Allegories Of Wildness ~ Documentary Ethnohistory: The Convolutions Of The Right To Territory
Preliminary general framework
This Part is founded on field research completed among the Latundê as well as archived documents available at the headquarters of the Brazilian government’s Indian affairs bureau, FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio), in Brasília[i]. FUNAI is the nominal institutional caretaker and protector of Indian peoples and their legal rights. It is the successor to the corrupt Indian Protection Service (known as SPI, Serviço de Proteção ao Índio). The new institution renewed the Indian policy[ii] previously in practice. Despite the good intentions of many of its employees, the official policy towards the Indian peoples has always been profoundly ethnocentric. Essentially, it views the Indians as being early evolutionary remnants and so is justified in civilizing them. Thus, aside from similarities in the bureaucratic structure and even the staff, FUNAI maintains significant ideological similarities with SPI. Moreover, in its role as the legal ward of the Indians, the organization has always been involved in a structural quagmire; it must perform its legal duties in favor of the protected while diplomatically dealing with the many opposing local and regional interests with strong political influence. Juggling these two rival concerns characterize FUNAI’s unique place in the bureaucracy within the Interior Ministry and, even today, after relocation within the Ministry of Justice.
From the beginning FUNAI’s general and wide-ranging subordination to government policies is noteworthy. During the 1970s, the legal problems of the crooked SPI and a public image tainted with massacres (such as that suffered by the Cinta Larga, northern neighbors to the Northern Nambikwara) resulted in a new legal precedent, Law 6001, known more generally as the Estatuto do Índio (1973). In the zenith of the military dictatorship, the political and civil elite pretended to demonstrate a degree of civilization and respect for certain human rights with a relatively advanced law. The government sought to exhibit its pretensions of being the defense to Western Christian civilization in a world polarized by the cold war and plagued by various armed leftist movements, contending for what they thought was a historic possibility to liberate the Brazilian people. Of course, the ‘humanistic’ or humane treatment proposed depended largely on this self image that had been particularly debated in regards to the Indian question by civil movements in the Western countries. The image projected abroad was fundamental in drawing up the terms of the law that contained the expected principles regarding the relentless course of the evolution of mankind, a philosophy supported by a number of culturalist and assimilationist anthro-pological concepts in the 1950s, theories that emphasized culture over domination and accordingly tended to predict that the Indian peoples assimilate. Ironically this movement employed some of the ideas of Darcy Ribeiro, a famous anthropologist persecuted for his political activities by the same military regime. Even so, the law extended some measure of legal protection to Indian peoples and their respective rights to land, culture and language.
In Brazil, as in many other countries, the existence of written legal rights does not guarantee their practice. On paper the law appears as a perfectly reasonable protection for peoples absolutely unequipped to deal with the scale and manner of assault they were about to suffer. In practice, however, the unofficial ideology of the vast majority of military and civil servant elite considered the Indian problem a minor and generally insignificant issue when compared to the countries’ social and economic problems. Consequently, Indian interests were habitually completely subordinated to the state, sacrificed to the higher aims of socioeconomic development. In addition, there was the menace they represented as autonomous peoples, termed ethnic enclaves in the military national security doctrine prevalent at the time [iii]. In a sense there was a shift in one of the key issues at hand; the Indian problem is not the Indian’s problem. Actually, in a way it is an issue for the ethnic majority, a White problem. This problem was brought to the Indians by the intrusive expansion of Brazilian society, an expansion that claimed their land and bodies as a natural eternal part of the state. This expansion sought to dissolve their ethnic difference with the common nation-state mantra of “one state, one nation, one people and one language”. The state symbolically expropriated their autonomy, and consequently, especially their political independence. It is no coincidence that even the progressive 1988 Constitution has no mention of indigenous peoples but opts for terms like indigenous communities. By means of laws originally totally irrelevant to native peoples, those designated as Indians became Brazilian via the encompassing state. They were and are subject to state action that would transform them in accordance with the nationalist imagination. In this sense, the conquest that begun in 1500 still continues forcefully in the persistence of the process of symbolic violence, subordination and exploitation of Indian peoples and their natural resources.
In this long history, the state protection agency started out as the government intermediary whose function was to bring the Indians into the fold of Brazilian nationhood with the humanistic concern of saving their lives but not their culture or identity. In the beginning, this Service also dealt with the settlement of national rural laborers and the two areas of concern were very closely related. The aim of civilizing the uncivilized is the same for both the Brazil’s laborers and the agency’s Indians, and even more so with the predicted destiny of the Indian’s transformation into civilized national laborers. As such, not much has changed since its foundation in 1910 and the actions of the Rondon Commission that first penetrated the region of the Nambikwara and its neighbors around the same time. Strategic geopolitics inspired the incorporation of this largely untouched region and Rondon proudly proclaimed his aim to be turning the unused, maybe even unspoiled, and practically untouched savanna and jungle and its innocent inhabitants into productive economic national assets [iv]. A number of Nambikwara peoples and local groups in the northern and northeastern part of their original territory entered into strenuous but relatively untroubled relations with the telegraph builders and the personnel that operated the various stations, despite some violence and a few deaths. It is clear that the Sabanê entered into these relations sometime after the construction of the telegraph line, as Lévi-Strauss mentioned them in his famous journey along this route in the 1930s. Among the northern local groups, the same author speaks of an alliance of this group with a group of speakers of another northern language, the Tarundê, while staying in Vilhena (see Part II). There is no mention by any author of this period that identifies the Latundê as one of the peoples or groups in the northernmost part of the extensive area formerly held by the Northern Nambikwara cluster until their pacification in the 1970s. The Sararé, being located in the southernmost tip of the Guaporé Valley have a lengthy historical record but only in the 1960s civilization strongly shaped their destiny (see Part III).
The type of Indian relations, the particularities of their subjugation and the historical results of the process for these different peoples depends largely on the sociocultural attitudes of the Indian peoples at the time of contact and the historical phase of the socioeconomic dynamics of the Brazilian conquest of Brazilian territory. To some degree, the policies of related official governmental agencies effected crucial phases of initial contact and settlement [v]. Hence, it is significant that contact with the Latundê happened in the mid-1970s, after the initial construction of the road from Cuiabá to Porto Velho, known notoriously as the BR364. Despite being merely a dirt road, its official opening in 1960-1961 caused an immediate and steadily increasing influx of settlers with diverse intentions united by the general goal of ‘making a new life’. The major policy makers and participant institutions, however, did not reckon that the majority of these people would be poor peasants venturing north to escape the closed agricultural situation in the southern states[vi]. In this sense, a significant part of the influx consisted of socioeconomically undesirable migrants. The government’s explicit and implicit aims involved the public goal of what is best described as a magical idea of development during the Brazilian miracle (the period of strong economic growth). Growth and development were considered nearly synonymous and beneficial by definition to all society. The internal migration was meant to skim off the excess population in northeastern Brazil by funneling people into the empty spaces of unexploited lands in the Amazon and in so doing avoid the agrarian reform in Northeast Brazil. Simultaneously, there was the strategic military objective of occupying the frontiers with real Brazilians to achieve nationalistic objectives and validate the popular slogan Amazonia is ours. In reality, aside from these overt and covert aims, numerous federal incentives like fiscal exemption and development subsidies always benefited powerful commercial and industrial interests of large firms, even including transnational enterprises like Volkswagen.
The state elaborated various development plans. Firstly, there was the National Integration Plan of 1970 and later other national and regional plans that affected the Nambikwara like the Polonoroeste (literally Northwestern Pole). A name, as Price already noted, that marks southeast Brazil as the sociopolitical and economic center that commands the overall perspective. The National Integration Plan was intended as a foundation to implement what was referred to as the rational occupation of Amazonia. The purported rationality of the planning board was severely alienated by the actual workings of regional bureaucracy, enmeshed as they were with the private business elite. The latter profited without any scruples from the federal government’s economic incentives and from the dynamic situation created by the influx of incoming peasants. The landless poor, small-scale entrepreneurs, and other interested people all set out to make their fortune. Many impoverished and homeless citizens migrated in the hope of eking out a new existence. Although this assorted mixture of social classes occasionally and partially cooperated, they also tended to compete amongst themselves for the natural resources that became increasingly accessible by the state’s construction of the infrastructure, and especially roads. In this way, the Plan resulted in a frontier situation full of conflicts and sporadic violence that were often outside the control of the state and its agencies. The government still attempted to discipline some of the actions undertaken by those occupying the interior in the name of the magic of economic progress. FUNAI mainly played a shameful and subordinate role in the government effort to control events, except for a brief period and a few respectable actions. At this time, the Nambikwara found themselves, in the words of Price (1989b), Before the bulldozer. In short, they were shoved aside to make way for the self-proclaimed miracle (as Davis emphasized in Victims of the Miracle; the miracle refers to rapid economic growth). The Nambikwara peoples figure prominently among the principal victims.
The name of the Nambikwara once again reached international fame as the prototypical innocent victims of what some Brazilian oppositional circles referred to as savage capitalism. Having first reached fame in Brazil as being the primary subjects of the humanistic approach of Rondon (around 1910), they attained international recognition as the prime example of primitiveness in a study by Lévi-Strauss (1955)[vii]. All instances of temporary fame concern the notion of a general encompassing idea of Nambikwara with little attention to internal differences between the diverging and converging destinies of the numerous components of the Nambikwara ensemble. No one had heard of the independent Latundê until the mid-1970s. Documentation in the FUNAI archives from that period that pertain to the process of the demarcation of the Latundê territory confirms this in how they attached so little importance to some crucial issues. Additionally, compared to the absolutely shameful treatment suffered by certain Nambikwara of the Guaporé Valley, there was little attention given to this case owing to the apparently relatively smooth solution: namely their pacification and the demarcation of their lands. To a very important extent ignored by both FUNAI and SPI, the Latundê received almost no recognition and public attention. Yet, this case is representative of some aspects of the general Indian policy implemented at the time. A number of pertinent documents probably disappeared and were never archived. Thankfully, the existent documents are sufficient to reconstruct a general overview of what was happening. These bureaucratic remnants follow the demarcation process from the beginning to its end and provide a rare view of the agency’s inner workings. To my knowledge, no similar case analysis for this period exists for Amazonia (for the special case of the Xingu, see Menezes 2000).
Furthermore, an exploration of a case like this not only demonstrates the particularities of a specific process but also shows commonalities in the way the bureaucracy generally dealt with the implementation of the legally guaranteed right to demarcation as shown by Almeida and Oliveira (1998) [viii]. A good example of more general implications of the administrative protocol is obvious in the name of the file “Tubarão/Latundê territory”[ix]. According to this title, the Latundê area links directly to that of the Tubarão Indians (now usually known as the Aikaná). In fact, the Latundê are the only members of the Nambikwara people whose land demarcation directly relates to that of another Indian people (excluding the special case of Utiariti where the area originally derives from a Post of the Telegraph Line; that is, this area dates from another era of interethnic relations and the settlement later became a religious mission that attracted several groups of different peoples to this Paresi territory). The combination of these two peoples in one area appears in all of the recent general surveys, the small Sabanê presence is often noted too. The combination of names is found broadly in a variety of works and surveys. Looking specifically at those from the Instituto Socioambiental, an agency responsible for thorough summaries of each indigenous area, this particular Indigenous Territory is always considered to belong both to the Tubarão and to the Latundê. Such an exceptional situation needs an explanation by means of its bureaucratic history. In other words, the relevant dossier that explains how this irregular situation arose must be explored in the following sections.
The first documents: a sluggish ethnocentric and bureaucratic approach
The official classification and recognition of the people known as an Indian group, once unknown to the state bureaucracy, is fairly well documented in the archive. Prior to this, however, the small village must have had a history of contact as they were one of the peoples that originally occupied territory in the region of the upper Pimenta Bueno River. Their history is intertwined with the former frontiers of expansion into Amazonia (here referring to the Amazons as the region drained by the rivers of the Amazon basin). The Nambikwara peoples lived in Amazonia but in a transitional region from the savannas of Central Brazil to the real Amazon forest. Practically all of the peoples of the Nambikwara ensemble preferred to live in the savanna and used the forests for growing food and the production of other goods. Unfortunately for them, wherever there was a sufficient number of rubber trees (as in Rondônia, the northern part of the Guaporé Valley and along the rivers on the Parecis Plateau), their presence encumbered the interests of the intruding national frontiers. The early history of Rondônia involves mainly the expansion in search of rubber and the carving out of seringais, the large properties used to exploit rubber trees. In this particular case, the owner practiced a system of extracting rubber from rubber trees with the help of a subaltern workforce maintained through a particular form of domination. The owner shaped his domination by channeling all products and merchandise through the notorious barracão (the only central trading post dominated by the owner or his foreman) and the debt for the worker this control created. Many Indian peoples of this region, where not simply exterminated or expelled from their lands, were forced to work along the rubber roads. They produced the primary raw material and bought industrialized merchandise. When the exploitation reached its peak in a time of high rubber prices, owners even imported basic foods. This particular mode of domination and exploitation civilized many Indians on their own lands. Among these, the Paresi preceded the Nambikwara do Campo in being forced to accept an alliance with the rubber tappers penetrating their lands either from the lower rivers north of their territory or from the direction of Cuiabá.
In the 1930s, the Tubarão Indians were similarly required to use their own natural resources to benefit the new owners and intermediaries in the rubber trade. The self-proclaimed owners abused the subjugated Indian peoples as laborers on their own land, territory which was previously autonomous. In spite of the considerable period of contact with the regional society and SPI’s documented knowledge of the Tubarão’s existence in the forties (as reported in the writings of Dequech), the official agency ignored the peoples of the upper Pimento River several decades later. They made their reappearance in the bureaucratic record in a small number of documents sent to Nogueira’s[x] Eighth Regional Administration of FUNAI in Porto Velho by Cerqueira, the substitute administrator of the Aripuanã Indian Park. Cerqueira explicitly requested that these documents be forwarded to Brasília for consideration by the Agency’s president. The first page of the Tubarão-Latundê dossier, dated June 28, 1976, concerns the reports of new Indians. The second document is a copy of a telegram, apparently written by this same person. According to the contents, in April Nogueira already had some crucial information on the subject and requested an employee to visit the area to establish the truth of what remains unsubstantiated information:
226/8a. DR at 13.04.76. to inform. claim existence of civilized Indians. municipality of Pimenta Bueno Tubarões tribes consisting of 12 families totaling 52 people. the Tubarões were born right bank of [who travels upstream the]… Pimenta River. INCRA reserved [land] in the same direction as maloca Indians were born.[On the] left bank. soils not apt for agriculture. would like esteemed partner determine trip sertanista Benamour certify veracity fact. as well as quantity area reserved Indians by INCRA. SDS 8a. DR[xi].
A closer examination of the passage above is informative. The Aripuanã Park was inhabited by Indian peoples only recently pacified and was home to what were popularly known as uncivilized Indians. The northern neighbors of the Nambikwara ensemble became known as Cinta Larga (Large Belt) because of their conspicuous attire. This people is one of the Tupi-Mondé peoples from Rondônia. It is noteworthy that these Indians believe that they established contact and pacified the Whites and not the other way around, as is the usually unquestioned assumption of their role as the initiator and conductor of pacification[xii]. The expression civilized Indians typifies the evolutionary and integrationalist ideology in the discourse as well as the predictions of the Indian’s future made by the very employees responsible for their protection and well-being. Another interesting feature of the telegram concerns the use of the plural to name these tribes. This kind of generalization is not uncommon, although admittedly in this instance only one name is given, the pluralized Tubarões; that is, literally translated into English, Sharks. Still the information itself is precise because the group really lived near the Pimenta Bueno River margin, to the south of their present location, in the interior. These people were transferred to lands with inferior soil quality as mandated by another government agency, INCRA (an acronym for the “National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform”). The mission of this agency was the settlement of peasants and others by means of colonization projects.
From the very start, it was known that the Indians had been relocated away from their original homelands and into a region that was not only unfamiliar, but one that also significantly less fertile. Being noticeably in contact, the generic and generalizing qualification Indian applies to them with its leveling force of being their first and foremost identifying label, an identifier which they must have learned to be by now. Of course, it is as Indian that the Brazilian society and state classifies all these peoples, disregarding their profound specificities and differences, subjecting all of them to a simplistic template of what an Indian should be, do and appear. It is the characteristic of Indians that prompted Cerqueira, the park administrator, to send a letter to INCRA on May 6, 1976 to clarify the information of his superior administration that this agency “(…) penetrated this area obliging these Indians to move to the left bank of this river where the land is infertile (…)”. On June 4, 1976, the executive officer Silva[xiii] responded not by answering the implicit accusation but by highlighting his own administrative problems:
“The INCRA selection processed lands with the name of Gleba Corumbiara, gleba [a unit of land] which is divided into 12 sectors.
In sector 11 of this gleba, is an Indian tribe called Tubarão, situated at the immediacies of the Pimenta Bueno river at its right bank, headwaters of the Mutuca and Chupinguaia rivers.
The winners of the selection process of the parcels located in the proximity of the referred tribe, are having difficulties in penetrating this area, because of the existence of the tribe ”.
These rather confusing remarks underscore how INCRA planned the parcels of the land on the map and refers to the way the land was allotted to new owners. In one of the sectors of the INCRA project they encountered the Tubarão. Silva attached a map to this prejudiced letter regarding the colonization project Corumbiara and provides a very biased depiction. There is no mention of how the Indians arrived in the first place. Their presence is only relevant in that they are implicitly an obstacle to legal and legitimate parcel owners. There is no indication of a solution, nor is there any proposal for action. In a letter also dated June 4, 1976, Cerqueira reacted immediately and correctly. He sent a letter in which he cited law 6001, known as the Estatuto do Índio, with the relevant passages underlined to make absolutely clear that he has the law on his side. He noted that sector 11 cannot be exploited by the civilizados and requests the other agencies’ assistance in order to stop the penetration until further elucidation by FUNAI.
Ten days later, interpreting the former request of verification as a brief for designating an auxiliary agent of the Frente de Atração (literally an “Attraction Front” to attract the wild Indians), Sobrinho, with two Cinta Larga Indian interpreters to investigate the situation on a three day trip[xiv]. Written in a colloquial style, with somewhat truncated Portuguese, the message is comprised of only one page with two large paragraphs[xv]. Sobrinho’s document first simplified the situation by accusing the Whites of irregularities and of trying to leave the Indians:
“(…) abandoned, on the bad lands [consisting of] an area totally of sand. The Tubarões Indians whose chief Cuíra asks the authorities to do some things for them, such as obtain an area of better lands for them in order to survive on agriculture and rubber production. Also they can produce on the lands on which they were raised [region from where they came] for they find themselves pressed on by those who say they is owner of the best lands in the region, and they have been left with little land [land that is] moreover bad”.
