’t know what to make of it. “What do you think is going on? Could they be opening this trail to make a road? Could it be? I really don’t know what they’re up to.” That’s what we kept saying to each other. We kept wondering. “What on earth are they doing?”
We waited and rested in Taikíyená, and then we went back again. The road was burned; where it passes through the Mata das Cangas they had gone along setting fire to it, and it was covered with ashes. Well, then, it had been burnt, and so we asked ourselves. “What are they about? Do they want to plant manioc? But it doesn’t seem like much of a gardening place.” Thus we wondered and talked together.
Time passed (…)” (Price 1984: 43). “(…) When the work was halfway done, the general came to see it.[according to Price in 1911 (1983a: 618; 624); the group went to Campos Novos and returned to their village once again without seeing him] (…) As he had been here, we thought there were people living at Campos Novos” (Price 1983a: 618). “We had gone to look at the road of the wire, but we simply did not understand it. We asked ourselves, “What is it for? Why have they hung this vine along the road?” We met no one. We went to Campos Novos, but we didn’t see anyone at all. Nor did we see how the wire was put up” (Price 1984: 43-4). “Later, when we were resting at the village, the general went along the road of the vine” (Price 1983a: 618).
“Well, we went to look again, and found something new. “Could these be houses?” we asked. They had gone ahead of us, but there were these sheets of canvas, leaking where puddles of rain had formed on them. They were houses made of huge sheets. They had two sides that went down to the ground, and they were fastened to the ground with ropes along the edges” (Price 1984: 44). “So there was a lot of space inside. It was not crowded, even though there were many Brazilians” (Price 1983a: 618). “We wondered about these huge sheets that could be opened to make a house – a house so big that it could be seen from a great distance” (Price 1984: 44). “After the general went away, another man whom I ended up knowing passed along the road of the vine. The general had been camping at the Juruena, but we only knew this afterwards” (Price 1983a: 618-9).
“After we visited Campos Novos and returned to the village, the general passed through. We only saw his people – although perhaps we saw him in the distance, at a place where there was a high hill in the savanna, with lots of broken stones. But he didn’t stop; he seemed to be in hurry. And we continued on our way.
So you see, I never knew the general. He passed through ahead of me, and I never met him. There was another man, a colonel who talked a lot. He was big and fat. His words were big, and he was big” (Price 1984: 44). “I knew this colonel quite well. The general went on; afterwards the colonel camped at Campos Novos. This is where we met. A long time ago we met the colonel while he was in Campos Novos, but he went away too” (Price 1983a: 619). “He never appeared again. I wonder if he is still alive” (Price 1984: 44).
The Indian men had no idea what the purpose of this activity was. They speculated often and returned frequently to the road of the vine to study it. Of course, all present discourse is informed by the events after the occurrences recited. The use of the posts, the putting up of the vine, all cast the enterprise into a different light seen from the knowledge of hindsight. Some things receive names only comprehensible from the current perspective. Therefore, for instance, the general is systematically called by one of his later patents and not his rank at that time (first major, then colonel). By virtue of his later fame, all the comings and goings of the group and the recurrent failure to encounter the general form a significant part of the narrative[xiv]. Observing everything at that time, some observations, with all due reservations, seem to be more synchronic, for example it was unclear why they would clear and burn a path if not for a garden (especially because the soil seemed suboptimal), and why only part of the stumps would be removed. The straightness of the path was also confusing, as the Nambikwara typically make gardens in round clearings (reported for the North, Campo, Wasusu and Sararé). So they continued to speculate and observe. Then, as the narrator discussed the general, he anticipated contact and mentioned the colonel. By contrast, this man he came to know well. Price suspected that this big talkative man might very well be the ex-president Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt indeed stayed for two days at Campos Novos in February 1914. Roosevelt, as his book corroborates, was a man of big words. The pictures in his book and the one reproduced in the Price’s article (1984: 48) show someone not only confident but also someone who had what might be called a ‘heavy presence’, owing to his size. The characterization of Roosevelt merely by observation confers quite well with his features and again manifests the Indian’s descriptive and mnemonic abilities. Both of these capacities in each person and personal memory are a socially emphasized quality by this people. Typically, the memory sparks the question of whether the person in question is still alive. The tendency is to speak about specific persons and less about more collectivities.
Then he described the richly detailed account of the first meeting, not only establishing who the protagonists were but also on whose authority he renders a narration of this event. In the Nambikwara language, the differences in direct and indirect witnessing are obligatory.
“But the first meeting, came about unexpectedly” (Price 1984: 44). “It happened in the savanna, near Halathìná, where the brothers-in-law of Watyyahlá used to live. Halaikkahlá had the honor and it occurred at Halathìna. Since the encounter took place there, the Manduca were those involved. Those Manduca were the sons-in-law of Yûwasutyalá and the brother of Wayântsá. The son-in-law of Yûwasutyalá used to speak of this.
These two used to hunt together, walking through the savanna near the place where the trail needs to be reopened (The trail is not there any longer, as I said before). One of them was carrying an animal that had been killed arriving at the trail which he had not known was there” (Price 1983a: 619) [xv]. “That’s where the meeting took place. He who carried the game was afraid. His companion had gone on ahead, and he didn’t know what to do.
There were tobacco and matches. The Bean Person said, “These are matches and tobacco. With the tobacco, I roll a cigarette; with the matches, I light it; and then I smoke it.” He gave the Indian his handiwork: a long knife and a shirt. The two of them were afraid of each other. The Bean Person said, “If you’re afraid of me, then don’t be” (…)” (Price 1984: 44-5). “(He gave the knife, a long and pointed one, to his brother)” (Price 1983a: 619).
“The Bean Person said, “I’ve brought brush-hooks, which we use to clear the trail; and I’ve brought axes, which we use to make logs. You don’t know about these things. I give you all tobacco to smoke. But we have also brought other things for you: knives to work with, to prepare your food; axes to clear the brush, to chop down trees, and to cut firewood; and matches, to light your fires and to burn off the savanna. “Then the Indian said, “I will give you things to eat, and game, and roasted meat. “Thus they spoke to each other while they were together. That’s what I heard about the first meeting” (Price 1984: 45).
The first meeting as told by the Nambikwara differs starkly from first close encounters mentioned in the Bean People’s literature. It is definitely unlike the embellished story published in the paper. It is also unlike the sequence of movements cited by the manager of Campos Novos, although the narrative does mention this interaction subsequently. The introduction serves to certify the participants and their affiliation (initially called Nené by the Brazilians, here in the narrative called Neneyahlosu; presently this group and two others are known as Manduka, Price 1984: 44; 1983a: 625). The reference to the place also locates the action in a very specific site, the coordinates of time and space and the participants are carefully stated. The protagonists not only are named, the reason of their passing through makes explicit both their territorial claims (the village) and the social kin and alliance relationship between the two hunters in their social field of the village. The son-in-law, very probably a younger man who hunted for the father of his wife in an uxorilocal situation, is the privileged authorized source of the story. In other words, a married man and in this sense one of the older men who are socially expected to be responsible persons. The reference of the men’s names indicate the tendency for the principal men to be the primary social reference points, just as happens in the focal names to designate kin-groups of a village or whole villages[xvi]. The names map the relations metonymically where the village is characterized as the descending kin of key older ascendant or as the leader who represents the aggregate kin group surrounding him. The leader can be said to be an elder sibling, a caretaker of his kin rather than strictly speaking a leader, “(…) a recognition of the fact that it is in his own best interests to be his brother’s keeper” (Price 1981b: 703). This man may also be called the owner of the land, not in the sense of exclusive ownership but as holding it on behalf of the group, as its representative. “By placing this land in the name of the leader, the group appropriately uses metonymy to symbolize its unity with respect to territory” (Price 1982b: 182). For the Nambikwara listeners the citation must disclose something about the internal and external social relations involved. Even when prompted by the outsider mapping the social coordinates remains imperative as without these the story is almost meaningless.
The contact was an unexpected event for both parties. Although the suddenness frightened the two sides, it is clear that without this accident there would be no such encounter. The Indian did not know what to do. The civilized apparently took the initiative and, inspired by Rondon’s council, showed the Indian tobacco and matches. At this point, the narrator quotes the story he heard and the phrases the Bean Person spoke to the Indian. The intercultural and inter-linguistic inference by the participant is, at first sight, astonishing. If the Whites thought the Nambikwara language very strange, no doubt the reciprocal was true too. Indeed, it would be astounding if the manager and Indian actually communicated with such ease. Yet according to the story, the two understand each other perfectly and the Indian understands the Bean Person who talks about some items he supposedly still was unfamiliar with, namely the matches. Of course, the Nambikwara brushed off some previous encounters with rubber gatherers and they acquired some knowledge of them[xvii]. The unknown frightened the Indian but the gestures and talk of the other party reassured him of friendly intentions. Here the template of alliance which was more or less followed by the manager and the Nambikwara near Campos Novos could not apply. Perhaps a pragmatic versatility can discerned in the course of the interaction, reading the body language of mutual fear and negation of hostile intentions. After the initial hesitation, the actual plan by the Bean Person as interpreted by the Manduka fell into a template he understood; giving, seemingly demonstrating the use of tobacco (as the native variant of tobacco differs so much that the manager did not recognize the powder he was offered), the civilized man offered a nice gift that had the additional advantage of being immediately consumable by both protagonists. The first act thus created a comprehensible transaction to both sides and the possibility to enjoy the cigarette in each other’s company, a classical social act of companionship. Therefore, the first move extended a clear sociability towards the unknown other without the necessity of communicating a single intelligible word.
This first friendly interaction provided some mutual commonality and opened the door for more, similarly relaxed interactions. The Indian’s reference to receiving a knife and how he gave it to his brother emphasizes the sharing social character of Nambikwara values. The subsequent conversation is more understandable in consideration of the previously existing experience with the Paresi. The Bean Person enumerated the commodities his people brought and Anúsú, the Nambikwara person, responded with the return gifts. This brings to mind the story of the Nambikwara exchange with their Paresi neighbors (or the historical people who may have lived on the Parecis Plateau before the Nambikwara). In this exchange, the Nambikwara often gave the Paresi meat. Likewise, the Whites gave the Nambikwara tools they could use to obtain, produce, harvest and prepare food: matches burn the savanna for hunting and lights the cooking fire; tools to clear the bush, care for the garden and collect crops. This gives the encounter a comprehensible familiar mode of relation, as each people gives the other a special representative gift. In a way, the exchange should initiate a metonymic gift relation. It is likely that the Nambikwara associate their gifts in this way, so they would give meat just as like they previous did in the relation with the Paresi (perhaps this would make them the Game People). Similarly, so did the Whites give tools (making them perhaps the Steel People). The act of the immediate personal exchange in this event laid the foundation for a more sincere friendship and opened the way for a more permanent relationship. Hence it may even have been the overture to what happened in Campos Novos. That is, as a fortuitous but definitely facilitating precondition to found the relationship at Campos Novos of what, in accordance with the manager’s view, consisted of a process of gradual pacification.
“When the news arrived, we Kithaulá-People[xviii] decided to finish resting and go to Campos Novos to meet the Bean People” (Price 1984: 45). “The older men decided to unite a group to go over there. The owner of the handicrafts was different from Alfonso[xix], who was large and had white hair, and some knowledge. He was quite young with light skin and had boxes of axes and boxes with trade beads. The Manduca said: “he brought small, square boxes of beads, whole necklaces of trade beads, and cotton strings, and boxes of matches” (Price 1983a: 620). “We gave him our handiwork – raffia tassels painted red – and corn. We left him raffia ornaments and manioc dough in exchange for axes and knives. We traded food for axes, and we traded our respective handiwork. We also got dogs, Brazilian dogs, and we gave him honey; sometimes the people set down only half a gourdful, or again, a tin can or kerosene can full, and the payment was an ax or a dog. That’s how we had traded. “This had not happened before. Therefore we wanted to know him too. So we went. He left out tobacco for us, which we took; and he opened boxes of trade beads and took out the beads. He had red ones, in which the older men took great delight; and boxes of blue beads and yellow beads and orange beads. The Salt People had brought many such handicrafts for us” (Price 1984: 45). “We were not afraid of this people, but the rubber tappers were different. The first Bean People that appeared over here, it seems they all died. They went home, to Cuiabá, and once gone, they must be dead. Could this have happened? At least we never saw them again” (Price 1983a: 620).
At first, we traded raffia ornaments, manioc dough, and corn to get the things we wanted. Then, when we asked for something, we had to work for it. “If you don’t work, I can’t give you anything,” is what they said (…)” (Price 1984: 45).
Is this what you wanted to know? I have explained to you how things were. Since I lost the opportunity to see the general I have only known other Bean Persons, who lived alone. They lived there and there and there and there[xx]. The older men took raffia, manioc dough and maize and exchanged these for the axes and dogs they brought. But I never saw the general with my own eyes. He went along in front of me, making the road of the vine. I only saw other Bean People. They said, “I am so-and-so” or “I am so-and-so” but nobody presented himself as the general. That is the truth.
A long time ago, we didn’t sell our handiwork and the produce of our gardens. Today you bring us firearms and other things. In the beginning Watyahlá, Yxulkalxxakxènjahlá and Suwákahalá had double barrel shotguns, a rear loader and a revolver. They weren’t old and ugly when they got them. But then the Mamaindê took them away[xxi]. It is a long time ago, the time we are speaking about, and that was all there was, a long time ago because this is what the general brought us.
But when he passed, we did not see him. We only heard the rumors that he did so and, not having seen him ourselves, they asked themselves if he really had done so. None of us saw him” (Price 1983a: 621). “There were only vague reports that when he first arrived he stayed on the Juruena. I wanted to meet him – we all did – but he passed through very fast, and then disappeared. I never knew the general.
I have told you how it was, and that’s all I have to say” (Price 1984: 46).
The Kithaulhu did not meet the general nor were they involved in the first events that laid the foundation for a peaceful relationship. They lived close by and, being both as curious as the other peoples and allied with the more directly affected people, they also wanted to participate. They thus sought their own contact in the wake of the knowledge and observations shared by the other people. Notably, the first things told revealed the owner to be well observed and described. The notion of owner is also a native concept. The myth of the master of the animals as told by a Kithaulhu man explains how the owner of the game acted as the guardian of the animals who all lived in a huge hole in the ground. The master knew how to release a few animals at a time for the Indians to hunt and eat. He temporarily trusted his animals to an Indian caretaker who was unsatisfied with the game he succeeded in releasing from the hole and ended up causing all of the animals to rush out. As a result of this mythical Indian’s impatience and imprudence, the Indians are condemned to hunt all over the earth for game. In contrast to the Sabanê myth, the greed of two Indians[xxii] resulted in the loss of an easy and steady source of game. Price, in an effort to stress the danger of turning the Guaporé Valley into a sandy infertile arid area by misuse of the invading large properties, finished his article with the message of the Guardian of the animals: “I left you with a good thing and you ruined it” (1981a: 16). This was an ecological warning advocating against overexploitation that should remind not only the Indians but their conquering successors too (a message especially relevant in the early 1980s). The Nambikwara overcame the dependency on a dispersed resource by their “vast fund of knowledge” (Price 1981a: 17). The idea of an ecological knowledge to replace the mythical reliability on one secure supply of meat is a source of pride. Thus, the proposal to reciprocate with food and especially meat relates to the profound pool of knowledge created after the dispersal of the animals. Hence the food he offers in return must be thought of as more than just some material object but as the result of the application of a prided resourcefulness. Furthermore, the Nambikwara view excessive accumulation very disapprovingly and most mythological owners of certain objects or natural resources end up losing their monopoly, generally after some action by the have-nots. Nambikwara social philosophy militates against monopolies and advocates equal access and the free circulation of goods.
Typical exchanges between different local groups involved objects and handicrafts that everyone or most of them knew how to manufacture or obtain. Some resources were located in different territories and absent in others. There was no product so valuable or rare that it lent power to the owners – this seems to have occurred when, for example, the Sararé mentioned that some type of stone for axes came from far away. This differs from the relationship established by the new outsiders. At first, the Bean People affirmed they brought the goods for the Nambikwara, as if they simply came over to give the commodities without expecting any necessary counter-gift. This is the pacification mould of the commencement of giving without any expectation of retribution. In reality, when the wild Indians accept the presents they begin to return the gifts. An exchange, as Mauss emphasized, that social norms mandate. The Indians thought they were reciprocating and the Whites thought of this as a payment (literally in Portuguese). Nobody really understood the presents as free unreciprocated gifts. This is precisely the issue of the first exchange as reported by the Nambikwara, the mutual proposal of a fair exchange relation. However, for the manager, as for other Whites, it was not as much of a joint social construct as it was for the Indians. The outsiders believed they gave more than they received and the relation constructed being much more their doing. The Whites felt that the steel instruments epitomize both sociocultural and economic superiority and value, a fact illustrated when the manager mentioned a very happy Nambikwara Indian walking away hacking at every tree he passed with his new metal blade (it is hardly surprising he should be glad, the tremendous difference in energy investment is shown in Carneiro (1974) who also cites observations by Roquette-Pinto). All of the different Nambikwara peoples, as far as known, understood the terms of the interrelationship in this manner. The Kithaulhu, followed the advice of their more experienced allies and, after observing the customs of the owner, traded objects and food. Sometimes very little was needed to get a valuable return. This inconstancy caused them some surprise and to them may have evinced an unequal exchange equation. The Indians had generally shared notions about fair trade, although sometimes a disagreement would arise, and that could result in an escalating conflict between the parties. Silent trade, as Lévi-Strauss called it, has its risks, and trade with the new intruders also proved to have its unknown dangers.
Consequently, despite the sometimes odd terms of trade, the imposition of work must have been a major surprise. The usual trade continued well and closely resembled the familiar mode between different Nambikwara local groups, as can be discerned in the narrative. Although at times the White men sometimes traded to their own disadvantage, the change in their disposition concerns more than just possibly redressing an imbalance. The idea that someone should work implies the disposal of his time and body during a period by somebody else who gives him orders. Such notion of an authority over another person runs completely counter to all that was bound in the conception of autonomy related to the Anúsú, the Nambikwara Person. This Person disposes of himself, his attention and efforts but also makes these efforts and attentions available autonomously to others. In congruence with good sense slowly acquired in childhood, a true Person always assumes a social responsibility for the closest fellow Nambikwara. A Nambikwara is always mindful of others, especially his wife and children, and does not intrude on the ultimate sphere of personhood of others. People normally do not force their interpretations onto others or order them around. In the interpretation of Fiorini (2000), the Wasusu leader constantly distributed gifts in exchange for the acceptance of his definition of the situation by other people who, after all, might disagree with his explanation. Even today there seems to be a resistance to work for others in this civilized sense of the concept. Returning to the Sabanê myth, the Whites should not be so proud of their possession of steel instruments as it was because of a Sabanê action that the people and their tools were engendered and the ownership results from a mythical accident (a variant of the common theme of the bad choice). Therefore, the labor as means of procurement of these manufactured objects probably was only accepted because of the extreme use value of these instruments. In other words, what might be called the trap of pacification contains the future change from a comprehensible and basically equitable exchange model of objects: it is followed by the imposition of a particular mode of valuing material objects and people initially unconceivable to the Indians, to be actualized by the dependency created by the manufactured goods. Henceforth an unequal access determined a previously unacceptable subjugation (for an analogous analysis on the Cinta Larga, see Chiappino 1975). Some of these aspects are prefigured in a few pre-existing social relations among the Nambikwara, but none prepared the people for this change. For example, a son-in-law owes his father-in-law and hunts for him to provide him with meat. This is a social obligation, accepted as a payment, voluntarily executed and not perceived as relating to a hierarchical command structure. The only time something akin to power and hierarchy seems to have existed was in times of war when some leaders imposed their will with more than the usual authority (Price 1981b).
It is clear that the semi-legendary fame of the general concerns the fact that he belongs to the first material exchange period, signified by the things he brought for us. The general never returned, just as many men of the initial phase. The men that later manned the stations are all seen as specific Bean People, never mentioned as having some relation with their general. Without this notion of hierarchical structure the Nambikwara never connected Afonso França or the young owner of the goods with the organization headed by or, in fact, unofficially led by the colonel slowly rising in rank. Seen as an individual person, the absence of the general never was ensued by the linkage of his responsibility for what happened to the Nambikwara he named and for whom he apparently never could succeed in guaranteeing any part of their territory[xxiii]. Little did they know he planned to transform them into useful laborers. Thus the owner of the goods appeared to them as an individual person and the narrator asks about the destiny of all the people he met, being under the impression that all of them came and went back to Cuiabá. The notion of Brazil and Indian Service (the old and the new) is not present yet. These people, especially the owner of the goods acted correctly in exchanging generously the goods he and the general, as representatives of the Salt People, brought to give to us. After that, the rubber tappers behaved rather differently and the outfit at Espirro with Afonso França and his imposition of work also gained notoriety. Moreover, they sold garden produce and objects like necklaces, which is a reference to the attempts of concerned anthropologists like Price to sell Indian handicrafts and generate income for the necessary industrial commodities at the end of the 1960s. Overall, several periods with different social categories and actors are counterpoised to underpin some of the distinguishing features of each.
As to the Vitorino’s story about Rondon, to the Nambikwara the personal meeting and exchange that followed characterized the first contact and established a pattern of interpretation and action they likely understood from historical experience. The first meeting prepared for the exchange template gradually built up by both parties and the Nambikwara involved observed the opposite behavior and verified the Bean Person’s intentions. To them this is both a personal and a collective story set within their social coordinates of founding an alliance relationship of symmetrical reciprocity. Before the story of the Bean Person in charge at Campos Novos a personal exchange paved the way for the gradual building up of the relation between the Manduka and the manager. The manager’s story is a pacification narrative from the civilized point of view that contains its own interpretative errors from a somewhat lower class perspective. His version was edited to conform to the higher standards of the Rondon Commission but still faithfully reproduces the paradigm. The higher class version of this account is the least credible in factual terms if proposed as the real first encounter, but mirrors the rhetorical canons of the day and represents one little aspect of the fabrication of the cultural hero Rondon. Each party had their own framework, interpretation, and myth building. The Nambikwara esteem the elderly like the narrator Vitorino as repositories of tradition, history and myth. The encounter is reproduced in the transformed mode of a dialogue that cannot have taken place yet translates the event in the metaphorically accurate manner of myth. Such myths are unwritten and are mentally stored by the elders and transmitted orally, the Nambikwara perspective is not inferior to the published documents. The role of the old men in the cohesion of the group as its memory – hence its historical experience and thus its repertoire to confront the future – is expressed in the Southern Nambikwara do Campo word, Yalanewitesu meaning memory, composed of as yala – old man and newitesu – head. As one younger man said, the old ones do not forget (Costa 2000: 16). Unfortunately, the Nambikwara suffered another impact that greatly threatened this mode of transmission and maintenance of experience and knowledge. Few old men survived until Price began to record their stories. Contact brought official neglect and western diseases for the following decades.
Extinguished fires: death, population and the reconstruction of life
The contact of Indian peoples and fragments of peoples with Rondon’s people caused some unexpected consequences. The German ethnologist Max Schmidt traveled through the Serra dos Parecis in 1910 and reports a region in turmoil (Schmidt 1917 (especially: 37-40; 52-3; 68-70; 74-5); amply cited from a manuscript translation in Machado 2006: 18-21). When he visited the region around 1910, the frontier between Paresi and Nambikwara peoples was the Juruena River. Surprisingly, however, some time before the Southern Nambikwara extended considerably further to the east, at the least reaching the region from the headwaters of the Juruena River towards the headwaters of the Jauru, Cabeçal and Guaporé Rivers: that is to the east of the Wasusu and Sararé in the Valley, more or less a continuation to the south of the occupation from the Plateau west of the Juruena River. The Paresi then conquered this region, apparently moving from a more northerly or northeastern position. Schmidt mentions one incident when the Paressi-Kabishi attacked and destroyed a Nambikwara village on these headwaters, taking some children with them. In an attack on another village with two houses, this time localized at the headwaters of the Juruena, two men were killed and the women and children taken away. One of the reasons for their success was access to firearms. For example, one Paresi-Kabixi, actually himself originating from one of these kind of replenishing population raids, was looking forward to be able to use his gun again with the funds earned by working for Schmidt. Despite these odds, the conquering Paresi, including the incorporated ‘stolen people’, still feared the Nambikwara and their counter-raids from the other side of the Juruena. At the same time, the Paresi-Kabixi were pressured by the other two Paresi segments, disputing the formers’ territory. The two segments called the other one “tame Kabixí”, in opposition to the “wild Kabixí”, the “Guaiguakuré”, i.e. peoples from the Nambikwara cluster. The same segments used Kabixi as deprecatory term and stigmatized the Paresi-Kabixi. Conversely, the latter reacted strongly to any suggestion by Schmidt about being really Kabixi and not Paresi.
Several points not well known to Price stand out. First of all, the report by Schmidt shows how the Paresi acted anything but peaceful. In effect, the Paresi-Kabixi stole a large number of women and children from their neighbors and the latter constituted a large “working class” among them. Though treated as inferiors and as workers for their superior captors, the captured were well treated and actually, by adoption, slowly incorporated into the kin groups of their owners. Assimilation seems to have been the end of the process. The other two endogamous Paresi units considered themselves, as seen, as superior to the third unit (Kozárini or Kodárene) and disdained to participate in this mutual predation of people. Although it is unclear how long this conquest by a part of the Paresi has been going on, it is quite clear that the Paresi-Kabixi were a mixed people with a small superior class of Paresi (“Herrscherklasse”) and a very large working class of people extracted by force from neighboring Nambikwara peoples. The precise relation of these Nambikwara being transformed into Paresi does not concern us here, but at least one analogous situation occurred not too far to the south, between the Guaná and Guaikuru (Machado 2006: 21-2).What may be noted in passing is another incident of the power of literacy long before the famous incident observed by Lévi-Strauss. The foremost original Paresi on the Jauru River told Schmidt that they, both being patrão – in the sense of “employers” and “bosses” – occupied analogous positions. The dominated people were like the Brazilian camarada, i.e. probably like landless dependent laborers. Hence the Paresi demanded to be treated as an equal to Schmidt in front of other people: he pretended to write and read just like him and required of his ‘colleague’ confirmation of his literacy. Schmidt (1917: 68) clearly attributed this dramatic presentation to be the result of the Indians’ conception of the power of dominance inherent in literacy. In fact, the quantity of incorporated Nambikwara impressed Schmidt so much that he considered the Paresi-Kabixi as being actually Nambikwara by “blood”. Yet they identified strongly with the people originally their “oppressors”.
It seems likely that the contacts with the Rondon Commission strengthened the Paresi by providing for “presents” that included firearms. Rondon, by the way, apparently does not mention this situation anywhere, but the Line went through areas to the north of the Paresi-Kabixi. Furthermore, one of his most esteemed collaborators, before his lamented death, was Toloiri, a Paresi-Kabixi. That is, Rondon might have or might not have known about captured Nambikwara, but certainly provided indirect support in favor of the Paresi. And, as seen above, one incident of retaliating Paresi also already has shown the disparity between the image of pacifist Indians and the capacity and the will to employ force. According to Schmidt the two superior Paresi segments, possibly because of the process of assimilating Nambikwara, classified the Kozárini pejoratively as tame Kabisi, and the Nambikwara as the wild Kabisi. From their point of view both were inferior and similarly prone to violence. In other words, apparently unlike themselves, for they allegedly did not do harm to anyone (Machado 2006 15; 20). Maybe so, but Schmidt not only reports them pressuring the Kozárini but also that the latter performed a similar role, mainly to the Waimare segment, as the captured Nambikwara performed for the Kozárini! In this way, they would be replicating the subordination to which they themselves had been or partially were subjected. This subordination within the Paresi would happen despite the fact that the Kozárini pertain to the Halíti: the encompassing Paresi notion of one people that recognizes all three segments as being descended from a mythological set of brothers, ancestors of each specific subgroup. Moreover, the origin myth of the Halíti distributes the segments in their own different territories and that appears to exclude a simple mythological legitimated subordination of any of the separate segments (Gonçalves 1990).
Whatever the origin or truth of the subordination of one segment, as this distinction between “wild” and “tame” Kabixi has been mentioned in the historical documents cited above, and as the Paresi-Kabixi used to be in contact for a long time already, possibly this Paresi conquest had been going on for some time. It would also explain the mentioning of violence by some Paresi in the previous century as well as the confusion about the Cabixi. In effect, the Paresi were not peaceful towards another people and that already could explain why they sometimes appear as agents of violence. Then, while it made sense to separate wild and tame Cabixi, the simultaneous use of the same term for free and for subjugated and ‘inferior’ Nambikwara may have been confusing to outsiders or a useful confusion to their own purposes. In sum, it very likely that this came about after the arrival of the strangers and that the other modes of relationships mentioned before are much more likely to have existed before more profound changes induced by the new frontier society. The Nambikwara ensemble may have occupied the vacated spaces of the dwindling Paresi, but, if Schmidt is correct, part of them also suffered something like a re-conquest by Paresi to constitute the Paresi-Kabixi. All the more reason for Rondon, if he knew, to change the name of the not subordinated wild Kabixi related to this amalgamated tame Paresi-Kabixi people, separating them clearly and giving them a name not related to the Paresi and associated with independence[xxiv].
Direct contact with the Bean People themselves brought about a variety of other diversified consequences. First of all, the Rondonian prophesy of overall peace between Whites and Indians and progress for the now pacified Nambikwara did not materialize. One of the major impacts concerns the epidemics that the incoming intruders unwittingly spread to the entire region. The impact was terrible and eventually affected each people and local group of the Nambikwara ensemble, even the most recently contacted Latundê. The Latundê did not wish to describe the deaths caused by epidemics deriving from the lack of effective assistance by their legal tutor. Strong emotions about the loss of most of the older generations who were not actually so aged (the causes of death among the elderly is not of much concern), the ripping apart of the fabric of life in a small group where each life counts, combined with the interdiction of saying the names of the dead contributed to a muted voice about this turn in the history of a formerly autonomous and lively group of independent people. The Sabanê in particular, and the Northern Nambikwara in general, suffered such high population losses, that they were unable to maintain an independent mode of life against the pressure of the raiding Tupi Mondé. They too did not elaborate on the theme of the disastrous effects of epidemics although Manézinho Sabanê hinted at the enormous emotional and social costs of losing many healthy socially significant people in a very short period. As far as is known, every single original people and local group of the Nambikwara ensemble felt the impact and the subsequent far-reaching consequences of one or more epidemics. Price shows the effects in numbers, when he attempted to estimate the devastating Brazilian encroachment on the Guaporé Valley and found that from 1966 to 1976 (the commencement of the Nambiquara Project) “(…) two thirds of the population had died of imported diseases and the small and scattered survivors found themselves treated as a minor nuisance by multimillion-dollar corporations racing for a piece of the pie” (Price 1982b: 192). In order to compose his genealogies in former villages he questioned the Indians, one “(…) became ill from remembering so many dead people” (ib.: 199). Recollecting the dead is a psychologically charged and potentially dangerous enterprise. Silence, incidentally, does not imply a lack of sentiments but may be a way to avoid negative effects and find the energy for emotional renewal and social reconstruction (cf. Jackson 2004).
One account stands out as an exceptional rendering of these very dramatic events. Perhaps the prolonged contact and the years of building up an intimate knowledge of the Nambikwara do Campo of the current Nambikwara Indigenous Territory permitted the linguist-missionary Menno Kroeker (later joined by his wife) of the Protestant evangelical institution, the Summer Institute of Linguistics, to gather diverse narratives of this event[xxv]. The Kroekers, with their more thorough command of the language and much longer relations with one or two specific villages unfortunately rarely publish. When, on the other hand, they wanted to emphasize the immense human drama involved, they reproduced a most significant narrative of an old Nambikwara lady who, moved to tears, recounted to them the terrifying epidemic that almost annihilated her people:
“All my family was dead. In the huts, around the now cold fires, were dead bodies. I did not have the energy to bury anyone. I did not have the energy to grieve. I alone was left. I thought I would die too. (…) As the sun began to disappear from the sky, I crawled to the stream and let the cool water soothe my burning face and refresh my dry mouth. Deep inside I felt an urgency, I must warn my other relatives about the evil that has happened here, I thought. I rested in the cool night and long before the sun appeared I began my journey. Too weak to walk, I crawled. For how long I do not know. At last I came to the stream bordering a neighboring village. My heart filled with hope. Here I would find help, encouragement and the shaman’s healing powers. But where was the smoke of the fires? Dragging my weary body, now with bleeding hands and knees, I saw the same horrible scene. All were dead. No, I heard a faint sound, an indistinguishable noise. I found them barely alive, my uncle and his daughter. Somehow we survived and after our strength returned, we walked to the next village. Only a few remained alive. We all joined together and walked on to all the villages looking for other survivors. The burning curse with the red spots destroyed us. It consumed our people. Only a few remained” (Kroeker and Kroeker 1999: 1).
The devastating effects of the 1945 measles epidemics once more evince the absolute necessity of protective measures of health to be taken every time a new group comes into contact with the regional society, though, the disease is not so fatal amongst Whites and is considered a relatively innocuous children’s disease. The lack of previous contagion in an indigenous population causes many deaths. The Line’s penetration into the region and the war effort’s stimulation of rubber production in Amazonia were both partly to blame. During WWII, the rubber tappers infiltrated the region from the north, using access made possible by the Line. After some time, they managed to subdue or expel groups and terminate the autonomous lifestyle that prevailed after Rondon’s expeditions. Earlier incursions of the savanna possibly did not cause epidemics or if they did, were not recorded. Lévi-Strauss discussed the fate of the Sabanê clearly with the evident depopulation just before the war. The presence of outside rubber gatherers, however, worsened the risk for epidemics of several deadly diseases and intruders must have brought measles to the savanna. But when the epidemic affected this generation, the survivors may have withheld their experiences from Lévi-Strauss. It is also not clear how such information entered into the oral tradition of the Sabanê, Manézinho’s generation apparently did not know all the horrible details (by the silence of the survivors unwilling to elaborate; or else he complied with a possible ban on speaking about these disastrous deaths to outsiders). The Espirro Post and the population with which it maintained contacts took a very severe blow just a few years after it was founded. In that sense, the concentration of people jointly with the presence of civilized incoming officials (and probably laborers too) to aid in the war effort for the Rubber Development Corporation was a potential health hazard in itself. The epidemic reached villages like those of the narrative which were not adjacent to the Line or the Post. Afonso França either witnessed the heavy losses the disease caused or else heard about the gruesome toll taken and reported it. As the survivors were weakened, they were incapable of providing a decent burial. Consequently, the souls could not arrive at their communal dwelling place. Instead, the dead were eaten by dogs and vultures (cited in Price und.: 4). For the Nambikwara do Campo, leaving the dead unburied means that the enormous supernatural Hawk nesting at the celestial wild fig tree descends to eat their flesh and carry off their bones to furnish his nest (Pereira 1983: 48). Only after proper burial can the wind of the dry season carry the spirit-force of the dead to the sky. As noted earlier, the resting place of the dead makes a site a village, plus anonymous ancestors protect the living. The unburied dead can do neither and in that sense are socially unproductive. Worse, to the Valley Wasusu the dead who are not properly buried “(…) become spectrums and phantasms that assail the living” (Fiorini 2000: 117).
Other disasters happened before the epidemic of 1945[xxvi]. It is interesting to note that there is no mention in the earlier reports of any preventive measures taken by the Rondon expeditions or the later SPI. Although any such engagement may have escaped my notice, the known dangers of epidemics apparently did not lead to any consistent program of inoculations or long term extended medical assistance. Of course, the later frank decline of the Telegraph Line contributed to the dearth of any real investment in the Line or with respect to the peoples whose lands it crossed. The invention of radio in 1922 meant the end of the telegraph (Fuerst 1971). Before that occurred, the Mamaindê recall that SPI undertook the construction of a port on the Cabixí river in 1921, built with the aim of providing a route to furnish a larger amount of goods at a lesser cost by providing a more efficient access to the Line (by boat and then by mule to Vilhena). The Mamaindê established a friendly relationship with the settlement located in the middle of their territory and some Indians visited the place. Many of them, still according to the Mamaindê, contracted measles, which spread to the entire group and quickly killed many people (Aspelin 1975: 23; this kind of impact suggests that the epidemic probably affected the Northern Nambikwara and Sabanê too). Before the final onset of decline, SPI’s penetration caused a disaster in this area. The whole 20th century saw a series of epidemics reaching different groups at different times but with equally disastrous results. The presence of the Post in Espirro may have mitigated some of the deleterious effects for some segments of the Nambikwara ensemble because of individual efforts to provide medicines, care and advice to the suffering population. Such praiseworthy actions nonetheless can only have limited efficacy and did not represent the systemic and consistent approach needed. The narrative of the old woman who lived outside its immediate reach attests to this.
The elderly savanna woman’s horror might represent the general experience of all Nambikwara groups. The characterization of the plague as an evil concurs with the conception that no death is a natural accident. The evil approaches from the outside, pervades the universe and used to be curable by the shaman unless the attacking forces exceeded the powers of his aiding spirits, the souls of the dead (spirits come from either the sky (Sabanê) or the sacred caves of each people (the Wasusu (Fiorini 1997); this seems to be true for the Sararé too). She set out to warn the neighboring people and sought solace in another village. In her village her entire family was lying dead by the equally dead fires. This expression suggests that the entire village was kin, a result of the local group shaping the feeling of closeness and solidarity with all inhabitants. No burial means the imposed total lack of the habitual human concern of the destiny of the corpses and their souls that are very important in Nambikwara cosmology. Worse, as seen above, among the Wasusu the spirit of unburied people also transforms into an atasu, so dead kin transform into a potentially evil spirit (Fiorini 1997: 31). But she also had her other relatives, apparently a second category of people. Price actually found that in the savanna the co-resident kinsman in the same village were distinguished from the kin in other village by special kinship terms. Everyone outside the own village is separate and different and of potentially hostile propensity mitigated by modes of exchange. The kin in other neighboring villages were customarily allies of the home village between which delayed trading exchange relations constituted the mode of relationship possibly extending to marriage partners when in the preferably endogamous village no suitable spouse existed (Price 1982b: 184). The absence of the smoke that characteristically denotes a normal villages (arising from the rarely-extinguished hearths that symbolize the core of a married couple’s family) indicated a similar situation had befallen that community. There was no shaman to cure her, and as the village was populated only by corpses, there was not even anything to eat. Only later on the Nambikwara introduced the notion of the Whites’ diseases to be treated with their medicines and separated from Indians’ diseases to be treated by their own shaman (curer is the local term). The burning curse of red spots was irresponsive to the efforts of to shamans. With no other help aside from two very ill relatives, recuperation was arduous but somehow they all pulled through. The combined populations of the two villages was likely near fifty (according to Price’s estimate of medium village populations in the savanna at about 25; 1982b: 182), and the fact that three people survived is a powerful tribute to their strength and resilience in the face of an estimated 94% mortality rate.
One might have expected that the gruesome epidemic left the few survivors too despondent and miserable to continue living. However, the tough courageous character of these people materialized in their journey to the next village to gather those survivors, and then onto the next until they had amassed the survivors of all the villages. The reference to all the villages in probably connotes the regional bloc of villages, in this case the string of villages occupying the edges of the forests of the headwater streams of the major streams and river basins flowing through the savanna of the Parecis Plateau[xxvii]. If the village used to be the basic unit conceived of as the conjoined and not different people who live together with the imperative of sharing and mutuality, to paraphrase Price, still it did not exist without an open web of dynamic relations with identical villages cemented on the premise of delayed equal reciprocity. Ecological conditions thus favor the constitution of a cluster of allied villages based upon the leaf-like network of streams and rivers on the Parecis Plateau. All these villages cluster into a more ample, regional unit, where people generally were, in some way, related as kin and at least the names of the adult men were mutually known (Price 1982b: 185). As such, despite the conception of a certain mistrust and slight dialectical differences, the regional cluster tended towards a fair measure of linguistic and cultural commonality, hence providing the most natural way to the emergency of a new amalgam for the reconstruction of social life. The disease consumed our people and few remained but the survivors grouped together and started anew, refashioning their mode of life from the remnants. This resilience surfaces almost as a matter of course in the narrative and perhaps the Nambikwara conception of personal autonomy enmeshed within the web of social group obligations plays a part in this remarkable strength. Faced with near annihilation the very few remaining people of the previous diverse local groups joined to reconstitute a new viable sociocultural entity consisting of the combination of a number of formerly independent allied villages.
The major ecological divisions play a role in the modes of occupancy of the various blocs Price and others distinguished. By partaking in the larger ecological zones the particular preferences of the adaptive Nambikwara modality of inhabiting a patch of savanna near a stream and a forest area even when in the largely forested area of the Guaporé Valley and the north with its predominating forest (with the possible exception of the Sabanê before migration). It is likely, although not definite that the higher fertility and concentration of forest also led to higher population densities. Price was in no position to acquire a more extensive knowledge of the Northern Nambikwara area and he underestimated their numbers, the region they occupied (Aspelin 1975: 16) and their resilience. His necessarily rough calculations of the areas occupied by the clusters demonstrate how the ecological conditions correlated with a mode of occupancy that privileges profound environmental knowledge over other equipment like the Whites or some Indians use to farm, creating a varying social carrying capacity of which the Nambikwara were very proud. So much so that, in his circular letter (undated, no place) to raise support for the Nambikwara against the funding by the World Bank of the initially implicitly genocidal Project Polonoroeste Price wrote, although they were usually numbered among the most primitive Indians, on the other hand: “They are, however, extremely proud of their ability to live comfortably where Westerners can only survive with the aid of cumbersome equipment, by employing a profound knowledge of their environment rather than material possessions”[xxviii]. The much proclaimed primitiveness of the Nambikwara stems especially from the typically Western appreciation of material goods, an arbitrary value which the Indians used to invert. In clarifying some topics related to the debate on nomadism Price reminded readers of exactly the same difficulty of perception when the material presence of houses may be confounded with the existence of a village. Villages, after all, derive their status not from the presence of a certain number of houses, but from their status of a burial ground, “[h]ouses are rendered ephemeral by the vagaries of the material world, but villages are as permanent as memory and tradition can make them” (Price 1978: 154). Just as the lack of the hammock does not denote poverty or lack of knowledge, a temporary absence of houses does not imply the nonexistence of a village. Price once observed that the Nambikwara “seem to be proud of the simplicity of their culture, and laugh at the elaborated rituals of other tribes, and the complicated equipment a “civilized” needs to survive in the jungle”[xxix]. A ‘simple life’ with a less possessive attitude to material goods and less complexity may be still a highly appreciated value. The complexity of the Nambikwara lies in the memory and tradition, not in the easier discernible material or enacted objectifications of culture.
By the time after the Nambiquara Project practically floundered and passed on under other leadership, Price examined the overall situation and further investigated the entirety of the Nambikwara ensemble to decide on policy measures. Afterwards, he was the person best situated to evaluate the population and its distribution. He arrived at the following rough estimates: six clusters in the Guaporé Valley have an average area of 700 km2 while in the Savanna seven clusters use about 1400 km2. He was most familiar with the Savanna and estimated four or five villages to a cluster. By this account the Savanna cluster contained a maximum of 125 people and the entire region had around 875 people. This suggests a low population density (±0.09 people/km2). He did not offer any estimates about the clusters of the Guaporé Valley where ecological conditions should permit a higher density, a fact expressed in the occupancy of much less land per cluster. He stated that the number of village clusters in the Savanna seems to have been valid between 1937 and 1947. It is unclear if this estimate concerns the Savanna before or after the 1945 epidemic (or any other possible previous outbreaks). I will not elaborate on population estimates but these figures might very well be inadequate for the figures before contact. Price characterized the northern cluster reported by Rondon in 1911 as consisting of fifteen unusually large villages (1982b: 198). That may be unusual from the point of view of the savanna in a later period. However, it is possible that the number of villages in the cluster is large but in population numbers representative of pre-contact standards. In that case, the usual estimate for the total population around the beginning of the 20th century first propounded by Rondon, 10,000 people (a much-repeated figure) is likely a gross underestimate. Perhaps by presuming them to be nomads, the expectations were lowered. Assuming somewhat other parameters of density, particularly demonstrated by the northern cluster but even in the villages close to the Line that used to cross the Savanna clusters at the their lowest width, the population may have been much significantly larger[xxx].
Another sociocultural feature that is initially complicated for outsiders is not just that local groups lack auto-denominations, but more broadly that the exact notion of a group is ambiguous. The local group as a unit of primordial significance with the internal generalized sharing and the equilibrium of delayed reciprocity with other local groups sustained the identity of its members but these people did not name this social organization. The village is named after a geographical attribute or an illustrious ancestor (Price 1978: 153). The word Anúsú, the Nambikwara People, also given in the sense of person or human being, is the expression in Southern Nambikwara (Price 1981a: 16)[xxxi]. This simple designation seems to put these people in the center of the universe. This concurs with fact that the Person and then his family are unmarked, the other Persons or peoples are marked (see Hage 1998). Concentric circles surround the Nambikwara Person. In the hub the person is inserted in the sharing set of his kin in the village – therefore the individual and familial property exist but remain encompassed by the destiny and necessity of all. Immediately outside this is the kin in other villages, that may be related and consider themselves as belonging to the same people, a village cluster. In another article, Price gave the size of such a village cluster “sixty-five to one hundred and seventy square kilometers” (1981a:16). This places the cluster within one of the regional social and geographical aggregates mentioned[xxxii]. In the third concentric circle would be allies with whom they exchanged mostly similar objects, in a delayed reciprocity, for reasons more social than material. In the same way that sharing within the group is an expression of mutuality and disregard of possessions and accumulation, these exchanges between more distant people were important in that they served the diplomatic function of a statement on the state of relationships. Further from the center still were the more distant village clusters where exchanges of women or goods were rare and easily inimical relations could occur. Next were the distant villages and clusters where although facial piercings might be a sign of some affinity (Price 1972), these mistrusted peoples may perpetuate in shamanic attacks and warrior raids. Lastly, at an extreme social distance would be the other Indian peoples and the civilized Brazilians. The placing of the civilized at the extreme denotes that the Nambikwara attributed the characteristic of being inherently fierce to the Brazilians (at least those investigated by Price 1982b: 184). Such an attribution is rather ironic given the Nambikwara’s reputation amongst the Brazilians. The village or village set comes closest to being a self contained and self-defined ethnic unit. Outside of it, every one was separate and different. Such people were always potentially dangerous and could only become allies through social action. The exterior relations between different village sets were complicated and dynamic, the exchange of women at times may have necessary to encourage more peaceful relations.
The idea of a segment of a village within the web of a set of close villages within the larger composite regional cluster with neighboring similar clusters – surmising the possible recognition of some Nambikwara commonality between the more proximate linguistically related clusters – is a type of segmentary model no longer extant. The epidemics destroyed the demographic basis of most if not all villages and village sets. As the dramatic narrative makes abundantly clear, population decreased tremendously and the inevitable result was the merger of village sets into one village and even the coalescence of a regional cluster into one or a few villages. The Sabanê attempt to exchange with the Sowaintê thus was more the rule than the exception and only more remarkable because the two sides spoke two unintelligible languages. Hence the conclusion that after seventy years of exposure to epidemic disease: “All local groups have been reduced to a fraction of their former numbers; some are nearly extinct” (Price und.: 4). Take as an example the Negarotê, inhabitants of the Guaporé Valley and the most southerly of the Northern Nambikwara languages. The ethnographer Figueroa agreed with Price about the fragments reconstituting a viable unit (1989). In this case, she characterized the group as a conjunction of various families originating from a number of adjacent local groups formerly located within a common regional territory. The survivors recognized a certain level of commonality with the local groups in this area against other similar, but potentially hostile, sets considered being others. The relations with the Northern Mamaindê were strained and inimical, but became friendlier after the humanitarian disasters. The relations with their southern neighbors remain hostile with accusations of a history of many raids on their gardens (i.e. Central Valley peoples of the Southern Nambikwara). As producers of ceramics and stone axes, they traded stones and pots with the Savanna group Kithaulhu (studied by Price). Interestingly, this trading introduced a banana that is typical of the group but undoubtedly adopted from the historically close southern intruding quilombos. Finally, they even had violent encounters with the Salepndu, now identified as Cinta Larga, if this identification is correct, it demonstrates that they managed to travel remarkably far (Figueroa 1989: 18-9; although this may be due to an earlier more northern occupancy narrated in their oral history).
The old Negarotê village was once a circle of houses around a round plaza, just as Roquette-Pinto described the Northern villages and their round gardens or as Fiorini described the standard Wasusu pattern of two houses facing one another across a plaza (2000). This is conceptually equivalent to a belief in an unnamed center of people and endogamous kin surrounded by consecutively farther circles populated by increasingly different and separated others. The history of depopulation and inviability of devastated villages made for the decomposition of a traditional village by uniting all people of the village clusters or regional aggregates: re-composition by contraction. In the case of the Negarotê, the survivors had to gather everyone from a dialect area where the boundary of the dialect marked a primary frontier with the outside (Figueroa 1989: 18; 21). The multi-local continuity transformed the village into an arena of factional strife, especially if the contraction involved a regional cluster, then the members of the new village were an amalgam of different and separated groups that never would have chosen to live together. This turns the new village into a multiform continuity and the surviving men become the heads of potential factions based on the previous distinctions. This pattern holds for the Negarotê, where the most important leader complained that everyone belonged to the same group but this fact still did not prevail in the attitudes of other leaders and factions whom continued to value their own ascendancy. Price noted that in the larger villages (usually founded in response to some external influence), the more numerous faction represented the entire village via the cacique, an imposed Brazilian concept. The large villages, of course, are the result of a habitually conscious policy by external intervening agents. The missionaries, for example, are a representative group of such intervening agents, and they liked their potential flock to be close. When the missionaries attempted to found a community of faithful, they envisioned a reasonable number of members and so used outside goods to attract people there. Resultantly, the missionaries’ village tended to be larger than traditional villages. They also used to have an interest in multiplying the number of tribes, to create more units of conversion and create more room for personnel. Today the control of access to indigenous peoples by the state has been tightened, and now they customarily emphasize more their linguistic and educational work as the primary reason for acceptance. FUNAI habitually projected Indian Posts and also preferred to fix the Indians near where the chief of the Post can exercise some control, preferably over the entire group at the same time. FUNAI thought it simplest to join all groups into one tribe and deal with only one people instead of a multiplicity of ethnic groups (Price 1982b: 190). For the agency, a one people model simplifies the approach for everyone, and agents and bureaucrats alike preferred the Aroeira model of concentration that kept all these similar groups in one place.
In the beginning of the 1980s, the four Negarotê factions gathered around the four older male descendents each of a different local group. Each resultant kin-group had its own garden, rubber tapping area, and hunting and gathering trail (ib.: 53). This is an attempt to reconstruct the most basic historical units and allows for a recuperation of the culture and lifestyle of the previous peoples. The union of the four distinct units, on the other hand, was strengthened not only by FUNAI but also by common ritual and religious activities as well as inter-group marriage. Marriages in particular are a common way of cementing alliance, but backfire if there is any serious disagreement or divorce, as was common in the pre-contact situation. The foremost leader advocated an equality and solidarity between all of the Negarotê and promoted staying together in one large village (ib. 52-3). In other words, he acted politically to unite all in one new ethnic unit while the factions propose a disjunctive prospective future. As the consolidation of villages into one exo-named unit endures, many Indians believe that they belong to the union of fragments coalesced into a people known under a name given to the previous village cluster by its neighbors. However, given the opposing forces at work, the future outcome is uncertain and will probably differ in each particular case. In the past, no one could claim to be the leader of more than one village, but the new post-contact situation changed this and granted the chance of a sweeping leadership in a power merger especially related to the Post, FUNAI and the associated flow of goods and services with national society. FUNAI agents generally believe that a headman functioning as cacique should wield some power surpassing the authority granted to the capable one, as a primus inter pares of a band of peers (Price 1982b: 182). This reinterpretation of the role of cacique relates to Post access as a means of power and effectively redefines concepts like chief, cacique, and Indian.