The last rather cryptic aside could mean that the Indians petitioned to return to their former lands. Nevertheless, only the necessity of gaining access to better soils is clear. Also note that rubber collecting is one of the reasons for this appeal, the already well-established need of industrialized goods must be satisfied with a clear articulation to the encompassing economic system via a saleable product. Clearly, they already have a constant relation to the embracive capitalist economy and are at least somewhat reliant on an income to buy commodities. After stating the necessity of some solution, Sobrinho also mentioned that other requests are being made, such as that of a school. He adds, in obvious agreement to what his superiors would want to hear, that such facilities help the Indians in their development. Counting 12 families and 49 people in the Indian group, he then proceeded to mention some land owners “(…) that are occupants of the lands in the indigenous area”. It is remarkable, that without any kind of explanation Sobrinho presumed the existence of a local indigenous territory of known limits that permits him to declare nearby landowners to be invaders on Indian lands. Once again, the prior actual territory of the Indians is not mentioned, though the next paragraph cites the Indians as being well accustomed to work and production, collecting rubber and cultivating the land at the margins of the Pimenta River. Then, with no clear transition, the author returns to the complaints of bad soils and the consequent lack of certain crops. Mentioning the Indian’s high productivity is an implicit praise by Sobrinho, as one of the other aims of his agency is to turn the Indian into a well-trained producer who shuns what was understood to be laziness or apathy.
Returning to the document above, the location of Sobrinho’s visit, though somewhere on the northern margin of the Pimenta River, certainly is not close to its edges but actually on its tributary, the Chupinguaia. This confusion inhibits a clear notion of were the Indians came from and encourages the notion of reserving land close to where they live and stimulating their progress right there. Next, Sobrinho described the other part of his trip:
“I learned from the Tubarão Tribe chief, that at a distance of 24 km there was a Tribe of unknown Indians who he did not understand the dialect of these Indians, who all walk around naked and sleep on the ground, there are two huts housing 22 Indians, the Tubarões say that they went over there and when they arrived were greeted with bows and arrows drawn, but that afterwards all went well and that at a distant corner they sighted about nine more huts. The next day I traveled with my companions towards the Tribe to learn more; when we were 4 km away from the village, I saw many indications [of Indians] but as I did not bring presents nor security and few people I made up my mind to turn back from there. And in this area everything has been demarcated by the civilized people and the Tubarões Indians say that they helped doing the work of demarcation to earn money for their livelihood, during my trip I saw all of the lands of the Tubarões Indians indigenous areas and those of the unknown wild Indians. Here I hope that the competent authorities have a solution in favor of the Indians.”
Sobrinho finished the report in the style of lower class Brazilians with an appeal to the authorities. Clearly, these socially hierarchic superiors operate on a level very distant from his. In that sense, the quality of its labor has always been a problem for FUNAI and the sending of this employee on a relatively significant mission demonstrates one of its permanent limitations. The report contains some important information on the Tubarão and, for the first time, it mentions the wild Indians that the tame Indians had visited. Today we know that they are the Indians currently known as Latundê. The Tubarão passed on several relevant points that characterize these then unknown Indians. First, they had their own dialect (as Indian languages are often classified derogatorily); also they were naked. This is an indication that they have not yet been contacted, as the first thing the civilized want uncontacted Indians to do is to put on clothes. Without clothes the group epitomizes wildness (brabo, in contrast to the neighbors who are called manso, meaning tame). This group is reported to sleep on the ground, a most remarkable distinguishing habit that diacritically characterizes the Nambikwara ensemble (in fact, the Cinta Larga and the Paresi refer to them as those who sleep on the ground[xvi]). The existence of two huts housing 22 people shows that the visit included the village site and a fair notion of the total population. Such information proves that the ‘domesticated Indians’ really had already made contact, succeeded in establishing a peaceful relationship and, being careful observers, accurately described the group. It was clear that this group was not very friendly to outsiders and harbored some mistrust.
Despite the danger, Sobrinho decided to see for himself. He may have believed that this was a good decision that surpassed the mission of his endeavor, if interpreted in the narrow sense of a reconnaissance of only the Tubarão. His initiative to visit the area and ascertain the presence of these wild Indians certified their presence and verified the dangerous encroachment of the landowners that INCRA considered to be taking legitimate possession. On the other hand, though contact had been established before, Sobrinho did not exceed his instructions and initiate his own contact. The main reason is a complete adherence to the normal model of attraction and pacification (not coincidentally the work he was accustomed to, namely being an assistant to a sertanista): no presents, no security and few people. Due to his experience at a similar front, he already was socialized towards a paradigm of how the agency should and, ideally, always would approach isolated Indian groups. In his report, there is no mention of any gifts given by the Tubarão to the unknown Indians, nor any other type of exchange of material items. It is safe to assume that a group of men at work at demarcating an unknown area did not encumber themselves with such stuff and certainly were unprepared to give presents. Therefore, the gifts were not always immediately essential to the establishment of a peaceful relation, although, certainly, an exchange of gifts furthers goodwill and is a customary means of initiating and maintaining an alliance in these situations. FUNAI officials, by comparison, believe that without presents, security (which apparently means being sufficiently armed) and more people, they cannot approach the Indians. The template derives from the prior paradigm of Rondon’s way of attraction that was the trademark of the SPI. In fact, his pacification of the Nambikwara at the time of the penetration of the telegraph line is sometimes considered a classical realization of this model in action, especially as the primitive Nambikwara resisted what is known as easy approaches[xvii].
On June 25, 1976, the substitute administrator Cerqueira, the superior to whom the visitor reported his findings, summarized the results and added to them by questioning the field agent in an account to his superior in Porto Velho. A visit of the chief Cuirá also provides further information that was relayed to regional headquarters. This reveals the substitute administrator’s interest in learning some basic parameters about the previously unknown Tubarão Indians. First, there was the matter of language identification. As it was unidentified by the Cinta Larga, Cerqueira was uncertain save for some vague indications that the language belongs to a branch of the Massacá. They were already semi-civilized Indians and the employee’s testimony was used to testify to the dialect spoken in daily life. The fact that the Tubarão Indians live in wooden houses and consume food bought with money they earn with rubber tapping and clearing lands for Brazilian landowners confirms their semi-civilized state. The daily use of the Indian language is used despite the intermediate social state they are in. As if by virtue of being semi-civilized, this language should be on the road to extinction. Then, still citing comments by the witness, Cerqueira claimed that they had a good appearance, apparently asserting that these people look healthy and physically similar to the image of what phenotipically constitutes an Indian .Language and physical description enter the report as distinctive features that legitimize the classification of Indian in spite of certain other factors (such as their clothing and Portuguese ability, and their permanent relation to the surrounding Whites). After their discussion comes the subsequent examination of what these characteristics permit FUNAI to conclude about the type of Indian encountered, point 3a, not coincidentally the longest paragraph of this document.
Next in Cerqueira’s report, Cuirá’s narration described how the group was removed from their prior area by INCRA’s selection of their lands, an imposition that forced them to relocate to the headwaters of the Chupinguaia River. Once more, although the withdrawal is accepted and mentioned as a cause of contemporary hardships, no clear localization of the original lands is provided. This tuxaua (the Amazonian equivalent of the cacique, or chief) Cuirá, informed that his people suffered from various contagious diseases and their population dropped from 242 to 49 people[xviii]. The next item refers to the other tribe, expanding on the previous knowledge of the discernible distinctive features mentioned before: “(…)[there is] another tribe of which they do not know their origin, these Indians live in huts, sleep on the ground and have dark skin. They already tried an approach to this group by which they were received with arrows in hand. However, lately, an elderly Indian with two boys, is coming to his house and stays a few days before returning again. This tribe is composed of 9 (nine) huts and situated at the headwaters of the Mituca river, as shown on the map annexed”. The Nambikwara in general, and the Latundê in particular, are dark skinned in comparison to the other neighboring Indians. This is evident in the photographs published in Lévi-Strauss’ Tristes Tropiques (1984; photos appear only in the hardcover edition). Their physical characteristics make them stand out from the usual model expected of the Indian and distinguish them from the Tubarão. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that this alliance fostered a friendly alliance such that one probably senior member of the unknown group regularly visited the other Indians. The visits prove that the relation between the two tribes was more intimate than the single visit mentioned in the former report suggested. The groups apparently demonstrated a certain limited trust, considering the few persons involved and the conspicuous absence of women in a relatively steady relationship. The omission of any mention of a counter visit and of a stay of one of the settled Indians with the wild Indians probably both reflects the tension inherent in the previous visit and signals the likely superior feelings instilled by their absorption of the White ideology and the dichotomy of wildness and civilization. Nevertheless, a minimal, albeit fragile, alliance existed before any official action.
The rest of Cerqueira’s deals with the Tubarão and the proposals and actions taken to start resolving their most relevant problems. The next item (d) raises again the issue of the abandonment of superior land for land with poor soil. There is no mention of the original habitat. This loss obliges the Indians to work for greedy rubber patrons and landowners and that leads to the prediction that the coming White advance (item e) will reduce them to a landless workforce. Point 4 relates that Cuirá, using the coordinates from INCRA’s map, proposes that FUNAI reserve an area for the Indians. INCRA created a map using a quadrangular projection of delineated blocks, circumscribing plots on the map that are totally oblivious of the realities of the terrain[xix]. The claimed area contains some fertile soil and plainly, it is suggested, attends to their needs. This very concrete proposal surfaces as Cuirá’s initiative in order to maintain the survival of his group and in the future of his unknown brothers. There are several interesting points regarding the short paragraphs dealing with the proposal. One notable feature concerns the apparently complete acceptance of the leadership role exercised by this particular Indian. Not a word arises about his legitimacy as a leader authorized to advance a proposal so vital to his group. Nothing is written about any other sort of wider consultation with the group members. Such conduct is an indication of the general tendency of FUNAI employees to always seek the leader and to rely heavily on this intermediary chief as the unquestionably legitimate spokesman for the entire group. No explanation is given on this subject except that the chief had succeeded his father in this role. There is no clarification offered on the justification of this particular area and of the method of delimiting its perimeters.
Secondly, when studying the map and the areas plotted on it that denote the presumed locations of the present and prior territory of both settled and unknown Indians, one observes that the contemporary location of the Aikaná village and part of the huts of the unknown Indians are outside of the fertile area. What is interesting is that the proposal extends to an area on both sides of the Pimenta River; the major part is on the southern bank, contrary to the current Indigenous Territory entirely on the opposite one. Curiously, their former lands also fall outside of what one might call the ‘fertile subdivision’ (within the Corumbiara Project the lands are classified by soil quality) comprising 60 parcels of 2000 ha (totaling 120,000 ha). The rest of the proposed areas are in the segment classified on INCRA’s map as infertile, consisting of 40 plots, totaling 80,000 ha. The grand total amounts to 200,000 ha. By comparison, the entire Gleba Corumbiara extends from Vilhena to the town of Pimenta Bueno encompassing 547 plots of 2,000 ha and six of 1,000 ha. Thus, the total is 1,100,000 ha that are to be distributed under state guidance in the name of development. In the spirit of many similar government projects in the Amazons, this one too was planned in complete ignorance or with total disregard to Indigenous Territories. As for the proposal of reserving land for Indians within this enormous area, the reference in the previous item to our unknown brothers is intriguing, as such a term is very unlikely to have been used by Cuirá. To speak of the unknown people as brothers is something learned only after a prolonged contact with FUNAI or other similar Indian organizations. It therefore seems reasonable to understand this part of the proposal as the result of a dialogue between the FUNAI author, Cerqueira, and Cuirá. In this manner, a leader of the people then called Tubarão not only proposed a solution for all of his Indians but is supposed to magnanimously embrace his kin. In all likelihood, the administrator, someone who never even saw the region and armed with only information provided by Sobrinho who did not really explore the expanse occupied by these unknowns, parleyed with the Tubarão chief to include the neighboring wild tribe. The enormity of the responsibility of deciding to advance a proposal on such a crucial issue for both peoples (and an unknown third party) established on this fragile agreement is evident.
INCRA’s map also pretends to show the Tubarão’s ancestral land. If correct, this land represents part of the preexisting properties. This is the mechanism of recognizing previous land claims in the immense Gleba area, certainly not as completely devoid of occupants as commonly supposed. The INCRA map, dated July 10, 1976 that is attached to the FUNAI files reveals the plots in the vicinity of these properties are marked as having entered into the ownership selection process for occupants in 1972. Plots that were later demarcated as lands occupied by both Indian peoples consist of parcels to be distributed in January 1975 and of portions reserved for forest exploitation. The first encroachment by earlier properties probably removed the Tubarão from their homelands or expropriated their right to the land they used to live on; from 1975 onwards, after removal from the river, the pressure moved from their previous locations along the river to the new locations in the interior, possibly shortly before Sobrinho’s visit to the area. The presence of FUNAI and its supposed intermediations are rather late. Revealing a part of the contradictions of state interference, INCRA’s laconic answer demonstrates prior knowledge of the problem but the agency did not find it either necessary or convenient to involve its fellow federal bureaucratic institution. Perhaps, if a speculation grounded in currently prevalent stereotypes may be permitted, the responsible employees believed that some plots could be distributed to the Indians (civilized enough to be ‘equal’ to Brazilian peasants), or that their complete removal could be endorsed. The major and large-scale contradiction between state planning of colonization and protection of Indian lands expresses itself eloquently in this micro-level case. The size of the parcels to be auctioned and allotted to new owners highlights a program designed to benefit significant agrarian enterprises over the interests of peasantry. For example, a peasant family colonization project at the Transamazônica distributes plots of 100 ha[xx]. The lack of peasant family landholders at the Corumbiara Project contradicts the image of Rondônia as the region intended for family farm colonization. This was also true further to the north of the state in other similar huge colonization projects. State efforts to encourage the peasant economy later began privileging and financing wealthy landowners. Accordingly, middle-class investors and large capital also entered the sector.
In constantly losing their land, the Tubarão Indians suffered various setbacks during this crucial conjuncture. Point five of the document summary shows these social and economic constraints in a poignant example of how the wider reality affected the Indians in their local situation by virtue of the bewildering larger dynamic of unknown logic. First, the author employed a cliché that encodes the merit of the previous land claims:
“In order to provide some clarification, according to information by the employee Nogueira and area residents, this Indian group is highly disposed to work, as can be seen from the fact that the Indian Cuirá, jointly with his group, recently acquired a 1976 pick-up with the fruits of his labor, destined to transport rubber and get food in Pimenta Bueno”.
This short characterization reveals something quite relevant that remains implicit in the author’s descriptions of the Indian group’s image: the car provides transportation for rubber produced by his group. This property, however, is attributed to the chief and not the group. One may argue that this may be a figure of speech but it is likely that the chief actually was a kind of rubber patron to the group who are really also his clients. He seems to exploit the region they occupy as if it were a rubber extraction unit. Characteristically, Cerqueira mentioned the predisposition to hard work but leaves out the mode of articulation between the Indian labor force and the market economy. He also emphasized the merit of this quality but does not question how it arose or what role this Indian actually played. However, given that his significant role between the production of rubber and its sale on the market was a fact appreciated by FUNAI, the social reality implicitly portrayed does raise the question of the legitimacy of the Indian acting as a rubber patron. This raises many unanswered issues, most prominent among them is weighing the validity of Cuirá’s desire to remain in the present area versus his possible interest in returning to his ancestral land. Maybe FUNAI would prefer the Indians to stay where they are and support useful economic activities already underway.
Cerqueira’s first clear intervention in favor of the Indians is revealing. After the truck crashed, Cerqueira and Cuirá went to the town of Pimenta Bueno to enlist a mechanic’s help. The truck was the major part of the payment for the felling of 100,000 alqueires[xxi] of virgin forest made by a landowner from São Paulo called Doctor Marcelo. The title Doctor in this context is the sure sign of class distinction. As promised, Doctor Marcelo handed over the car, but personal investigation by Cerqueira revealed the papers remained in his hands and registered in his own name. Thus, by implication, the citizen Dr. Marcelo became suspected of some form of fraud. Perhaps he did not consider the Indian capable of owning cars and registering this kind of property in his own name. In any case, holding on to the papers denotes a form of social domination. The situation is paradigmatic in another sense: it is well known that the major impediment in the transformation of forest into pasture consists of the labor demands in felling the forest and the subsequent clearing the soil of this vegetation. For such a contract, the chief acts as an intermediary who represents the group in a manner analogous of the men who organize work gangs in Amazonia (a particularly notorious labor practice which often involves a kind of slavery by means of debt bondage). Again, Cuirá occupied a fundamental intermediary position in mediating the relationship between the Indians and the surrounding society. The job he offered involved a large area to be cleared and turned into pasture. It represents a single major opportunity for the Indians to participate in the local economic system. That also means their presence is useful when cattle ranches were commonly being created for wealthy landowners. Judging from comments made by Chupinguaia locals to me, the labor force was scarce at the time.
In this sense, the regional Indians helped the landowners outside of the immediate occupied areas[xxii]. After clearing the pastures and beginning the raising of cattle, the ranches’ economic activity demanded very little permanent labor. There was little use for a group of Indians proletarianized due to the lack of fertile land for their own gardens and crops. The Indians must have known these facts, and this might have even been a stimulus for Cuirá to request to stay and plead with FUNAI for access to fertile land. Other related factors, such as local ecological characteristics, may have entered into this equation, too. The region of Rondônia and especially its southern edge, where these Indian peoples lived is a transition forest between the full grown rain forests of central and western Amazonia and the drier savannas of central Brazil. In general, that means the absence of a homogeneous intermediate forest cover and a patchwork of denser forested land intermingled with cerradão, a low forest or dense tangle of high shrubs and small trees. Such diversity occurs in the desired area and actually justifies extension of the territory to the south, towards the river, to incorporate more fertile land and a denser forest. Moreover, Indian slash and burn horticultural practices require large areas because of the long periods of fallow between the first use and subsequent re-use and relies on the more fertile, forested areas. Satellite images verify that the landowners prefer to concentrate their pastures in exactly the same patches of dense forest[xxiii]. The ecological competition really existing between landowners and Indians is much more intense than it seems to be at first sight. The Indians again probably were quite aware of this fact. In contrast, the olympic ignorance of official planning went beyond matters concerning the terrain, and included a total lack of understanding of the climatic particularities of the region. In a stark difference from central Amazonia, the climate in Rondônia has a definite dry season and is subject to some comparably cold weather. Research as early as 1989 already showed a 15% loss of the vegetal cover in this state. This caused erosion, and severely affected the soil quality. Other influences on the local environment included concentration of land ownership and invasion of Indian and ecological reserves[xxiv].
Cerqueira probably considered the Indians to have been rather naive about the issue of the truck documents but found it unnecessary to comment clearly on this. At another time, Cerqueira described the Indians as simpleminded. Another regional inhabitant pretended to be Cuirá’s friend, he helped him sell rubber in Pimenta Bueno, and drank liberally on his tab. The FUNAI employee believed such behavior classified him as a useless citizen, unscrupulously benefiting from the good faith of the Indian. Still worse in Cerqueira’s view, the same man convinced the Indians to register births, marriages (already issued and he considered these documents illegal in consideration of Law 6001, which mandated that an official agency assist Indians in certain bureaucratic acts) and to apply for identity papers. The legally required assistance assigned by FUNAI was conspicuously absent because, as he writes: This fact was to benefit the pretensions of Incra because of disqualification of the condition of Indian of this group, as the whole of it has been registered with civilized names, Christian names and surnames. INCRA acted arrogantly in dealing with an enormous amount of land and the people on it just by itself, even if the Indians should legally be treated separately. Also, the general tenor of not qualifying for the juridical state of a real Indian signifies being treated merely as members of the largely powerless lower class. This results from the stereotype common among the Brazilian middle class that the Indians should accept being transformed into normal citizens and that any Indian not conforming to the template of the wild Indian (naked, innocent, and savage) becomes less Indian, and so is on the road to assimilation. In itself, the idea of any privilege to these inferior people from the Stone Age, like granting land rights, often causes abhorrence among people at the frontier and affronts their belief in a magical notion of development. At the same time, the author appears to agree with such a notion of disqualification because he certainly does not seem to dispute the idea in itself but only the consequences.