As the Negarotê headmen correctly understood, the ‘Pax Brasilica’ changed relations between the former allies and enemies. The new peace slowly generated less tension in outside relations so fraught with dangers. His wording is interesting: the Hahaintesu (central Valley) now are being raised by the FUNAI, as are the Mamaindê, and now they are no longer wild (Figueroa 1989: 52)[xxxiii]. He uses the Brazilian idiom to explain his belief that FUNAI is taming his enemies. The use of this verb raise in Portuguese implies the bringing up of children and domestic animals. If this metaphor represented his actual thinking, and was not just a translation of language concepts into a mode of expression comprehensible to outsiders, then he understood the conquest of his enemies as a taming and educational process. Although possibly this means a conquest by the power of higher authority rather then the complacent authority of a parent. The leader was originally conceived of as the capable person and was usually the eldest of a set of brothers (by the nature of this kin term extended to include parallel cousins; Price 1982b: 182). The leader used to be someone who had the will to lead, could astutely manage people and resources, was generous, knowledgeable, and a gifted orator. This description agrees with Lévi-Strauss’ observations on the predicates of leaders even when they showed quite different leadership styles and personalities. Additionally, according to Price (1972) in Southern Nambikwara, the root of the word people is the same as that of the verb to share. If so, family and the mutuality of sharing (especially food) are practically coterminous and the generosity of food-giving may the foundation of the Person and his kin (this mirrors a similar reality with the Piro, see Gow 2001:7). In every closely-knit kin descent group, usually one person served as the central representative figure. As such groups had no names, they were referred to either as the grandchildren of a prominent named ancestor or as the people among whom the current leader shares his things (Price 1982b: 182). Note that the only person whose name Lévi-Strauss did not record was the group leader. This man was the focal point of the groups’ existence and traditionally must be unmarked and thus unnamed by the people who view him as the center of their contemporary social identity (cf. Fiorini 2000). Bearing this in mind, the centrifugal strength and unity of kin and ancestry is not surprising and the basis for potential fragmentation of current villages. Peace contributes to the reconstitution of the former local segments and if the countervailing centripetal outside forces relinquish control fragmentation may ensue.
This raises the basis for Price’s disagreement with Lévi-Strauss about the image of leadership. Given the range and import of the original article in political anthropology which immediately influenced his own views when he arrived in the field, Price dedicated a separate publication to this issue (Price 1981b). Although his predecessor certainly observed very astutely the indigenous situation, some of the general impressions offered at the time are inductive to some general interpretations that may have to be corrected. Leaders definitely exhibited some notable characteristics that Lévi-Strauss noted: generosity, knowledge, hard working and, especially, the acceptance of his authority by the group. Polygamy, contrary to what Lévi-Strauss sometimes asserted, is not the privilege of the leader as compensation for his efforts – as it is in the contractual theory of a primitive and historical group constitution often derived from this description[xxxiv]. Price agreed with this description of highly valued profound knowledge and the embodiment of the generosity of mutuality. The leader is the initiator of activities, collective and individual when the time is right by setting the hard-working example of the masculine social obligations. The Nambikwara metaphor stresses that the initiator is he who is the bottom of things while the events finish by coming to a head (ib.). Lévi-Strauss also added that the leader should also be of good humor and have a cheerful disposition, holding constant his emotions; preferably, he is a big and strong man. Although Price does not draw this conclusion, the outline of a capable, wise, strong, big, generous, cheerful, hard-working man taking initiatives sketched by him appears to be iconic of the ideal of masculinity and seems to represent what the most accomplished man should be. Among the Nambikwara in general a big (large) man tends to become a big man. If so, then that means the proposition that an ideal man is an autonomous and care-taking responsible man should be valid for all men, and hence one of them can only lead others by example (Price 1981b: 692-4). This also explains the tendency of deferring initiative in collective enterprises, an inclination that is based on the idea that the initiator is responsible for any consequences (see Fiorini 2000 for a detailed elaboration of all of these aspects, building on the work of the previous ethnographers and describing complexities that space limitations do not permit discussion of here).
Of key interest is a popular topic in and out of anthropological circles that addresses the nature of the relation between the leader and the group. If it is false that the leader’s power is supreme, it is also an error to think his group to be solely the result of his personal action. That is, as if the contingent result of self promotion and the acceptance of leadership by a number of followers who made individual choices and the leader generates his own following (group). In fact, it is usually the case that the village and the kin-group pre-exists before the leader was chosen. When a leader is unsatisfactory, the village may put another man into this position, even if this new chief never expressed such intentions (Price 1981b: 699). When a new village is founded, the group contains a number of close relatives, usually a set of brothers. The template of the capable leader as elder brother is reliant on the sociocultural notion of the capable elder brother (ib.: 693). But is relies more on capability than on age itself. Age is associated with knowledge, and, when a pre-adult, with physical size. An older sibling is thought more capable than his younger brothers and sisters are. There is a clear tendency towards an agnatic core with the eldest brother as the primary candidate to function as the leader. Social constraints do arise, therefore, contrary to the overly voluntaristic picture conveyed before. Of course, the Nambikwara are flexible and Price carefully pointed out that these are only tendencies, though his analysis of many leaders and groups substantiates this observations. The elder brother model essentially signifies the elaborated notion of a caretaker of his close kin, a family responsibility: “The Nambikwara leader is an elder brother who cares for his less competent siblings – that is the basic metaphor and often the actual fact” (Price 1981b: 703). More kinship than politics, the sibling set is the basic model of sociality creating a sharing in-group that has a strong sentiment of belonging to this local group/village (see also Fiorini 2000).
If this was the world of the villages and village-sets of the Nambikwara before foreign invaders conquered them, the impact of the epidemics becomes even more terrifying. The kin and allied in-marrying people as a closely-knit social entity led by a caring big man on the template of one large family practicing mutuality was suddenly destroyed. It is almost impossible to exaggerate the social and psychological impact. The disease destroyed a lived world and microcosm of is its own. In fact, being a sole survivor completely obliterates all social effort put into its constitution. All around leaders must have died and the death of caretakers worsened the chances for recuperation[xxxv]. Only the personal autonomy, a certain flexibility, and the wider web of less intimate kin in the village set or regional cluster could lessen the survivors’ shock or death wish. Despite the destruction, the survivors reconstructed their life and their population numbers regenerated. In one case, the leader of a local group in the central Guaporé Valley survived and gathered at his village the survivors of several former villages decimated by the epidemic. Calmão united in the Alantesu, the people called orphans. Deprived of caring parents is a kind of language congruent with the sociocultural picture of the village and the position of the people left without the close shelter of their kin-group. A more ambitious leader or a more caring man who viewed the disaster of his neighbors (not to mention the likely deaths in his own village) thus rounded up the fragments of the villages to constitute a new composite viable group. Various groups and villages later known to Price derived from such re-compositions (Waikatesu, Camararé village on the savanna and the Wasusu group/village in the Guaporé Valley). Predictably, the villages that coalesced under these stressful circumstances divided after the death or decline of the leader[xxxvi]. It seems likely that after recuperating from an epidemic, villages and village-sets tended to separate along the same lines, if there were enough survivors to allow for a viable group. Regardless, the tenacious attempts at recovery after enormous distress are a tribute to human will, of sociocultural reconstruction and the strength of the desire to continue a socioculturally complete and satisfactory mode of living.
The interregnum of the “Nambiquara Project”
During Price’s 1974 stint as a visiting professor in Brasília, he was surprised when FUNAI invited him to create a Nambikwara assistance program. The surprising development was due to relations with the anthropological community (via the ABA, the Brazilian Anthropology Association) that could at best be called strained. Various officials, however, confessed that the Nambikwara situation was the direst in the country, and that internal colonialist expansion had created a critical state of affairs. There was a very real possibility that most of the population would die out, with the exception of the groups living on the insufficient reservations (Price 1977: 603-4). In the days of near complete power and control by the champions of western Christian civilization, the military dictatorship, such near genocide (or, rather, various genocides from the point of view of the local villages or village-sets on the course to extinction) did not agree with the image of benign human development that it manufactured for internal and external use. It was, in fact, only later that Price discovered some of the previous efforts of FUNAI to deal with the Nambikwara as an obstacle to progress and its blatant failures. Before FUNAI, the Indian Protection Service (SPI) failed to prevent the outbreaks of contagious diseases, hardly assisted the ill, and only reserved a very small part of the Nambikwara territory for their exclusive use in 1961. After the change from SPI to FUNAI, no thorough re-orientation and reconstruction of the aims, methods, personnel and the workings of bureaucracy occurred, so business continued as usual. In the 1970s, in the midst of the so-called Brazilian miracle, FUNAI proved to be ineffective, insufficient, subordinate and unable to function within the development craze of the times. The Nambikwara were one of the main victims in this drama.
A first small reserve was set aside for the Nambikwara in 1961. The area was as insufficient as SPI’s protection. At the end of the sixties, the invasion caused by the construction of a dirt road in the beginning of the decade started to affect the Indians and a few people started to make some efforts to safeguard their rights. Price mentioned that in 1968 the SPI Regional Inspector attempted to create a reserve in the Guaporé Valley but nothing materialized (by Hélio Bucker; see Bucker and Bucker 2005: 13). Therefore, the first existing reserved parcel of land came into being around fifty years after the Rondon Commission. In effect, it probably finally emanated from Rondon’s efforts to assure some land for the Nambikwara in Mato Grosso. The actual measurement and demarcation of the reserved land was carried out by the state of Mato Grosso, meting out 25,780 ha. The origin of the land grant lay in “(…) the Legislative Resolution no. 761 of 26/06/1918 in the municipality of Diamantino of old Mato Grosso”[xxxvii]. That is, although a protective measure by the former state of Mato Grosso (before the subtraction of territory to form new states and territories, like Mato Grosso do Sul and Rondônia, respectively) taken forty years in the past, the resolution was only implemented when the gravel road was constructed. The protection of Indigenous Territory definitely should not be attribution of a state like Mato Grosso or Rondônia. In 1961, the Department of Land and Colonization issued a definitive title to the territory around the Pireneus de Souza Post, customarily known as Espirro. By the beginning of the 1980s, under pressure and with the financing of the World Bank, a FUNAI task force visited the area and concluded that the population of 79 Indians now also extracted rubber and made gardens in an adjacent area of 3800 ha (amounting to a total of 28.212 ha; Costa 2000: 55). Based on these findings the limits were redrawn in 1981. By then several groups had been settled in Aroeira but, as the visitors observed, the three residential areas and adjacent use areas were associated with different ethnic origins. Manézinho Sabanê’s area, with seven houses, was the largest quarter.
Compared to the enormity of the original Nambikwara land, this territory was not more than a drop in the bucket (or as depending on the metaphor, a crumb of the cake) [xxxviii]. The military dictatorship installed in 1964 did not differ in the objective of national development from the previous civilian governments. The same imagery and very much the same interests shaped and fueled policy. From 1960, the road had opened the possibility to appropriate the largest share of the cake, especially the ecologically richer Guaporé Valley region where the Indians had barely been contacted, if at all (the Sararé that were contacted had only met foreign missionaries). At the end of 1967, around the time the reputation of the SPI had been eroded by the eruption of a great many scandals and was about to be transformed into FUNAI, a seemingly protective and generous measure was taken to remedy this appalling discrepancy. In October 1968, the President of Brazil signed a law creating the Nambikuara Reservation for the permanent possession and exclusive usufruct of its natural resources. Officially amounting to 1,011,961 ha, this area covers 1/5 of the Nambikwara territory (Costa 2000: 55). In reality, this area is much less generous than it may seem. In the first place, it is located entirely on the Parecis Plateau and consists of at least 70% arid land, sand, and savanna. Secondly, only 1/10 of the Nambikwara population lived in this area (Carelli and Severiano 1980: 10). Before evaluating this policy, Price wrote in his dissertation that there was “(…) much dry savanna and very little arable land” (Price 1972: 41). Later he estimated that the population within its bounds at less than 1/6 of the total number of Nambiquara (Price 1982b: 190). Whatever the correct numbers, the savanna in question belonged to only a small number of people and a limited number of Nambikwara do Campo peoples. The real purpose of the decree was much less generous. It spelled out that, just as with other neighboring peoples FUNAI must “(…) take whatever steps may be necessary in order to create, in the reservations specified in Article 1., conditions such that indigenous groups belonging to the aforementioned tribes which are scattered outside of their limits may be localized within them” (Price 1982b: 190). This is the obvious advantage of considering the Nambikwara as one tribe, as if all of its components are the same and thus it would be perfectly reasonable to put them all into one large reserve. A fact that the international survey on the general situation of the Indians in Brazil carried out by Hanbury-Tennison cautioned the Brazilian authorities about in 1971. Hanbury-Tennison felt that it would be mistake to move them together as there are “(…) nearly a dozen groups involved, and they all hate and distrust each other” (Hanbury-Tennison 1973: 152).
When Price started his fieldwork among the Sararé in 1968 and later moved to the Kithaulhu on the Parecis Plateau, he was asked to assist in the study that should find the necessary data about the Nambikwara and their needs. He aided in preparing exhibits that showed the localizations of the real villages and living spaces of the Indians. They proposed small three reservations for the Guaporé Valley, areas correlated with the traditional territories of the groups in question. These measures were under study by the relevant FUNAI department. However, the presidency did not approve the measures (Price cited in Proceedings 1975: 9)[xxxix]. Had the administration addressed such qualified information, it might have avoided causing much suffering and deaths, and saved money, too. Instead, a special commission visited Cuiabá in order to inquire about these data and armed with the subsequent understanding proposed a general Reserve. The panel stayed in the city for three days and the decree was signed six days later. The short period between the two events initially astonished Price, but after he worked for FUNAI, he understood better the workings of federal bureaucracies and the process of creating Indigenous Territories, noticing how the actual procedure was very slow, hazardous and involved mountains of paperwork moving through a labyrinth of bureaucracy. It is nearly impossible that the decree was based on the panel’s report and the facts supplied by Price and the regional commissioner (Price 1989b: 12-3). The commission, regardless of its intent to do physical work or simply fact finding, could not have influenced the definition of the area. The fact that the panel was a smoke screen explains the obvious geographical errors (Price cited in Proceedings 1975: 10). To the military and bureaucracy, pretending to care for the Indians by supposedly generously apportioning a part of their former territory back to them, and treating equally the Nambikwara do Campo and the various uncontacted or hardly-contacted local groups of the much more fertile Guaporé Valley, was permissible and convenient. If all members of the class of Indians are all roughly the same, all groups of the sub-type Nambikwara must be more so. In reality, several of the Nambikwara do Campo groups were severely cheated in land rights and living conditions. They knew this very well too, at the end of 2000 a Sawentesu commented on these losses to Costa:
Erdo, Daniel, Milton, Lídio [Halotesu and Wakalitesu] were who really lost. From here to the Juína River, until the telegraph line on the other side of the Juruena River. Campos de Julio is the land of the Wakalitesu. Juína, Juruena is Indian land, really ours. We didn’t loose. Who really lost were Milton’s people. Halotesu and Wakalitesu really lost out! Julio‘s land was from the Utiarity towards the Juruena. Julio’s village really lost out. But, his graveyard I know. It lies at this side of the telegraph line, where there is no reserve. Halotesu calls us Sawentesu because we live in the forest. Who lost this land was Marieta. The Alligator Village, there towards the back is called Yaitulentsu village, over there is the Kithaulhu land, on the other side of the telegraph line. Joined, one on the side of the other, are the lands of the Kithaulhu and the Sawentesu. From Padronal[xl] this way, Sawentesu people, from Padronal to Twelve [Doze de Outubro River], towards the back, Kithaulhu (cited in Costa 2000: 48).
This Sawentesu man explained how some groups lost their lands by this demarcation and how they and the Kithaulhu ended up within its confines: the Kithaulhu basically adjacent to Aroeira and the Sawentesu to their southeast. He also mentioned how the name of his people derives from their ecological placement and was given to them by the neighboring Halotesu. Notably he was also clear on the question of the boundaries between the different groups. He explained that the Nambikwara do Campo consisted of a number of local groups whose names originate from the designation given by their neighbors and each local group had definite notions about the land they own. Or, perhaps more correctly, the land they belong to by virtue of the graveyards of their ancestors. In this sense, the decree ignored the indigenous reality of the savanna, and more broadly of all the peoples of the Guaporé Valley. The real aim of this bureaucratic measure was evidently the removal of all of the Nambikwara tribes to an overwhelmingly arid high plateau with gallery forest near the rivers. This region sustains fewer Indians per square kilometer than the Northern Nambikwara Area or the Guaporé Valley, even for those adapted to the habitat. Property owners immediately took advantage of the situation and petitioned for so-called negative certificates, a certification given out by FUNAI to attest to the absence of Indians necessary to obtain cheap subsidized financing to develop their lands. Similar to the complaint of Rondon about the titling of land irrespective of Indians or other occupants, the entire Guaporé Valley had been carved up and entirely titled by Mato Grosso and later INCRA (sometimes superposing titles)[xli]. Expropriating practices also demonstrate a respectable time depth. FUNAI began issuing negative certificates only nine days after issuing the decree in which it affirmed the presence of Indians (sic) but added that “(…) no restrictions need be imposed on the use of the specified area by the interested party, since this Foundation will undertake the transference of the remnants of the aforementioned tribe to the area destined as its reservation” (cited in Price 1982b: 190). Coincidence in this context hardly ever exists. The expression remnants is a somewhat cynical way to refer to the autonomous peoples in the Guaporé Valley who were just beginning to establish contact without any sizable assistance from SPI or, later, their legal caretaker FUNAI[xlii].
Ironically, perhaps by virtue of the old Telegraph Line going straight through lands and the fact that Rondon’s designation first applied to them, the Nambikwara do Campo are considered the Nambikwara and they are the principal inhabitants of the Reserve and some of their peoples are the legitimate occupants of the Nambikwara Reserve. FUNAI started its career for the whole ensemble as the official means of opening up all of the other Nambikwara territories for national colonization: as if the local Nambikwara really are iconic of all peoples of the ensemble. Despite the constitutional guarantees of the so-called right to a Reserve because of immemorial occupancy, in a way the government already was employing the new Indian Law which permits a series of transference or displacements because of a variety of national interests (but in the end only was promulgated in 1973). The national interests in this case consisted of the large landowners or companies who bought land in the valley. Contrary to the proposals made after 1970 when small holders’ colonization was thought to alleviate the pressure on land in other parts of Brazil, from 1950 onwards immense areas of supposedly untitled and public lands were handed out to some 18 private colonizing companies, totaling at least 200,000 ha. One such company acquired lands in Nambikwara region as early as 1954 (Costa 2000: 45). As was the historical practice with land appropriation, the situation was replete with speculation, fraud, and violence. In 1956, the Gleba Continental opened up an enormous part of the lands south of the Telegraph Line between the Juína and Camararé, roughly where the Sawentesu and Kithaulhu live. The project failed and only one settler moved in and the company did not meet its obligation to develop the region within five years (Price 1972: 40-1).
Previously, the Nambikwara do Campo’s main worry concerned the rubber tappers and the concomitant negative effects on their social life and ecological conditions. The development companies did not have a strong foothold in the savanna. The Parecis Plateau did not stir much interest because the aridness of the savanna could not provide lucrative agricultural activity (and for this reason I still prefer to call the region savanna and not grassland, as did Price; also I do not use Grassland Nambikwara as Fiorini (2000) did, anxious to avoid the association with African vegetation; after all, the image suggested by a grassland is one of a land ready for cattle grazing and so both terms may suggest an erroneous connotation). It is no accident that the only settler of the Continental company did not locate his main installation at Barracão Queimado on the Parecis Plateau but expanded his influence towards the rubber collecting areas in Guaporé Valley, affecting the Negarotê territory (Costa 2000: 136-46). The same expansion later turned into a large landholding as the WWII stimulated the invasion of the forests via the Line and the subsequent appropriation of the land using the road at the end of the 1960s. The evaluation of the ecological worthlessness determined the demarcation of the Nambikwara Reserve and the partial securing of a land base for the Nambikwara do Campo. It is notable that in this manner every invasion phase chooses its own preferences for ecological and economic competition. For example, in the 1980s some technological changes recognized part of the savanna – a central habitat known as cerrado – as the ideal soil and climate for the enormous expansion of soya.[xliii]. Somewhat ironically, by the way, when taking into account the hidden intentions of the creation of the Nambikwara Reserve. Rubber, cattle, and soya each coveted different resources and affected the ecosystems in their own specific modalities. The historical phases provoked diverse reactions and conceptions of the intruders, later invaders and dominators. Thus, the Campo (savanna) groups passed through a series of stages of relations and conceptions of the Bean People that complements the history narrated by Vitorino, an old man respected for his fund of knowledge who knew many stories about encounters. Price prompted the narrative above with a question about Rondon and the stories relating to his passing and the construction of the Telegraph Line. He added that Vitorino did not disclose other stories of armed clashes and events.
The Nambikwara do Campo to the south of his people recount another incident about the first time their fathers saw a Bean Person, kwajato, on their lands. Stories are customarily narrated at night and there is a festive air when the people recall the event; according to the literature and my own observations, the Nambikwara are a people who appreciate laughter. Accordingly, the following story provokes large smiles and gaiety. One time some people walked through the forest when they noticed someone’s presence. When they found a man, they were afraid because of his different appearance. They presumed he was a spirit and observed his ways to discover if he was friendly or not. When he noticed he was being watched, the man panicked, shouted and behaved wildly. The Indians thought he was possessed and tied him to a tree. When they gave fruits and honey, he calmed down. The Indians amused themselves with this strange man but a few days later, they released him. The man ran away desperately. The people were baffled. In this story, the Indians confronted someone entirely new and believed the strange man was a spirit, and therefore a likely dangerous entity (Costa 2000: 99). Later they saw the intruders differently. However, they did so by a curious twist and an interpretation Rondon’s respectable officers would not admire or find very amusing. Not only did the Nambikwara do Campo think that the Whites, their presents, and their devotion to the Line to be exceeding odd, they suspected that the Bean People were cannibals! While Rondon searched through the discard and offal of the villages, the Indians harbored their own suspicions:
When Rondon passed, my father told me. He [father] threw out sugar, salt. He threw everything away. That’s what my mother told me. My mother used to tell me about the days when Rondon passed by. They say he left dried meat. Mother threw it away. It scared them. They thought it was human flesh. Salt, I never saw. Sugar too, I never saw. They say that coffee [imitating his mother’s voice] – Ah! Throw that away, enemies of ours! That’s what they said. Cow’s milk? They thought it was human milk; they don’t drink it (interview of 2000 with Daniel Wakalitesu; Costa 2000: 62; italics in the original).
The Wakalitesu (lit. the Alligator People) refused what they did not know, especially foodstuffs like the purported delicacies offered as a goodwill token. The Indians’ cannibal suspicions mirrored the fears of barbarism of the Bean People who left them these gifts. This particular people inhabited the region first crossed by the Line when it entered into Nambikwara territory after Utiarity. This other Campo (savanna) group[xliv] posed the question of what the new beings were and first concluded that the intruders were like evil cannibalistic spirits. Some spirits also may eat human souls, effectively killing them. Therefore, on the savanna the first interpretations of the Bean People are analogous, highlighting a similar suspicion that outsiders are likely evil spirits. Although Rondon believed that the cannibal aspect of the Indians’ cultures could be ascertained by examining their refuse, he never questioned the variety, quantity and quality of the Indian food. He certainly did not refuse any. The Indians, for their part, did not initially accept the food offered for fear of contamination or inadvertent cannibalism. Rondon’s greatest problem was convincing his companions, and especially the regional people, of the basic humanity of the Nambikwara, that they were indeed more human than animal. Keep in mind that since the so-called discovery of Brazil the native people were unbaptized pagans, and hence not really human[xlv]. Little did he know that in the mind of these inferior beings the Bean People were suspected to be dangerous cannibalistic supernatural entities in human form. To Rondon the basic humanity and capacity of civilization of all human beings was a religion, to the Nambikwara the Whites might very well have been ogres and humanity a predicate to be proven. Maybe Vitorino’s Kithaulhu did not think the same way. However, the way these local groups communicated and participated in the same fund of cosmological knowledge, it is probable that he either refrained to mention anything of the kind out of politeness or because it was not the topic under discussion.
Laughing about the first White may be good entertainment and revelatory of a social wit that makes fun of the pretentious invaders (Basso 1979). Yet, the invasions from 1942 to take possession of the gallery forests of the Parecis Plateau gave little cause for merrymaking. No evil spirits but covetous, arrogant men invaded the forests necessary for the horticultural gardens. Even if the savanna, with its many fruits and populated with many animals considered edible, did not appeal to the rubber tappers, the damages springing from this competition were great. The rubber bosses, as shown by the map drawn by Costa (2000: 115), implemented their realms in important stretches of the river system running north through the cerrado landscape (the difference is immediately striking). Although the Rondon Commission helped the Parecis, a people Rondon had liberated from injustice, it failed to protect the Indians’ interests only a few decades later. Not restrained by the prestige of Rondon, the power of firearms and manpower was too much for the Nambikwara (there is a case on the record where the mere mentioning of some land being Rondon’s was enough for an invader to withdraw voluntarily)[xlvi]. A very uneasy relationship emerged where sometimes the Indians served as trackers or traded meat and vegetable food in exchange for arms and ammunition that is reminiscent of the exchange terms they may have been accustomed to before. The difference lies, of course, in being practically evicted from a vital part of their lands and being threatened with force in the ultimate (or not so ultimate) instance. The situation sometimes came to a head with the killing of a tapper and the burning of his house. The abuse of Indian women logically ensued from domination and some of them became pregnant. Even today, this is a source of embarrassment and profound distress. The worst enemies of all were the diseases like measles and influenza which killed much more than the violent skirmishes. The narrative of the old woman analyzed above very likely concerns the savanna in 1945. One testimony affirms that that all groups in a very wide region were affected severely, even in the Guaporé Valley, both of the Northern branch and the Southern cluster. The epidemic had a devastating impact on the Campo (savanna) groups leaving only a few people now white haired. Vitorino was the epitome of such very old and knowledgeable survivors. The change from the many to the few inspires such sadness that many people do not want to listen to the stories and leave when the subject comes up (Chapter 4 of Costa’s research (2000) is dedicated to this period the Nambikwara call the time of the past).