Naturally, merely having national identification papers does not signify assimilation and, inversely, it should assist in loosening the constraints which those without identity documents experience in a bureaucratic society. In absolutely no way incompatible with being Indian, this is a double bind situation where being a wild savage brings about one type of stigma and being too civilized causes another. Civilizing oneself does not dissolve prejudice, it merely changes to a related and different constellation of stereotypes[xxv]. It goes without saying that more profound knowledge about the national society, as the very same case exemplifies, functions as a precondition for the constitution of the Indian as a more active agent and less a passive victim of circumstance. Or, maybe better, the Indian becomes a more informed actor, someone capable of formulating a better strategy to act on the sociocultural constraints of the dominant society. In effect, INCRA’s proposal regarding the Indigenous Territory applied the coordinate grid blindly from above. In drafting the proposal in the same logic, the chief turns it against the very bureaucracy that invented the application of the geometric topological squares of the colonization project. This subverted the use of the coordinates supplied by the state in an enormous Project conceived to support the appropriation of land by higher class landowners and their agrarian capitalist enterprise. This project mostly disregarded the previous occupation by seringais and dispersed rubber tappers (as was done at the town that became Chupinguaia), implemented in the period when the state turned away from the publicized colonization of family agriculture. In this sense, the Indians’ proposal for their own land not only totalizes quite a large area but one easily identifiable, visible on the map and immediately grasped by the same bureaucrats. Regardless of Cuirá’s intention or his understanding of his political role and comprehension of regional and national society, the demand does not seem to be made by a naïve or an innocent Indian. Both competence and intelligence of the lowly subaltern tend to be underestimated by the civilized[xxvi]. Cerqueira’s worry regarding INCRA plainly justifies itself when one considers INCRA’s role. This agency controlled land distribution for nearly the entire state[xxvii]. This highlights the ironies associated with using its own system of unambiguous land coordinates to visualize the limits of an area otherwise not easily expressible in such clear geographic limits (after all, the Indian and regional names of local places are quite unknown).
The bureaucratic road to recognition of an Indigenous Territory
An analysis of the initial documents, which marked the beginning of FUNAI’s knowledge of these Indians, reveals details about how the case was dealt with. The bureaucratic response ranged from a prompt reaction at a higher level to salvage Indian interests, to a hasty method of defining Indian territory with disregard for particulars of the Indian’s situation. This paperwork by the Regional Administration in Porto Velho, 8th DR was forwarded along in accordance with a reminder by Cerqueira at the end of his report that the FUNAI president ordered the dossier sent to him. The accompanying note by the Delegado of the 8th DR refers to one of the Indians in the annexed photograph as Massacá. This seems odd considering prior linguistic consideration. Three other men are the chief, his father and a Dr. Salustiano. The picture of these four men on a tractor shows a White man driving with the oldest Indian sitting beside him and serves as definitive proof of their existence and their socioeconomic subordination as laborers clearing land for development by an outsider. This material definitely had an effect on the responsible employee on July 6, 1976. The regional FUNAI delegate, head of the regional office, expressed his impression of the way the civilized “(…) try to maltreat [and] exploit…the Indians that live innocently [and who are] (…) constantly in need of our help, our massive and sincere support in search of their acculturations”. In this letter to the president, the Indians’ salvation is dependent on FUNAI’s action. Emphasis was given to the helplessness experienced at the hands of the less enlightened Whites and its contrast with the abnegated dedication of FUNAI in favor of the Indians. Consequently, both the same stereotyped images of the Indian seen previously and the essential intermediation by FUNAI, the very reason of its existence, complement each other.
The FUNAI president acted quickly, dispatching the papers to a department for suggestions to be made. Of course, it was not really so simple, the long and winding road of the bureaucratic process had only just begun. This was the moment of creation of the file (Proc. FUNAI/BSB/03503/78) which became the destination of a variety of relevant paperwork circulating within the extensive administration. Other subjects, like an inquiry about employee conduct, ended up in another file. In fact, the file was reworked at a certain point, and pages in the first part were renumbered. The sediment of the bureaucratic activities is considerable despite the fact that some relevant papers surely were lost in the labyrinth of the administrative machine. The circuitous meandering through the channels of bureaucracy can be traced partially by the markings on the papers, a phenomenon that merits investigation in itself. It is impossible to tackle all the aspects related to these documents. With attention given to both the administrative intricacies and what the documents show about the Latundê, this part of the book will summarize the paper trail that represents the administrative bureaucratic procedures. Although such procedures do not fully describe the actual events, they do serve as decent foundation for a more comprehensive study. Accordingly, the very first dispatch in Brasília, dated July 21, 1976, is worthy of examination. It manifests the way the central and most important part of the agency handled these cases and shaped the parameters of future actions. After a short summation and a handful of erroneous interpretations of the small dossier, the conclusion and final recommendations are:
– that the denomination of tubarões tribe is a fancy one, and may induce distrusting these Indians, it being expedient to ascertain, with due rigor their origin.
– that the 8th Administrative Region must join INCRA to clarify the alleged by CUIRÁ about the expulsion of his group and procure contact with the indicated 9 huts”.
These few phrases yield the suggestion of a prejudice against semi-accultured Indians with such an unusual name, as if the oddness of the name is somehow connected to the groups’ contemporary situation (as if the name is the content). The Indians, of course, did not even choose this name. Hardly any name given to an Indian group was suggested by the members themselves. Usually the names derive from a classification by the conquerors and not from any label of the people itself. Many names derive from the name of the leader, even someone not of their own people: Tubarão was a Mondê Indian who dominated several distinct villages at Tanaru, at the upper Pimenta Bueno, in 1953[xxviii]. In fact, even today when many new names are deriving from Indian languages, such names almost always come from enemies of the people and so are often depreciatory. The distrust is based on the ignorance of the naming process and on a prejudice against tame Indians. Additionally, the phrasing hints that the search for the relevant background of a group with such an inauthentic name might reveal that it was comprised of false Indians. It suggests that the proposed research into the origin may not be to inform the process of a more profound decision making. In fact, at the time many high FUNAI officials had careers originating in the military and thought that some people might pose as Indians for material benefits. Moreover, the contact with INCRA proposed to the regional agent is couched in odd language, as if to really join forces in an area of FUNAI competence and not just to gain information about the situation. By carefully studying the words and the phrasing, one might interpret the suggestion to join INCRA to include the effort to contact the unknown group, so that INCRA might be included in making contact with those Indians, an extremely unlikely possibility. As said, many of the higher posts within FUNAI were held by men who had continued ties to the military. They, however, did not adhere to the ‘Rondonian’ style of interaction, they like the colonel substitute director of Department of General Operations who wrote the instructions cited above, operated under what may be called the National Security style, a style devoid of humanitarian interests. The military abided by concepts of enforced assimilation, abhorrence of the term Indian people, believed in only rarely granting Indian reserves, economic development for everyone, and had no pity for any Indian obstacle to the symbolic and socioeconomic conquest of the savages within legitimate Brazilian national territory. They were impatient and merciless with the Indians who did not have certain distinctive features inherent in their conception of the real Indian. Perhaps the appeal of the regional administrator indirectly invoking previous ‘Rondonian’ ideals was not far of the mark in this context after all.
A further note from the Department of Research marks this case as one among a number of similar instances involving INCRA’s land distribution project and the colonization of Indian lands. This conflict arose despite the existence of a joint commission between the two agencies to define Indian areas and avoid identical land claims. One FUNAI geographer suggests that INCRA should consult FUNAI before planning any project, a suggestion endorsed by her superior, the anthropologist Ferrari[xxix], also added a handwritten note mentioning that the Tubarão or Massacá had been known since 1962 (in accordance with a book by a highly-ranked SPI employee, the one time president Malcher). In a later short dispatch, yet another department head recalled the obvious necessity of FUNAI to be present to assist the Tubarão, a need that FUNAI never attended to, just as it has to create an attraction front for the isolated Indians. After this swift start, the process was inexplicably delayed for two months. At this point, the INCRA connection reappears with their representative in the meeting of the joint committee of the two agencies. Prior to this the FUNAI representative in the Commission visited INCRA. On that occasion an INCRA representative stated that the local FUNAI sent a note to acknowledge the presence of Indians in a number of INCRA plots and later communicated this area to be insufficient (that is, it did not account for the Latundê area). The extension concerns the area of the unknown Indians where the plots have been distributed by INCRA but not yet occupied by the owners. The problem for INCRA would then be the unexpected expansion to include the unknown Indians after the previous communications exchanged between the agencies. In order to pursue an expedient solution, the commission of “Work Groups” of the two agencies discussed the matter and agreed on the visit of a “Sub Group” ascertain the area occupied by the Indians. In this view, the problem suddenly resumes itself to the zone of perambulation outside of an area already reserved for the Tubarão[xxx]. The FUNAI representative in the commission, Mattar, sent a communication to the FUNAI president (another military colonel, Ismarth de Araújo Oliveira) proposing a letter to the INCRA. A suggestion later adopted and in which the latter requested the INCRA president halt the release of the other plots to new owners, and essentially put an end to the illegal occupation of lands. The letter mentioned the previous reservation of land by INCRA to the Tubarão Indians simply in passing, as if a sign of the agency’s impeccable conduct in creating a completely satisfactory solution. Apparently, the Indian’s proposal disappears, and it is not even mentioned at the meeting. In contrast, the sketched map annexed to the same papers, copied from the INCRA map, shades in the area of the Indian’s proposal. In sum, fast reading and carelessness seem to be a major theme at the FUNAI officials’ first approach in Brasília. The substitute head of a very important department, Colonel Joel, author of the lines above, confused at least one important issue and was averse to admitting new Indians of a fanciful name. Subsequently, there are frank contradictions and the summary of the Indian situation is completely off the mark in significant aspects. The sketch map that accompanied Ismarth’s letter to INCRA showed the entire area of the current position of the Tubarão, the other malocas, and the area claimed by the first Indians, to the south of the Pimenta Bueno River. The entire bloc was placed completely erroneously.
Textual contradictions may imply that INCRA engaged in illegal or disallowed activities. Plots respected by INCRA really are indicated as an Indian Reserve on the map, according to the FUNAI representative Mattar. However, a study of the map reveals that this block of 20 plots bears the legend, reserved for forest exploitation (Hevea). It is unclear why Mattar did not point out the obvious contradiction. Perhaps this had to do with his own cultural stereotypes regarding the ecological Indian. Alternatively, it could be that he believed it politically unwise to comment. The question posed regards why INCRA had reserved lands for the Indians without communicating their plans to FUNAI before, and, more pertinently, why they hid this fact on their map with a misleading label to thwart publication of their meddling in FUNAI’s domain. Unsurprisingly, in Rondônia, as in Amazonia, in the competitive bureaucratic space of federal agencies INCRA had much greater influence than the comparatively weak FUNAI. After INCRA first communicated the presence of the Indians, it became possible to hypothesize this agency’s true intentions. Apparently, INCRA had decided to treat the Indians as an intermediate class of people, not as rubber tappers (a social category that was completely ignored by INCRA whenever possible), nor real Indians. Hence, they were ineligible to receive the benefits Indians generally should receive from FUNAI. Evidently, INCRA had its own plan for disposal, a re-settlement onto sixteen parcels of the Project. It is likely that INCRA believed this to be a rather humanitarian solution. The area given to the Indians, roughly 36,000 ha, was no small piece of land. A further study of relevant documentation yields some interesting information, what follows is a memo written by someone involved with a later project called Polonoroeste (a large-scale federal development project that encompassed this region).
Since 1972, INCRA’s internal documents reference the presence of three Indian groups in the area of extension of the Corumbiara Project. The document notes the necessity of guaranteeing their lands for them while avoiding conflicts. The parcels of the Corumbiara Project were distributed in Brasília, with no other criteria than the affinity of the interested party with personalities of the regime [the military dictatorship]. Plots of 2,000 or 3,000 hectares were distributed among kin or affiliated associates, that is, in practice stimulating large properties in the few fertile regions.
The Aikaná-Latundê – who maintained contacts with rubber tappers since the beginning of the century – immediately protested against the donation of their land to large landowners, and the FUNAI demarcated an area but with straight lines oriented by the presence of the neighboring colonization projects”[xxxi].
The author then continued to discuss the genocide practiced against the other isolated group of Indians in the region when INCRA resolved to ignore their presence. Although FUNAI intervened initially, it eventually backed down and condoned the advance of landowners with private militia. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that two very small groups did survive in the Omerê area. A third group, not so far away, has one lonely survivor, still there. He became subject to an attraction front in a small area. Even now, neither area is totally demarcated due to political pressure[xxxii]. Notwithstanding the erroneous information about the fusion of the Tubarão, under their new name, with the Latundê, the notion that this joint group initiated contact, and that the demarcation by FUNAI involved their original land, the author correctly suggests – by implication of the comparative case of what occurred to neighboring isolated Indians – that much worse could have happened. In fact, one can argue that the limited recognition and the provision of land by INCRA furnished the very basis for the initiation of this bureaucratic process. As for the first paragraph in the above quote, INCRA confirms that by 1972 it was already aware of this situation, as this was the year of the first selection process for land distribution. The author found proof in the INCRA archives that the agency knew of the Indians but, as far as the absence of any mention in FUNAI documents permits to conclude, never insisted upon any FUNAI action. If so, it was only through INCRA’s political power that a scandal was avoided. To be clear, the accusation of corruption concerns conferring enormous privileges to well connected members of the elite, by allocating large properties exactly on the more fertile land, essentially creating the agrarian situation supposedly being reformed. Unsurprisingly, the people who benefited most from such allotment were those who least needed an additional income. The poor enjoyed no such advantage.
Unfortunately for the Tubarão, their original lands also happened to have good soil. When they found themselves relocated to poorer lands at the beginning of the INCRA Project, their presence was ignored. When the agency reserved land it looks like it simply uses a reserve area not meant for agricultural use. As if the belief was that the Indians use the forest reserve just as some endangered exotic species would. Assuming the accuracy of these facts (minor errors aside), INCRA was, at some level, corrupt. This would explain their reluctance to share information even after FUNAI discovered the Indians. It also signifies that what seems a generous allocation of the forest reserve part of the Project to the Indians actively participating in the system was no coincidence. The land given to the Indians happens to be some of the poor soil in the region but they might continue to be tappers. It is all too simple to put the pieces of this puzzle together. Clearly, INCRA was doing it’s best to further the conquest of the Indians. The well-intentioned federal laws were cast aside by official agencies with projects worded in the most eloquent terms to justify federal intervention in the name of a society struggling blindly for development.
The first anthropological field report
The first order to investigate the case dates April 1976. Dates reveal that the bureaucratic procedures took several months and that long overdue field research done by a qualified employee is finally arranged. The dossier contains an anthropologists’ travel report – although here anthropology has more to do with chaotic bureaucracy and contextual constraints than science[xxxiii]. Although the trip lasted from November 18 to 26, only the 20 and 21 were spent in Pimenta Bueno. Despite this brief period spent in the city, the anthropologist garnered some information from both resident Indians and visits to FUNAI and INCRA. In what was a typical attitude, the local FUNAI officials did not make available any supplementary information not already in the documentation. They apparently failed to see the case as particularly urgent as at that time there was a significant conflict between the Cinta Larga and the colonists who settled on their lands (owing to another INCRA project). This culminated with the murder of an Indian. Incidentally, other similar urgent cases in Rondônia shed light on the INCRA’s methodology in solving the Indian problem. Several cases are mentioned in an Annex to the anthropological report. Frontiers drawn by INCRA and FUNAI for Cinta Larga do not agree. INCRA technicians requested a rapid solution as the entire southern area of this Indigenous Territory had been previously arranged for colonists, who were acting within INCRA’s proposed limits. At the northern limit of Corumbiara, colonists spotted an isolated group (Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau) and warned INCRA. INCRA, in turn, demanded FUNAI take action. Although INCRA reserved an area of 112,000 hectares for these Indians, the public sale and distribution of the area seemed to have been well underway or even already concluded. In this way INCRA flaunts its proposals and reserves for isolated Indians in FUNAI’s face, unrestrained by the areas of competence of each agency and apparently very assured of its dominance in the institutional field of government[xxxiv].
FUNAI, meanwhile, was very understaffed and overextended, a testament to its political weakness and the general lack of political will to solve the Indian question. INCRA’s attitude apparently caused little (if any) reaction in the report[xxxv]. This does not mean that INCRA always had its way. The case of the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, for example, is one such instance. Yet only the encompassing context explains how the proposal to remove a Suruí group to another reserve, while according to all evidence it was being forcibly removed from its own land by unscrupulous invaders leaving them only about a 100m2 , sounds comprehensible even when in total disregard of all legal rights[xxxvi]. In that sense, settling the Tubarão in their current area, with the advantages of some cooperation by INCRA and without confrontation with other interests working against their return to their territory, is an easy win for FUNAI. INCRA’s contacts in Pimenta Bueno also included the assistance of one employee who claimed to be very familiar with the area of the Corumbiara Project. He aided in locating the villages of both groups in a reconnaissance flight that covered the so-called Forest Indians (Tubarão) and the unknown Indians (Latundê). Judging by the flight time, the distance between the two groups must have been around 35 km. Although this would have allowed for a more accurate plotting, there is no mention of map revisions. Several aerial photographs accompany the report, including what may be the first ever of the Latundê village, effectively showing their dwellings and the silhouettes of the members. Five large houses and one smaller construction constitute the center. There was still another structure on the outskirts of the village, but owing to the quality of the photograph, it remains unclear. The image also features six people while seven people were seen.
This view certified the existence of unknown Indians and their approximate location, but it did not render a clear notion of what the total area of occupancy might be. Such work was restricted owing to economic and practical concerns. In fact, the arduous trip to the village was suspended when the chief and a companion arrived in town. They planned to sell rubber and planned to stay in town for two days. This happened just as Ferrari, the anthropologist, was about to depart for this area. Their chance arrival saved her time, money and an arduous journey. Once more all information depended on those Indians coming to the town, a handful of their relatives in Porto Velho, and on the information from Isaias, an INCRA employee. Isaias affirmed that he traversed the region of these Indians in 1971 and communicated the fact to the FUNAI in Porto Velho, getting no response. If true, FUNAI was first warned five years prior and took no action. Obviously this would mean grave negligence. Nonetheless, the subsequent behavior of INCRA was also irresponsible, for it could easily have pushed for resolution instead of letting the issue disappear. Rather, as an alternative, INCRA left it to a White rubber patron to help the Indians to resettle. This warning then may have come solely from Isaias. As Isaias had already flown above the village sometime around 1975, he definitely knew about the Indians and also could have urged for something to be done. Judging by the results of inaction, events were favorable for whoever was really responsible for the decisions made by INCRA.