The epidemic also undermined any capacity to mount a substantial resistance against the numerous rubber tappers. The Indians continued to resist in a variety of ways, sometimes with the silent sabotage and a few times with outright raids. The rubber gradually declined in value and the business steadily became less enticing. The decline of rubber from the 1960s to the 1970s occurred simultaneously with the construction of the road and its gravel pavement in 1966 insured year-round usage (Costa 2000: 142). The reaction of the rubber patrons was predictable and a paradigm for what happened in Southern Amazonia. Most patrons took care to title the rubber estates as theirs and then sold the land to further investors. The one settler of Barracão Queimado was said to own about 1,400,000 ha of land, a significant part of it being Nambikwara. The central buildings now are located in the Nambikwara Indigenous Territory. Even in Brazil such a figure stands out as exceptionally large for one owner. The original Nambikwara reserve was smaller and a summation of the major areas of the Nambikwara ensemble (Guaporé Valley and small additions, Pyreneus de Souza, Sararé) reveals that the total is slightly less than the area claimed by this proprietor (excluding the shared regions around Utiarity and Tubarão/Latundê; if included than the total does not surpass the former so much; official figures are in Costa 2000: 55). Relevant issue here is that the property of one single Brazilian did not stir up as much attention and concern as the Nambikwara territory would cause later. The claim of much land for few Indians is an oft-repeated refrain that does not correspond to any reality but is fixed in a constellation of congealed truisms circulating about Indians within national society. The private property of one man, as one landholding or a set of rubber estates, is the measure of normality and the collective property of a people or a number of peoples is the deviance of the norm.
The Nambikuara Reserve attempted to conceal the loss and alienation of larger and ecologically far more coveted lands. The owner of the estates larger than the land set aside for the whole tribe continued to use his land and storehouse until the end of the 1960s when the rubber exploitation in the Guaporé Valley was in its final phase. After the official decree, in 1972 and 1973, he petitioned Mato Grosso for titles to the area. He then sold at least 250,000 ha to private agricultural commercial organizations and had already sold several other parcels as well (Costa 2000: 139). After 1968, one of these major owners proceeded to title these lands and sell them on the market. At the time, with the geopolitical worries of the military dictatorship in the region of the frontier, individuals could own no more than 2000 ha of land. This did not hinder the distribution of at least 216,000 ha in the Guaporé Valley and on the Parecis Plateau, nor did it impede the concentration of land to one owner or corporation. Despite the notion that in the end of the 1960s, the development company forfeited its rights (as Price thought in 1972), the Gleba Continental continued to take lands in what later was to be the southern part of the Nambikuara Reserve in the 1970s. This area was 58,800 ha and was measured and demarcated by engineers from Mato Grosso, registered at two official agencies, and titled in the name of single owner. The local Nambikwara did not like the invasion of their land but the situation did not end until 1977. The fact demonstrates that even the supposedly protected area of 1968 permitted a highly significant intrusion that lasted at least several years before effective action by FUNAI with the federal police finally recovered the area. The Indians took this victory personally and were pleased with the result, “(…) this is our land: We went there with the Federal Police. Frito [the sertanista Fritz Tolksdorf] arrived with the Federal Police from Cáceres. (…).We went with the Federal Police. Frito arrived, he said to him, Geraldino, leave. Leave the coffee, all leave. Federal police came to help us, support us. We removed Geraldino with Ari, Frito, two federal police. So we took the land. Their land my foot!” (Costa 2000: 144).
This shows the initial precariousness of the proposed core reserve. Even in the beginning of the 1970s, the removal of the settlers of Gleba Continental did not occur when the policy still was to concentrate all Indians in this reserve. Of course, the FUNAI occupied a subordinated role in the field of government agencies, as the very wording of the decree makes quite clear. The more proper and legal role for FUNAI should have commanded the recognition of the necessity to fix the limits of the Indians’ land of all these peoples in accordance with the constitutional right to immemorial possession. Actually, after its establishment on paper, FUNAI employed its major efforts to relocate the majority of the Nambikwara Indians in the new reserve[xlvii]. In August 1977, documents available in the FUNAI archives attest to Price’s agreement with this proposition when recounting his efforts to remove intruders. The documentation of one intruder totals 59,000 ha and showed that the old dates were written with new ink. The owner intended, in complete accordance with the spirit of the times, to give FUNAI a certain amount of time to remove the Indians from his land and take them north (this documentation was shown to Price as the response to his demand to comply with withdrawal). For over eight years the Indians waited to expel the other invader, a man from Minas Gerais who finally agreed to leave after the Indians painted themselves for war and the regional chief of the FUNAI office ordered him to do so. This man stalled in order to take the coffee harvest with him and stated his intention to petition for reimbursement of his investment. As he alleges good faith, he affirmed his right to receive this indemnity. He did not think about leaving before. Just a short time before, at the occasion of Pedro Agostinho’s visit (who was there to evaluate the Project), this man expressed his plan to bring in more people and settle more families on the land. He was tired of waiting for the promised disbursement of the indemnity and land which would allow him to resettle and continue similar production (he eventually received what he wanted; Agostinho 1996; 655).
Price reminded the bureaucracy that the owner already profited for over eight years from the richest part of the reservation, and suggested that this should be sufficient compensation. This is a good point, and I made a similar one in relation to the occupation and profiteering of the resources of Indigenous Territories in the Northeast Brazil for decades, and in some cases, for over a century. The good faith clause used for indemnities usually is applied without any such consideration and actually is sometimes used to compensate those who knew perfectly well what they were doing. To ease a tense situation and acting within a subordinate role, FUNAI was lenient with its legal interpretation and preferred to avoid the difficulties and opposition by simply paying out. It prefers the difficulty of obtaining funds for indemnity over the severe political problems of proving bad faith. Furthermore, individual FUNAI employees could not act directly as representatives of the law, and violence was, and still is, a possible recourse employed by landowners. This particular owner admonished the Indians about his land, a resistance partly due to FUNAI’s passive attitude and slowness in compensating him for the property. He considered Price to be his personal enemy and not merely an institutional representative. He threatened to kill Price if he dared to appear on his farm. The personalizing of the conflict follows from the common personalistic view of the Brazilian social universe (involving the notion that the law is a relative concept and not the ultimate measure in this mesh of relationships) and with the potential of violence always encountered in this situations where resolving these personal conflicts with murder was, and still is, an age-old means of conflict resolution. Justified by the customary stereotypes no doubt, but also partially shaped by FUNAI action and inaction. Price did not mention the threat in his terse paragraphs but the evaluation visit by Agostinho noted this awkward situation (Agostinho 1996: 654-5). As this particular owner was much more like a peasant (a person who tilled the land himself and produced on a modest scale), Agostinho considered a fair re-settlement a just measure. Agostinho thought so especially in comparison with what was happening in the Guaporé Valley. Here the large enterprises enjoyed a completely free reign to encroach on the Indigenous Territories, displacing the Indians even from their village sites and cemeteries. Large-scale capitalism raises tremendous difficulties. Due to the socioeconomic power they wield, their effective presence engenders enormous resistance to later attempts to correct the unlawful condition (Agostinho 1996: 655). By 1975 the neglect of the land rights in Guaporé Valley combined with the heavy investment of capitalist enterprises resulted in all sorts of buildings (houses, wood mills), and land occupancy (pastures, air strips) that devastated the forests and severely restricted and vitiated the traditional Indian way of economic sustenance (as verified by Agostinho (ib.: 646) in an air survey). Worse, like the cattle nibbling away at the houses of one of the villages, the encirclement affected their entire system of living: “(…) [the maps show] that the major civilized clearings are superimposed on the Indian villages and, if not so, at their door” (Agostinho ib.: 646).
As far as can be concluded from the indications available, the initial priority of FUNAI related to the removal of the Indians outside of the reserve and had less to do with the removal of the Whites within this area (the Whites sometimes even had valid titles). Such titles were (and still are) no guarantee in this case because the immemorial right precedes any title and therefore supersedes these claims. However, within the major climate of development at all costs, the titles will be brandished in papers and courts as legitimate, valid documents that override the Indian claims. Technically FUNAI should have furnished the mentioned negative certificate before validation of a title. In the rest of the Nambikwara ensemble’s territory, FUNAI attempted to realize the validity of negative certificates in areas where it recognized an Indian presence. The sertanista Frito, Fritz Tolksdorf, who was mentioned earlier in a discussion of the Latundê pacification when the statements of other participants casted some doubt on his character, plays another obscure role here. He commanded the attempts of the agency to fulfill what its certificates promised, liberation of the Guaporé Valley from these Nambikwara. Price reported that Tolksdorf solved the problem of the land development company on the Arinos River by pacifying the Erigpaktsa (1982b: 191)[xlviii]. This suggests that he did what the decree arbitrated to be the lot of the various peoples in northern Mato Grosso: to be dispossessed from a large part of their immemorial lands and confined to isolated islands whose size depended on the official evaluation of the economic worth of their lands, mostly within their former autonomous territory. These reservations are, to paraphrase Sahlins, a prominent proponent of structural historical anthropology, islands made by history. The task of a FUNAI so subordinated merely consisted in achieving the actualization of conquest. For example, sometime around 1975, Price estimated that the soils and vegetation appropriate to horticulture in the Nambikuara Reserve amounted to no more than 7.5% of its surface. Bearing this in mind, 1,000,000 ha would yield roughly 75,000 ha of land suitable for the shifting cultivation mode of food production that necessitates large areas for the sustenance of the population – this is the scarce resource that enlarges the local group areas on the Parecis Plateau in comparison to the Guaporé Valley[xlix] (cited in Agostinho 1996: 641). Worse still, the intrusion above was localized exactly in the major portion of such soils. At the end of 1968, the regional administration in Cuiabá authorized this man to remain in the indigenous area until his presence turned obnoxious or inconvenient to the assistance to the Indians’. In setting a bad precedent from the very beginning, the administration began on the wrong foot (Agostinho 1996: 654).
Although the military president issued the decree in 1968 and FUNAI expedited certificates very soon thereafter, a Project to clean the area of Indians only arose in 1971[l]. Action was finally taken the next year. Price recounted the difficulties of running his Nambiquara Project owing to the bureaucracy involved. In the end, he was left mentally exhausted (1989b: 5). Such bureaucracy probably caused the further delay. Armed with the help of two Protestant missionaries, Tolksdorf removed the Wasusu and the Alantesu of the Guaporé Valley to the southern part of the Nambiquara Reserve, placing them on Sawentesu lands. A few Wasusu refused to move and within a year all of the migrants returned to their homelands. The reasons first given for this unsuccessful attempt to displace these groups allude to the incompatibility between the ecological conditions of the much more arid region and the horticultural practices of the Guaporé Valley peoples who cultivate maize as a staple, while the Campo groups generally rely on manioc. Another local source added that there was a resultant strong friction between the local group and the incoming peoples (Price 1982b: 192). Price’s conclusion allows for the inference that the dislocated never left their area freely, and could only be persuaded under strong pressure. The sentiment of belonging to a particular territory is much too strong. The Wasusu village did not move for many years, an exception among the Nambikwara ensemble, by virtue of the vicinity of the sacred caves where the souls of their ancestors dwell. Doubtlessly, those who refused to leave did so out of respect to this belief and a strong tie to that land. Other local groups have their own similar sacred sites. The Campo Halotesu of the Tirecatinga Indigenous Territory (Utiariti), for example, are clear on their relation with the site of their ancestor’s souls: “They take care of the people of our earth, of the game and if they did not exist then there would be nothing, no food, light, water, nor any Nambikwara or anyone else. They take care of us and teach us to take care” (cited in Mancim and Lima 1981: 34; for more on how the dwelling place of ancestors’ souls is linked with the living, see Fiorini 2000). The souls’ village is within the rocks of an archaeological site with stone engravings and rock paintings, just like the Wasusu case[li] (a famous site known as the Abrigo do Sol; see Puttkamer 1979). This is yet another sociocultural explanation of how the Nambikwara have a greater connection to their lands than the customary image of nomads suggests (Price 1982b: 196). All peoples in the Guaporé Valley had their caves on the edge of the Parecis Plateau but not necessarily in the territory they occupied in daily life (Price 1989b: 129). The Sararé used caves near the Wasusu sacred site but stopped going there when the two peoples quarreled (Serafim 2000: 29-30).
Price did not appreciate the stereotype of nomads and wandering around and the concomitant presupposed dissociation between the people and their land. He believed that there was a firm attachment between a people and their territory. Nonetheless, he was no naïve and understood the difficulty of balancing established economic interests and their beneficial transformation of Indian forest into productive pastures. Accordingly, he believed that the forced dislocations of the Northern Nambikwara from the northern part of the Guaporé Valley as the least harmful because they would be supposedly resettled within (or very near to) their original territory. The movement displaced them into unfamiliar lands and, not theirs and being ecologically different, they returned to their homeland. It was, however, only after he became a World Bank consultant and tried to ascertain the traditional territories of the Guaporé Valley peoples, that he discovered that they denied that the dislocation occurred within their own territorial bounds (in 1980; Price 1982b: 196 mentions the original statement in the text when the article was written in 1977). As far as can be ascertained here, it seems Tolksdorf misinformed Price, or at least convinced him to accept that these dislocations were justified, as Tolksdorf alleged that the Nambikwara were not strongly attached to their homelands. Price stated this in weaker terms as a general attempt to legitimize the moves (Price 1982b: 200). He charges Tolksdorf as the person responsible with manipulating the facts. This explains the strange case of the pacification of the Latundê where Tolksdorf pretended to have been present and suggested to have been the leader of the expedition when in reality he delegated the task to the low-level unprepared functionary Fonseca. This irresponsibility can now be seen as part of a constant pattern of behavior. In fact, at an important 1975 meeting of the advisory council to FUNAI with a number of invited anthropologists and indigenistas to discuss the Nambikwara situation, Price listed a number of significant problems with Tolksdorf. Among others, he quoted proprietors who claimed that Tolksdorf authorized them to build within the reserve or allegations that he received kickbacks from indemnities that he arranged for landowners[lii].
Working hand-in-hand with some close military connections at FUNAI in Brasília, Tolksdorf succeeded in rapidly bypassing the paperwork for the reservation and official announcement of a new area: the one between the Nambikwara Reserve and Aroeira (1973). This constituted a significant growth because the new area incorporated somewhat more fertile soils. For the same reason, the region was coveted by an owner, Bamerindus, a southern Brazilian bank. Then Price and the field agents discovered that the bank was measuring the land and the manager affirmed he was authorized by Tolksdorf and the general in Brasília. Tolksdorf denied this, but a missionary confirmed that he had admitted this in a conversation. Price took what he thought were successful measures to convince Bamerindus to withdraw, but a field agent discovered otherwise. Later Price reported that the two officials met Bamerindus representatives in the beginning of the same year and assured them that they could change the decision in their favor. He then suspected a scheme of extortion playing on the need for negative certificates and the redrawing of boundaries. FUNAI never acted on the circumstantial evidence gathered to investigate the plan. This is no surprise, given the involvement of a high-placed and well-connected general at a time when the dictatorship hardly ever permitted criticism to be raised against the military. Price finally found some blatant indication of corruption, Tolksdorf drove a new jeep which rumor had it was a gift from a rancher. When Price checked the information, the car was registered in the name of a ranch in the Guaporé Valley. The ranch had received its negative certificate half a year before the jeep’s papers were issued (Price 1989b: 20-1). In this sense, Price and the people he worked with in the Nambikwara Project (Sílbene Almeida, Marcelo dos Santos, and Ariovaldo Santos) belonged to an unfortunately small minority of idealist and dedicated agents that really devoted their complete commitment to the Indian cause within a context fraught with corruption (see also Agostinho 1996).
When accepting to work for FUNAI and the welfare of the Nambikwara, Price did not have any real notion of the administrative performance and internal politics of the agency. He set out to study the land occupancy of the Indians, especially of the Guaporé Valley, and with these data, he wanted to assist in defining the alternatives to secure a land base for the several local groups who had no assistance and who were in the process of being overrun by cattle ranches. To his disappointment, FUNAI did not share Price’s sincere interests and tended to act irresponsibly. Only a few days before his appointment FUNAI issued a decree to interdict in the southernmost area of the Guaporé Valley between the Galera and Sararé River, an area of 296,000 ha (Santos 2000: 46). After the prior failure to entice the Northern Nambikwara to the Nambikwara Reserve, Tolksdorf completed a hasty survey of the Guaporé Valley and proposed to unite the Valley Nambikwara in one region, in its least developed part. The fact that this would liberate the rest of Guaporé Valley for development is so obvious a fact that Price did not elucidate further. It would reward the early invaders and avoid conflicts with powerful economic groups like the Bamerindus. Understandably, the decree aggravated Price because of the hasty work and lack of consultation with him. Furthermore, the interdicted area did not contain any villages, although the Indians hunted in the region[liii]. Evidently, it would be very hard for him to demand a reconsideration or simple withdrawal of the interdiction (Price 1989b: 19). Of course, the land in the Guaporé Valley should be all Indigenous Territory by virtue of legal immemorial right and this claim plainly justified the new interdiction. As one regional administrator candidly admitted to Price in 1980 after the major invasions and the concomitant reduction of effective Indian occupancy “(…) in reality, the whole [Guaporé] Valley undoubtedly belongs to the Indians” (Price 1989b: 94). Such plain admission of the facts and the supporting law hardly found its way into the actual implementation of concrete action by the agency. In fact, although conscious of the external pressures (and less so of the internal ones), Price understood he had been too optimistic and idealistic in accepting the area and the subsequent removal of two central Guaporé Valley groups (Price 1989b). This occurred because of Tolksdorf’s insistence and proved to be “(…) a dreadful mistake; they fought with the Sararé group, several people died of malaria, and eventually they all walked back home” (Price 1989b: 19). He then consistently changed his stance on any approval of all official planning regarding the transferal of any Nambikwara village to areas outside their original homelands.
Unaware of the consequences and impeded with the supposed presence of few settlers, Price decided to begin to work with the interdiction, but his anthropological knowledge did not save him from being persuaded by Tolksdorf on their first meeting to transfer the Guaporé Valley groups to the interdicted area. In agreeing, Price underestimated their attachment to their land. It was only in retrospect that he concluded that such movements never are successful, although this time the ecology did not differ so much as it did in moves between the Guaporé Valley and the Parecis Plateau. Nevertheless, he underestimated the relation between people and their land (Price 1982b: 196). The terrible encroachment suffered by the Central Guaporé Valley groups seemed to justify the relocation at a safe area. Again, it cannot be stressed enough that all of the Nambikwara peoples and local groups who were moved to a foreign place only did so under pressure, usually from FUNAI. Price attributed this error to the economic inclination of Western thought, when the land and its natural resources are interchangeable if of the same general quality (i.e. as a ranch and not a territory). Price rejected the nomadic hunter-gatherers stereotypes that bring to mind people without real connection to the land when, to the contrary, they had an immense, very intimate knowledge of their home territory (also relevant is the intrinsic nature towards expansion of Western agriculture which, contrary of the stereotype of being fixed, has shown an historic impetus to conquer new spaces; see Brody 2001). Price later noted that the hunting capacities of the Nambikwara must be based on a similar knowledge and particularized relationship to all of the aspects of the surroundings. The apparently poor Nambikwara, by being free of visible material burdens, acquire for the outside observers the association of being unattached to material resources in all aspects, including land. Old stereotypes die hard; and are hard to kill. Even in 1980, Price encountered a FUNAI medic in Brasilia entrusted with working out a health plan for the Nambikwara who candidly asserted the Indians to be nomads who did not produce any noteworthy horticulture. When he later saw the granaries of the Wasusu filled with maize, Price was reminded of the equivocal notion of insufficiency in the Indians’ own sustenance. The problem with such ignorance and preconceptions is that it leads to plans for correction to be carried out by FUNAI with World Bank funds (Polonoroeste; Price 1989b: 110). When the horticultural capacities are known, the idea of all agricultural traditions that one piece of soil has equal use as any similar plot, misled even an observer as sensitive as Price to underrate the strength of attachment to the land. In fact, this appears as the same common Brazilian notion that Indian lands are equivalent to fazendas[liv]. After the experience, Price (1982b: 196) concluded his article on relocations by remarking that the land and the people mutually define each other, which is, in effect, nothing else than suggesting the immaterial relationship that defines the territory of a people. The Nambikwara carry a strong bond to the land, in both material and immaterial aspects. Significantly, in most cases of relocation a few people or families remained behind on their own lands.
Thus, Price only later understood the repercussions for accepting the misconceptions of other agents and the strength of the counter-forces for the creation of an effective and just Nambikwara policy. In other ways, he was aware of the subordinated FUNAI role and the constraints imposed by the development trend of the economic miracle promoted by the dictatorship. At this time it was difficult to enforce the law. The real solution to the problems created by the ranches, roads, and personnel was simply the removal of the intruders from the Indian villages, graveyards, fields and homelands, not the other way around. Against the sometimes hostile bureaucracy, the internecine fighting of factionalism and the lack of funds, Price waged a heroic effort to study the native mode of occupancy, ascertain the size of their territories and securing a land-base while developing a practical and flexible system of health, educational and economic assistance. In these aspects, he succeeded against the odds. His study on the mode and extent of Indian occupancy did result in a large map of the numerous local groups and the names of the geographical features that mark their relationship to their lands (rivers, streams, places, villages)[lv]. As far as I know, these efforts are unpublished and do not seem to have been referenced in the subsequent expert reports on the Nambikwara peoples’ territories. Some efforts to secure the existent land-base such as deterring invasions, succeeded around this time. The main objective to create and formalize an official Indian Territory within the Guaporé Valley during the time of Price’s command of the Nambiquara Project did not succeed. Given the constraints, this is understandable. The literacy program, however, was adequate and many Indians would have learned to read and write had the program continued after Price’s dismissal. This dismissal was a consequence of political pressures of a group of ranchers, internal FUNAI strife, and policy changes (Price 1977).
Ultimately, his greatest achievement is the health program that he put into place with the field agents. This included available vehicles to reach doctors and hospitals, the employment of a nurse, and vaccination campaigns. These feats must be viewed within the context of severe budget limitations and the general political and humane necessity of maintaining a meaningful dialogue with a capable autonomous people, instead of imposing outside views on inferior wild childlike creatures cowed to subjugation. During the first year of the project, the people of the Nambiquara Project stabilized the population, and later they devoted their attention to lowering infant and child mortality rates. Subsequently, the population increased by 1.3%[lvi] Therefore the Nambiquara Project succeeded in avoiding a further population decrease and contributed to a slight rise. This effectively laid the foundation for the small, and now stable, population of 186 in the entire Guaporé Valley (Price 1989b: 37). The population stopped decreasing and started, very slowly, to rise. In this sense, the Nambiquara Project achieved a fundamental change, in contrast to a previous policy consisting of such neglect and corruption, that the only outcome would seem to have been indirect genocide. That is, actually practicing genocide without seeming to do so. After all, they would have died of natural causes[lvii]. It proved a successful, efficient and relatively inexpensive policy corroborated by the immediate positive response of the Nambikwara ensemble and their return from the edge of annihilation.
A final comment may be in order. As seen above, the practice of relocation might be seen as genocide according to the UN Convention. Of course, the arduous work of Price attempted to avoid genocide and he felt a heavy burden because of the unintended disastrous results. One discerns the enormous constraints Price had to deal with in his small article written shortly after his dismissal from FUNAI service, presented at the Congress of Americanists. Quite properly so, in a way: proven accusations of genocide in the beginning of the century at a previous Congress, in 1908 in Vienna, contributed to the founding of the SPI (and another foreigner, Fric, showing how external pressure has always been one of the few means to comply with respect for human rights; Hemming 1995: 456). The pressures of the job and the constraints to which he had been subjected probably were the cause of the fact that Price had not yet understood that, after the movement of the Guaporé villages to the Plateau “failed dismally”, the solution of relocating the Valley villages to the south – the Sararé area still unoccupied by invading ranches – would prove equally dissatisfactory (Price 1977: 605; this failure he discusses in his later article on relocation in 1982, and to which I will come back below). Price also listed a number of factors that constrained his actions, from appalling bureaucratic inefficiency to the lack of funds and political will, to the not yet proven possibility of outright corruption. Even if he himself did not understand all of what happened to him, he recognized that many of these constraints were persisting structural factors, as has been clear throughout this book (and see the frustration and lament made by an anthropologist once employed in an important FUNAI function; Pozzobon 1999). Understandably, the whole experience left Price quite dissatisfied, although he only very elegantly hints at any bitterness: “Thus I have made a necessary return to the academia, but I left my heart with the Nambiquara” (Price 1997: 607). But with a warning of genocide: “(…) powerful financial interests (…) who imagine that the very survival of the Indians might be prejudicial to them have come close to rendering the FUNAI impotent in the Nambiquara region (…)” (ib. : 606). And that the time should come for financing basic humanitarian action for persons who “(…) respect the right to self-determination of other cultures (…)” (ib.: 608). To finance persons like the highly altruistic people who served with him in the Project (ib.: id), but who, as modesty no doubt made him fail to mention, were undoubtedly inspired by his own example of unselfish dedication.
Barbarians at the gate: final moments of war and encirclement
The history of the Sararé region in the 20th century began with the continuation of the relations prevalent in the previous one. The same state of war prevailed and the Indians of the several groups living in the southern region of the Guaporé Valley continued to resist the incursion of the strangers, most of whom came from Vila Bela. Inspired by the success enjoyed by the pacification achieved by Rondon’s men on the Parecis Plateau, in 1912 the SPI tried to repeat the propagandized feat by establishing an Indian Attraction Post at the southern border. In 1916 the post moved near Vila Bela, and later close to the mining area. Three years later it returned to Pontes e Lacerda on the upper Guaporé Valley. The people in Vila Bela, still scared with the constant appearances of the nomadic Indians near town, petitioned to relocate the Post to their region. In 1921 SPI constructed the Post at the mouth of the Sararé River, on the Guaporé, downstream from the town. With the help of some Paresi Indians, the officials cultivated some gardens and attempted in vain for eight years to approach the Sararé (Santos 2000: 44). Just as at the close of the previous century, the Indians dominated the countryside and refused to establish relations with SPI, the historical experiences of the southernmost components of the Nambikwara ensemble did not encourage the establishment of peaceful relations with SPI. Thus, the Service discontinued efforts to pacify the nomadic savages that maintained their autonomy and dominion over an extensive region. Even later in the 1930s, the construct of the nomadic Nambikwara predominated and reports of ipecac collectors confirmed a strong Indians presence in the region between the Guaporé Valley and Vila Bela during the dry season (Frederico Rondon cited in Santos 2000: 45). The Indians benefited from the abundant fish and game in the region.