Furthermore, the lack of time and informants severely hampered the quantity and quality of a very laudable effort to collect as much information as possible. Informants were limited to merely two Indians and a handful of Whites (all either from INCRA or local landowners). Ferrari tried to reconstruct the previous locations of the Indians, charted their genealogies, and recorded the Indian names, their auto-denominations and the ethnic connections of the various groups involved, their ‘original’ cultures and the historical trajectories of the peoples. The resultant work was so muddled that the author goes so far as to alert the reader that she did not succeed in adequately organizing the information coherently. A few remarks stand out in this confusing jumble of statements by various agents. First, in town the term Tubarão is practically unknown and the Indian informants use a variety of names but, apparently, the two visiting Pimenta used the terms Inganá and Aikanã. This seems to be the first reference to what became their name, Aikaná. Other names surface throughout the report, with references to component parts of this group. Only one of these partialities is now current in the area, the Guazani are now known as the Kwazá. The Kwazá are the remnants of a formerly independent people with an isolated language but today they are few, scattered, and partly intermarried among the Aikaná (one of the other peoples mentioned, the Kanoê, still live in other areas, including the Omerê area)[xxxvii]. Secondly, the author furnishes some details on cultural practices and relations between these peoples, capturing the spirit of what probably was a closely-knit regional network of alliance and permanent relations. Possibly, owing to this very feature the anthropologist underestimates the linguistic and cultural variety. Currently Aikaná, Kwazá and Kanoê are classified as isolated languages while other groups pertain to Tupian language families. All of these peoples used to live at the margins of the Pimenta Bueno or, less so, Machado Rivers and were victims of the expansion of the rubber front, effectively scattering them from their homelands[xxxviii]. Unable to find a clear name for these peoples, the author opts to refer to the ex-Tubarão as Forest Indians, and the unknown ones as Savanna Indians (In Portuguese, Índios do Campo. A campo is a savanna, here referring to a patch of savanna in the middle of the forested regions toward the east of the region).
The Forest Indians sometimes were known in town as Massaká or as caboclos of some river, while the Campo Indians unanimously received the designation Nambikwara (similar to the Nambikwara do Campo of the Paresis Plateau). The practice of sleeping on the ground like dogs, in the words of the Aikaná (an indication of their prejudice), directs the attention to exactly the same differentiating primitive custom of the Southern Nambikwara. Also, walking around naked is taken as an index of their isolation from the civilized. Thus, although observations clearly point towards a group affiliated to the Nambikwara (judging by the housing and a preference for open land), the author cautiously uses a generic description with a geographic predicate. In a way, this is a sensible precaution, but from another point of view, the necessity of labeling and imposition of the generic classification is needed even when the state has still failed to initiate contact. A rubber extraction proprietor appended these comments with the affirmation that the language and the people are Mamaindê. This is close to the mark, as the Mamaindê pertain to the same cluster of Northern Nambikwara, and, as will be discussed soon, even roamed this far north from their village (now located just over the border in Mato Grosso). Strikingly, these observations contrast with the reality that the groups were enemies. The obvious difficulty with the kind of report written by civilized people concerns a general unawareness of the distinctions in the generic class of Indian. Either the civilized confounded these forays with the presence of the Latundê or else some sporadic encounter lead to this observation. Only a real contact could truly clarify these matters. Still, the first tentative affiliation of Nambikwara was established. Another passage in the report speculates about a Savanna Indian migration. The Forest Indians affirm that the former either came from the south, towards Mamaindê, or from the north towards Vilhena or the Roosevelt River, just like the Sabanê (see Part II). This group was supposedly forced to move on because of the encroachment of White settlements. It is noted that the savanna is not normally desirable land for Whites.
Some confusion remains about the history of contact with the Latundê and other sightings of unknown groups. There were reports of other small villages which seem to be of the Savanna Indians close to the highway and outside of sector 11 of the Project. Later in the report, contact between the fifteen Latundê and an owner of two parcels of land at kilometer 624 of the BR (federal highway) is mentioned as having occurred in 1972, with their subsequent withdrawal to the present location. Apparently the location is not thought to be connected to known Indians although the locations would basically match (close to Marcos Rondon, at the time occupied by Sabanê and Northern Nambikwara). Later, two families of unknown affiliation are said to be still residing with the same owner (Ms. Filhinha[xxxix]). This confuses two different Nambikwara groups. These were Tawandê families living near the road in the Seringal do Faustino (see Part II). The regional resident’s error leads the author away from the Nambikwara connection because the informant states them to be Tupi. His description of dark Indians with long hair and with urucu paint on their bodies contradicts this. This denotes a Nambikwara affiliation and coincides with the anthropologist’s aerial view of the Latundê. The resident suggested the possible presence of another group of unknown Indians to the north of the Savanna Indians (Nambikwara do Campo), and, if confirmed, proposed attracting them into the proposed Forest and Savanna Indian reservation, (again note the casualness of the transfer proposal). Other indications are even more unclear: sightings still attributed to the Savanna Indians on two other places at the Pimenta River, one to the south of the Aikaná but slightly to the west, and another one to the west of them, above the mouth of the Chupinguaia on the Pimenta River. The Savanna Indians are actually in the east while the sightings are either relatively far to the southwest or even completely on the other side of the Forest Indians, near the river and in the forest. As such, it is quite certain that these are not the Latundê and must be remnants of older local inhabitants, survivors of the peoples of the area and perhaps a group now known to be Kanoê, who live in the Omerê area[xlv].
Furthermore, a wealthy landowner, flying over the region detected a set of four houses slightly to the south of the attested presence of the Nambikwara, which, according to the INCRA employee Pereira, are the Savanna Indians. This would be a fair conclusion given their proximity and that the Latundê were divided into two villages, were it not for the fact that the landowner also recorded other locations, to the south along the Pimenta River, ranging from the limits of sector 11 into the adjacent sector to the east (towards Vilhena). Pereira also thought that these locations could be the still the same group, despite the distance and the difference in terrain. Therefore, the indications certainly cannot be attributed to the Latundê. It is relevant that Pereira insisted in acknowledging only the Savanna and Forest Indians, whose existence he verified himself. Judging from the report, oddly enough, he asserted his position rather vehemently[xlvi]. Of all of these references (in the jargon of attraction front) only the Omerê enter into known history, and then only partially so because of the massacre (see footnote 39 and 40) and the attempts at erasing all of the Indian presence that ensued. The region alongside the Pimenta River seems mainly occupied by large landholdings, possibly due to the favorable soil and forest conditions. The disparate and dispersed evidence of uncontacted groups definitely does justify the recommendation of the anthropologist to contact the Savanna Indians and the somewhat timid corollary: “It may be convenient for a sertanista to verify the places mentioned by the regional population as being of Indian presence”. Actually, all of this discussion and confusion in the report still leaves out a group of houses further on to the east (the ones the mentioning in the first report later identified as Sabanê), and possibly some of those places sighted by plane.
When discussing the history and cultural traits of the Savanna Indians, the same sort of confusion reappears. The Forest Indian’s story of their own visit is more or less the same as before but with additions: a young man of the unknown Indians hurled arrows at them but an older man took his weapons away, put them on the ground and offered good and rich food (wild pig, roasted sweet manioc, toasted corn and peanuts); they stayed for three hours and left tools and clothing; they noticed three houses and fifteen adults, with only one female adolescent. They feared being killed on their return[xlii]. Actually, they accuse the other Indians of cannibalism and poisoning and, apparently, of trying to steal their women. Hence, the present tense relations where their own ethnocentric preconceptions are obvious, and a previous history of warlike relations is credible. If the Indians affirmed this belief, than they too probably confused some peoples. When examining what they witnessed, the oral history of the Latundê examined below can serve a measure for confirmation. A comparison of these records is sometimes more easily contextualized when reference can be made to material objects like ceramic pots, and personal affects like breast collars[xliii]. The study of material belongings at other times seems rather arbitrary. If, during the course of some short meeting, no basket weaving is noted, the people are documented as not having such items. Likewise, an initial report states the absence of body adornments, an observation confirmed by a White observer. Then, in the following paragraph, it is written that the women have small wooden piercings in their upper lip and in the tip of the ears. In fact, one of the most curious features about this group is the lack of piercing in the lips and the ears of both men and women. Again, this demonstrates the unreliable and contradictory information given by these different sources. Hence the author admits that there is no real consistency. In this sense the report expounds the weakness of the fieldwork carried out, hampered by an enormous lack of experts for such a massive responsibility. The many demands that the bureaucracy made on the author, who, as an anthropologist, was relatively low on the administrative ladder, probably accounts for the failure of time and energy to complete a more thorough study. The quick-paced methodology of the field work explains the inadequate information. There was a rush to process the entire diverse range of contradictory and confusing source made by often unqualified outsiders. As a last example, the civilized informant cited above claims, correctly, that the Indians consume several kinds of insects. He declares the insects to be obnoxious and inconsumable. He uses the correct information about insect consumption to stigmatize the Indians, claiming that such foods cause indolence. An equivalent of this sort of transformation of an observation into an accusation for the Aikaná would be that of anthropophagi: the cannibalism they fear they might be subjected to. Both sources demonstrate their own peculiar sociocultural conceptions as to what can be consumed and how the consumption of the wrong food condemns the consuming agent.
Bearing these facts in mind, there is less reliable data regarding the Savanna Indians then there is for the Forest Indians, even though the latter also is rather lacking. Fundamental questions regarding land are also subject to an aggregate of incorrect and unverifiable statements. First, the Tubarão Indians persisted in the claim of the same area as before, a block of plots ranging from their present location, where they claim to have arrived only three years earlier, to the south and on to the other bank of the river, 36 plots of land with a total area of 64,000 hectares. This claim is based on the group’s link to the Pimenta River, believed to be their original land. Although this is their claim it must be the result of a dialogue initiated by a FUNAI administrator. It is claimed that only three plots have not yet been auctioned and yet, according to the Indians, no major changes took place. However, INCRA contested this information and asserted that some kind of human conversion of the forest already had begun. Such ambiguity can only be clarified by going to the field, an impossible task. Eventually, the author convinced INCRA to augment the reserved area with the inclusion of plots not yet distributed, only one of these being in the block claimed by the Tubarão. Two other blocks are located to the north and the south of the presumed location of the Savanna Indians. Despite what may seem a sensible precaution, such delimitation evidently implies the exclusion of the location of the Savanna Indians as the proposal extends their reserved area by only one plot. In addition, it is unclear how much of the total area claimed already has suffered from some intervention by the owners; the Indians mention much activity near the river and less further north. Plots with no manmade transformations can be exchanged for others by INCRA; all others would need paid compensations for the funds spent on the improvements of the land (benfeitorias, loosely translatable as benefactions as indeed it carries a connotation of being a charitable act)[xliv]. If INCRA had insisted on exchanging information with FUNAI, acknowledged the presence of an uncertain number of Indian groups and acted accordingly, then the subsequent complexities and disastrous consequences for these peoples could have been avoided.
The Savanna Indians cannot claim anything hence the indirect information provided by their uneasy Forest Indian neighbors substantiates the area to be claimed for them, following their suggestion: the area in red on the map which extends from the northern block cited above until an area south of the river, four plots wide and seven deep, totaling 56,000 hectares. Notably, this claim is one row of four parcels less then their own claim, the substitute claim starts one row up, but ends two rows less to the south. Nevertheless, the major problem is that the data provided, for whatever reason, are incorrect. The area of foraging and of forest agriculture (always in a forest patch as the savanna of low grasses and bushes tends to be less fertile) does not expand unto the southern margin of the river. Actually, according to information given by the Latundê Indians themselves, even their forays did not habitually prolong as far as their own side of the river. As to the east-west axis, the choice of the width of four plots remains obscure. Nothing is known about the range of activity engaged in by the village to the east (or to the north, for that matter), not to mention the proposal of attracting the group suspected to live outside of sector 11 of the Project, to the north, into the claimed area. The same section reserved for the Indians does not need the formal interdiction of its area because in the village seen on the flight “(…) we only saw 7 people, even though they say there are 14 Indians. If the other villages contain roughly the same number of people, the area will be sufficient.” Although this may not be exactly the ideal method of deduction based on very precarious information, it may be the best available at the time. But it must be remembered that the main informant for both peoples still is the chief of the Forest Indians and some of what is reported differs from, or even contradicts, earlier reporting. From a modern perspective, the proposal is preposterous and presumptuous. Only taking into consideration the political context and FUNAI’s practices explains such dauntless behavior.
As for the anthropologist’s efforts, it is true that she made some important progress in garnering reliable information, but time and effort constraints hindering direct contact in the area failed to clarify several contested issues, effectively calling the quality of the work into question. The final proposal and recommendation of delimitation and demarcation of 120,000 hectares in one single area, joins lands claimed and those to be claimed. This results from a very hazardous and risky process of gathering information resulting from the way FUNAI bureaucracy functioned. The author herself clearly admits to the precariousness of the report[xlix]. This is evident in the recommendation to fund a four-month anthropological study of socioeconomic conditions, partly designed to prepare some development project that would assist the Forest Indians to better resist the perils of the coming influx of settlers in Rondônia. The argument put forward to secure this land, even when inexplicably contradicting Chief Manoel’s unmentioned former proposal, implicitly reveals some of the dominant thinking. Even when the search for the Savanna Indians other then the few actually certified is in vain, the area proposed should be maintained because it is thought that many other Forest Indians live dispersed throughout Rondônia and will want to join their relatives. More simply, does that mean that the Forest Indians may go on and live on the land of their Indian neighbors if that land is largely uninhabited? This convoluted reasoning is only understandable if the major argument for restricting land rights invokes the false (and illegal) notion of the notorious and untrue, but widely circulating, declaration, lots of land for few Indians[xlv]. This was a familiar stereotype for the large majority of FUNAI officials, many of whom partake in the normal constellation of Brazilian ethnocentric imagery of Indians. The veritable boldness shown by the report despite its obvious deficiencies, many recognized by the author, are intelligible only in this larger context.
Two and a half years later
The last note from 1976, dated two days before Christmas, concerns the dispatching of the report to the Land Commission by means of FUNAI’s General Department of Indigenous Patrimony. However, on the same page is a handwritten note dated two and a half years later (June 12, 1978) lamenting the delay in organizing a sub-group of a sertanista and an anthropologist for the attraction of the Massacá group (sic). Indeed, such an interval conveys the impression of negligence, regardless of the reason. The note also considers the complications caused by their presence in the INCRA project, suggesting the formal interdiction of the area in order to halt colonization of the allotted plots (with a memorial and a map annexed). After such an impressive delay, finally the suggestion is immediately taken up by the president of FUNAI who ordered the preparation of the necessary legal document. Next, the dossier does include the papers for the interdiction of the area. Interdiction is a formal step taken to put the area defined under the protection of a general prohibition of any entry of third parties, except FUNAI and those authorized by the agency. The document defines the area with a descriptive memorial and a sketch map, both refer to the Tubarões and Massacá, again note confusion and change of names (this document may have been retro-dated). Moreover, documents found in the dossier suggest that the interdiction comprehends the whole of INCRA’s sector 11 (40 kilometers of width on a straight west/east line and 50 kilometers of length along the straight north/south axis). There is no justification for this change in area. Suddenly the area comprehends 200,000 hectares. The publication was also sent to the INCRA president on July 19, 1978. A few days later, the FUNAI of Rondônia solicited the respective dossier and maps while in principle also requesting the correction of the municipality named in the document, Pimenta Bueno instead of Guajaramirim. The dossier does not furnish an explanation for these errors and changes. No other explanation is forthcoming other than the supposition of misreading and explicatory errors by the bureaucrats responsible for the document’s preparation. The area’s expansion was a common practice then, here it capitalized on the pre-established lattice of geographical coordinates of the project superimposed on the Indian lands[xlvii].
A FUNAI departmental director in Brasília ordered a visit to renew contact with the territory when these legal measures were taken. The visit revealed roughly the same situation as before and offered the same solution. The chief of the office in Porto Velho remarks again on the limited usefulness of the contemporary occupied lands and the Indian’s forced removal from the Pimenta River (July 14, 1978; he resumed the report of the employees that made the visit). After such a long absence, the visitors learned the Tubarão thought FUNAI had abandoned them. A number of customary measures were recommended, including the presence of some assistant employees and the construction of a post and an infirmary. There was also the urgent necessity of demarcation to thwart migrants and, it is asserted, because of rapidly rising land prices. Odd as it may seem, the writer pays special attention to the great potential for lumber in the delimited area. This is a time when development fever extended to community development projects that envisioned the implementation of projects that would realize the economic potential of Indian resources and make a profit for FUNAI while, in theory, benefiting the Indians with revenue that would compensate for the chronic shortage of federal funding. A significant number of highly-ranked FUNAI employees believed that Indian resources could and should pay for their protection from the assaults launched by the national society. As for the uncontacted Indians, these Massacá need an Attraction Front and require relocation towards the river, for basically the same reasons as the others (i.e. no subsistence agriculture possible and no hunting and fishing in the area). That contradicts what is implied by the very presence of the Indian people in this region. However, it does agree economically with the overall appreciation of the lower quality of the land and its resources and takes into account the prospects of profitability from the Brazilian perspective. The report on the ground (in an annex) adds more details because it concerns a socioeconomic survey of which the most salient point is the testimony that the area reserved by INCRA is insufficient. Moreover, it relays how rubber collecting is fundamental for subsistence and as the most significant gathering area are within the plots reserved for colonization, the Indians will be deprived of a important income source. As INCRA once declared this very same area to be reserved for forestry there is little doubt this agency did not have a vested interested in the economic sustainability of the Indians.
In fact, all of this action was stimulated by previous bureaucratic contacts that have not been preserved in this record, although likely to be found in other archives[xlviii]. A telegram (by radio) from Porto Velho to Brasília dated January 1978 mentions the report by the anthropologist and reminds the central administration of the critical situation of the Tubarões and the Massacas or Sabanes. This may be the origin of the use of Massaca over Nambikwara, as was current in the town of Pimenta, essentially confusing a name of the other group with the unknown Indians. No normal functionary of FUNAI will continually use a label like Forest Indians except when there are no other alternatives. Note that the mention of Sabanes appears for the first time in this correspondence, without any apparent justification. Later, a small group of Sabanê actually was found to inhabit the southeastern tip of the current Indigenous Territory, just north of the Pimenta River. In response, a representative from Brasília answered that two measures already were taken. First, the land commission recommended that INCRA not distribute plots considered Indian land (proof of some unregistered administrative activities of unknown efficiency). Also addressed was the lack of manpower to deal with the Massaca/Sabanes because the assignment of the sertanista Fritz [Tolksdorf] fell through. It suggests a complementary study, if feasible, by the regional office. This study only took place after the definition of the legal act of delimitation. By November 1978, the issue of the conflicting federal agencies resulted in a meeting and the indication of a joint sub-group to investigate in loco what is called the habitat (a naturalist term used for animal populations) and propose a definitive area (exemplifying the need to negotiate). The previous delimitation of a large area may have been part of a strategy to be used before entering into such, in a sense, illegal negotiation. The sertanista Tolksdorf, however, voiced his concern over the reported presence of two uncontacted Indian groups and so pointed to the larger priority of putting into motion a base de atração, literally translatable as an Attraction Base. That is, this was to be the base camp for attracting groups refusing contact. This measure was adopted immediately in early December, nearly one year after the first telegram was sent.