The region below the Sararé River, to the north of the upper Guaporé belonged de facto to the Sararé groups. SPI’s abandonment of the region and the slow expansion of outside society began to encroach on this land. The presence of a medicinal root and abundant wildlife attracted the attention of the residents of Vila Bela and Pontes e Lacerda. There were definitely continued conflicts with the Indians, although only one in the beginning of the 1950s is mentioned. There is little known particularly about the occupancy on the southern tip of the Guaporé Valley, but there was surely interest amongst Whites in exploiting whatever resources were there. Both parties seem to have perpetuated a state of continual war. The central Guaporé Valley peoples suffered from the invasion of rubber tappers during WWII. These groups were alleged to lack horticulture and origin myths, a suspicion that the regional society readily adopted in light of their incorrect characterization of Nambikwara as hunters and gatherers. Price made note of this observation in an earlier article based on a Sílbene Almeida’s observation. Almeida was an Indian agent who worked within the project and remained behind at his post. Almeida was unique in his ability to acquire fluency in the Valley Nambikwara language. Both Price and this man noted the hunting and gathering emphasis in Nambikwara culture, a hypothesis strengthened with aerial photos take at the end of the 1960s. The photos showed many clusters of round clearings in the Sararé region, but hardly any in the central Guaporé Valley. Price here postulated that the Sararé learned horticulture from runaway slaves in the gold mining era. Conversely, when Price visited the Guaporé Valley as a World Bank consultant in 1980, the Indians pointed to a different scenario to explain this lifestyle and the lack of this mode of food production. These people claimed that their ancestors indeed cultivated large gardens and they too knew the principles well. The rubber tappers, however, massacred many of their families and robbed their gardens. Villages are locations that require some investment of energy and are not easy to hide; the smoke of burning the fields gave away the placements of gardens and invited attacks or the stealing of food. Therefore, out of fear they reverted to hunting and gathering, moving frequently (Price 1989b: 126-7).
It is likely that the Sararé region did not suffer this invasion because of there were no rubber trees there (the Amazonian Hileia really includes only the Northern Nambikwara area; Fiorini 2000). Perhaps, as noted, the local groups in this region practiced the same strategy during the mining explorations and when they recovered secure control they reverted to their normal ways. They are very unlikely to have forgotten the myth of the origin of agriculture as one early visitor saw the little flute house in 1964 and they play the forbidden flutes until today (Aytai 1966-7: 69). The absence of the strategy also substantiates that the peoples in the region felt sufficiently secure at the end of the 1960s to attempt to maintain the traditional lifestyle. On the other hand, research in the region, especially in Vila Bela, almost certainly will reveal a long history of clashes from the 1930s to the late 1950s. The record of this phase of the end of this war is not available to me, but in the 1950s the Indians decided it was time to establish peace. A few years before, in 1955, Bringsken a Dutch Protestant missionary arrived in Vila Bela and established residence there. His interest in Mato Grosso came about by accident but after his first leave he and his friends organized a foundation to raise funds and apply these in his work. The town struck him and his wife as so small that they referred to it a village[lviii]. This place was still mainly inhabited by the descendants of the slaves and free men left behind after the decline of mining and the departure of the Whites. The term Whites could be used for these black people, underscoring the ethnic character of this common label for Brazilians. On the first day of his arrival an Indian delegation visited the town and its inhabitants (visits apparently already occurring since 1953; Price 1982b: 194). The missionary received an animal skin hat from a chief during the visit. He interpreted this friendly encounter as a divine indication to bring them the happy gospel and save their souls[lix]. He decided to search for their unknown village. This proved difficult due to the absence of roads or clear paths, the first time his small group did not venture far enough; the second time they went too far; but on the third time they had success. The encounter occurred because the Indians showed themselves. When they explained that they had followed the second expedition for days without being noticed, the missionary realized his inexperience of moving into an unknown Indian territory. His commentaries evince the simple truth that the Sararé themselves permitted his passages and decided, by allowing him to view them, to make the contact. They definitely took the initiative and could have killed the strange men. No doubt these Indians believed that it was they who pacified the Whites.
In his publication geared toward the public abroad, the missionary did not reference any sort of pacification in usual Brazilian terms. Further details are lacking. Despite the fact that the fervor to serve the Lord took precedence over any materialistic objectives, the net result was the opening up of areas that were originally reserved exclusively for Indian use (Santos 2000: 45). Before the pacification the Indian wildness seems to have prevented a certain degree of invasion of Indian lands for fear of retaliations. After pacification this fear probably ceased to be an important factor and the Indian lands became a coveted object for invasion and the concomitant taming the wilderness. From this time on, the Mission retained missionaries in the Sararé region and for several years amongst the Wasusu and Manairisu in central Guaporé Valley. From 1960 onwards, the Sararé mostly were visited by Bringsken. Later, a colleague of his lived in the village. At first the trip to the Indians took about two weeks of travel but after 1961 Bringsken[lx] procured sufficient money in the Netherlands to buy an airplane. Thereafter, for 23 years he could arrive in Sararé territory in less than 20 minutes. In order to finance his work, he also made chartered flights for the ranches in the region. For some time the ranchers held him responsible for the establishment of the reserve and conspired to murder him. In the first attempt he was to be killed after landing his plane in the bush, but this fell through because the plane needed repairs. A second attempt also failed because a regional criminal boss restrained a hit man. This boss was impressed by the missionary’s religious faith when a plane they were in together almost crashed, and sent a message to the hit man’s employer, a rancher, not to harm the missionary. According to his testimony, forty-five to fifty people a month were murdered in this region alone during this time. This made the missionary sympathetic to the Indians and sensitive to their cause into an object of anger and frustration for those ranchers risking to lose their land; it marked him as a prime target for elimination. Only the fortuitous intervention saved his life. This event also highlights the dangers of anyone who stands up to the proprietors who do not wish to loose one single piece of their land (Bruijns 2001: chapter 5 and 6). Land was equated with wealth and power, two ends that mainly continue to be more important than lives of lower-class people (who – with the rare exceptions of human, ecological or social rights activists – are the chief victims of rural violence).
This explains why the major Katitaulhu expert asserted that the advance of the national frontier occurred without control (Santos 2000: 45). Obviously this is an understatement, as the peoples and local groups of these lands lost a large part of their territory. The ranches operated a veritable enclosure movement and appropriated the places and trails used by the Indians. Later on, at some places in the Guaporé Valley chemical defoliation devastated the forests to prepare the land for the planting of the productive pastures. Some dangerous chemicals like Agent Orange (Tordon) had been sprayed, and there is one documented case in the central Guaporé Valley in which the wind carried the poison to the indigenous gardens. The chemical affected the Indian crops and may have caused certain health problems that surfaced later (Price 1989b: 120-1; 184). Although there are no such accidents documented in the Sararé region, epidemics broke out in the 1960s that decimated various local groups. Traditionally these peoples lived dispersed in the whole region: one on the southern fringe (noted and named for its quantity of fish; direction of Vila Bela and Pontes e Lacerda); one up north towards the middle of the Guaporé Valley and bordering the Parecis Plateau where now the headquarters and holdings of the Sapé and Kaxanuê ranches are located (and the village of first contact and to which the other peoples gravitated); one bordering the former towards the south; another to the northwest of the Serra da Borda, in a region known as Piscina, a stream (it is now being demarcated under a Nambikwara name, “Paukali’rahjausu”; Fiorini und.). The latter circumstance concerns a boundary correction for some of the losses incurred by the definition of the current Sararé Indigenous Territory (that is, adjacent to the territory to the northwest). The mountain range Serra da Borda is the same as the Serra de São Vicente, the same name as historical records indicates to have been the major area of gold mining, although almost all of the invading villages settled on the eastern streams descending from the mountain range. The importance of the former territories comprehending the lands between the Plateau and the mountain range and to the north and south of the Sararé Area is no coincidence. The best land for horticulture in the Guaporé Valley runs from the south, the upper Guaporé, predominantly in a northern direction, consisting of a strip of about 30 km width adjacent to the Parecis Plateau. Accordingly, the ecological competition between the Nambikwara partialities of the Guaporé Valley and the Brazilian agricultural frontier concentrated on this strip running basically between Pontes e Lacerda in the south and Vilhena in the north (see also Agostinho 1996). The current headquarters of the Sapé and Kanaxuê ranches are situated there, near previous Sararé village sites, occupying the home ranges of the area of the different local groups where the asphalt road almost skirts the fringe of the Parecis Plateau. The major group of the contemporary village known as Sararé, located about 5 km east of the Sapé ranch, once had a village at the Parecis Plateau’s perimeter to the west of the ranch buildings, on the other side of the road.
Broadly the main outlines of various peoples in the region parallel the histories of the other peoples and local groups of the Nambikwara ensemble. The testimonies of the Sararé speak for themselves with respect to the history of war, contact, and the resulting depopulation and territorial losses. It seems legitimate to conclude from their stories that the several peoples and groups in the Sararé region constituted a sub-set within the Southern Nambikwara cluster. For example, the group living in the new Piscina area received a separate name from their neighbors, People of the Waterfall, and were considered a distinct local group, but the dialectal difference of their language is minimal with the adjoining villages of the Sararé River (Fiorini und.: 3-4). The distinctiveness of each local group was understood as a matter of fact, just as it was for the other sub-sets of the encompassing set. Fiorini (und.: 5) lists the names remembered by the Sararé as Kwalitesu, Wai’ratesu, Yali’ratesu, Yanali’ritesu, Nutantesu, and Ka’kaluh-waitesu[lxi]. One other name derives from the large village that ended up uniting the surviving fragments of the previous independent villages, Nutanjensu, related to the Nanatesu people. The inhabitants of other extraction refuse the name of Nutantesu as valid for all of them. From this perspective, several local autonomous groups lived in the Sararé. They did not unite into a large village until the ravages of epidemics and the attraction of the missionaries who were permanently established by 1968 necessitated this. When questioned further by Fiorini (the anthropologist who speaks the Wasusu language of Nambikwara), the Sararé also give the name Wãnai’risu (ib.: 5; a name given to them by the Nambikwara do Campo who now also usually call them Katitaulhu, Santos 2000:18). This was the Nambikwara do Campo term for the whole regional cluster in the Guaporé Valley (Fiorini 2000; he adopts the name for referring to the Wasusu and their neighbors in order to show that, although he worked mostly among the Wasusu, his research extended also to the Sararé and in some way included all Guaporé Valley groups). All of the names for groups derive therefore from external nomination and, contrary to what Price was led to believe as being the one exception for the Nambikwara ensemble, no obvious Sararé auto-denomination existed (1987: 23).
A collective identification is at least in part related to descent from a certain village. The current Sararé have some common background and forged a bond that the political leader of the main village exploited to create a political hegemony in the single village and now attempts to maintain over the contemporary outlying villages. Owing to their time living together in the same village and continuing to live on the same Indigenous Territory, all the people and peoples there consider themselves Sararé. FUNAI believed this name was too obviously extraneous and chose a more appropriate Indian name that conveys more indianidade (of being Indian; although one early writer – 1826; in Meirelles 1989: 126 – attributes the name to a neighboring Indian language). The idea here is to satisfy the demands for a minimum correlation between stereotypes and reality. A strange name of a non-Portuguese origin compounds the stereotypical image of real Indians. The motivation for using an apparently Nambikwara term instead of the regionally used Sararé drew from a need to vindicate the national classification and the derivative legal rights. The problem arises when FUNAI promoted this new name as the more correct one. The Indians, as far as I have been able to witness, present themselves customarily as Sararé. Such a decision seems to be best made by the Indians themselves, although they are aware of the alter classification they do not seem to care so much about it, just as they do not care about the Nambikwara term. A few young men even add the idea of being Sararé, Nambikwara, increasingly aware of the outside labeling of the entire ensemble with this term. Santos reported that the Sararé also believe that the Nambikwara label pertains to the specific group on the Parecis Plateau. The term Katitaulhu (alternatively spelled Katitaurlu as in the name of the private Association founded by the Indians, but inspired by FUNAI, to apply for development funds) is the name of a deceased major Sararé leader. The word actually means a person of large size and is reserved as a name for such people (and, as discussed above, possibly related to leadership qualities of a Wasusu leader; however, among the Sararé Fiorini did not find such connotation of size with leaders; Fiorini und.: 14; in personal communication (2001) he also mentions other linguistic and cultural differences). A few people, in Nambikwara fashion, identified themselves in this way, but, to me, no one really offered the term as auto-denomination. The choice of the term of only one part of the Sararé, originating with one person, came to encompass totally unrelated peoples. Fiorini consequently rejects the metonymic extension of Katitaulhu to all of the Sararé. As the FUNAI now still promotes the label Katitaulhu I sometimes still refer to the term.
Another more neutral label should be preferable, but finding such names is easier said than done. Fiorini suggested that the word for person would be a possible alternative. He noted that the word Anusu was probably used both within and between the various local groups. Fiorini also claimed that as the Indians did not mind any kind of external designation, they never rejected a name, even if it had some negative association. Fiorini, after painstakingly researching the subject of meanings and connotations of these names, concludes that every name carries some negative association. The Sararé gave the term Anunsu to the teacher as the word for Sararé Indian to be written at the blackboard of one of the schools. At some time Anunsu was given as a translation of village to the linguist Borella. In fact, if anusu may be a person (a human being), a real person only realizes his potential within the sharing village. Again, Price suspected that the root for person relates to the verb to share (1972). As mentioned above, Aspelin investigated whether the Mamaindê really shared the incoming food (especially game), as they asserted to be both ideal and true, and his work confirmed the generalized reciprocity of the in-group. Thus one might say that the person and the village can be practically one and the same, almost co-terminous. This would explain the ambiguity in translation. Such identity of the person with his kin within the village only emphasizes the remarkable resistance to go on with living after the epidemic destroyed so many families. In sum, normally the best solution would be to let the Indians decide what they want as an ethnonym. Taking into account the sociocultural stance on naming, no such initiative is likely to come forward. It seems the Indians don’t really attach much importance to this.
Fiorini’s thesis (2000) is fundamentally concerned with naming and the secrecy or the social mode of not addressing the person by his name. He elaborated on this complex relation of the constitution of name, person, and identity. No justice can be done here to his argument and the depth of his reasoning which recognized the process of naming as a complex social system. I believe that his material and reasoning lends support to the following less-intricate argument that differs slightly in its emphasis but does not contradict his analysis. It is interesting that if one equates person and family with local village, or notes the embedded nature of the person in his family group, this does more then just explain the notion of an Anusu or Anunsu immersed within his kin without a strong differentiation. Just as the group name is unmarked by the group itself and stands out in a hierarchical relationship to the marked others, the secrecy of the personal name is shared with the closest kin analogously. Not saying the name of one’s close kin, ‘unnaming’, creates an opposition with the free use of the name of more distant persons. Thus the names of family are unmarked, set apart by the sharing of secrecy and mutual non-enunciation of names generates sameness. However, the name itself results from the embodied individual history of each person. The name specifies the individual in his uniqueness and his own particular acquired attributes. As expected from a people who stress personal experience so strongly, a unique private name is created by particular life events. The name embodies personal history and marks the person. It is revealing that even the Brazilian names which are of free use, are never repeated within the same social unit. Here, finally, one could argue that this indexes the bounds of what, in contemporary parlance, should be called a people. Another index of the ethnic unit would be the common destination of the dead. In other words, who is carried to which caves or Abode of the Souls. Within the shared identity, the autonomous place of the individual is shaped by the name. Given that the normal gendered capabilities of a woman or a man covers more or less the whole spectrum of knowledge, the apparently immersed person gains a more general individual autonomy. This helps to explain both the surprising resilience of the survivors of epidemics to continue living, and the way in which their capacity was immediately put channeled into reconstructing the close sameness within a local group.
It is reasonable to assume that the current Sararé fall into this template and today constitute a single social unit shaped by the historical contingencies of the region. The Sararé region extended from the right margin of the Guaporé to the left bank of the Galera River (Santos 2000: 19). This large area provided the space for the six or seven peoples reported and the four descendant local groups commonly mentioned as still composing the Sararé (in a FUNAI report, Santos claimed that one was left so decimated that it merged with a somewhat larger local group). The region between these coordinates is large but it is probable that the occupancy by such a number of local groups engaged the whole of these lands. The center of gravity turned into the area of the Nutantesu, roughly between the Parecis Plateau and the Serra da Borda on the upper Sararé River, also near the central geographical point of the entire region. This too seems to be the result of the dynamics of the frontier of civilized encroachment from the border areas in the direction of the center. To the south of the Sararé River between Pontes e Lacerda and Vila Bela lies the territory of the Kwalitsu. Owing to the forceful invasion of Brazilians, this area is currently totally lost to this people. This is the group mentioned as the roaming and fishing people in the historical records. In fact, historical memories indicate that the Indians wandered right up to Lacerda when it still was the size of a fazenda headquarters. The region between the Sararé and the upper Guaporé of Pontes e Lacerda used to be forest. The contemporary stories also narrate incidents of killing some Whites bathing in the river and attempts to kill to avenge for murders by the Whites. The narrator who told me these stories always referred to the skirmishes that made up the state of war, the losses on both sides, and spoke of some close kin involved in the killing by the Whites. A few younger Portuguese speaking Indians told me that the White men do not like the Indians. They reciprocate the opposing animosity prevalent among the White people. After all, the stories they heard all tell of healthy, strong, and numerous ancestors who lived a free and enjoyable life until the attacks and the epidemics ended their peaceful autonomous existence. Moreover, contrary to an impression formed by Price that in the Guaporé Valley ecology permitted larger villages and that local groups were concentrated in one village (Agostinho 1996: 642), the accounts of both younger men, and a few of the elders who are still alive, not only always stress the presence of many people but also the existence of various villages, even for one people[lxii]. In 1968, the existence of at least two leaders of the Waterfall People demonstrates that even then their population was still great enough for the people to have two leaders (Fiorini und: 14).
In pre-contact times, all narratives depict a multiplicity of peoples and local groups of healthy and vigorous people living their own way of life. It is no coincidence either that the elders are said to have spoken little about the pre-contact times to the younger generations, sadness inhibited them. Descriptions of plenitude of the pre-contact sociocultural mode of life are common themes in the few stories known to me. The lack of rituals performed today can be heard to be attributed to the lack of people to participate. In this perspective, the vigor and normalcy of autonomous life only declined by virtue of the casualties inflicted by the prolonged state of war that did not end until the late 1960s. A protracted effort over such a long period could not be won by the small scale local villages or villages sets. Manpower and arms increasingly threatened their existence. Even after Bringsken’s first contact, it is reported that one still uncontacted group, and who refused contact, suffered a cold-blooded murder of six of its people by an assault perpetrated by a gang of men from Vila Bela in 1967 (somewhere between Vila Bela and the BR364 road; Carelli and Severiano 1981: 56-7). This of course, may be called a “genocidal massacre”[lxiii]. Other peoples or villages tried to continue the contact with Whites and a FUNAI official even visited the Sararé two years earlier, in 1965. Bringsken invited the official, Bucker, because the Indians had built a rudimentary landing strip and gestured for him to land. The Indians received them very well and showed them the village. One couple insisted on leaving with the visitors and themselves visited Cuiabá (Bucker and Bucker 2005: 230-40)[lxiv]. If, despite these antecedents, we follow Fiorini in considering the establishment of the mission in 1968 as the official onset of pacification, the Sararé numbered about 120 people at the time[lxv]. The inexperience of the missionaries also included the lack of the preparation of the Indians for the usual danger of post-contact epidemics. This does not denote any lack of good intentions, Bringsken often flew sick Indians to Vila Bela and cared for them there (Price mentioned such incidents in his reports; and Bucker was a Rondon inspired official who tried to establish reserves in the Valley). Notwithstanding goodwill, a measles epidemic hit the Sararé very hard in 1971 (Carelli and Severiano 1980: 12; 1973 according to Santos 2000: 20).
The epidemic, in a way, represents a watershed. Many people died and the surviving families fled to the forest[lxvi]. Needless to say that, just like the Latundê, official action only acted in an emergency and criminally late by several years. Now, finally, FUNAI, with the help of the army and air force, mounted an operation to provide medical assistance and to get them back together so, it was argued, they would not starve. Indeed, starvation was a real threat, but the Indians’ flight from the disease and the sources of contamination was logical. By chance, Hanbury-Tenison visited Cuiabá around this time. He admired the exceptional devotion of the head of the small hospital and the positive results her outstanding efforts created. Sadly, this head is one of the rare exceptions of eagerness within FUNAI and that the agency failed to provide the necessary material and staff. The people told him that for the Sararé “(…) it was estimated that half the tribe (twenty-five out of fifty) had died. Most of the deaths had been among women and children. This, of course, reduced the chances of the tribe surviving this disaster” (Hanbury-Tenison 1973: 137). He noticed, for example, one man who had lost his wife and two children just staring at the ceiling. Hanbury-Tenison was very moved about the attachment of another flown-in Indian to his wife. With unmistakable mimicry the same man displayed how much he missed his village and that he was prepared to carry his wife back home, even if it was necessary to walk for many days (ib.: 136-7). Here one senses the same strong attachments to the land and the people discussed above. These dispositions enabled the Sararé to survive the ordeal and continue to persist. When Price listed the villages in the Project Proposal of 1975, he asserted that three villages of three different local groups insisted to make a living on their own, each separately in its own village, but that the total population was less than 35 people[lxvii]. It is not entirely unjustified that the local Sararé blamed the missionary presence and attribute today their most terrible epidemic, in accordance with their own theory of illness, to missionary poisoning. Allegedly, all the Indians who drank a drink that Henrique, a resident missionary, offered fell ill. One leader nowadays quietly admits to have attempted to take revenge by counter poisoning the culprit. This attempt failed.
Illness is often attributed to human poisoning or malevolent spirits. Part of the affiliation to the territory came from the presence of the Hatasu, the cannibal spirit entities that cause illness and death by eating the spirit or body of their victims. Fiorini suggested it is difficult to know from where the Sararé Indians came into the region and surmised a connection with the Central Guaporé Valley to the north. In fact, three of the elder men have a relationship with the one of the three northern adjacent groups. He did not state any time frame for this probable conjecture (Fiorini und: 3; 14). Note that as differences in dialect and cosmology exist, a certain time must have elapsed. Fiorini did not express any definite opinion and it is unclear if he believes that there was an occupation before the gold miners’ invasion. On the other hand, the Wasusu fear the Hatasu (or, as they say, the atasu) of the part of the Sararé territory of the newly to-be-demarcated area. The inhabitants seem to put these entities at a larger distance from themselves and so apparently do not fear them any less than the neighbors, but hold them somewhat further at bay in order to be able to settle the land (ib.: 1). Essentially, they are familiar with the spirits of their own lands, and thus succeed in inhabiting the land and everyone very much fears the spirits of lands other than their own. The people of the place know not only the land, soil and nature, but also about the occupying supernatural phenomena. Knowledge of all aspects of the mode of life interferes in the judgment of inhabitability and respect for the creatures of this living space. Therefore, the Wasusu must not be inclined to settle this territory but the long-term occupancy of the Waterfall People provided them with the means to deal with the dangers and to resettle the area (by shamanism, all elder men tend to be shamans today; in effect they attempted not to abandon the area by insisting on occasional visits).
This argument indirectly provides another reason for the strong attachment to territory and little interest in ventures into the unknown. Again, if the Sararé region was inhabited before the White intrusion, this attachment strengthens the strong tie to the land and stimulates the willingness to stay and fight invaders. If a previous knowledge of the region aids to the expansion into strange dominions, then to postulate a hunter relationship to the Kabixí – similar to the Paresi of the Plateau – might explain the occupancy after the creation of an analogous void. Brody’s general observation regarding hunting peoples is pertinent. “A people’s confidence in their own territory comes from their understanding of and reliance on the spirits that belong there. Their stories about this place are part of what it makes it theirs, and establish how they can rely on it. Other places require different knowledge, have different stories, and are influenced by spirits they do not know. This makes a change of territory a dangerous matter” (2001: 246). The Sararé tell of the Hatasu that live in their territory, for example, in the mountain range of the Serra da Borda[lxviii]. In one story the very name of the main village refers to one entity that attacked the village and only was killed after a series of events (the Hatasu that appeared to the Indians looks very similar to a gorilla, and hence they, just like the Wasusu, tell outsiders that the spirit is a gorilla). These are the local Hatasu that inspired dread and respect but for whom the pre-contact and post-contact shamans could handle the diseases they caused. The White man’s diseases may have initially caused a conundrum, as a rift began to grow between what came to be known as Indian disease and White man’s disease, which was best handled with White medicine. Today the two perspectives regularly clash, sometimes unwittingly, as the Indian’s theory and competence is only beginning to be partially accepted by health agents. In the commencement of contact such considerations did not exist, as the Indians only very slowly became acquainted with the Brazilian point of view. There can be little doubt that the western diseases struck even before contact, possibly as early as the miner’s invasion but definitely in the 20th century[lxix]. Raids on Lacerda had already been mentioned, as was the visit to Vila Bela witnessed by Bringsken. These unofficial encounters may have begun the spread of contagious diseases. Going to Vila Bela probably was an attempt to establish some sort of peace on the part of one of peoples after the long history of strife. In fact, in one story the Whites captured an Indian and put him in the town jail, but at night the prison door miraculously opened and he managed to flee to his home. Thus, the various local groups maintained a state of belligerency within different parts of the region and gained some partial knowledge of their foes. This further implies the strong possibility of epidemics before contact and the demoralization of the people and their shamans whose knowledge failed to provide solace[lxx].