In principle, this action should have been crucial to the Latundê but another gap in the records prevents closer investigation until the end of 1979. Apparently by initiative of the regional office at Porto Velho, FUNAI proceeded with legal action against the invaders of the area previously delimited in 1978 (two documents with identical content, both dated October 24, 1979). In a previous telegram exchange between Porto Velho and Brasília, representatives from Porto Velho claimed to have sent messages about measures to be taken while those from Brasilia report that the lack of local FUNAI presence was brought to the FUNAI presidency’s attention by the Tubarão tuxaua. Apart from this indication that the Indians commenced to be enterprising enough to go to the center of decision making – a pilgrimage that many Indian groups find necessary to speed up the bureaucratic process – this judiciary petition demonstrates the non-action of the INCRA and dispels any remaining doubt about the evasion and actual non-cooperation of this agency. Five months after the legal document regarding the area’s delimitation was emitted, INCRA should have had full knowledge of the Indian occupations. However, when FUNAI contacted the coordinator in charge of the Special Coordination of the Territory (i.e. Rondônia), a man who should be aware of all the land problems in his jurisdiction, the FUNAI representative was “(…) informed that he did not know about the problem, and unjustifiably evaded the issue (…).” Unjustifiable indeed, but once again, FUNAI’s subordinate position impedes progress. The judicial action resulted from the delimitation. The issuing of this measure permitted the regional agency to take steps to assure its application and the eviction of area intruders. Once more, unsurprisingly, FUNAI did not succeed in convincing the Rondônia territory’s security forces to cooperate. The security forces argued that the titles are legal because INCRA granted them. This, of course, was a rather fictitious argument to justify class and ethnic prejudice. Also, in many cases INCRA simply withheld information though simultaneously stating its disposition to aid further inquiries[xlix]. The local FUNAI office correctly considered this behavior on the part of INCRA to signify a true lack of cooperation, poorly masked behind a semblance of good intentions. Bureaucracy, of course, lends itself very well to just this kind of disguise between the formal written deceptive pretense and the informal real actions and intentions. The local agent certainly would be in a position to ascertain the difference between the semblance of formality and the actual hidden actions or lack there-of.
Conscious of the power structure, the regional official solicits a joint commission between INCRA and FUNAI. While requesting measures from Brasília, it sends the same documents at least twice. In the mid-June 1980 the problem resurfaces, this time regarding the invasion of a rubber collecting area and subsequent tensions between the intruder and the Indians. Not being priority, two of the documents dated from late 1979 and early 1980 were not sent to the president’s office until late June 1980. Only later does a report coming from Rondônia, dated almost a year earlier, become included in the dossier. Thus, several documents circulated but were not always combined into one central reference file. This may be one of the reasons of the sudden appearance of the unknown Indians in the previously mentioned report of a visit in July 1978. As seen, one item suggested the creation of an Attraction Front but, with no explanation whatsoever as to the circumstances, an annex shows two photographs taken of the still so-called Massakás. The caption read “(…) at the time of the first visit of the functionary Fonseca to this community”. It shows the men of the expedition walking towards houses in the distance[xlx]. The other captions simply note the presence of houses and some Indians. There appear two houses and three male Indians. The first real photograph of a Latundê, albeit small and in black and White, demonstrates that something more has been going on (just as the expression first visit implies a more prolonged contact); indeed, one Indian wears shorts and a shirt. The request for the habitual form of attraction comes somewhat too late then, as, somehow, contact has already been established. These papers do not elaborate upon how and why this auxiliary, Fonseca, began and carried on in this manner. It is unexplained if or how he conducted the delicate process of approaching an unidentified Indian group. This is the same auxiliary that, in a last item of a dispatch, was sent back to the fifth regional agency because of the “(…) information collected and Terms of Declaration annexed to the Report of the Commission.” This attachment is also lacking in the file.
Thus, a careful reading reveals that a rural auxiliary stationed nearby with the Tubarão Indians contacted the Latundê prior to July 1978. It is interesting that at the end of this year the sertanista Tolksdorf asserted the presence of two unknown groups while this document exposes the fact that some regular relation already existed. Doubtlessly, something unusual was going on. Perhaps the lethargic bureaucracy and administration failed to note the irregularity of the auxiliary’s accomplishment. It is very vague in what circumstances this approach was made. In August 1979 (over a year later, and filed later still) the legal activities mentioned above were initiated. These documents clarify who exactly made contact. Apart from documenting the problems arising from the continued incursions made by landowners, it describes a visit to the Indians:
“4. There exists a group recently contacted and living in the savanna. We suppose that this group is Nambikuara, considering that the Nambikuara interpreter that we took could communicate in the same language. The initial contact was made by Fonseca. He counted eighteen people. During our visit we noted the presence of ten people. According to a comment made to us, ten people of this group, mainly women, were enlisted to work at the rubber exploitation of “Dona Filhinha” located at the margin of the BR 364.
5. According to the Tubarões [sic], there are other groups in the area that still have not been contacted. Through an interpreter, the Indians revealed that although they were once a large group, they were oppressed by rubber plantations and fazendas (…) Their precautions demonstrate that this is true: their fields are cultivated far from where they live. They do not have houses but precarious constructs made of palm or grass-like leaves. All are imbued with a spirit of defense; even the women know well how to use bow and arrow. They seem to live in permanent movement through the savanna locating themselves for short periods at the headwaters of small streams, where the existence of water forms the basis for wooded land”.
Thus, identification of members of the Nambikwara ensemble confirms the indication of the people of Pimenta during the first trip of an outsider. There are consistent accounts of roughly twenty people, but the contact phases have progressed to the point where nearly half of them are already thought to be exploited in a rubber extraction unit under the control of the civilized White Brazilian, Dona Filhinha, daughter of Afonso França. All of this, naturally, unravels without any real assistance by FUNAI. The absence of the women can only be attributed to a blatant lack of care taken by the protective agency. Shortly after an obscure auxiliary attracts this small Indian group, they suffered an exodus of half of their population. These Indians very soon became engaged in the economic activities of the national society, undoubtedly providing a very cheap labor source. It seems likely that the spirit of defense prevailed within the group – living on the open field obviously permits a much better view around against surprises – as they surely felt the growing pressure of the surrounding society. Still, the idea of continuous movement does not agree with the observations of previous visitors and may result from the increasing precariousness caused by contact, as symbolized by the absence of a substantial part of the population. Alternatively, this theory may arise from a different apprehension of the Indian houses and conditions. Observe that the previous photographs displayed a normal and constant Nambikwara style of house construction. The photographs annexed here, by comparison, show instead a makeshift lean-to. The edge of the photograph reveals a house-post made of two tree trunks in the regional non-traditional style. This attests to the verification of an uncontrolled post-contact change[xlxi]. The typical solution proposed by FUNAI involves the employment of an Indian Post with resources to attend to both these peoples and the other uncontacted Indians reported by the Tubarão. As usual, weight is given to the area’s demarcation and the removal of intruders. There is no doubt that some of these measures should have been taken years ago and that the protection of the uncontacted group or groups should have garnered much more attention.
There was some progress in 1980. In June, the lawyer in Porto Velho submitted another legal action to impede the deforestation committed by landowners in an area delimited just two years prior. This legal protective order was shown to be either unknown or disrespected many times at the local level. The Indians complained about encroachments on their resources and specifically one landowner who was cutting down a piece of forest with rubber trees a manu militari (June 23, 1980). Soon after the FUNAI president formed a Work Group to proceed with the identification of the indigenous area Tubarão/Massacá, (July 8, 1980) designating an anthropologist and an engineer to do the land measurements. In the beginning of September, this president requested information about a road planned that would cut through the area already set apart for the Indians, as outlined in a letter to the regional development agency of the central-west (SUDECO). He stated his firm desire to accomplish the delimitation and demarcation of the Tubarão Indigenous Territory. The designation of the Work Group to survey the indigenous territory was by this time part of the regular procedure and the first necessary step towards final legitimating of the land base as official Indian land. This procedure of establishing the limits of the land changed many times and, as land was the major source of contention between the Brazilians and the Indians, it is logical that there was significant interference from outside agencies and lobbies (especially the army and, in particular, the security agency controlled by the military)[lii]. Possibly in light of this situation, the director of the executive department not only instructed his subordinates as to the schedule of the Work Group participants to establish the Indigenous Territory but also took the initiative to consult the regional office in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso (where the majority of the Nambikwara ensemble lived by this time). These papers, apparently sent by this office, reveal other features of the attraction suffered by the Latundê. As the dispatch by the responsible employee in the neighboring regional office, the Tubarão area, pertains administratively to Porto Velho, technically, he should not be involved in this concern. This demonstrates some significant aspects of the action taken by the sertanista Fritz Tolksdorf, a name mentioned previously only in passing.
The correspondence about the Sabanes of the Tubarão reserve discloses a new perspective that corroborates and strengthens the previous analysis. Only three laconic and colloquial reports (two of which were one page and one of which was two pages) and two sketched maps comprise the total account of the efforts of Tolksdorf responsible for first contact (a set dated January 17, 1979). Tolksdorf’s earliest dated correspondence recounts to his superior his activities in 1977. Such correspondence stands in contrast to those dispatches above that suggest that FUNAI had not attempted to arrange efforts to contact the unknown Indians (report dated November 17, 1977). Internal communication and the circulation of information is certainly not a strong point within FUNAI during these years (at least in this case study). Tolksdorf actually began his retrospective outline of 1979 with the affirmation that the Indians fired arrows at the plane hired by FUNAI, a documentation that should be referring to Ferrari’s notes. Curiously, Ferrari does not affirm anything of the kind in her report. Instead she mentioned what might have been a friendly gesture made by a boy offering food by holding up a bowl. Then he goes on to say that he received a small amount of money to carry out the order to contact the two Indian groups, an order that must have emanated from information from the previous flight. Tolksdorf writes: “On July 2, 1977 we entered into contact with this group that contained, at this occasion, 8 couples, with no children in sight. I communicated the fact immediately to FUNAI and asked for further funding and instructions regarding the continuity of this task.” Here, finally, we find the actual official date of contact with the Latundê, even though the group remains anonymous on the entire page. No details whatsoever are given as to the circumstances of this encounter, nor are the all of the subsequent actions of the author altogether clear.
To clarify, Tolksdorf was the responsible agent for the attraction and here claims to have made contact. In the town of Pimenta Bueno he also talked to the local INCRA. The latter promised to stop the demarcation and further distribution of plots. They could not, they alleged, stop the actions of squatters already opening up lands some 20 kilometers away from the Indians. The mentioning of squatters is interesting as it points to irregular and, from the agency’s point of view, illegal migrants. The sertanista affirms to have notified the president of FUNAI. The latter, as seen above, did take measures. He adds, however, that his intervention with the INCRA proved unfruitful and accuses the agency to have broken its promise. Tolksdorf points out that FUNAI did not produce the desired results with respect to the question of land. As for his own actions, after contact he asserts to have left the auxiliary Fonseca in charge of the local situation in order to assist the Indians and avoid conflicts. Notwithstanding this initial success, no new funding became available to continue his efforts. At about the same time the situation of the Nambiquara Project deteriorated and he wanted to dedicate his attention to this important Project (a project started by Price and which will be discussed further below). In other words, he alleged that without money and with a complicated task at hand he could not continue to be responsible for the attraction. Essentially, all Tolksdorf did was remind FUNAI that the new group and the Tubarão existed[liii]. After the initial attraction was done and the funding exhausted, he asked to be transferred to the regional agency in Porto Velho.
It took nearly a year for the regional office to request information regarding the death of a Latundê Indian. Tolksdorf answered from his institutional position as head of the Nambiquara Project. He previously suggested relinquishing control of the attraction operation. Yet, the Project still maintained some relation to the situation of the Latundê although nothing in the papers alludes to the actual nature of the connection (September 8, 1978). In August a Nambikwara Indian visited the “(…) Massaca (Latundê) group and before arriving at the village encountered a dead Indian (…) from the Latundê group, who had a punctured chest and some burn marks, he was decomposing”. The Tayaté Indian warned Marcelo the chief of the Mamainde, who contacted Tolksdorf. They then sent for a tracker from the Tolori reserve but only succeeded in verifying that the death was caused by unknown Indians, whose tracks went towards the east[liv]. The Latundês also supported this conclusion, and so it came to be implied that there was another unknown group responsible for the homicide. Apart from the case itself, namely the murder of an adult Indian supposedly at the hand of a mysterious unknown group and the associated turmoil[lv], several other issues are relevant. For the first time the name of the Savanna Indians changes from being a Massaca group, that is, from being specified as some sort of minor division within this class of Indians, to simply being called by the unique name of Latundê. The persistence with which the former name still frequently reappears in other FUNAI quarters is striking. Old names die hard. The new designation itself must stem from the Project although there is no way to verify this. The introduction of this new name creates a greater difference from the Tubarão as these received the name much earlier as one of their prior designations, causing some confusion. The modification serves to differentiate the two groups from each other. A proper name, as one would say, for the group confers the distinctiveness that recognizes the real existing difference. In another way the name creates the people. Having acquired their specific name, FUNAI can deal with the group specifically. The contingencies in the history of naming sometimes dissolve the same people into distinct Indian peoples, or, conversely, amalgamate different peoples.
The visit of an Indian from the Northern Nambikwara cluster is a clear reminder that the process of contact commenced at least a year before and is more complicated than these short notes suggest. Other Nambikwara Indians now emerge on the scene where before isolation kept the Latundê apart from other peoples. Tolksdorf, in passing, affirms the existence of yet another uncontacted group at the margin of the Pimenta River (roughly to the south of the Tubarões). This may be true, possibly even a rumor of the groups in the Omerê area, but this marks a certain inflation of references (observations, in the jargon of sertanistas employed in making first contact). There remains a rather great confusion about what happened after the first contact and who conducts the post-contact phase. In the beginning of 1979, when Brasília asked for information, Tolksdorf’s testimony provides insight into the slowness of the bureaucracy and FUNAI’s negligence. Maybe that is why he marked this communication topic: confidential. According to his story, in October 1973 he was called on to participate in the investigation of the death of a civilized person in the Tubarão area (naturally, such a request is extremely unlikely in the event of an Indian’s murder. In such situations, any attempts for an official investigation are routinely thwarted). He asserts to have alerted INCRA at the time and twice more between 1974 and 1976. According to him, this agency was aware of the fact, as plot surveyors had already encountered signs of an Indian’s presence, initially causing the intruders to abandon the area (but they later returned). He also states to have warned FUNAI in Brasília, but it was only in 1977 after the reconnaissance flight was attacked by arrows that Brasília issued the command to establish contact. After contact (with Fonseca’s assistance), lack of funds obstructed continuation. Tolksdorf notes that his request did not obtain an answer. Not only had FUNAI reacted very late to its own employee’s messages (though it remains unclear if he was part of the regularly employed personnel in this period), but the very process finally initiated was halted and interrupted by lack of support. Apparently, he forgot his former suggestion that there ought to be a transfer of responsibility for attraction. He continued in a sometimes cryptic style, revelatory of some of the internal friction within the bureaucracy:
Then there came the request for the transfer of the functionary João Fonseca to the 8th Regional Office, where he is located until today, that I was granted my request and the effort of continuity went to the 8th R.O., answering a complaint of mine, possibly in good faith, thinking there already was a functionary of the 8th R.O. in the area because of the doubtful events in the area of the Tubarões.
We, the personnel from the 5th R.O., affiliated with the Nambikwara Project, continued to supply not only medical but also material assistance to this group as well as the cinta larga Indians that appear on the roads constructed by the Codemat[livi], [these roads are] in [an] awful state, because until now no FUNAI functionary is operating in the region and this state of affairs endures, last week we provided relief for three cinta larga Indians that were transported to Cuiabá, for lack of aid (…)”
A combination of lack of political and bureaucratic will, patent accusations regarding procedure, and the failure of local representatives’ performance combined to create such a high degree of operational incompetence that the formally unrelated Nambiquara Project went out of its way to aid the neglected Indians of Rondônia[lvii]. Any support to the Latundê, who were likely named by them and belong to the Nambikwara ensemble, could reasonably be encompassed in the Project. In fact, the Latundê should be part of any Project concerning the Nambikwara, and the latter should not comprise the Cinta Larga (Tupi Mondé). After this summation of things gone awry, the author solicits Brasília to assume the commitment to contact two unknown groups and to guarantee a specified quantity of manpower (including one medical assistant, Indian trackers, and support personnel) and tools, cooking instruments, and a specified number of hours of air reconnaissance flights. This falls into the traditional template of pacification, though nothing like customary pacification occurred with the Latundê, as will become clear presently. The sertanista Fritz wanted to avoid future problems by establishing as a precondition the operational requirements to assure continuity after the first contact – in an area where INCRA demanded action for it already sold or distributed the land, thus purporting to eliminate obstacles to the ecological and socioeconomic order of the regional society as desired by both this agency and its clients. Tolksdorf expresses his disposition to agree with engaging in the task only on the condition that the request rests on the bureaucracies’ firm support. His short comments confirm the conclusion already obvious in the analysis of other documents, FUNAI failed miserably in its institutional role at the expense of a small and unprepared people. Later documents further substantiate this conclusion.
Anthropological reports and the first post-contact phase
The major report on the situation follows from what is an apparently firmer political will to resolve the issue, and consequently in 1980, the Work Group mentioned previously is founded. The results put forth from this taskforce further uncover inept, inefficient and scandalous negligence. The anthropologist, Jane Galvão, completed research in the library, carried out fieldwork for thirty days in the Tubarão/Massaká area and united all FUNAI documents[lvi]. From the outset, she perceived the confusions of names, after the apparent discovery by FUNAI in 1976, when the file and documentation of the case started. The confusion of names of leaders as eponym for the group under their leadership explains the former names of Massaca and Tubarão. According to the Indians, these names derived from the names of their tuxauas, instead of these extraneous names they proposed the term Aikaná as an auto-denomination. The strength of this name affects the outsider’s perception of the group’s indianess. It is this particular report that led to the adoption of this ethnonym as the definite designation of this people. The name is now in general use. The use of the term Massacá to both groups and the one of Índios do Campo in the task description of the Work Group and in the legal document of interdiction, adds to the original confusion. Here too, Galvão removes any doubts and again assigns this people their definitive classification, they are Nambiquara of the Latundê group. The idea of Nambiquara comes from the first anthropological report while the name Latundê, as evident in Tolksdorf’s second report, originated from the Nambikwara Project Unfortunately, the author does not indicate the sources of her information. So finally, after several years and much confusion, the names of the relevant groups are standardized. In one case, an auto-denomination is used even though it is an idiomatic expression, not some equivalent of ‘Us’ or ‘People’. In the second case, the origin of the word Nambikwara remains unsolved. Similarly, the emphasis on the report and the bulk of the material treats the history and contemporary situation of the Aikaná while only a very minor portion concerns the Latundê[lvix].
Notwithstanding the small part dedicated to the Latundê, the information and suggestions are quite relevant for an understanding of their history. In the first place, the author describes how the Aikaná Indians depended upon the rubber collection and the transformation of two of them into minor patrons, each with a number of client Indians, and, perhaps as a concurrent phenomenon, the change from a general pooling of income to individual accounts. In 1975 these two men, then brothers-in-law, quarreled and the people separated into two settlements of kin-groups each under the leadership of one of the men. As already hinted above, this entails the attenuated reproduction of the relations of domination prevalent in the regional society. This rapid sketch is relevant because of the intermediation exercised by the Aikaná with respect to the Latundê. The role concerns both the bureaucratic relation initiated with FUNAI’s presence and the insertion into the dominant economic relations in which they found themselves. The historical contingencies of the lack of care and lack of attentiveness to specificities and the corresponding irresponsibility of FUNAI engendered a process of uncontrolled integration by the neighboring Indians and the resident FUNAI employee. In fact, it is evident from the maps furnished by Tolksdorf that he approached the Latundê directly, penetrating the area by way of the national highway (BR), and not by circumventing their region and entering through the Aikaná village. Documents assembled by the anthropologist show that she concluded that Tolksdorf apparently initiated contact, leaving Fonseca to take care of the Indians, but:
“(…) the Latundê never had on the part of FUNAI a really effective and efficacious support. Fonseca was appointed to stay in the area and take care of these Indians, but rapidly abandoned them, going to live with the Aikaná. The Latundê were left to their devices and with an ever more miserable existence.
The reports mention that at the time of contact the number of Latundê amounted to 23 people. According to data obtained by us, the Latundê have been reduced to 13 people, 4 of whom presently live in the village of captain Manoel. Today the situation of these Indians is deeply regrettable. The ex-employee Fonseca furnished clothes to the Indians and they walk about the village with their clothes torn and dirty. When we were in the area, two Latundê fell seriously ill, contracting the flu, but they recovered.
A lamentable fact that is occurring concerns the “civilizing” of the Latundê by the Aikaná. The Aikaná assimilated, in their contacts with the Whites, the scheme of domination/subordination and are reproducing this in relation to the Latundê, considering them “inferior Indians”. A young detribalized Sabané (Mané Torto) married a young Latundê (Terezinha) and it is this Indian that establishes the communication between the Latundê and the Aikaná, because Mané Torto understands the Latundê language and speaks Portuguese. In fact, it was Mané Torto who brought the four Latundê Indians to the village.
We did not go to their village where the rest of the Latundê reside. According to information, the Latundê captain is very conservative and does not want to leave his village.
The four Latundê presently residing in the Aikaná village are being compelled to a form of labor totally deleterious to the group’s social organization. When we left the area, the Latundê were cleaning up the access road to the Aikaná village. According to Mr. J. Fonseca the Indians would receive a salary for this task and would be able to buy food at the warehouse.
Normally the Latundê would leave very early in the morning and return at dusk. When arriving they would light a fire in the interior of the house, roast some manioc and some small animal they hunted. Often they went fishing and came back late at night when we could hear their laughter or, if not, the noise they made in order to expel the pigs owned by the Aikaná that sometimes invaded their house”.
Without any competent agent present to accompany the Latundê, the flow of events took a different course. Fonseca abandoned the Latundê and went to live with the Aikaná, afterwards, in September 1979, he was discharged from service. Before leaving the area, he established a firm relation with the Aikaná, re-oriented the direction of Latundê contact through this channel and attracted a significant part of the Indians into the same system of economic exploitation[lviii]. It is significant that the mention of the marriage of the young Latundê woman to another Nambikwara man – wrongly referred to as Sabanê, his life story is more complicated than the simple predicate detribalization implies – highlights Fonseca’s continued presence and his apparent role of manager among the Aikaná. He handles the question of payments and he actively manages more than just the books, going so far as hiring cheap labor. The rewards for the Indians’ labor appear symbolically as the dirty and torn clothing they wear. These are the new necessities imposed by the recent colonialist relation, essentially transforming them into poor people that, ultimately (as Fonseca explicitly said), have to work even to obtain food. The Indians originally did not go around naked, they had ornaments and body aesthetics for daily life and ritual performances; assigning the label of naked to a people was part of the template or attraction. Among many, if not all, Nambikwara peoples full nudity, even without any existing ornaments, used to be considered perfectly acceptable. Clothes are, in a way, symptomatic of the new symbolic domination, of the first step towards civilization (in transition from the savage to the domesticated Indian) and of the creation of new needs that cannot be fulfilled by traditional means. Essentially, this generates a double dependency because they must be acquired by learning new skills inserted in a new conception of commodities and time, labor, to be sold and the corollary objects to be bought and utilized.
At this point, by virtue of the Indian’s enticement of certain commodities and external objects, coupled with the concomitant attempt to impose the standards and values that encourage such interest (along with an entirely new world view of personal agency), it is possible to assume that the Latundê view of autonomy of the body, the world, and agency was already modifying[lxi]. Observations of the most significant Latundê members illustrates the growing breach between the traditional and subordinated lifestyles. The recognized leader of the Latundê, the captain continued to lead his own autonomous lifestyle. The label traditional, possibly used by Fonseca and the Aikaná and reported in the description above, very likely carries a negative connotation. Fonseca and the Aikaná held the view that the stranger who married into the group is a man already partially disciplined in the new hegemonic order, at least in relation to new economic realities. Unfortunately, Galvão did not visit the Latundê nor did she give the captain’s name but she interpreted his refusal to move to the village as resistance to the social construction of a new symbolic and economic domination mediated by the Aikaná, the lowest partiality of the socioeconomic system of the regional society. And the information about the Latundê most likely still issues from the same people that attempted to discipline the family in the Aikaná village in their role as civilizing agents of wild and uncivilized Indians.
The rags and the lodgings certainly epitomize the inferior state in which they were held and the symbolic inferiority attributed to them. It would be too hasty to conclude that this opinion was necessarily accepted by the Latundê themselves, as they did not constitute a real object of the research. Their apparent happiness, for example, challenges the image supposed by other Indians and the civilized of a destitute people, suffering in abject poverty in a world without commodities. Such misconceptions seem to have influenced Galvão’s notion of the conditions of the clothing and housing of this people. After all, it goes without saying that it is impossible to judge or evaluate people based on the type of clothing they wear or its cleanliness: the exterior does not necessarily translate the own interior appraisal. Such concepts vary immensely cross-culturally. Plus the Nambikwara notions of matter out of place, in the famous expression by Mary Douglas, are notoriously different. Notwithstanding different conceptions, the Latundê were probably learning the civilized notion of cleanliness. Likewise, understanding the notion of poverty entails a certain reassessment of their notions of value and worth. Previous contact with neighboring cultures and the very likely adoption of new practices or objects did not diminish their ethnocentrism and self-esteem despite the fact that these neighbors usually possessed more material objects than the Nambikwara. Still, being exploited demands attention and the measures Galvão proposes demonstrate good sense. She suggested immediate assistance be made available separately for the Latundê at their village and that further assistance should be directed by the engagement of a Nambikwara specialist of the Nambiquara Project. As for the territory of these peoples, initially she criticizes INCRA for its interference and its reservation of the worst possible land for the Aikaná. She criticizes INCRA for acting illegally when the organization improperly assumed this task and even believed it was doing these people a favor in offering a larger area (72,000 hectares) in 1977. Inferring from her fieldwork data and the Aikaná pleas, she positions herself in opposition to the popular belief that Indian land is akin to merely a source of economic income, like a fazenda. She applied the principle that land had a deeper significance for these peoples than a mere means of production. Galvão then proposed an area of approximately 110,000 hectares for both peoples or, secondly, if not possible, minimally 63,000 hectares for the Aikaná and 47,000 hectares for the Latundê[lxii]. The fact that Latundê were a neglected group on the verge of extinction and required immediate action is thought to justify the proposed size of their area. At one point, the author argues explicitly against the transference of the Indians, a further reminder of the facility with which such inappropriate and actually illegal action occurred in these times.
Remarkably, the justification for the proposal is mainly concerned with issues relating to the soil composition, the blatant deficiencies of INCRA’s reservation, and the ecological conduct of the Indians compared with the irresponsible destruction of the rubber trees by civilized tappers. The second proposed solution amounts to the same area proposed in the first. The only difference is that it is to be distributed separately to the two peoples. Thus, the proposals still operate within the historical constraints and contingencies of INCRA’s colonization scheme and the previous framework of the legal delimitation. No further explanation is deemed necessary nor are any details given about the real present occupation of this area. Not even the occupancy of the Aikaná is studied more closely, let alone the Latundê’s patterns of land use. Regarding this land, one of the only observations relates that cattle ranchers are usually not very interested in the savanna. In this way the entire chunk of the delimited area south of the Pimenta River would be liberated. The only exception to this conspicuous reduction is an area of 37,000 hectares proposed for the protection of the uncontacted Indians. This is an Indian presence that Galvão affirms to have been known by many lower FUNAI officials for several years and whom had also called for action for some time[lxiii]. Such reduction still totals 53,000 hectares that are to be subtracted from the previously reserved stock of land and the reduction of the joint Aikaná and Latundê block to some 55% of the formerly delimited area. Though it is true they did not occupy these lands, the Aikaná themselves requested an extension on both sides of the margins of the river. Thus, the appeal to the field data and the consultations of the Indians leaves the argument about how much land is sufficient underdeveloped; this reasoning however may be a rhetorical device to sustain a large area for small populations. After all, the Latundê are even considered to be in extinction. This may be another political tactic used by federal institutions. Clearly, liberating so much land may provide a bargaining chip in negotiating with a powerful agency like INCRA (not to mention the fact that Rondônia was soon after granted statehood, a factor correctly remembered as an argument to encourage rapid demarcation).
Two annexes to the major report further illuminate the issues of contact, land, and neglect: one concerns the special Case João Fonseca, the other reproduces a communication by David Price to FUNAI about his trip through Nambikwara country in 1977 (dated August 15, 1977). The two documents are related because the assistant worked for several years at the Nambikwara Post in Mato Grosso before he, as a result of his engagement in the attraction of the Latundê, requested transfer to Rondônia[lxiv]. According to Price, at his former Post Fonseca did not obey his duties and made the caboclos (general lower class term for Indian or an acculturated Indian) produce subsistence food for him and his family. The report gathers diverse material to prove the general opinion of inappropriate and irregular behavior, including the findings of a special investigating commission. The treatment of the assistant evinces the problems of the agency with personnel, not only did it take years to discharge the man, as after his dismissal another regional administrator filed a request to review the process and to re-admit him (evidence of internal patronage). Most significantly, however, is the fact that he somehow could be designated to work on the attraction of the Latundê and afterwards, by virtue of his monopoly of literacy and mathematical proficiency, he succeeded in gaining a firm stronghold as the veritable Aikaná patron. A project he, in a way, announced to Price: “Mr. João [Fonseca] plans to establish himself at the Aikanã village, from where he would pay attention to the small Nambiquara village and would “pacify”, with the aid of the Aikanã, other wild groups, to the south of the Pimenta River. He stated to me that when he started something he went to the end of it; and that now he shall “bring all of these unruly ones together”. The choice of words in the citations quite explicitly unveils the common sense of the rural conception of the Indian as an entity to be pacified, domesticated and taught to work by a competent civilized person. The latter, naturally, should earn not only the merit of such operation but could also legitimately profit from his service as manager (the reproach of personal benefits from Indian labor are common in the reports). As Fonseca made no attempt to hide or mask his viewpoints and plans, FUNAI must have been aware of them. Nevertheless, he only was relieved of his duties in the beginning of 1980, when another employee went to live in the area. The newcomer could not rival with the sociopolitical power exerted by his ex-colleague who initially simply remained as the manager employed by the Indian patrons.
Overall, the history of contact and pacification of the Latundê is full of seeming peculiarities. When Fonseca told Price about this history, he confirmed some of the strange happenings and astounding negligence in his own idiosyncratic style. For example, as Fonseca was somewhat reticent about traveling with Price and other employees to see the Latundê, Price also believed that he withheld information about his activities (Price suspected some unclear fear; they did go, however, on July 27):
“In June of this year, the Rural Overseer João Fonseca was informally assigned to the operation of contact. Accordingly, he entered the forest accompanied by five Aikanã Indians and one rubber tapper; he does not remember the exact date of the expedition, nor did he write a report but knows that he passed the June festivities [Saint John’s day] in the forest. After five days, he found the village he was looking for, the inhabitants of which trembled in fear but formed a frail line of defense to protect their homes. He and his companions slept in the savanna and on the following day succeeded in their approach, a fact corroborated by some badly exposed photographs of Mr. J.Fonseca embracing the Indians. The group never let the strangers enter their village and Mr. J.Fonseca did not remember if the men had nose and lip piercing, but affirmed that the Aikanã did not understand their language, which must be Nambiquara because he recognized “the way they talk”. He said to have counted 10 men and 8 women, apart from the likely presence of children that he did not see”.
The precariousness of this attempt and of first contact is evident in the complete inappropriateness of the designation of the leader of the expedition. The total lack of bureaucratic compliance with the rules transpires from the moment of an informal assignment to the absence of a report of this activity. Actually, Price himself only visited the Indians informally (he was no longer FUNAI staff) when the opportunity arose. At the time, the coordinator of the Nambikwara Project ordered one of his men, Ariovaldo Santos, to take Fonseca to the Latundê, who then also invited another employee of the Project, Marcelo dos Santos, and two Nambikwara. The Indians went in order to confirm the group’s linguistic affiliation[lxv]. The northern Nambiquara maintained the conversation between the two parties and they were very well received with so many presents that Price felt that they hardly accomplished a satisfactory retribution. That is, the probable second contact, although not explicitly stated as such, not only went well, but proved that the Indians were not too poor to give many presents. Price also did not say why he asked about the ornaments, but he obviously thought that one of the diacritical features of being Nambiquara, irrespective of any dialectal and linguistic differences concerns the use of piercings[lxvi]. Yet the language clearly defines the affiliation of the Latundê. He adds that the only other Indians known to the small group are the Aikaná, “(…) whom they call mahalohndé, and whom they consider extremely dangerous enemies”. Small wonder the first contact appears to have been tense. Both sides thoroughly mistrusted each other. It is worth noting that Price, so soon after first contact, carefully avoids naming these Northern Nambiquara with any particular denomination, only referring to the village and the group. No outsider name seems to have coined. Some years later, in a discussion of the sociocultural nature of these groups, the people now called Latundê appears unnamed in his argument. Price asked the accompanying Indian “(…) who served as an interpreter to find out what the people called themselves, and after a bit of conversation he reported that they had no name” (Price 1987: 14). Nambikwara peoples and groups do not name themselves, they name others.
Price also did not mention who assigned the assistant to the job, perhaps out of diplomacy, just as he does not refer to the coordinator of the Nambiquara Project by name in this part. In a prior section of his account, he called him Mr. Fritz Tolksdorf. Price observed, in a diplomatic and ironic fashion, how in the course of a drawn-out and dangerous conflict between Nambikwara do Campo Indians and a sham landowner, Fritz appeared only once in the area of conflict and stayed for exactly ninety minutes. Now, it must be noted that Tolksdorf stated in his correspondence to have made official contact on July 2. At the end of July, during of the expedition in which Price participated, only the assistant, a civilized tapper and the Aikaná are confirmed by the people in the area to be participants of the prior trip. Hence the conclusion of Tolksdorf’s conspicuous absence on the trip that resulted in the first contact. It is unlikely Price left out the name of his political adversary in an event of such importance. His account only allows the conclusion that Tolksdorf did not participate in the efforts in the field, and delegated everything to Fonseca. Doubtlessly something strange happened here, when years later the sertanista Tolksdorf claimed to have pacified the Latundê in accordance with the task he temporarily agreed to undertake. All evidence suggests this to be plainly untrue. One might rightfully ask about the stark contrast between the Latundê case and the conditions the sertanista posed to conduct an attraction some time later. Tolksdorf later also disavowed his subordinate collaborator, because the papers of the commission investigating the conduct of Fonseca include his statement that he is a very poor functionary (cited in the annex; unfortunately without the date). Personal and corporate politics may explain the transition from a valued collaborator to a discarded pawn within FUNAI, but without more information, this can be only speculation[lxvii].
In Price’s report on the general situation, he describes a situation that flaunts the results of what may be called an informal policy. At least three people were recovering from the flu, a notorious killer of uncontacted Indians, one of whom was still suffering the effects of the illness. Worse, two people died since Mr. J.Fonseca’s visit, one of whom was an old woman photographed on the previous visit and the other was a man who died only two days prior to Price’s visit. In less than a month, the recently contacted group already suffered the severe loss of two of its senior members. Statistically, this is a very significant number as it comprises 10% of the adult population tallied. Clearly, to such a small group such sudden losses are traumatic[lxviii]. The village consisted of seven houses, one owned by the newly deceased man, and the six others lodged six couples, one of which had three children and another had one. This adds up to fifteen people and does not comprise the total population as at least four adults are missing in this count according to Fonseca’s calculations. Price asserts that the Indians told of their long history on that savanna and the worn footpaths in and around the houses and the surroundings testify to the longtime occupation of village. Thus, they were definitely not nomads and inhabited the area for a considerable period. Furthermore, it was discovered that the savanna in which they lived was located at the Capivara River and not, as thought before, at the neighboring river, Mutuca. Bones of hunted animals seen around the village served as a testament to the group’s success in this environment as did their generosity in giving the visitors vegetable foods grown from their own gardens. Obviously, the Indians were more than self-sufficient and they were very familiar with the environment that was clearly their permanent location.
After clarifying these inauspicious and obscure beginnings of a permanent relation between the Indians and national society, Price writes that the Nambiquara identification as Nambiquara should be determinant in defining the responsible bureaucratic unit for the management of the people’s relationship with the national society. Thus, he concludes that the Nambiquara Project, under the aegis of the Mamaindê Post chief, should assume responsibility for the Latundê.