In this sense, the visit to Vila Bela most likely represented a classical move towards dialogue with the enemy in his own village with the goal to secure an understanding due to population losses. The Hatasu of the land do not inspire that much fear, they are known entities. The setting is theirs, part of the Sararé knowledge system of their lived world. Yet the epidemics and losses of the permanently belligerent state created a problem of interpretation and depletion of forces. This is in addition to the enmity and clashes with other Nambikwara[lxxi] that extended into the 1970s because of the relocation within the interdicted area and Indians traveling home after treatment in Vila Bela. Different groups reacted distinctly to this situation and suffered the consequences in their own ways. In fact, the reduction from six or seven groups to three (or four, counting one group that fused with another) still struggling to maintain socioculturally viable lives, demonstrates the process in all its brutality. As Price suggested a population reduction to 10% of the pre-contact situation, and in consideration of the 120 survivors by contact, then the total population may have been somewhere around 1200 during their autonomous existence[lxxii]. When Bringsken dared to venture into the Indian lands, the account I have confirms that the Indians appreciated his courage, especially as the Indians had their reasons for hostility. At the time the ranches already were encroaching on the lands to the south of the Sararé River and the Sapé ranch was even approaching the territory of the major village now called Sararé[lxxiii]. What the missionary did not mention in his own adventurous account is that the Indians fired an arrow that missed him. In his inexperience the party left behind their weapons. He did not want to frighten the Indians (and suffered the consequences, he went hungry even with game in sight). Without arms he narrowly avoided death, more so than appears from his narrative. When he arrived, he entered first the Serra da Borda area and then asked to be taken to the next village, the Sararé village. Due to lack of communication, he first returned home without going on with Indian company and then went alone to the Sararé village. The people there did not know him and considered killing him. One comment I heard attributed his survival on the formation of a social consensus concluding that the war was over. When shortly thereafter a rancher and his henchmen encircled and wanted to kill the Indians, the minister intervened. He stopped the action by stressing the humanity of the Indians in comparison to the animalistic predicates attributed by the Brazilians. It seems he unwittingly repaid the Sararé for sparing his life by saving theirs.
The threat of massacring invading Whites or killing a missionary intruder are not empty words. One narrator explained something about the view of the major contemporary Sararé people (of the main village that claims political supremacy for all Sararé). In the 1960s, the long history of belligerence prepared the Sararé to attempt to expel the invading fazendas; they attacked households and killed some inhabitants. From the stories about the skirmishes with other Indian groups one infers a strong image of valiance, of putting up an audacious front of warriorship that intimidated the adversary into accepting their valor. Thus the Indians would accept peace over the impossibility of waging a successful war, that is, despite their own valor. In this self-image the Sararé, in particular those of the narrator’s own group, stood their ground and acted as intrepid warriors. When the need arose, they allied themselves with other local groups. For instance, they came to the aid of the people of Nilo in their fight against the Wasusu (who, as they lived in the northeast corner of the Sararé, were the immediate neighbors of the Wasusu and were dispossessed by the Kanaxuê ranch). In this view the Sararé as a whole did not suffer defeat. They could have killed the missionary but decided to accept dialogue. The decision was theirs. In the narrator’s rendering of the story of the killings of foreign intruders, the Indians were generally victorious. They vanquished the ranchers, expelling the ranches. However, when the current leader in the Sararé village was a small boy, the balance began to tip. Some fierce Indians of other villages did not relent, they boasted invincibility and won again. They even attacked a town where even the army could not prevent the annihilation of the Whites. Successive waves of Whites, in superior numbers and armament eventually exhausted the warrior potential of the brave men who, it seems, could not be defeated. Over time, many valiant, intrepid, and brave men, died from old age or were murdered by the Whites. Only then contact occurred. The ranches recovered the lost terrain and after FUNAI intervened the Sararé recuperated some of their territory. In this view the allied peoples of the Southern sub-set of Sararé resisted heroically, throwing out the ranchers various times and scarcely being defeated. It was only old age and diminishing forces that forced the people to yield to the unbearable pressures of unequal forces and resources. This history does not compromise their self-esteem and they apparently regard the final truce not as a conquest but as a kind of concession that they agreed on.
If this view is shared as an historical perspective among the Sararé sub-set, and it is consistent with the little I know about the reputation of fierceness of the Sararé among the other Valley and Campo groups, then the Indians have a positive opinion of themselves. Unfortunately their self-esteem and the warrior-image and ethos did not prepare them for the onslaught after the peace, but from the enemy’s point of view, contact became pacification. In 1968 Price and his wife set out to do fieldwork among the Sararé, despite the fact that this entailed many difficulties as contact was so recently established. Price described a people still proud and autonomous and not interested in teaching their language to a visiting White like himself (1972). Price found some support with a young boy whom he and his wife treated for a severe illness and of whom they grew fond. After an absence, the couple returned to the area and discovered that someone had broken into Price’s chests and burnt his new house for unclear reasons. Possible motivations include the previous state of war leading to a desire for vengeance and a suspected hoarding of wealth. Even today, many Nambikwara believe all Whites are somehow related (they always ask what kin relationships exist between Whites working in their territory), and this may explain why Price had to suffer for the cruelties perpetrated by his kin, i.e. previous actions by non-Indians. Additionally, as wealth is always shared within the group, appropriating his goods may have been seen as legitimate in a time of need. Or, maybe, it was seen as a compensation for the human and material costs of the many years of war. Interestingly, one leader claimed that this was done by the boy who the Prices helped. Intimidated and with no understanding of the motives, Price moved his work to the savanna where he finished his PhD research. Maybe this Sararé man interpreted their relation differently. Perhaps he adopted a ruse similar to the one Sararé leaders used when a larger Nambikwara group passed through their village; they would pretend to be friendly and then ambush them (this seems to be have occurred when Price and the Nambikwara Project relocated central Valley people south of the Sararé within the interdicted area, but they suffered in the strange lands and decided to return to their northern homelands in the central valley). This occurred at the very moment of permanent contact. However, Bringsken gradually built up his contact and brought goods as appreciated gifts before settling an affiliated missionary in Indian Territory. Slowly the initial contact blossomed into a firm relation. The missionary’s record of offering assistance convinced the Indians of his good intentions and this led to their continued support. When FUNAI later tried to prohibit missionary presence, the Indians opposed the agency and permitted him to stay. Even today representatives of the mission live in the village as teachers. FUNAI tolerates these people only because the Indians granted them permission to stay[lxxiv].
Although the inexperience may have hampered the missionary action, epidemics that happened later indicate he did not inoculate them, he did provide a considerable amount of practical and material help. The group thought that the missionary was helpful, and filled a void left by the conspicuous absence of FUNAI. With the exception of the previously mentioned operation of evacuating infected Sararé to Cuiabá (the later consequences of which are unknown) the first official action seems to have been the interdiction of the Sararé region. Based on available information, it seems that FUNAI only gave marginal assistance to the Sararé from the 1960s to the mid-1970s. Price remarked that some health actions were deployed by FUNAI before the Nambiquara Project, but the individual medical records in the filing cabinet of one of the buildings in a Sararé Indian village begin only in 1976. The first FUNAI official that the Indians claim to have lived in the area was an agent for the savanna region during the Nambiquara Project. This project had originally allocated another agent to be settled in the central Guaporé Valley. He also worked with the Sararé (as the Post was located to the north of the Sararé area, the agent and the nurses only made occasional stopovers; the records kept in the Post for individual Indians which I consulted show that visits during several years only gradually increased in frequency, later a Post in the Sararé was founded). It seems reasonable to conclude that the hard work completed with meager resources paid off in the Guaporé Valley and that the worst period for the Sararé was the early 1970s. The interdiction of their region was conducted without much research and came about as part of the miserable failure of the relocation policy rather than genuine concern for these peoples. Worse, one ranch was awarded a Negative Certificate which, in one and the same paragraph, acknowledged the existence of an Indian village and promised their removal. This owner later sold land to the Sapé ranch. Moreover, the interdicted area may purposively have excluded at least one Sararé village situated near the deforested clearings of the Sapé ranch. The headman of this village, whose village had suffered severe population losses from outbreaks, refused to accommodate the national society by moving into the area. At the time of the Project, Price was still confident that they could convince him to do so later, but in a FUNAI report he mentioned that Indians felt tricked by the establishment of the Sapé ranch on their territory. The interdiction encompassed the former lands on the sides of the Serra da Borda from which the Indian occupancy at that stage had mainly retreated (including the eastern flanks of the mountain range). To the strong disappointment of at least two groups, it excluded the fertile fringe along the Parecis Plateau where the ranches had already penetrated.
At the time of the Project the interdicted area was thought of as a refuge for the peoples of the Guaporé Valley. Under the structural constraints on the national level, Price worked out plans for the gradual and controlled relocations which at first appeared to be feasible as it was hoped this would gain acceptance among these local groups. However, this proved a little naïve. For example, later he discovered that one group he tried to resettle in the interdicted area just went along out of general curiosity and never really planned to stay[lxxv]. It appears, as mentioned above, that he learned something about the Indians’ territorial attachments. This was a costly process though, and many died of malaria and they fought with the Sararé because of the withdrawal of a promise to marry two women to Sararé men when they decided to return home alone (Price: 1982b). Of these elaborate plans nothing came about. Although there is no documentation of a Sararé population increase as a result of the Project’s efforts, this does seem likely, given the dedication and tremendous efforts of the agents. Furthermore, it seems that this people also benefited from a change in policy that resulted in resolution of some of their territorial complaints. The failed relocation of their Wasusu neighbors and the discovery of the placement of the Sararé in a relatively untouched forest contributed to FUNAI’s sudden decision to create a large interdicted area around the Sararé. It is reasonable to suggest that the choice of their region was indirectly shaped by their sustained resistance to the fazendas and the invasions that had preserved these forests. This struggle alone was insufficient for survival and the interdiction arose from the combination of the failure of the relocation policy and FUNAI’s persistent belief in the transferability of the Nambikwara (probably still couched in the notion of a wild nomadic people with little attachment to their land). The aim of dispossession in both policies of the groups of the central Guaporé Valley remains unchanged. The policy’s fiasco caused merely a partial review, but there were no serious changes aside from a downsizing, from inter-regional dislocation to intra-regional movements. Once again, the Sararé’s old reputation of wildness may have preserved them from more determined attempts of massacre in the 1960s and later when the contact situation also may have pre-empted more violence. It is clear that the contextual and coincidental contingent circumstances of the 1970s contributed to save them from total disaster and secured them a minimal land base. Violent resistance was inadequate to guarantee later survival. The Nambikwara, in more than one sense, are not eastern Bororo.
After contact: Sararé (Katitaulhu) socio-cultural and linguistic reactions to ‘peace’
From the moment the interdicted area came into being, men who contested the redistribution efforts of the region visited Price at FUNAI headquarters in Cuiabá. All the usual stereotypes are evident in the questioning of the measure put to Price by the lawyer for the Sapé ranch. The lawyer even went so far so as to negate any historical presence of Nambikwara Indians on their legitimate property. They were too nomadic anyway and brought in by FUNAI from the outside. Price once responded that he lived for a while in the upper Sararé, and if no Indians inhabited that area now, it must be because they had been either killed or removed by the ranch. The lawyer called attention to the Negative Certificate, but did not refer to the FUNAI obligation stated on this paper, to remove the existing Indians. Partaking in the same campaign against the Interdiction, in a letter to the Minister of the Interior, a Brazilian congressman (judging from his name, he may have been the owner of the Bamerindus bank) argued for the same lack of historical presence on top of the usual argument regarding the investments already made and the appeal to development rhetoric. In one sense, such denials and appeals are clearly nonsensical and the recent Law of 1973 protected the Nambikwara even when their occupancy should not be as immemorial as to extend to the epoch prior to the gold rush. At the time Price collected a number of historical sources to demonstrate the Indians’ historical occupancy and then furnished this material to the FUNAI lawyers. Of course, the Sararé occupied the lands in a way that proved their legal and genuine right to the territory. Therefore, even when trying to discredit the Indian occupancy with false information, the real problem of the campaign was political.
At this time, in the mid-1970s, Price modified his thesis with further data to demonstrate the historical presence of the Sararé. The summing up of historical evidence was meant as a tool for the FUNAI lawyers to be able to respond to these claims and substantiate Indian occupancy. At this moment he still was convinced of the hypothesis that the Cabixi mentioned in those early historical documents referred to the Nambikwara of the beginning of the 20th century. As seen, he later revised his position and favored the hypothesis that the Paresi occupied the contemporary Sararé territory. In the later article quoted above, he decided in favor of the idea of a Paresi occupancy and the later expansion of Nambikwara. From my discussion of the problem above, I hold a small preference for an early Nambikwara occupancy, possibly mixed in some measure with Paresi near the escarpments of the Parecis Plateau. It is unclear how long such occupancy may have existed before the 18th century, but without further evidence the question of the duration of Southern Nambikwara occupancy in the Sararé region will remain unknown. Such a discussion about occupancy, especially at the time of decision making about Indian rights in the 1970s, is not entirely academic. It could be used in a low level political campaign like those common at the time. This is one reason to insist on reviewing it here. Price’s and FUNAI’s real problem in the 1970s concerned the political clout wielded in the decision-making spheres of the Interior Ministry that both influence the proposal in process within FUNAI and disapprove of any proposals disagreeable to progress afterwards. In his paper in which he expounded on the conception of the Nambiquara Project, Price suggested that the presence of military administration and ownership of an invading fazenda in the Nambikwara Reserve probably entails the future exclusion of this area, in spite of the Indians’ totally legal claim of immemorial occupancy. Yet, probably, Price may have hoped that his observations would help convince the bureaucracy of his opinion about real justice.
Price may also have described his position as being utterly dependent on the legal defense prepared by the FUNAI bureaucracy and its lawyers. He believed that he failed in the crucial domain of land rights. In his Project design, Price predicted that if a solid policy should not be implemented in the Guaporé Valley, than five years later the world could belatedly mourn another genocide. For the Sararé sub-set, the disappearance of part of their composing villages or village-sets proved redressing wrongs mainly came about too late. With slightly over thirty survivors, the whole sub-set perilously came close to succumb to direct and indirect genocide. At this absolute low point in Sararé history the situation was critical and the interdiction probably rescued the Indians from some final battles. Jointly with the Nambiquara Project this was, in retrospect, a turning point. The counter forces of development, with all its magical and ideological connotations, certainly did not abide and had no scruples. Note that in the beginning of the 1970s, one of the co-proprietors of the Sapé ranch was the son of the Interior Minister. The thrust of the miracle and the political persecution at the height of the oppressive military dictatorship happened in the 1970s. Prospects were indeed grim. As an imperfect but protective law passed in this decade, not all was lost. Conscious of the law but more so of the constraints of the frame of reality, Price developed in his Project a number of measures to accommodate to the pressures. He felt certain that political pressure followed against his protective actions, bearing particularly on the decision makers on whom his own influence depended. As the Project advanced, he came to gradually suspect Tolksdorf more for dubious involvement in what he believed might be a smokescreen for a similar situation as the one involving the expansion of the Nambikwara reserve. The appearance of representatives of the ranchers and his own research on the owners did not allay his suspicions. His planned relocations failed and in the end he lacked time to pursue this or any alternative policy. After his withdrawal, and under Tolksdorf’s direction, the Project continued and within a few years, the interdicted area ceased to exist. In the absence of any documents about the disappearance of the interdiction, nothing can be asserted but despite the lack of documents the fact speaks for itself. In the later years of this decade, the FUNAI presidents terminated the special Projects and the general atmosphere deteriorated. By 1980, during his consultancy in Brazil, Price only found four small reservations for the entire Guaporé Valley, existing mainly on paper, and two of these in the central region were diminished in their proposed size due to pressures of ranchers (Price: 1989b: 79; at the time he supposed the areas were demarcated but not registered; ib.: 130, although the map on this page does not show any Sararé area, he wrote of an interdicted area of an unspecified size).
One last example is sufficient to demonstrate the spirit of the times. On November 5, 1976, the president of the Federation of Agriculture of the State of Mato Grosso wrote a missive to the Interior Minister[lxxvi]. The letter was sent to FUNAI and catalogued in the Sararé demarcation dossier (FUNAI Archives in Brasília). This is possibly a coincidence for the bureaucracy sometimes works in inscrutable ways, but its inclusion is not without some reason. The link is exactly the constant threat of interdictions hanging above the heads of the proprietors, or rural producers, code-names for fazendeiros and capitalist ranchers. It argued that in order to attend to isolated interests of Indians, FUNAI frequently interdicted lands legitimately titled area and of a long time of exploitation. The constant threat to their property generated pandemonium and retraction in this economic sector. The president argued, therefore, that FUNAI’s actions constitute a limiting factor of the processes of occupation, integration and production in legal amazonia. In other words, FUNAI hindered their interests in traditional legalized titles (before and after Rondon’s complaint about the frauds involved) and the renovated unlimited expansion to dispossess the Indian peoples of their lands (financed by very cheap public credit, further enriching the wealthier classes). Inhibited by the legal rights of the indigenous population and even aroused by the scandalously weak action of FUNAI, the proposed solution primed in the ingenuity to circumvent legal impediments on the farming and ranching business. The Federation (yet another code-name – this one represents the class of the owners with large land holdings and precludes peasantry) suggested a very convenient solution to harmonize the interests linked to the occupation of Amazonia and the preservation of areas destined to Indians. Another law stipulated the reservation of 50% of the land of each fazenda for forest preservation. Large and small landowners never appreciated any legal bounds on the use of their land, nor did they agree with legal protection for Indians but, nevertheless, they admitted to a “(…) national interest in securing the indigenous populations sufficient areas where, without their habitat, they can subsist with their peculiar culture”. The wording is significant; to subsist may be the opposite of to produce. The disqualification only grudgingly grants the human status to this mode of life and does not allow them any rights to their original habitat. The large landowners came up with a shrewd solution to both the conservation and the Indian problem by proposing to use the lands set apart because of the legal exigency of the conservation area on their large landholdings as the lands that would provide the Indians with some habitat. In other words, as if they too were endangered wildlife to be protected in the wilderness, and any habitat would do. At the most, the owner felt obliged to leave such wasteful nature standing while the Indians also only waste the land by simply occupying it and not for productive usage. The document is devoid of any notion of Indigenous Territory or impediments to ownership (the owners would help choose the areas). In sum, a useful purpose for a useless part of their land. The materialistic advantages are all too blatant.
Although FUNAI lawyers[lxxvii] managed to torpedo the initiative, the fact that this flagrantly discriminatory and totally illegal proposal was even considered reveals the strength of the political clout involved. When no rapid answer came forward, this ethnocentric and thoroughly ideological proposal was repeated. In such larger ambience the unaware Sararé continued to struggle with their more immediate problems. When Price visited the Sararé on his tour in 1980 to inspect the official plans to protect the Nambikwara he witnessed a difficult situation. After 1968 when the population was still 57, this mere fraction of the original population further decreased to 35. Furthermore, the vicinity of the ranch, only 7 km away, also left its mark. The leader of the main village lived near the resident missionary where the Indians wore ragged clothes, in stark contrast to the former handsome bronze people, unashamedly naked who impressed Price in 1968 (Price 1989b: 103). The leader had worked at a sawmill and earned the wood to construct his house. No doubt a tribute to adaptive genius, now the headmen’s house consisted of adobe and rough lumber and no traditional Sararé oblong, domed, thatched houses were in sight. The forest had been cleared right next to the adjacent landing strip, and where Price once hunted there were many cattle grazing. Resultantly, there was little to hunt. Around 18 people lived near the runway, and from 8 to 10 lived a little further away, one family lived to the southeast[lxxviii]. During the few years time under the leadership of the man who came to the fore after contact and despite the Indians resistance, many lands were taken and converted to pasture. The logging mentioned probably financed part of the ranch’s initial costs. The leader himself worked on the land usurped from his own people and was rewarded with the very wood stolen from them in the first place (recall that this was the same time that the regional administrator admitted to Price that the whole Guaporé Valley is legally Indigenous Territory). Price also noticed that the encroachment of Brazilians reached the top of the mountain range, that some other areas had begun to be occupied but others still were empty of settlers. In fact, a little further up north in the Guaporé Valley, the wave of deforestation abided after 1972 and in large areas (near the Wasusu) the jungle had been allowed to grow back. The excessive clearing was probably inspired by a wish to establish legal claim to as much land as possible before any official impediment relating to indigenous rights arose (Price 1989b: 102-110).
The adverse effects of the 1970s on the Sararé population and territory relates to the opening up of the road to Vilhena. The major incursions used the feeder roads descending from the Parecis Plateau from the old BR highway or headed north from the upper Guaporé (where Pontes e Lacerda gained significance). Price’s 1980 Mission resulted from an attempt to co-opt and to silence him, as he was a firm critic of the new Polonoroeste project that threatened to deal a final blow to the Indian peoples along the route. First and foremost to the Nambikwara of the Valley, as the loan solicited from the World Bank purported to asphalt the existing BR 364 actually was meant to finance the so-called variant, an alternate route. Not unexpectedly, the new highway deviated from the previously constructed road on the Parecis Plateau by passing through the Guaporé Valley, and thus through Sararé territory. Initially the World Bank pretended nothing had been decided, neither the loan itself nor the actual route among three alternatives. Once into the bureaucratic mill of loan approval, however, no such loan was disapproved and the evaluation of the projects that the loan was to finance involved little more than formal procedure. Furthermore, the real reason to approve the loan originated in the unrelated issue of the country’s debts, underpinning this real argument with the knowledge that the granting of the loan enabled the bank to influence its expenditure and the projects’ execution. The completely understaffed and unappreciated environmental department issued several warnings that the Polonoroeste was dealing with ecological uncertainties, based on insufficient data, and that likely outcomes would be at odds with the proclaimed development aims (see Rich 1992 for this shameful sham between projected public image and real information and workings). There were many related irregular occurrences. For the general public, a World Bank employee wrote a watered-down version of Price’s report on the insufficiency of the proposed measures to protect Indians. His own report was classified and few had access to it. In disregard to Price’s moral imperative to the Indians and the public, many Bank officials considered his later publications supporting the Nambikwara to be a betrayal of his initial promise not to divulge any part of his work to the Bank (Price 1989b). Obviously all inappropriate material was hid from the public. Soon thereafter, the World Bank — an institute clearly not at all innocent in accepting the aims and environmental measures of the project – approved the loan for plans that became known as one of the most appalling failures of this time.
Despite its documented deception, the World Bank applied some pressure on the Brazilian government to avoid the genocide Price warned of five years earlier. Price’s efforts had begun to engage non-governmental organizations in the United States and a declaration by the American Anthropological Association, for example, attracted public attention. Later Price testified before the US Congress and again the issue was in the limelight. Within Brazil, concerned citizens founded several organizations, usually with the participation of prominent anthropologists, to support the Indian cause and criticize the current situation. They waged a campaign against the actions and repeatedly warned of the negative repercussions if the variant route was to be constructed. Some time previously, Price reported that this road was already surreptitiously in progress and on its way to penetrate the Nambikwara territories well before authorization was given. The plight of the Nambikwara was meant to draw public attention to this drama and redressing this wrong was one of the major Indian issues of the times. Forced to act because of the national public opinion and the international pressure on the World Bank to save its increasingly damaged image, the Brazilian government finally approved some effective protection for the Indians against the onslaught of civilization. The battle against the variant, as Price correctly predicted, was lost to economic interests. Price witnessed the manager and White people in the Guaporé Valley comment that the head of the road department and responsible engineer for the roads asserted that “this business of Indian reservations won’t amount to anything” (Price 1989b: 110). The governor of Mato Grosso “doesn’t even want to hear about Indians around here” (ibid). Powerful political and economic interests expressed a fierce perfidious opposition to Indian rights. The dossier on the Sararé Indigenous Territory does not contain the intricacies or expert reports of the demarcation process but does hold some documents about the legal and political struggle of the Sapé ranch against the interdiction. As the documents from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s are few, it is difficult to get a clear picture of the immediate effects the dissolution of the interdicted area caused. In one document the ranch cited the indecent proposal of the Mato Grosso Agricultural Association (and therefore may have stimulated its inception), later repeating the solution. All efforts fought to prevent ceding one inch of its 80,000+ ha (considerably expanding on the original fazenda for which the Negative Certificate was issued). These papers mention that the struggle against the interdicted area did succeed in lifting the interdiction of the major part, now only 42,320 ha remain to constitute a reservation (reducing the total by 286,680 ha). They did not relent in their efforts against even this greatly reduced quantity. According to them, the presence of at maximum thirty Indians, who were nomads and who allegedly were not there in the first place when the ranch was built did not deserve such a large amount of land. The nomadic character of the Indians makes it seems as if they enter the ranches’ area and by virtue of the same mode of life they certainly would decide to move on later. Naturally, this consortium of owners, likely numbering less than the Indians they wanted to expel, manifestly did deserve so much land[lxxix].
In this political climate, the four small reservations of 1980 might have been the only solution (albeit a wholly unsatisfactory one) to create reservations for a vanishing population. Here it is possible to discern how the accidental coordinates of the Corumbiara development project involuntary aided the Aikaná and Latundê claims. Quite literally, the groundwork had been laid for an intervention to establish reasonable Indigenous Territories, while in the Guaporé Valley the uncontrolled advance simply occupied the land within the more arbitrary limits of properties sold on paper in a more confusing and legally questionable way. In the Guaporé Valley the owners already had to deal with confusion, latent conflicts, and potential violence that made some of them take radical measures. Only on the national level did the internal and external pressures appealing to the human rights of civilization produce some effects. The supposed moral and ethical conduct to evaluate the treatment of indigenous peoples and the corollary set of values is the only way to mitigate the effects of stereotypes, greed, ethnocentrism, and socioeconomic interests[lxxx]. The World Bank imposed a program of assistance to the Indian peoples on the unwilling and reluctant Brazilian authorities. That much of this cooperation and initial resistance to any outside interference follows from the public image problem is shown in the reaction of a Brazilian ambassador to whom Price, in Brasília, presented a carefully worded diluted report about the incompetent program elaborated by FUNAI. The ambassador insisted on suppressing a paragraph he considered offensive for Brazil, not on the grounds of its inaccuracy but only because it reflected poorly on the country (Price 1989b: 68). These were the years when the military related to the security community commanded FUNAI and shaped policy. These people involved with the Intelligence Service viewed the Indians as obstacles to development and as Brazilians to be fully integrated into the national community. They were not against ethnocide, and they never favored generous Indigenous Territories. In this sense, the eventual demarcation a few years later of the Sararé Indigenous Territory and the Guaporé Indigenous Territory extending from the Wasusu in the south to the Mamaindê in the north can only be attributed to pressures from the public and the World Bank as well as a deteriorating public image. Forced by public opinion and the World Bank (itself being pressured internationally) the Indian Territories ended up larger than the tiny parcels proposed in 1980-1. Therefore, a new study, of a kind already underway at the time of Price who proposed a territory of similar elongated, stretched out, elephant-like shape, imposed by the World Bank finally rescued the central and southern Nambikwara of the Valley from extinction and grossly insufficient territories. The improvement still entailed a tremendous reduction and fragmentation of traditional lands. Fierce opposition from people like the state governor, made it necessary for the army to carry out demarcation (Costa 2000: 53-4). The tensions in the Guaporé Valley ran high, non-Indians were exacerbated by the necessity to yield to such irrelevant, powerless, and minor social categories as socioeconomically and politically superfluous nomadic Indians. As the total area of the Guaporé Valley is less than 250,000 ha, a tremendous amount of land was lost. Eventually FUNAI demarcated three small areas as corrections of the large Indigenous Territory, two are of great religious significance, and one has prime economic importance. The fact that these corrections were necessary highlights either the inadequacy of the original study or the pressures entailed in even this demarcation.
The program that FUNAI created to care for the Indians involved mainly a material infrastructure and personnel for the agency. There were also traces of some of the standard prejudice directed against the Nambikwara. The result was money partially spent on useless initiatives, no true Indian consultation about their necessities, and a high ratio of Whites to Indians. On top of this the inefficient bureaucracy which was patently top-heavy in towns and generally staffed with employees more interested in their salary than public service. It goes without saying that there were a handful of honorable exceptions of emotionally and physically committed people (Price 1989b: 183-5). The massive investment paid off comparatively small dividends but there was a slow and gradual population recovery[lxxxi]. The Sararé profited from the general improvements in health care and the same pattern as was seen among the Valley Nambikwara prevailed in the net demographic result, a small number of elder men, and even fewer elder women survived the onslaught of disease. In the June 2000 census reproduced by Ariovaldo dos Santos, the Sararé had grown to 93 people in a much skewed age distribution. The people thought to be older than thirty years (a baseline for the last epidemic) total eight men and ten women over than fifty, of them five of the men were over 60 and only one of the women was over 65. Of this part of the female population four were between 31 and 35 years old, and seven of an age that indicate the possibility they bore children after epidemics. Jointly with the people who died in the interval after the epidemics, these are those who survived and reached adulthood. When we examine the group under the age of thirty, only four women and men were born who survived through the 1970s. Additionally, there are 32 males and 35 females under 20. This permits the deduction that significant population recuperation happened in the 1980s, as there were few survivors of the 1970s. The lack of individuals aged 26 to 30 show that Price was correct when he claimed that infant and child mortality rates were high. The subsequent exponential population growth came about because of increased health care. There were also modifications made to the peoples’ traditional child bearing rules regarding spacing between children effectually favoring small families. It is in light of the meager population that the Indians decided to repopulate so quickly that in 2001 there were nearly 100 individuals. Again one finds a surprising resilience and determination related to these people being resolute and proud Indians who value their people and culture and continue to strive for more personal and local autonomy.
The older generation of today views the younger ones below 16 as the promise for the future and producers of a revitalized tomorrow. They also hope that their efforts will help diminish the dependence on the national society (Santos 2000: 20-1). Multiple strengths and multiple dependencies are at stake. The traditional Nambikwara concept of marriage as a simultaneous family and village affair did not disappear in the integrated post-contact village, the contraction of previous independent local groups. As a result, there were some new tensions as evident in a story about a conflict over cultivatable land and horticultural gardens at the major post-contact village that resulted in killings within the Sararé. The alliances, including marriage exchanges, do not necessarily convey a wish or disposition to tolerate blending together into a homogeneous group. Only the constraints of historical contingencies forced the fragments of the prior autonomous peoples to coalesce. In this situation the survivors needed to cooperate and founded a temporary common village by the pure necessity of the survival of any Sararé. The leading adults of that time married each others’ women and exchanged marriageable individuals to accommodate as many people as possible. Sometimes, when men died, they left their widows and children to surviving brothers who raised the latter as their own. The component members of the village lived together under the threat of the outside and the danger of extinction. Again according to the same pattern as discussed above, the members of the differentiated groups did not forget their origins and persisted in aggregating around their leading men. These are today the elders in a situation similar to Vitorino’s, the steadfast pillars of traditional knowledge and wisdom, the sole survivors that contain the foundations of the ways and mode of life of the past. It is because of their narratives and teachings that the transmission of traditional lore, culture and knowledge still is guaranteed. For example, one night the reputedly oldest man held a training session in traditional music with the presence of most of the children under 12 participating in the singing. Although grief for the deceased and tradition of not speaking the names of the dead warriors makes some topics taboo, these people cultivate the transmission of other parts of traditional knowledge. Expectedly, when the population increased and the pressures from the outside declined, these same men maintained the memory of their own groups’ territorial patrimony. They always wanted to resettle in their own lands, congregating their close family on their home territory. The concentration in one village often, in peace-time, created frictions amongst descendents of different peoples (Santos 2000: 22).
Peace-time did not bring just an easy demographic recovery after the installation of the massive bureaucratic apparatus to assist the Nambikwara (the medical records show an increment in in locus activity in the 1980s). Several events, the persistent failure of effective protection and the sociocultural divergent perspectives complicated an already difficult adjustment to the new circumstances. In that sense, the Indian efforts and the remarkably fast recovery become even more notable. At first, the Sararé believed that they not only made the peace and suffered no defeat by the Bean People (as evident in an initiative visit to Vila Bela). Then they also thought of the alliance in traditional terms, establishing an alliance would transform the enemy into an ally that respected their autonomy and traded according to the Nambikwara pattern to furnish the community with desired goods and services (cf. Santos 2000: 4). This too conforms to the image and template of inter-group relations of the Campo peoples when they entered into a relationship with Rondon and his people. The deceptive aspects of normalized external relations appear to have been very slow to realize. The Nambikwara mould of exchange between visitors and hosts consists of a similar silent trade as observed by Lévi-Strauss but in this case the usual procedure reposes on delayed exchange. The visitor takes as a present that he likes and in return, during the counter visit, the former host chooses for himself what he desires as the counter-present. The aim is solidifying a social relationship between the exchanging partners, the social content of the gift predominates over the material dimension (even if the equity of the gifts is evaluated by both partners). Bargaining is inconceivable and the effects on the interethnic relationship cannot be underestimated. When the missionaries started direct exchange without any suitable delay, they thoroughly displeased the Nambikwara do Campo who considered this to be very bad manners. Even an Indian who learned to read, write, and count (he learned to do so with the Nambikwara Project), and who knew the monetary value of what he wanted to sell still assented immediately to the very low offer he received from a shopkeeper. He said that he acceded because he needed to sell goods to the same man in the future (Price 1989b). It was clearly difficult for him to imagine a social relation with a friendly stranger where the economic dimension outweighs the totalizing summation of the sociocultural dimensions of the allied group template. The separation of the economic sphere from the total social relationship, the disengagement of the economic or any other specific dimension of the total social person (to paraphrase Mauss) may have been be the most difficult phenomenon to imagine, accept and apply in practice.
The efforts of anthropologists, the Nambikwara project, and later FUNAI employees turned to the production of Indian artifacts as a feasible income source. The selling of these artifacts was fraught with practical difficulties and, despite the founding of a special department and the creation of a number of outlets in cities, still never ran smoothly. The advantage of the system is that the delayed return fits the particular pattern and the fabrication is open to anyone with the ability and will to produce. The total deployment of time spent in productive activities may be changed but the change does not seem to significantly interfere with the normal course of kin relations and religious practice. The disadvantage is the irregularity of the return and the thorough lack of understanding of the economic system (Price (1977) discussed these convergences and divergences of understanding more fully in order to improve the Nambiquara Project; Aspelin (1975) also wrote extensively on this). The concept of monetary value and the market as an instrument to establish relative prices is a mystery not easily mastered. Even today the Sararé do not really understood these exotic sociocultural principles and the configuration of ideology and practices in the national sociocultural construction of the economy. Nowadays people occasionally produce artifacts like bows and arrows, and palm nut necklaces. I once saw a prominent Indian wanting to trade a feathered headband. The various White people working in the area serve in various ways as intermediaries. From their accounts and the events witnessed, it is apparent many still calculate the return in the traditional manner, although now they customarily specify what gift they wish in return for the original object. The persistence of a transformed traditional notion of give-and-take is obvious. Depending on the White people whom they choose to trade with, the Whites normally try to explain the market value and the expected returns, and ask whether these suffice to pay for the desired object[lxxxii].
The younger post-contact generation understands money somewhat better and covets its privilege as the universal means of access to new goods (from guitars to ice-cream and soft drinks; to cite some concrete examples). Yet, the temptation of the world of money and concomitant consumption of an overflow of goods still seems to be bounded. The people of the older generation are not so interested in outside goods. For them, the Nambikwara notions of ways of life and the socially determined level of wants and consumption predominate. Their needs and wants apparently are still restricted. In the 1980s, FUNAI began to register the Sararé elderly for pensions. Again, Price warned early on of the negative effects such an income might have on the traditional political leadership model. The money available certainly did not mean any outrageous wealth to the recipients. However, the steady trickle of income, in a situation of scarcity of alternate means of monetary income creates a sort of power base for the elderly. Their income is a steady and reliable monthly source, difficult to match by the producer of any currently existing alternative. Traditionally, the leader was a vigorous, intelligent and energetic caretaker of his group. An alternative source of goods undermines his authority and role as the foremost person of wealth redistribution. Elders wielded influence irrespective of wisdom and some felt that sharing with the group was unnecessary (Price 1989b: 185). This may explain part of the changed pattern of authority of the council of elders in Aroeira, when normally the younger people esteem the elders for knowledge but also devalue old age by virtue of the diminished individual capacities (a point on which Fiorini (2000) and Serafim (2000) agree as true for the Wasusu).
The Sararé intelligently countered this inducement to change and insisted that the money benefit the entire population. The FUNAI employee responsible for the area collects the money, buys the food and other supplies, and distributes the purchases more or less according to the size of each family (only families qualify). In this way the distribution does not subvert social tendencies and permits the continuation of the in-group sharing model. This creative and feasible solution runs against the individualism prevalent in national society (the FUNAI agents not excluded; in 2001 the employee obeyed the injunction but also occasionally went out of the way to provide something more for the legal recipients). Even without this influence, the elders still wield considerable political power. Either the leadership models of Price and Lévi-Strauss did not capture this authority in the past, or else the historical contingencies engendered a new situation. Perhaps they underestimated the subtle influence behind the scene of the men of knowledge (but evident in Vitorino’s account where the elders’ interpretation weighs heavily on conduct). The leader exercises his leadership by approval and the major decisions apparently always concerned all older men and the construction of some consensus. In my sense this contributed to the effect of strengthening the elders’ authority after contact in Aroeira. Simultaneously, everywhere the demographic disaster transformed all older people into key figures in raising children and transmitting knowledge to a host of young people. As for the Sararé, after contact the old leaders stepped back and the younger one mentioned by Price took over. The Sararé still recognize his leadership until today, although he leaves certain interactions to his son. The younger generation that could be taking over is only beginning to marry and start families, and as any leader must have a family, there are few candidates.
The post-contact generation that came into being after the peace does begin to play a political role. The young men clearly refer to an opposition between the generations, basically between pre-contact men and themselves, although there does not seem to be a large rift yet. It is understandable that as they did not experience the state of belligerence, they have a somewhat different view of the world, especially with respect to the relations with Whites, the use of the Portuguese language, and the acquisition of knowledge of national society. As far as I noticed, the elder Sararé speak their mother language without any foreign vocabulary. The far more numerous younger generations, by comparison, use a great deal and even employ short interposed expressions or isolated words from Portuguese (for which presumably there are no alternatives). The first language of this people remains the native indigenous language, but a new dialect seems to be appearing among the children. The elder speakers evince the prior dialectical differences and they are practically monolingual. The younger generation (here referring to adolescents and young adults) and primarily the males, speak Portuguese reasonably or near-fluently, although they lack a full competence. Knowing well that there exists a correlation between language and politics and society, the elders push a number of young men to learn the national language. They know the language is necessary to defend their interests in national society. In this sense, the pride in their language, the maintenance of Sararé as the first language learned and as the language of everyday interaction, all indicate its future continuity. It also favors the transmission of distinctive sociocultural forms and practices. The language with its potential of inherent, explicit and implicit worldview and particular way of conceiving and describing the distinct sociocultural construction of the universe abides by virtue of the perseverance of the elder generations. Shamanism, myths and cosmology, music and flutes (forbidden for women) persist and all such customs were transmitted to the next generation. One Indian hinted that some unnamed ritual disappeared, but this does not seem to be due to outside pressures or any wish to assimilate.
Before such resolve for autonomy, persistence of mode of living, and adherence to tradition had conditions to prosper, two types of assaults occurred that could have fostered more disastrous results. The traditional models of alliance, the inept, structurally weak FUNAI and its share of corruptible employees (some simply acting passively for fear of being murdered), the exhaustion of not easily renewable resources in the Valley and in other regions combined to constitute a configuration of elements that helps explain such assaults. The first wave of aggressions concerns the lumber in the area. Not only did the fazendas sometimes process the trees on their land but in general entire towns prospered owing to logging[lxxxiii]. The operators either illegally entered Indigenous Territory on their initiative, possibly because of weak vigilance and large circumferences, or dealt directly with the Indians. When doing business with the Indians, they likely thought of the friendship of the logging patrons and employees in terms of the alliance template and the gifts they received. When compared to the financial difficulties of FUNAI after pacification, the apparent lavishness of these entrepreneurs, who earn by annihilating the wilderness or at the minimum ravage the forests’ ecological structure, could pretend to be a conspicuously generous alternative source of external goods. Many villages succumbed to the lure of seemingly easy access to abundant consumer goods, and the Sararé are no exception; houses were built, cars and bikes were given. Some FUNAI employees are accused of intermediation. The acceptance possibly also issued from the own cultural conceptual difference between vegetal life and animal life. For the latter the Sararé recognize the owners, more like caretakers in the myths, as Price expounded in “Earth People”. His conclusion of the message of moderation emanates from these injunctions as evident in the jaguar guarding over the herds of wild pigs, and the large otter owning the fish in the stream in the Waterfall Peoples’ area. Additionally there are the ancestral spirits’ advice on the correct use of medicinal plants in their own territory (if the plant is not on their territory, it is dangerous; Santos 2000: 26-30). No such mythical message or caretaker is known for the forest or for the species of trees. In fact, the forest is seen as a continually dangerous place where evil spirits live and should be avoided. This explains one reason these people preferred to live on the savanna. In horticultural experience the forest always regenerates. The forest may seem inexhaustible too[lxxxiv]. In consideration of all of the above, maybe we can begin to understand why the Indians decided to allow the logging operations. In time they quarreled and this partnership dissolved. The Indians always basically mistrust the Whites and highly value autonomy and self-esteem. This attitude of self worth, and hence the idea of directing the loggers or the logging operations, probably vied with the arrogance and ethnocentric prejudice of the loggers who felt themselves far superior to the Indians. In the end they fought, a party of Whites ambushed several older Indians, tied them up, held them for hours and beat up several people. Then they rounded up the moveable presents and took them away. Perhaps the worst blow referred to the humiliation and physical maltreatment of the warriors. After this incident the large majority thoroughly disliked the loggers and never allowed any entry again.
Another historical curse renewed its attack on Indian Land. The alluvial gold in the streams that run down the mountain range replenish the stock of gold on a regular basis. As early as 1975 Price discovered a company prospecting for gold, called Ouro Fino, staking out a claim on the Sararé River. He believed that few problems would occur if this company explored the border river. Unfortunately, no one could have predicted that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, gold fever in the Amazon reached its peak and hundreds of thousands of gold miners migrated through the entire basin to the places where rumors and findings located soils and streams with gold dust or stones. Economic crisis and structural expulsion of peasants from the soil in the rest of Brazil contributed to the influx. Once the region was rediscovered as promising and actually producing gold, the rush was inevitable. The state of Mato Grosso authorized the mining activities adjacent to the Indians’ area. In no time the gold prospectors spilled over into the almost empty and economically wasted Indigenous Territory. As usual, FUNAI was unable to expel such a volatile mass of intruders and the countryside along the mountain range became dotted with camps and excavations. The miners founded a cooperative and the Santa Elina Company also participated. The Sararé region had the doubtful privilege of notoriously being the only Indigenous Territory to which the official federal agency regulating mining activities issued a formal permit for exploitation: the Cooperative gained a license in 1993 in flagrant contradiction to the law because the Territory received its final legal recognition in 1991 (Ricardo (ed.): 41). A figure of 3000 miners is mentioned at this time, around 1990-2, as exploring a number of streams in the Indian area. Another loan from the World Bank (after 1992), for the so-called Prodeagro program, benefited the Indians because it furnished the funds available only after the government met some conditions about the removal of prospectors and implementing territorial guarantees for Indigenous Territory (but only in 1992; Santos 2000: 50; notwithstanding the support of another international campaign to protect the Sararé). It also aided in financing regularization, control and vigilance of the lands (Costa 2000: 55). After a renewed invasion of around 8000 men, a town arose complete with pharmacies, bars and shops. The nearby city of Pontes e Lacerda lived mainly from the proceeds and profits from gold and timber from indigenous territories (Serafim 2000: 26; he also noted that the combined population was over 10,000). Only in the beginning of 1997 were the prospectors finally expelled by another large FUNAI and federal police operation[lxxxv]. The environmental damages may last for forty years. The people involved in the lumber trade associated themselves with this invasion and the Indians practically lost control over the entire region along the mountain range. It was then in 1993 the lumber company’s attraction front presented itself as an alternative source for all external goods and succeeded in motivating the Indians to expel FUNAI and all other agencies.
A small recovery is registered particularly since the decompression of the extraneous pressures and population growth allowed the Indians to disperse into four smaller villages in search of living space for the component local groups (Santos 2000: 26). The three new villages are localized along the mountain range, one being of the elder who was the last leader of the Waterfall People, and relatively close to the original home range in the proposed new territory (Fiorini und.). The second village has another esteemed elder and his relatives. The last settlement is the only one founded by a younger leader without a resident elder. Everywhere in the new villages dating from after 1997 the houses are built in the traditional way. In this sense the reorganization of the population in space serves not only a better way of occupancy of the larger territory, it also conforms to the re-assertion of the old pre-contact local group loyalties and encourages local autonomy. Even the inter-marriages and the mixture of the groups did not reduce the loyalty to their own local groups and their separation from one another when the necessary conditions permitted. The different segments mobilized themselves to regain former autonomies: the recurrence of their own ancestor spirits, lands, and mode of life (a tendency also seen for the Negarotê). Whenever feasible the old patterns resurge and a resistance to imposition, deculturation and acculturation occur consistent with the image of the proud people described by Price. Belief in oneself and ones’ mode of life survived the onslaughts of the self-styled civilization. The contemporary situation received a significant support from the latest modality of civil action increasingly popular in the 1990s among the neoliberal Cardoso government. Cardoso’s administration contracted non-governmental organizations for specific missions and allotted many tasks to projects managed by NGOs. For the last few years one carried out a project of planting large portions of land with a fruit-bearing palm tree, called açaí[lxxxvi]. The idea is an ecologically sound alternative for the future as the source of outside revenue to replace any temptation of substituting FUNAI and reintroducing logging. The organization also built a house in the village closest to the to-be demarcated area, effectively contributing to fixate the new villages. After the turbulent years of all these brutal interventions and experiences of conquest, dominance and the attempts to impose an extraneous template of dependency and inferiority, such action improved the morale and self-esteem of the peoples.
The younger generations partake in the traditional culture and apparently have a strong feeling of continuity and identity with ancestral traditions while still managing to be dynamic in solving new problems. Being well-versed in tradition does not mean that there is any less attraction to the outside. The missionary invites young men to meetings, or to boarding school, but latter experiment seems now to have failed, and attracts very few. The commencement of courses for local health agents and the like also create opportunities to visit the regional society at no costs and to get acquainted with the apparent overwhelming supply of goods. The miners sometimes tried to maintain reasonable neighborly relations by gifting some items to the people they stole from. The nearby fazenda invented another goodwill gesture, a few young men play in the soccer team; some visit employees who are friends; and the manager allows fishing in the pond. Relatively good relations seem to be reciprocal. When it was discovered that some young people stole some objects from the ranch, the community’s pooled funds from the pensions covered the losses. The fazenda, however, thought the event a sufficient reason to construct a fence between the fazenda and Indian Territory. For the two main entrances to the Indigenous Territory, by the way, locks and fences of the adjacent properties located on their own former territory must be opened (but at least FUNAI received the keys). The logging operators provided consumable goods and a view on expanded wants and desires on a level not previously socially defined as imperative or acceptable. The small quantity of mahogany left in the Guaporé Valley probably is mostly still standing in parts of the Sararé Indigenous Territory and the loggers are extremely interested in exhausting this last reservoir. Repeatedly they stealthily invade the area, try to corrupt young Indians, FUNAI, and the other Whites, threaten their lives and play with accusations against incorruptible people (either the accusations may achieve the removal of the accused, or it may intimidate or constrain the accused up to the point that he cannot stop the invaders).
The current relative tranquility is only partial and has an unknown duration. The pressures to engage in the depletion of forest resources are strong and relentless. On the positive side, the population growth and the founding of new villages assure the continuity of the Sararé as a whole and, in a mode not easily detectable at the moment, of the surviving component parts of the group cluster. The astonishing resilience and adherence to their unique sociocultural models of world view and practice guaranteed the physical, sociocultural and linguistic persistence in a transformed modality. Just as the Nambikwara do Campo, the Valley peoples demonstrated resilience, tenacity, resistance, and a capacity to rebuild social life after terrifying, fragmenting, and very disrupting experiences. To regroup, transcend depopulation, actualize some form of a viable social life with the remnants of the extinct peoples by (temporary) fusing and pooling the means of social reproduction until conditions warranted division and repossession of territory, demonstrates a strong sense of identity, of autonomy as a core value, and of a deep attachment to the land (among which the supernatural ties are notable). The survivors of waves of diseases transformed their grief, knowledge and will to perpetuate a mode of life into a life project of safeguarding their heritage. The Nambikwara ensemble’s emphasis on individual autonomy and their own specific knowledge instead of material goods or elaborate collective rituals, empowered these individuals and facilitated the resurgence of local groups composed of segments of villages or village-sets. The regional pre-existing alliances of what probably constituted the sub-set Sararé of the Valley Nambikwara cluster also bestowed the remainders of the villages with the means to enjoin in this project despite the high tensions in the forced conviviality of the sharing local group. Significantly, despite territorial contraction, some relation of autochthony of the continual reciprocity with the land and its ancestral guardians persisted by relocating within the bounds of this territory or by being near to one’s home territory; the souls of the ancestors feed the sentiment of belonging to the land and its traditions.
Linguistically speaking, the dialectical differences in the post-contact generation disappear in the intense social life during the time when all of the Sararé were forced to live in one single village. The renewed transformed language, which is in itself a product of these historical contingencies, is not threatened (in the new generations fusing into one language; Borella 2001, personal communication). It is the first language to all and therefore its reproduction is guaranteed. It is the common daily language used in interactions and collectively held highly. It is a relevant predicate in defining oneself and others and is gradually becoming a written language, developing its own spelling different from the writing system developed for the Nambikwara do Campo. If the long historical trend in the conquering dominating society towards the incremented acceptance of Indian peoples’ distinctiveness and relative autonomy persists, the context will be favorable to language maintenance and a sociocultural adjustment to the surrounding society with its pretensions to superiority. Price’s predictions and expectations did not always bear out. For example, to the best of my knowledge the military fazenda on the Nambikwara Indigenous Territory did not prevent repossession of the Indian Land. Some fazenda owners lost parcels of their land, one owner whose bridge across the Sararé River had to be burned twice to this day laments the loss of his best land.
The future may be another country. Scenarios for the future composed of the factors aligned above are hazardous. Fortunately, identity and language do not seem to be in any immediate danger. The major danger for the tranquility of the Sararé may lie with the economic situation. Presently the economic exchange with the capitalist economy seems to be in relative equilibrium. On the one hand, the autochthonous access to the productive means of sustenance appears to guarantee fulfillment of the basic daily needs. On the other, the still relatively limited wants of the large majority of the population with respect to outside commodities also guarantees the limited need for the goods or raw materials to be produced by the Indians to pay for industrialized imports. Thus, the major danger in the future concerns the creation of many new wants that can only be satisfied by the incoming flow of extraneous commodities acquired by the exchange of local produce. The major problem of a sharp increase in wants is finding a steady and sustainable flow of goods or raw materials marketable on the outside. That is, marketable, sustainable in the ecological sense and non-disruptive of normal social life while the produce has to be absorbed by markets completely uncontrollable by the Indians. For the Sararé this would imply the transformation from mode of living with a great or total measure of self control, to a partial economic dependency on an uncontrollable, ethnocentric and largely incomprehensible conquering society. If the ethnic identity and the sense of the sociocultural necessity of perpetuity of language and tradition appears to be guaranteed, both by internal motives and external demands and tendencies, the future will be an exercise to transform the experience of conquest into a creative adjustment to a new mode of life. At least the Sararé will be able to discuss, think and propose in their language, and enjoy all the concomitant advantages such totalizing competent fluency provides to the community of speakers.
[i] Indigenous modes of warfare differ considerably from western conceptions and the Indian reaction certainly represents some new modality even if it would difficult to define the logic of the former mode of regime of hostility (see for example Descola 1993). Ferguson argued that almost all modes of war after contact are affected by conquest (1990).
[ii]It is no coincidence this policy draws various ethnocentric and other criticism but it is only viable when the remaining groups are relatively few and the conquest of Brazil’s rightful territory is completed.
[iii] The province president did not mince words about the Bororo’s relationship: ten years of subjugation by the use of too brand means (ib.: 33). Note that this was in the same year as the Canudos War, when the supposedly backward racially inferior inhabitants of the sertão defeated various expeditions of the army before being massacred in the name of civilization.
[iv] This is an assumption not demonstrated here. However, as the state (like the province) had relatively large numbers of Indians occupying important tracts of land, this is almost certainly true. It is, it may be noted, certainly true today (2000-7).
[v] It is interesting to note that the expression national society has such a time depth because it is currently the usual expression to designate the country in opposition to the native peoples (and normal in anthropologists’ usage). Originally the idea appears to connote the idea that the aboriginals never could constitute a real polity. Tribes in this sense are conceived of as unequal and a political phase prior to the Nation-State whose national society is the ideal and true mode of political organization.