This chief already had a plan to create an access route to the Latundê to avoid passing through the Aikaná village. Price also recommended the obvious interdiction of the area to protect the Indians. In the following part of the document he discusses the role of the Aikaná and Fonseca. Here too Price expands upon the knowledge available, observing, for example, that FUNAI’s predecessor, the SPI, left the Aikaná to their own devices, relinquishing them from its responsibilities and turning control over to rubber patrons who enslaved the various peoples of the region. Tracing its parallel to FUNAI’s and INCRA’s development, these Indians surface as the victims of previous forced deculturation and acculturation. Consequently, the appearances of change enabled INCRA to allege that they no longer represented authentic Indians and their clothing and Portuguese ability constitutes a significant foundation for this stigmatization[lxix]. Price reminds FUNAI that the abandonment of the Aikaná and the resultant deaths should not be dealt with by appointing an assistant who demonstrated an unprofessional prior performance (as in Aroeira), extending a bad reputation to anyone who works at that Post. In light of this, Price closes his report by writing:
“It was to resolve these problems that the Coordinator of the Project thought to give him work that would keep him far away from the Post. Nonetheless, it is already evident that he is not capacitated to execute the difficult task to maintain first contacts with groups rejecting contact. This being said, the Coordinator plans to restrict his attributions to the rendering of medical services to the Aikaná. However, ever since he requested drugs including cortisone and morphine “to treat insect bites”, I do not really trust his medical abilities. Perhaps it would be better to grant his wish for transference, something he has been asking for years.
Certainly the Aikaná deserve something better.”
As do the Latundê. Regardless of knowing well whom he was assigning to the job, the coordinator, Tolksdorf, left the real work and responsibility of establishing and maintaining contact with an unknown people who were scared and unprepared for this sort of new relation with the dangerous outside, to a representative of the same regional society that discriminates and persecutes them. Afterwards, contrary to what he asserts in his later report, this superior did not plan to leave him taking care of the Latundê, he intended to put him in charge of caring for the Aikaná, still a reckless and hazardous proposition. It is unclear if he was being dishonest with Price or if he changed his mind. Regardless, a large part of the real responsibility for both the Latundê and the Aikaná lies in his hands[lxx]. Regional superior officials were perfectly aware of the general situation and of the characteristics of their subordinate, probably other higher tiers of the administration were too. Price’s report does not leave much room for misinterpretation. Despite all of these warnings and owing to internal politics, employee motivations, and the external constraints of the context of the institutional field and national Indian policy (a situation too complex to accurately sketch here), from 1977 to 1979 the same man exercised a fundamental influence on both peoples. Even after being discharged, he sociopolitically eclipsed the FUNAI representative in 1980, to the point of interfering with the allocation of the funds of a development project. In a position to shape policy, he held on to his strategic managerial position. The two Aikaná captains, both apparently small-scale Indian rubber patrons to the other Indians, later petitioned for his stay and his formal return to the FUNAI ranks.
Not content to administer medicine, Fonseca wanted to civilize the Indians into the discipline of work; the auxiliary and later adjunct administrator of one of the captains (but also exercising firm influence over the other and later performing the same task for both), wished to extend the influence of his actions to encompass all regional Indians. “Some questions about a larger productivity of the Indians or the use of the labor force of the Latundê are clearly put by João Fonseca who gets irritated when an Indian, for whatever motive, abandons his “colocação” [a house and the rubber collecting tracks attached to it]. He made the Latundê understand that the only way to earn food is by working for captain Manoel. J.Fonseca uses the Latundê for tasks like cutting firewood for his stove”. Hence the presence of a couple, one older woman and two teenagers of the recently contacted Latundê in the Aikaná village, subject to the discipline of this labor regime. This demonstrates the ease with which such a minor player can affect the victims of contact. This is the direct result of the process of a foolhardy attraction as carried out under the formal guidance of FUNAI. The presence in the village impresses Galvão, who, seeing the comparative squalor of the clothes and lodgings, muses that she is meeting a people in decline, even on the verge of extinction. The recent population trends did give grounds for such pessimism. The numbers given at first contact, refer to around twenty persons, presumably somewhere around eighteen adults and four children (it unclear how she arrived at the number of 23). After the numerous deaths so soon after first contact, the author rightfully concludes that a decline to thirteen people in only three years represents a very severe loss and is a threat to their survival as an ethnic group. A gravely diminished population of a people weakened further by the division of one group staying in their homeland and another residing in the Aikaná village. Perspectives for social and ethnic reproduction could only inspire somber prognostics, unless the so-called competent authorities finally took some effective action. The course of such action though maybe does not that appear to be obvious to any such authority. However, Galvão’s report makes it abundantly clear that nobody heeded Price’s advice.
Final reports and the definitions of areas
The repeated outcry for action did have some effect. Most of it, as far as can be perceived from the dossier, seems to have been administrative. The Work Group did not elaborate on the situation in locus of the Latundê, despite some penetrating and relevant remarks on abandonment, irresponsibility, general negligence and the mode of insertion into the Aikaná economic system. The lack of data on the effective occupancy in the savanna occasioned FUNAI in 1981 to constitute another Work Group with a view to complement prior studies[lxxi]. In the beginning of February, the presidency issued an administrative act that created the Tubarão Indian Post. Even when citing the dossier as the basis of this measure, somehow the Tubarão name did not change to the more appropriate name already known. Some months after the latest report, an employee infrastructure, a radio, and a car were finally allocated to this new Post. The presence of an assistant trained in indigenous assistance and another person trained in basic healthcare should bring some permanent relief to minor daily problems, particularly to the Aikaná. Simultaneously this would objectify and introduce the permanence of the encompassing authority of the outside agency to which both peoples are essentially Indian, and their myriad differences being of secondary relevance. The newly instated Work Group set out specifically for the Latundê, who, after all, had never been visited by any FUNAI official in a Work Group deciding on their territory. The people assigned to the group started their investigations sometime in June, receiving the support of the Mamaindê Post chief and two Nambikwara Indians. Due to the practical difficulties of transport and food, they stayed with the Latundê for only four days. For some reason these difficulties always rise with respect to a visit to the Latundê. Notwithstanding real problems, one suspects the barrier must be additionally composed of a psychological and social component. In spite of the shortness of fieldwork, the conclusions highlight continuity in precise practices. The first conclusion consists of the fundamentally unchanged structural situation of this group, the continued attempt at attraction and insertion into the Aikaná system of rubber collection and socioeconomic domination. Other contingencies temporarily worsened the general situation. The small group in the Aikaná village experienced serious setbacks that apparently resulted in a withdrawal from more concentrated contact in the Latundê heartland:
“From the moment of contact, the groups did not receive any assistance from FUNAI and in a four year period suffered a drastic population reduction caused by the infectious and contagious diseases to which they were not resistant. From the contacted population of 23, only 11 are left, of whom 9 are in the village and 2 are in medical treatment in Cacoal. There is a certain urgency to provide a systematic effort for this group, some sort of an effective support. Without this, this group will become yet another extinct group in the country. Today we only came across one child of about 5 years old, despite the presence of two young couples in the village.
The contact of the group with the surrounding society and even with the Tubarão group is minimal, despite the various occasions when their labor force was recruited for periodic tasks by the Tubarão. This group is trying to “civilize them” by introducing manufactured goods and foods, thereby slowly creating necessities and dependencies with respect to the national society and the Tubarão. After the last epidemic of measles, the Latundê withdrew themselves from the area of their neighbors and contact is realized by way of a sabanê Indian that lives in the Latundê village. The Tubarão group personified by its chief discriminates the latundê with stereotyped images absorbed by the permanent contact with our society.”
Some things are immediately noteworthy; the return of the Aikaná’s systematic use of Tubarão, the erroneous attribution of being Sabanê to the inter-married Indian, and the classification of a veritable Indian patron as a chief. Such naming and classifying is never harmless and is almost always part of a larger common sociocultural dispute regarding the principles of legitimate classificatory divisions and connected competencies, attribution of capacities, and power allocation (Bourdieu 2000). The Sabanê language is not close to Latundê, the name Aikaná is less arbitrary then Tubarão, and to call the leader a chief amounts to suggesting a political legitimacy not acquired by economic domination alone. One could easily argue that this is a deliberate tool to maintain control, ensuring that everyone is included in the classificatory system and not left outside the sociopolitical order. Indeed, naming Indians and designating each indigenous groups with a specific name corroborates the very existence of the embracing sociopolitical order, which is one of the main reasons of the immediacy and prominence of naming. Naming independent peoples reduces them, to use a historical term, to a known entity within the dominant sociopolitical order. Further appeals to the natural contingencies of history as an evolutionary path illustrates the supposed inevitability of such non-autonomous existence within the nation-state[lxxii]. The objective of the journey falls within this scope. The task to map the utilization and extension of the Latundê territory discloses how their previously independent occupancy should be verified, ratified, and officially sanctioned by the state. In general, the state abhors the idea of allocating too much land to undeserving proto-citizens who practice a mode of non-capitalistic economic production. FUNAI therefore assigned the employees to a Work Group with the task to proceed with a reconnaissance, sending them to explore the land and see how it is used. According to the anthropologist Galvão, even with the interpreters, communication with the Indians was hampered by the monolingual Latundê (the exception being one man from the outside who spoke some Portuguese). Not being able to carry enough supplies, and aggravated by the scarcity of (…) [provisions] among the Indians, because of their recent relocation (probably as the fields were not yet producing), limited the effort. Furthermore, two members of the Work Group caught the flu gravely threatening the Indians[lxxiii]. During Galvão’s visit, neither the planned Post nor its personnel were in place, so any outbreak would be severe as there was no help available.
When the first expedition to carry out the bureaucratic exigencies related to land demarcation necessary to guarantee the Latundê territory finally succeeded in reaching their homeland, several factors severely limited its results. The report resultantly relies heavily on the assumption of a sociocultural similarity among the whole of the Nambikwara ensemble and then attributes these generic characteristics to the Latundê. The collected information is more interesting but occasionally repeats prior reports and contains some inaccuracies[lxxiv]. The most important news is the death of the Latundê chief in the measles epidemic. Much attention is given to the prominence of his replacement, the incoming husband. Significantly, the death practically means the end of an entire generation (although an older woman still survives) and deprives the Latundê of a competent leader of their own village. Actually, the presence of a young Latundê man is noted but he remains subdued by the former stranger who came to live with the group, Mané Torto. However, it is not noted that the Latundê man is fairly younger and less experienced than Mané, as can be seen on the picture taken in 1980. Moreover, the papers and the picture make clear that the younger man used to live in Mané’s house. Thus, he was partially raised by the outsider. Naturally, Mané exercised a strong influence on the younger man. Documentation reveals that Mané Torto’s presence was perceived as beneficial to the group’s reorganization. In fact, if the eldest available woman of the younger generation (Terezinha) had not married, the group might have dissolved and become socially extinct. Mané, the report continues, chose a new group locale closer to the rubber collecting areas in the forest and intended to engage in rubber production in order to maintain access to industrial commodities. Mané did not intend to discontinue the group’s insertion in the system of socioeconomic dominance in place.
Unfortunately, the population decline accelerated in the year since the last report and signifies another terrible blow for an already weakened people. As it relates that one third of the population died since the release of the previous report: “A measles epidemic occurred in the region in 1980 resulting in the death of approximately 6 Latundê Indians. At the time, the group sought assistance from the Tubarão but did not receive any.” In absence of a census, the demographic data presented are somewhat confusing. Only the married couple is mentioned by name. Part of the reason for this incompleteness concerns the fact that an elderly couple and a young child lived away from the two houses of the major village. They apparently attempted to maintain the traditional house and lifestyle in the savanna. The movement towards the rubber trees is a move towards the other Indians, closer to the forest, and building houses in regional style. This recent change, stimulated by the death of the leader, probably Terezinha’s father, is evident in some of the photographs showing the traditional houses further away in the savanna, closer to the previous site. The permanence of the former site, already inhabited at contact, demonstrates the persistence of the village, and is further evidence against the nomadic character often ascribed to the Nambikwara. Although the place of the new building implies the necessity of the cultivation of a new garden, the older field continues to supply the village with produce. It is said that the harvest must be complemented with collection expeditions by the women. The anthropologist Galvão probably correctly considered this conduct to be a persistence of a customary practice of women foraging both in the savanna and the forest, and that the temporary shortage mentioned results from the post-contact situation. The opening up of nearby large landholdings, for example, affected hunting and obliged hunters to amplify the area covered to provide sufficient meat. In spite of the legal action by FUNAI in 1980 prohibiting any action in the delimited area, INCRA confirmed to the author the persistence of opening up of plots south of the area. Also, three rubber tappers and their families began living in the Latundê area, all working for one of the Tubarão patrons.
Several matters contributed to the increasing disintegration of the Latundê’s territorial integrity and the noticeable encroachment upon their traditional lands. The author suggests that during the dry season the group used to split up in various small bands and then spread out over large territory in order to forage and hunt. The practice is thought to have been abandoned after the increase in illness and death. The suggestion of these treks bases itself more on the literature than the complicated communication with the Indians themselves. The captions of the photographs imply that the village already had moved once before being fixed in the latest location. The Latundê, not surprisingly, took no note of any territorial limits imposed by outside definitions, but no longer posed opposition to intruders or the diverse inroads into their lands. Maybe in the end this was the better alternative. This, together with the relative poverty of their heartland, possibly protected them from the threat suffered by the wild Omerê Indians to the south. In the Omerê region with its forest and better soils, the unknown Indians were sighted and: “It is said that the landowner contracted laborers to exterminate the unknown group if they appear again in his lands.” In effect, this sighting is outside of the area south of the Pimenta River that the previous Work Group suggested remain under prohibition. The current document did not recommend any modification[lxxv]. As to the Latundê area, irrespective of not having visited the eastern part of their territory because of the fear of uncontacted Indians, and after all the arguments about the ecological necessity of a large area, the proposal covers only 27,000 ha. At this time the Indians used the northern part sparingly for fear of the so-called Bigfoot Indians (thought to be responsible for the killing). In four days, without participating in any real reconnaissance of the territory, with at most a scant knowledge of ecological adaptation and occupancy, this proposal perpetuates the prior temerarious audacity with respect to Latundê territorial perimeters. The group argued for the maintenance of another 20,000 ha because of the presence of the uncontacted Indians[lxxvi]. The final list of generic recommendations repeats the same remedies as those above. Mentioned is the necessity of a clear division between the areas of the two neighboring peoples, Fonseca’s withdrawal, the location of a future Post at a place that enables personnel to assist both peoples (something already agreed to by both Aikaná chiefs a year before), and the stationing of a medical health agent at the Latundê village.
The report received a bureaucratic treatment in Brasília that resulted in another documentary evaluation of the known data and the proposal of the Latundê area (dated December 1981). Sometimes aspects of this document confuse the subject. For instance, in the original report, the Latundê population is given as eleven and the summarizing report suggests the population is fifteen. The official census counts twelve people, accounting for a marriage with an Indian from another people. It is true the referenced text does not make clear whether Mané is included or not in the customarily mentioned number of eleven Indians but the phrasing may be interpreted as such. Sometimes the error derives from certain assumptions such as that that the Latundê are fundamentally monogamous and the two young couples are the only ones who may reproduce and that there are four unmarried young women[lxxvii]. Other times errors derive from bad reading. Such sloppiness explains the statement that after the first anthropological report the two groups were labeled on the one hand Tubarão or Aikaná, and on the other one Latundê, both nambikwara subgroups. After synthesizing reasonably well other information, the conclusion notes the immemorial occupation, a figure of speech essential to the judiciary recognition of existing land rights. The document returns to the figure of eleven individuals, remarking upon the precarious existence of an ethnic group that possesses no more than two couples for reproduction, prompting the recommendation of actions to assure the physical and cultural survival of the group. Furthermore, most of the above-mentioned measures are also accepted, along with another list enumerating many well-known measures, namely the attraction of the uncontacted Indians by a sertanista, the removal of the intruding non-Indian families from the indigenous area, the liberation of unused areas and the protection of the Latundê area. On the other hand, the lack of actual verification of the occupancy and land use is duly noted from observations made on the ground as well as from the air. From this moment on, these numbers and procedures might have gained a certain momentum, by virtue of being proposed in Brasília, the main bureaucratic seat where the real decisions customarily are taken. A memorandum made by the head of the Division of Identification and Delimitation of indigenous areas, even though dependent on internal power relations, normally carries a certain weight.
For whatever reason, it was another Department that sent a memorandum to Rondônia requesting clarification in loco of several points including the item about the presence of two unknown groups. Most importantly, it also solicits an opinion about the convenience of displacing the Latundê to the Tubarão area. The suggestion is made in light of the documented poor soil quality. This is an odd suggestion; after all, the document clearly mentioned the enmity between these peoples and the firm attachment of the Latundê to their native land. At the end of December 1980, the response is sent to Brasília. Some issues are solved. The Bigfoot Indians do not exist. They are but a group of Nambiquaras coming from Mato Grosso living off rubber collecting to the southeast of the Latundê, at Veado Preto. No other unknown Indians exist on the left bank of the Pimenta River, but there is a group of Indians living near the Mequens River (west of the Tubarão), without any assistance at all and at the mercy of rubber patrons. Fonseca furnished this information, with his profound knowledge of the region. His continued involvement demonstrates once more the occasional lack of preparation of the investigating technicians of indigenism (written in formally incorrect Portuguese). Note that this report does not come from the people in the field but from those not living near the site. This explains why even the two indigenist experts had no familiarity with this region:
“(…) the indigenous community Latundê (Nambiquara Sabanê Indians), find themselves within the interdicted area on behalf of the Tubarão and not outside of it as was assumed. These Indians are approximately 12 in number.
They were attracted to where they are today by Mister Fonseca. He is working intensely to improve their living conditions, associating them with the rubber [trade], just like the Tubarões [sic].”
These observations reveal the well-known bias of work and progress and the indication of dislocation in the direction of the Aikaná villages could have severely impaired the territorial claims of the Latundê, who once more are wrongly referred to as Sabanê. In one sense, the agents must be partially exempted from any responsibility, for part of their ignorance is caused by the now well-documented tendency within FUNAI not to circulate the relevant information to all whom it may concern. After all, Price identified the language and affiliation already 1977, yet a potentially damaging number of ethnonyms in various associations surface regularly in the documents. Probably the ingrained habits of bureaucracy of referring to familiar routines and known facts prevailed, or else the slow progress of the process hindered change from previous conventions. In fact, the next entry in the dossier is made six months later in July 1982. Another dispatch in Brasília by Pierson (substitute director of the Patrimônio Indígena) noticed the case and briefly mentioned the existing interdicted areas to be maintained, in view of the vestiges of Indian occupation. This document specifically deals with the question of the Indians not assisted by FUNAI and proposes an investigation in loco[lxxviii].
As incredible as it may seem, this paper provoked the creation of yet another Work Group (the last). This Work Group was sent off to the area with the task to ascertain the presence of these unassisted Indians. The members, however, interpreted their task more expansively and extended their attention to the whole region, now designated Indian Area Tubarão/Latundê/Sabanê. They took a census among the Tubarão and made observations about the extractive economy and about the presence of an infirmary and a school, both of which had no personnel. Empty buildings without qualified workers denote the persistent FUNAI abandonment. The only reason to prevent the scandalous conclusion of total desertion is the singular visit by a larger medical team. The Latundê group is now said to have only 10 people, including the inmarrying man now called the captain. The most significant detail with respect to demographic tendencies is that the report takes note of the birth of a newborn child to the leader and his wife. The composition of the population remains unclear because, as noted above, the prior reports do not give all the names nor do their evaluations include precise ages of the members. They offer only a range of probable ages. Judging from available data, it seems likely that the census count failed to include one boy, so the total population is almost the same as the prior year. The brother of the uncounted boy was listed as Mané Torto’s son and was said to be enlisted in rubber collecting. In fact, both of the boys are actually brothers of the leader’s wife[lxxix].