[vi] Price translated a large part of the article in English (1984) but the complete reproduction is in Spanish in Price (1983a). These two articles are basically the same in the main materials cited, except for some cuts and changes in the sequence, but the earlier publication is more complete and somewhat more comprehensive (I translate the Spanish in all references to fill in the gaps when necessary). The expression center means the interior of a region, usually away from the more inhabited areas. In the Amazon the expression is used by the rubber gatherers to refer to the area away from the river.
[vii] Melville thought he had found a bunch of happy natives in the Marquesas Islands. He viewed the Europeans arrived with misgivings, “Fatal embrace! They fold to their bosoms the vipers whose bite is destined to poison all their joys … Ill fated people! I shudder when I think of the change a few years will make in their paradiasic abode” (quoted in Bell 1995 :44). True enough, they dwindled from fifty thousand to some six thousand in one generation.
[viii] At this time deserts sometimes referred to regions believed nearly devoid of inhabitants. The notion of empty spaces in the interior also has a long history and is not a recent invention of any of the state-sponsored movements to occupy Amazonia.
[ix] At this time no objective written media existed. All newspapers belonged to political and partisan groups, and most articles reflected political leanings.
[x] It is difficult to reconstruct such meanings without more documentary and ethnographic evidence. When possible, the results are fascinating. Gow offers such penetrating analysis (2001: ch.7).
[xi] So far the linguistic research among the Katitauhlu has not uncovered the same attitude and the term seems to be used neutrally.
[xii] As long as the salt made the food unbearable, the Whites would be the ‘strangest stranger’ because their normal food was inedible, contrary to foods consumed by Indian allies or foes.
[xiii] The salient place of the Giant Hawk Spirit among the Nambikwara do Campo and its dangerous role for the unburied dead will be discussed below. Perhaps large predatory birds are dangerous to people and by association the Whites who resemble them reinforce the image of potential danger.
[xiv] Of course, Price specifically asked about him too. Still, the systematic account of these movements discloses the importance of the semi-legendary figure. The registration of many details is common in this kind of testimony.
[xv] Price (1983a: 625) remarks that the hunter probably carried the game by means of a headband; thus he was looking down and not seeing the road before him. This explains the inattentiveness of the hunter who certainly would not be surprised when still hunting.
[xvi] This might explain the personal names, because another researcher does not mention any deceased by name in respect to the Nambikwara do Campo custom of not saying aloud the names of the dead (Costa 2000: 24). The Wasusu, on the other hand, sometimes do and under certain circumstances such names can be mentioned (Fiorini 2000). Possibly the practice in the savanna is also not as absolute as thought to be by Costa.
[xvii] The Indians complained incessantly about their presence and invasions to Rondon’s people. They took and destroyed their rubber collecting tools and harassed them at night with the sound of diurnal animals. According to the medic of the Rondon Commission, they did this without being seen (cited in Costa 2000: 43). They were wise enough to avoid being shot at. This scaring strategy may be the same as before in the south and relied, unwittingly, on the stereotypes of the cannibal savage.
[xviii] This is a printing error; he means the Kithaulú and not Kithaulá, the people amongst whom he did his major fieldwork.
[xix] Price noted that this is Alfonso França, the administrator from 1943 to 1969 of the Pireneus de Souza Indian Post (Price 1983a: 625). As the Kithaulú live in an adjacent area, they knew him personally from visits.
[xx] These locations refer to the telegraph stations (Price 1983a: 625).
[xxi] During a 1912 visit on the Juína, someone noted a shotgun in an apparently uncontacted village that had been traded with people from Campos Novos (Price 1983a: 626).
[xxii] One of them being a shaman, the expertise and wisdom of shamanism are more relative in this case than the high level of intelligence and knowledge demonstrated in the Sabanê myth of the transformation into animals. It is true that the shaman doubted the wisdom of his action but acceded to the wish of his companion. Apparently, the shaman did not know better but relented to the pressure of a confidant as negating a request is unsociable. The same thing occurred in the myth of the neighbouring Wasusu, and thus very likely the Sararé resemble them. The latter shows parallels the Nambikwara do Campo myth in which the Harpy Eagle was the first Owner (Fiorini 2000).
[xxiii] He did lobby for land but only rarely, however there were few legal provisions. He did so in 1918, when Colonel Rondon presented the State Assembly of Mato Grosso with data to implement a reserve at the sources of the Arinos and Paranatinga Rivers. The war going on in this area induced the state president to accept the plan to end hostilities by reserving land enough for sufficient means of subsistence to the wild Indians, who, as usual, live in a nomadic state (Corrêa 1918: 40). Most state legislators were wary to grant land rights.
[xxiv] It may seem strange that Price in his discussion of Western given names does not mention this particular situation. In effect, it appears very little known even among students of Nambikwara. Price (1983b: 147), however, does not mention the original source, a book from 1917, only a previous article about his trip from 1912. This article probably did not discuss the situation as clearly as the book, Price would have certainly discussed it. Also, Price, as far as I know, did not speak German. Note that this would not be a clear case of confusion created by ‘Western classification’ because the confusion derived from the imposition of a stigma by the other two Paresi segments.
[xxv] He started to live in the region in 1959 and stayed at least until 2000 or 2001. Borella and I met the couple in 2000 when they kindly received us in their house in Vilhena from which they continued to visit the Nambikwara and were involved in educational projects of bilingualism. A few small booklets have been produced to support and stimulate literacy in the native language. This laudable part of their work in favor of language maintenance is said to form part of a literacy program aiming at the preservation of myths and legends (ib.: 2). Nevertheless, the main effort in print has been the publication of a Nambikwara Bible. They asserted that a resulting bilingual dictionary inspired Indian pride in their native language.
[xxvi] The authors do not explain how they ascertained the year; perhaps they used an outside source. The general context sits well with the expansion of rubber and that must be significant even if the exact year might have been a problem. França of Espirro reported the measles in this year and also, without ever visiting the villages, attributed the same epidemic as reaching the Mamaindê (and again in 1961; Aspelin 1975: 24-5).
[xxvii] Price described the pattern of villages on the savanna poetically: “(…) [they tend to cluster like] a series of headwater forests arranged like leaves along the stem of a major stream” (Price 1982b: 185).
[xxviii] Note how the descriptor comfortable contrasts with Lévi-Strauss’ observation of miserable primitives at the edge of starvation in the dry season when they are forced to eat anything to escape hunger. This letter must be the one that is mentioned in his major work on the regrettable World Bank experience (Price 1989b: 49; the paragraph cited confers as does the size). Here he candidly adds that the letter produced no more than two other letters (one by his father). However, the Bank never made clear if these were the only ones to arrive or the only ones they were able to trace to his action. This led to his classification by the Bank as a radical firebrand (ib.: 52-3).
[xxix] This comes from an updated FUNAI memo cited previously and present in “O Projeto Nambiquara”. This includes the simplicity of female seclusion rites, absent from the Southern Nambikwara of the Valley (Serafim 2000: 40).
[xxx] If we take the conservative figure of 0.02 person/km2 for the whole of the estimated original Nambikwara territory of 50,000 km2, the result is only 1,000 people. After suffering the losses resulting from conquest, Price estimated only 0.01 person/km2 in 1976 (cited in Setz 1983: 11).The size of the ecologically more interesting territory may also be underestimated with respect to the Northern Nambikwara and the Valley: Price thought an estimate of 20.000 people by Rondon’s people too high for a territory largely made of “inhospitable savanna” (Price 1994: 66). Hence in his latest estimate he arrived only at the figure of 6.000 Indians (ib.: id.). At one time Price proposed the larger area of 55,000 km2 (Price 1975: 5), if true the population would be greater. However, with only a slightly larger number of the mean average of people/km2, the total numbers would increase considerably. For instance, in one study the number proposed is 0.06 people/km2, elevating the population to 3,000. If, as in an quoted example, 80 people exploit 9000 ha., then the density of this particular occupancy amounts to 1.1 people/ km2: a much larger figure for 1900 than customarily given follows (55.000; based on the work of Aspelin; report on the situation of Amazonian indigenous peoples available at http://lucy.ukc.ac.uk/Sonja/RF/Ukpr/Report49.htm, accessed 2001).
[xxxi] Price and Cook (1969: 690) still thought the name is ánunsú, but this in the Sararé region may mean village and not people (information by the linguist Borella). Hence, it is likely that Price changed his mind after his post-1968 experiences.
[xxxii] Price used village cluster in both articles but the difference in size makes the second use of cluster into the notion of village of the first instance. The second usage appears a review of the former consigning the attribute of a set to the former village; the same local group may have more than one village and forms part of a larger regional set. This is the view I actually favor (this seems to have applied to the Lakondê and concurs with the Sabanê transmitted idea of a possibly all–inclusive category of Kulimansi. In fact, around 1981 (Price und: 1), he is quite clear that “Each local group consisted of a single village or two or more villages that were closer to each other than to other villages”. The other possibilities are that Price simply forgot his previous usage and mixed the terms or perhaps he adhered to the confusion created by history where because of depopulation, the distinction between the two collapsed, as in the narrative where neighbors joined in a new melange to re-establish social viability.
[xxxiii] This might have to do with the notion of viciousness attributed to violent and more distant peoples, as wild in Portuguese (brabo) connotes fierce.
[xxxiv] Lévi-Strauss asserted in an article for the Handbook of South American Indians (very likely penned in the early 1940s) “(…) polygamy is the privilege of the chief and other important men” (1948: 366). He also credited the shaman as being distinguished with the same privilege and notwithstanding the common combination of being a shaman and chief, adds that he is sometimes a distinct man (ib.: 369). This is an article which is mainly consulted by specialists so the contradiction is widely unnoticed.
[xxxv] For example, the leader of the village in the savanna at Campos Novos died in the “great measles epidemic of 1945” and only left two very small sons (Price 1987: 9). Expectably, in normal life the composition of the village is much less subject to changes and dividing or joining factions maintain strong kin relations (Price 1987: 10).
[xxxvi] This information comes from Price’s latest article on the geopolitical organization of the Nambikwara. Here he emphasized the flux from concentration to fragmentation and vice-versa as a more general model of fusion and fission and the importance of leadership in the process. This, however, is contradictory to his earlier article on leadership where the flux and influence of the leader himself was played down (albeit in opposition to Lévi-Strauss). I think it is revelatory that the examples cited (1987: 17-8) are all post-epidemic events. It seems likely that in pre-contact times there was less fluidity involved in village formation, unless occupying new lands (see Price’s argument about the occupation of the Paresis Plateau 1987: 18-22).
[xxxvii] Information contained in a report from the FUNAI Work Group entitled: Relatório Área Indígena: Pireneus de Souza (20/10/1981, illegible signature; copy in the archives of ISA). The legislative measure references the land proposed by Rondon mentioned by the president of the state in 1918. However, the land proposed does not coincide with the Pireneus de Souza Area. Rondon may have lobbied for more than one area.
[xxxviii] The metaphor of the cake is from a powerful Minister of Economics at the service of the military in the 1970s who always maintained that the cake must grow before it can be divided. In other words, development and economic growth should precede the redistribution of national wealth. This thwarted any kind of redistribution policy and today the inequality of wealth in Brazil is one of the highest in the world. Some economists affirm, on the contrary, that only an active government intervention can have an effect (M. Dias David, “L’économie des pauvretés, des inégalitiés et de l’accumulation des richesses dans le Brésil contemporain”. Talk at 10/10/2001, CRBC, Paris).
[xxxix] Proceedings of the First Meeting of the Indigenist Council of Funai, held on October 27, 1975. This Council was called together by the FUNAI president to discuss indigenous affairs and to receive advice on policy matters to be undertaken by the agency. Originally, after the foundation of FUNAI this was to be a directive organ but soon it was demoted to an advisory status. Many presidents did not ever convene with the Council.
[xl] Padronal is Brazilian place name located at the south of Vilhena somewhat to the south of the source of the Doze de Outubro River. From here the encroachment also severely affected the Mamaindê.
[xli] These different titles of different epochs and institutes continue to produce proprietors claiming compensation in federal courts (Costa 2000: 46).
[xlii] Although “intent” may be hard to prove, it may very well be argued that part of the UN definition of genocide applies to the aim of forced dislocation: (…) genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: […] 2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; 3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (Hinton 2002: 2-3). As will be seen below, in all instances forced removal caused suffering, destruction and impairment of conditions of demographic and sociocultural reproduction. As with the Latundê, the imposition of fatal circumstances on the conquered, even without deliberate killing, should count as genocidal practice (Maybury –Lewis 2002).
[xliii] Take the Indigenous Territory of Utiariti as example. Among the various people who live there are the descendents of the Nambikwara do Campo encountered in near isolation by Lévi-Strauss. Today the large landholding dedicated to soya and its open space ends at the low forest of the savanna where the Indigenous Territory begins.
[xliv] These peoples are the ones regionally known as Nambikwara by all of the named units of the Nambikwara ensemble and now live in the Nambikwara Indigenous Territory.
[xlv] Recall that in some places, and especially among Catholics, the belief is that a person not baptized is not a fully human being (in a contemporary populous neighborhood in Recife, M. Lins Reesink personal communication). Historically, these non-human pagans are thought of as animals.
[xlvi] Although his prestige did not stop the almost completely black population of Vila Bela to secretly go on killing Indians. As said by one elder who met Rondon: “He wanted no killing of Indians. But we killed them secretly, only we were to die? Out of sight, when close by, we killed too, because nobody wanted to die.” (Bandeira 1988: 75). Either us or them, that is presented as the choice of the time. In other words, a long history of black and Indian relations of hostilities: from the maroon communities who stole women, but did not flourish afterwards, to the attacks on Vila Bela that, according to black tradition, caused suffering and hardship. Today sentiments express superiority and benevolence (ib.: 75-6).
[xlvii] In this epoch the official expression for Indian land was Indian Reserve; later this changed to Indigenous Land, the current designation. The word Reserve sometimes provoked the anti-indigenous interests to claim that the Indians should not be granted large reserves, no land at all, or no permanent possession as if some zoological specimen to be protected, isolated and not allowed to follow general human evolution. The ethnocentric evolutionary reasoning thus appealed to the same attitude of we know what is best for the primitives. In the early seventies one minister at the service of the military dictatorship actually expressed himself in practically such terms. It is a sign of the times and a sign of FUNAI’s role expressed with the ministers’ maxim, The Indian should never impede development.
[xlviii] Although according to Father Dornstauder (1975), it was he that led a large number of expeditions to pacify the various segments of the Rikbaksta (as documented in this book-size article; he mentions (ib.: 174) taking Tolksdorf along on his thirtieth expedition, beginning in September 1959). So perhaps the merit of this pacification may have due to the Father and very little to Tolksdorf.
[xlix] Along with a specific kind of occupancy that strung along the river, possibly one regional group spun out along a set of villages. In the Guaporé Valley where in places the forest extends in all directions, Agostinho hypothesized that the pattern differed towards a concentric model of occupancy that may have favored the contraction of the local group to one village. However, this contraction may have been already shaped by the population losses.
[l] The expression cleaning or cleansing of an area has taken on a specifically negative connotation, but the displacements projected and carried out did, as will be evident presently, caused much psychological stress and many deaths. Hence, even though not as genocidal as the current connotation suggests, the policy might be considered a modality of ethnic cleansing.
[li] The information on the Wasusu in the article by Puttkamer is scanty and the government actions to remove the Indians from their land is depicted as if it was a neutral decision made by prior office holders and corrected when the archeological team also uncovered the long term presence of the Nambicuara in their own territory. Furnished with this proof by FUNAI, the government followed suit by ending the policy of small reserves and replacing them with one large reserve, the overall explanation of government action and inaction is mainly lacking. The author was a friend of Tolksdorf (and both of German origin).
[lii] This is still contained in the previously mentioned proceedings. Another FUNAI document quoted alleged that the agency erred in not arranging an immediate meeting between the old and new project coordinator and that this created a climate of mistrust and growing dislike between the two men. Though this may have contributed, it is evident from these remarks and further evidence that the conflict really concerned the direction of the agency’s work. Not the least of factors was the continued interference of the formerly responsible agent. Tolksdorf lobbied with his supporters within the agency to remove Price and they used the customary weapons of false rumors and accusations against him. Some such accusations Tolksdorf himself was thought to be guilty of, like taking bribes from ranchers (Price 1989b: 21).
[liii] I do not quite understand this affirmation of 1989 because the area, as far as is evident from the map I saw, should have included Sararé villages or traditional village sites. In his Project dated January 1975, Price remarked that two villages are situated within the limits. Maybe this is a slip because of his insufficient knowledge of the Guaporé Valley at the time of the Project.
[liv] Again, the underlying idea being that their land is similar to a parcel of private property within the boundaries of the country, and not the territory of a people. The Indians’ land should be equated with the notion of a territory and is analogous to a country, not a farm.
[lv] A copy of this map is in the archives of the OPAN (Operação Amazônia Indígena), in Cuiabá. This map details the names of groups and features that demonstrate the occupancy of the entire region.
[lvi] This is from Price’s August 15, 1977 report. Instead of fixed Indian Posts, the Project employed circulating Indian agents and thus countered the common model of symbolic domination of the Post. Generally the Nambikwara do not appreciate the idea of a Post chief because the person given this position often demands strict obedience from the Indians, something that they obviously dislike (undated report on the Project by Price). Pedro Agostinho’s (1996) evaluation of the Project strongly approved of its directives and execution and recommended its continuity.
[lvii] Contrary to common belief, such causes are not natural at all. Price reminded readers of this fact. In his 1980 letter denouncing World Bank support of Polonoroeste, he estimates a 90% decline of the pre-contact population over a period of ten years if modern western health care is withheld from these populations. As noted in Parts I and II, when such choices are made with knowledge of the expected outcome, this may be considered genocide.
[lviii] The reference for all this information comes from a small booklet celebrating their 45 years of missionary work edited by the Christian Mission Foundation in Brazil (Bruijns 2001; chapter 3).
[lix] Protestant missionaries usually interpret this kind of chance event as divine indication of a place or a people as the object of a mission.
[lx] He also had hospital in Vila Bela. Price admired his supportive and practical stance and considered him a friend (Price 1989b: 98-9).
[lxi] These names coincide with the few names I collected myself. The names given by Price were always recognized as group names by a few younger men I questioned in an effort to verify. The neighboring Wasusu added another name still, but, then again, this name can refer to one of the component villages also being given as another name of the list (Fiorini does not explain if he thinks the name refers to a seventh distinct group).
[lxii] Price first arrived in the Sararé region when they were all congregated near the missionary’s house and the three major groups which already maintained relations of reciprocity also suffered the impact of epidemics in the early 1960s (Fiorini und.: 6). It was when they were thoroughly deplenished in numbers that the mission, and later FUNAI, attracted them all to a new site.
[lxiii] Concept by Charny, cited in Maybury-Lewis, who adds: “Indigenous peoples have often been the victims of genocidal massacres, where the slaughter is on a smaller scale and results from a general attitude toward indigenous peoples rather than necessarily being part of a campaign for total elimination of the victim population. On the other hand, campaigns of extermination are characteristic of those phases of colonization in which the invaders have decided on a course of ethnic cleansing to rid a territory of its indigenous inhabitants and appropriate it for themselves. In the heyday of colonialism such exterminations were often justified in the name of progress” (Maybury-Lewis 2002: 45). Here, as in Rondônia, we were still in the heyday of internal colonialism: without overt campaigns but with occasional genocidal massacres and other genocidal practices. Bringskens communicated the fact to the local military detachment which investigated and confirmed the massacre (although the date is given as January 1968). Armed thieves were trying to steal horses from the Indians. The village was on the “property” of the Colonizadora do Sul do Brasil. The National Security Council investigated this company later (FUNAI document from 1979 on the general situation of the Nambikwara signed by two anthropologists, one other functionary and one of Price’s collaborator and making an argument against the proposed expropriation of lands and in favor of the necessity to demarcate ample lands on traditional territory). It must be noted that, more than ten years, no mention is made of any criminal investigation or judicial action to punish the perpetrators. Carelli and Severiano (ib.: id.) also affirm the authorities ignored the massacre.
[lxiv] The Indians gave them “chicha”, a drink made form maize fermented in a hollow tree trunk. They also ate sugar cane. In other words, the Indians planted sufficient maize to make this beverage.
[lxv] Cited in an article written for Cultural Survival at the time of the World Bank loan for the construction of the BR364 in the Polonoroeste scheme (Price 1982a). After Fuerst spent some time in the main contacted village (he was unable to visit the other villages), he estimated a population of somewhere between fifty and a hundred.
[lxvi] The Latundê suffered a post-contact epidemic that in a sense was even worse. Less than a quarter of the Sararé population tallied by Price a few years prior eventually survived but not all knowledgeable adults perished.
[lxvii] As a FUNAI employee Santos did not discuss merits but asserted the need to intervene to avoid decimating the group (2000: 20). Although Carelli and Severiano generally denounce FUNAI accessory behavior, they agree that the action saved lives (1980: 12).
[lxviii] Moreover, Santos affirmed that the mythical origin of the Nambikwara for the Sararé lies within the Sararé region. He did not cite the myth or the place but this contributes to the same phenomenon (2000: 5).
[lxix] As mentioned above. As a last and concrete example, the dry season pest killed many people and domestic and wild animals in 1789-1790 in the region of the Serra do São Vicente (A. Rodrigues Ferreira, 1791, manuscript in Biblioteca Nacional, courtesy Dr. Caselli Anzai). That is, in the disputed mining area. The probability of contagion must have been quite high.
[lxx] Different peoples may have built up some differentiated knowledge. The problem of interpreting epidemics was solved after contact by attributing poisoning to the Whites and thus separating this epidemic from the Hatasu; the compartmentalizing between two domains of illness also preserves the Indigenous theory and practice.
[lxxi] One of these groups, the Central Valley Manairisu, passed through the Sararé village and that caused some tense relations. According to the story, they even boasted that they eat people (and the Sararé apparently believed the claim). Despite the numerical inferiority, the Sararé, who are very skilled in war, killed one man of the other group on the way back. In other conflicts with other groups they also consider themselves as invincible victors.
[lxxii] Price estimated the effects after contact, but as noted repeatedly, there was unofficial contact for years and the Indians suffered greatly from this.
[lxxiii] The narrative quoted is from a man of the post-contact generations. Note that he too observed that the elders did not tell much about these stories owing to the sadness inherent in such memories. The narrator is one of the better speakers of Portuguese in the Territory. For example, speaking about the different villages he remarked on the nature of the distinction as being one of etnias, ethnic groups (a scholarly term rare among Indians). This classification concurs with the discussion above about the conception of peoples and villages.
[lxxiv] They present themselves as teachers and restrict, but do not eliminate, evangelization. The booklet celebrating the missionary’s activity is a bit incorrect in asserting that the current couple are linguists and trumpeting their attempt to learn the Nambikwara language (and translate the Bible). Despite their efforts to learn the language, they only have a basic vocabulary. They did not present themselves to me as linguists or scholars (and they downplayed the missionary status and stressed their role as teachers to Borella).
[lxxv] Price also thought the Northern Nambikwara of Marco Rondon and Seringal do Faustino were eager to move, although some testimonies I heard suggest otherwise.
[lxxvi] This is the same minister who asserted in arrogant ethnocentric tranquility that a few Indians must not impede progress and must accept the benefits of assimilation.
[lxxvii] One lawyer did observe that the Interior Minister ordered a faster Indian integration into the national community (usually a legal phrase misunderstood as a brief for forced assimilation). This, in his opinion, was incompatible with the conservationist intent of the untouched nature for the reserved land of the ranches. And locating the Indians in these areas would produce an unwanted effect: it would keep them in a position of eternal dependency on nature. It seems, therefore, someone in Brasilia considered himself not to be dependent anymore on nature. The concomitant stereotype of fragility of Indian mode of subsistence and the negative connotation continue today.
[lxxviii] Price visited the place for less than a day and since his Nambikwara was rusty and of a slightly different Campo dialect, he could not verify his information. If we add up the numbers it is quite possible that the total population did not add up to the latest census. Still, not having plummeted to a lower level indicates a platform from which the group may recover. On the positive side, the persistence of the Indian agent in the Guaporé Valley produced a 2.1% growth between 1975-9. Unfortunately, the infant mortality rate and that of youth were both very high. As he does not specify the figures for each local group it is unclear if and how the Sararé are included in these figures (Price und.: 7).
[lxxix] They do point out the inconsistency of leaving out the airstrip and adjacent village from this reduced version. This suggests that no profound study preceded the selection of this area. After Price, FUNAI apparently abandoned the relocation projects and acted to reduce the prior total to slightly over 10% of the original terrain.
[lxxx] Reducing the northern neighbors (Hahaintesu), for example, to 22,000 ha wedged in between one fazenda of 100,000 ha and three fazendas of 400,000 ha (Carelli and Severiano 1980: 20).
[lxxxi] In 1982 the population distributed over three villages was 43 and in 1985 it was 55. One group was at the Post, and the other two were nearby, the tendency to live with one’s own group reasserted itself. One of the outside villages was led by the elder of the Waterfall People later residing in the mountains (Torres 1986).
[lxxxii] Other factors may interfere, for instance a wish not to contradict the Indians. In the case of the young missionary couple, for example, who felt worried about the political dependency created by their authorization to stay in the village by the Indians and only later attempted to introduce a balanced exchange (in national terms), i.e. the fair worth of an item on the national market.
[lxxxiii] A town like Comodoro, a recently emancipated municipality, is notorious for the fact it does not lie on forested land and still continues to be economically viable because of timber.
[lxxxiv] When speaking of the old Kwaza woman who wandered in the forest on long treks around Chupinguaia, the Aikaná commented about these Indians that they thought the forest would never end.
[lxxxv] Vincent Carelli made a video “Boca Livre Sararé” (CTI, São Paulo), translated as “”Sararé Free Lunch” in which he documented the situation and its tensions.
[lxxxvi] The association was conceived by one of the agents who initiated their labor with Price. This employee occupied a post high in the bureaucratic hierarchy and this let him dedicate special attention to the Sararé. This is temporary and it highlights how much of the historical situation of a people depends on the political vicissitudes and not on any consistent agency policy.