Aside from the inaccuracies, the report elucidates how the lack of assistance continues even with the recently constructed infrastructure at a three hours walking distance from the Latundê. Fonseca gave medical attention, although Price thought him unfit to act in such capacity. At this time, the buildings were situated between the Latundê and Aikaná villages. For the first time after the 1980 measles epidemic, a re-composition of the population became feasible. There are two couples, two potential families in two houses, and one had children[lxxx]. Thus, after the pathogenic impact of contact and the almost complete abandonment of medical care to protect against this widely known phenomenon sometimes called the Columbian Exchange, diseases cut the very small population down to half its original size. After a census demonstrating the presence of twelve Sabanê to the southeast of the Latundê, the authors proposed the ratification of the Tubarão and Latundê areas as proposed earlier, 63,000 ha and 47,000 ha respectively, this time augmenting the total area with an adjacent area for the Sabanê area amounting to 8,000 ha (although I assume that all members endorsed these results, the report was only signed by one member). In determining the appropriate size of the Latundê area, they took into account the range of land used for the cultivation of maize, manioc and peanuts and that used for the collection of fibers and fish poison, as well as the location of old villages and graveyards[lxxxi]. All three areas were now defined and the final size of the territory was fixed. This final resolution demonstrates how important initial interpretations were. Initial data gained from one reconnaissance flight and short consultations with Aikaná Indians proved to be remarkably ponderous parameters for later proposals. As the three areas are contiguous (from the west to east first the Aikaná then the Latundê and lastly the Sabanê) for the purpose of demarcation the description of the total area was concerned with the outer limits and disregarded inner limits between the three areas. There was a serious attempt to confirm the existence of the uncontacted Indians to the southeast of this indigenous area, but the search yielded no definitive results[lxxxii].
By this point, the necessary data for the official recognition of the three territories were completed and the final phases of the demarcation process could begin. During the years this process has been subjected to different bureaucratic procedures within the agency and to interventions from outside FUNAI attempting to control its crucial legal attribution. First, in September 1982, the Department of Indigenous Patrimony in charge summarized the relevant facts. It reviewed the credentials of the proposal and the previous studies discussed earlier, and then recommended that the presidency formally declare the area an Indigenous Territory. The FUNAI president, Paulo Moreira Leal almost immediately accepted this and took the important initial step towards the legal regularization of the area. As the area is made up of distinct parts with a large measure of contiguity, the document names all three indigenous groups separately but treats the area as a whole, not even mentioning once the particular sections pertaining to each different group. This, of course, makes good practical sense, just as it makes sense to designate the area for administrative control as Tubarão-Latundê Indigenous Territory and then allocate its immediately superior bureaucratic level to neighboring Vilhena. In reality, this sort of practical bureaucratic sense creates the same administrative structure to transform an administrative unit into something that can be treated for all practical purposes as a single unit. In other words, all of the recommendations about the particular attributes of the Forest and Savanna Indians and the necessity of separate approaches to the Aikaná and Latundê (not the least of which concerns the maintenance of a topological and administrative distance between them) are not expressed in the document. Unsurprisingly, the administrative definition of one area naturally shall tend to foster the idea of equal treatment rather than a distinctive approach to each people. Although distinctiveness was recognized as a matter of course imposed by the many obvious differences, the advice and a more profound recognition of such differences should have led to a system of assistance including, for instance, a separate Latundê administrative unit like an Indian Post. At the higher bureaucratic levels the local alterities give way to the generic encompassing label Indian. Both sheer bureaucratic expediency and cost accounting, combined with the generalized bias and the customary stereotype of the similarities of the Indian militate against a differentiated treatment of a group of only a dozen people. The map accompanying the file, a significant feature to the progress of this situation, now does not show the different territories, as if this was irrelevant. The map conflates the territories, compounding the difficulty of discerning the different peoples and thus promotes the future bureaucratic mandate over one area.
After this, the FUNAI president, another man with a military background, formally represented the proposal to higher authorities at the Ministry of the Interior. This was a complicated task, as the Ministry advances policies consisting of economic activities that supposedly mean progress, and was little disposed to view the Indians as much more than obstacles to what until today is called development. The indigenous groups represent the very antithesis of this ideological construct in a typical Brazilian contradiction between the letter of the law and the realities of both power and in the execution of the laws[lxxxiii]. The official term grupos indígenas carries a political connotation. The really appropriate term povos indígenas would highlight the ethnic uniqueness of these peoples and would stress their status as autonomous peoples within the state which forcibly incorporates them . The higher tiers of state administration habitually invent bureaucratic proceedings at the level of legal execution to enable other state agencies (in this period predominantly the security branch dominated by the military) to exert direct influence over the final result. Needless to say, this interference always harmed and harms Indian interests. Accordingly, FUNAI president Leal sent a summary of the whole case to the Ministry. The 1977 INCRA proposal continued to be mentioned as if such facts do not imply any illegality. The 1978 FUNAI report is cited to demonstrate INCRA’s obedience to laws relating to the Indians. Only later does the summary accuse INCRA of problems associated with the transference of the Aikaná in 1973 and explicitly exposes the legal abuses committed. One of the other odd features is that in 1976 the Indians were supposed to consider this entirely unfair change as irreversible; just as the Indians were supposed to present a demand excluding the southern bank of the Pimenta River from the delimited area. Actually, there is no evidence whatsoever that either demand was subjected to thorough consultation with any Indians. The collected documents reveal that the Indian’s role did not entail more than an auxiliary function. The remarks translate rather certain facilities for FUNAI to exempt itself from any sign of misdemeanor, mismanagement and incompetence that was too obvious and whenever feasible to blame the misconduct on another federal agency.
As for the Latundê area, the actual happenings also differ from my reconstruction and their history is somewhat disguised or even distorted: the Indians are painted as victims of progress before contact and, as part of a larger original group, are said to have been decimated while another part of the group is thought to be still roaming through the region; nothing is said about the lack of FUNAI assistance and the traumatic depopulation[lxxxiv]. The reports of anthropologists are resumed as to perform in the attributed role as experts that are capable of identification. They furnish the ethnic classification, cultural characterization, and territorial extension of the people and their land, so that the technical results authenticate the solidification and anchoring of the flux and contingency of actual history into the atemporal notion of a justified Indigenous Territory. This process shows the subordination of anthropological research to state objectives, being shaped and instrumentalized as a scientific technique that will merely reveal reality. A major problem here concerns the contradiction of thorough anthropological investigations with the normal social understanding of reality as substantialized and essentialist[lxxxv]. The various flaws, both from an extraneous academic point of view and an interior evaluation that the detailed investigation of the anthropological reports demonstrate and the sociocultural construction of peoples and areas they manifestly imply, are absent from Leal’s text. The summary must obey the rhetorical imposition of appearing to result from a technique that, if not impeccable, at least conforms to the canons of science. This is the face to be presented in such circumstances where the summation enters an arena of dispute where different interests of different federal agencies and diversified segments of the Brazilian population are represented and where, consequently, interests clash: a technically competent agency that produces a legitimate demand in conformation of the law and the objectivity of science. The bureaucratic constraints exerted upon the anthropological research, in particular the extreme limits on fieldwork, vanish at this point; only the supposed efficiency brought to the task is foregrounded. It is definitely no accident that the summary of previous reports is done by a bureaucrat in Brasília, someone of unknown credentials, but who certainly is not an anthropologist. In a real sense, both as a an Indian people and as legitimate occupant of an Indian area, the Latundê, their name, their land and their fate, are the very product of state intervention in a contingent conjuncture of a much more encompassing structural process. To each his own tradition of inventiveness (Sahlins 1999).
As the total area must be justified by the presence of several groups, Leal duly took note of the Aikaná, Latundê, and Sabanê in some of his correspondences (to the head of INCRA, for example). Also, judging from some remarks made in detached paperwork, it became clear around this time that FUNAI acted to prevent the construction of a regional state road projected to cross the interdicted area (apparently halting the construction of the road). Thus, after the federal government initiated the bureaucratic measures in view of the implementation of land rights some other actions to preserve the integrity of the area occurred too. In one instance FUNAI negated the plea for the issuing of a so-called negative certificate[lxxxvi] to the owner of a parcel (i.e. a document necessary for validating formal legal possession and hence a possible source of corruption; see Part III). On the other hand, larger interests receive much less opposition. In the copy of a dispatch dated the same month as the certificate request, the intention of flooding a sizeable portion of the Latundê Area to benefit the construction of a dam provokes hardly any reaction. Only concerns about an compensation for the loss and guarantees of no other land use within the limits of the area are mentioned – affecting 4,000 of 55,000 hectares (as usual, this figure does not coincide with any previous numbers. In this case, FUNAI represented the Latundê interests. The agency, however, was not going to oppose the building of the dam designed to generate electricity for the region. The only concern related to limiting the degree of damage. Such a dam and the resulting reservoir inevitably cause much more damage then just the loss of the land to be flooded[lxxxvii]. The protection of the Latundê of the inevitable nefarious side effects should warrant some attention, especially in terms of disease control and prevention. More generally, the very logic imposed by the agency and by other state influences supposedly confines the Indians within a territory that is not only theirs, but one that is also considered essential and vital to their socioeconomic and cultural reproduction. Therefore, the tutelary power of the state exercised by FUNAI is obviously a question of conquest and the granting of rights constitutes in this view a kind of concession by the state. The cession of land, by this example, should not obstruct any usage not directly and totally related to the people for whom the land is reserved whenever it is in the indispensable interest of the national society. Especially when the people whose rights are directly affected are not consulted and, therefore, are not actually totally protected. The principle and ideology of conquest consisting, among other ideas, of the belief that the Indians should not block progress is particularly apparent in this case[lxxxviii].
It is hence no coincidence that the case for demarcation of the total area continues for a considerable time in the proper bureaucratic channels in Brasília. The size of the land reserved for the Aikaná is disputed. Another field investigation established that the Indians effectively occupied the contested area, essential for the rubber collecting that sustained the Aikaná and their socioeconomic organization as a rubber enterprise headed by a patron (in this case the captain of the tribe) (report dated April 2, 1984)[lxxxvii]. The necessary visit in loco prevented the exclusion of the northern part of the Tubarão area from the proposal of demarcation. It will hardly be a surprise that the dispute originated from the INCRA representative in the decision making council (the superior bureaucracy channel that was needed at the time to end the demarcation process). This particular form of interference and tentative control started from a 1983 decree and the council that finally decided about the demarcation was popularly known as grupão, literally large group. The quarrel was based on an INCRA study sustaining the argument that this part of the territory had no village nor served as an area of any regular visiting. The document concludes the size of land to be excluded is 20,000 ha.: [INCRA] “sought to reclaim the best portion of the reserve for distribution to ranchers” (Carlson 1985: 3). Possibly annoyed by interagency competition and the repeated interference with the competence of FUNAI (both the pertinence of the rationale of the proposal and the impertinence of a study purporting to report on Indian land and settlement), FUNAI president Leal reacted and allowed no final decision until after the inspection by a competent commission by his own institution. The INCRA study ended up discredited and the Territory continued on its administrative course, the paperwork in question now was accompanied by exemplary models of the further dispatches required of the ministers and of the official presidential decree to be issued. This typically meandering paper route has always impeded the quick demarcation of Indian lands. In this case, however, the reserved land is noted in the ministerial dispatch models for being situated in the area of influence of the Polonoroeste Program (the important large scale official regional development program that affected the entire Nambikwara region). Hence the means are available to reimburse the indemnities of non-Indians, the so-called owners must receive compensation for their losses and these costs usually impeded their quick removal. This is also a reminder of the presence of international monitoring in the region and of international attention to the indigenous question. This circumstance entailed first of all removal of the customary bottleneck, the lack of funds to pay for the intruder’s material possessions. The second factor provides an inducement for correct behavior that complies with legal standards. It seems that international pressure from a financing institution (even some possible censure from the World Bank) formed some incentive for the application of the law.
International finance probably explains the presence of an economic study by an institute of São Paulo, FIPE – Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas (dated June-December 1983; November 1983 report by Lima), a research also requested by a government agency charged with the development of central Brazil (SUDECO)[lxxxx]. One observation in this document refers to the judicial actions taken by FUNAI. Apparently these gained some notoriety in the press, some may have lost momentum, but the definition of the area in 1982 seems to have resolved a litigation in which the FUNAI lost the appeal against an originally favorable sentence. Losing a legal battle, as far as can be reconstructed here, did not damage the Indian’s interests. Another observation concerns the process of evaluation of indemnities of owners, being in full swing in October 1983. The long and winding administrative road to demarcation entails slowly negotiating the obstacles of a many administrative hurdles. One of the most challenging of these barriers was compensation evaluation and payment of intruders of good faith (those supposedly unaware of any legal restriction, many times this is purely a fiction that goes unquestioned because of the interests involved and the large sociopolitical tension engendered by a group of self conceived owners forced to leave their lands). The author, Lima, strongly recommended accelerating the process, especially because of the dangers related to the increased immigration facilitated by the paving of the BR 364 highway. In fact, the very context of the notorious development project of which the road construction forms a part, and which also includes financing consultant studies (Polonoroeste), stimulated resolution of land conflicts by the state. The international context, as cited in the justification of the Latundê area, provides a stimulus to guarantee Indian rights. In conclusion, the state’s executive branches initiated far too late the process of attempting to exert control. The diverse interventions of different state agencies (particularly INCRA) generated many social conflicts in their partially or totally contradictory operations within a complex social reality. These represent the same conflicts that these agencies or, more generally, the state is called to mediate afterwards. Such conflicts continued to be produced by these agencies continued as long as the involved agencies still adopted and pursued their partially disharmonic agendas.
As for any useful additional information on the Latundê, the study adduces little new knowledge[lxxxxi]. One passing observation suggests that the Tarundê of Lévi-Strauss are the contemporary Latundê, an observation no doubt inspired by the phonetic resemblance. Perhaps, this interesting possibility arises from a report compiled by Lima based on FUNAI documents. As the ethnonym probably came out of the Nambiquara Project, he may be echoing a document unavailable to me. If not, the resemblance certainly points in the direction of a name conferred by some other Northern Nambikwara Indian individual or group. By this time the population number of the people stays the same, preserving the precarious recuperation. The infrastructure built in Vilhena was finally starting to function, particularly the health care (there are finally no deaths in 1983 and a health attendant is present in the area). There are no remarks regarding the exploitative nature of the rubber collecting system. The most relevant information consists of the firm indices of the decline of rubber, causing Fonseca’s dismissal and withdrawal from the area. Most blame was ascribed to Fonseca. After FUNAI’s inability to evict him, his withdrawal resulted from the deterioration of the rubber extraction regime. Two factors impacted the economic forecast. Firstly, there was a gradual decline partially motivated by the larger economic conditions of recession and inflation. Secondly, there were worsened terms of exchange between collected natural materials and industrial commodities (in this case the value of rubber steadily dropped while the price of commodities brought in rose). It is not surprising that Lima noticed that these general circumstances meant for FUNAI the proper space to act in the area, where the Aikaná were known for their reserve, independence and distance. A translation of these euphemistic statements reveals that the group (or more precisely the power concentrated in the Indian patronage system) rejected a more forceful interference of the tutory power. After the economic crisis, however, both the prestige and power basis of the leading administrators fell quickly, opening up the social space to exercise an economic power (available because of the additional financial resources of the Polonoroeste Project) that converts into political power.
Contrary to what the text asserts, FUNAI’s non-interference did not simply imply respect; rather it connoted FUNAI’s lack of control of the more autonomous Indians. State power now effectively installed itself in the Indigenous Territory, as evidenced by the existence of the Indian Post. Its means and resources however meager (except in a temporary situation as the Polonoroeste) were important due to the waning of rubber gathering and the corollary dependence generated on outside means. In a way similar to the exploitative rubber collection regime’s monopolizing market access (and the very trees being owned by the two leaders), the management of the economic flux through this channel signifies the creation of the basis of power manipulation. Resources, as is evident, were almost completely channeled through the Polonoroeste Program, which, in this sense, effectively supported one of its customarily unstated goals: the implementation of state presence in an area very weakly controlled by FUNAI before. Control and development were actually in an intimate binomial relation. As such, Lima judged the opportunity for FUNAI not to be passed over, to be able to withstand the prior competition offered by the power of one of the leaders (predicated as personalist and authoritarian, offending the modernist ethos and Lima’s belief in the future). The same modernist faith implicitly views the improvements in the rubber collecting systems operated by Fonseca in a quite favorable light. In comparison to what seems to be thought of as a pre-modern patron, the measures combine with the modernist value of rationalization of production. The prior system remunerated the leaders (who never did any collecting themselves) and the supervisor (the manager João Fonseca). Clearly, the author’s economic bias towards efficiency and commodity production for the market shaped his description by the use of an economic idiom to analyze the situation that implies a lack of attention paid to the patron-client relationship as a broad sociocultural mode of paternalistic domination. The concomitant economic exploitation of the rubber tappers also remained in the shadows, except when referring to Fonseca as a mixture of an adventurer, civilizing agent and Indian exploiter. Lima also noted the rumor that Fonseca left the area a poor man. His writing reveals a mixture of feelings for the manager, whose role also derived from the leeway originally allowed by his FUNAI superiors, and whose civilizing project was known and very well portrayed by Price. His positive side stems from the shared ethnocentrism of normal common sense. Shared, of course, by agents of the same sociocultural extraction and, similarly, by almost all FUNAI bureaucrats[xcii].
FUNAI took several actions. It acquired a number of goods and the use of a car for rubber transport. After effectively breaking the monopoly of the two leaders, they were rather forced to consent to a new relationship with FUNAI. Understandably curious of what the future will bring with respect to this economic role, Lima wondered about a return to former relations of production (although the trick really lies in the relation to the market and less in the production itself) and to a dependency on the policy of government handouts (implicitly recognizing its political dimension)[xciii]. For the Latundê, this meant separating from the Aikaná system and an increased difficulty in participating in the new system because of their distance from the other village. This difficulty is compounded since FUNAI negotiated a new location for its Post, utilizing an abandoned farm house and building its own warehouse right at the entrance of the area. This location is near the two Aikaná villages and close to the road to Vilhena and the village of Chupinguaia (slowly becoming a small town). Although this move had a some logical basis, the Latundê already had to walk some three hours to receive medical attention when the Post was nearer (and already closer to the Aikaná). The method to obtain the agreement of the two leaders, as always, attaches the representation of the entire group onto these two people who, according to the same observer, are losing their capacity for effective leadership with the loss of the rubber regime. If taken at face value, then no other Aikaná participated in the decision, nor was there any Latundê representation at the meeting. Politically speaking, the Latundê did not exist. For the leaders and the Aikaná, the acceptance of a Post and its infrastructure nearby naturally entails a large advantage, as the former location demanded bridging a considerable distance (over two hours of walking). Thus, the relocation attended to the interests of FUNAI, its local agents and the Aikaná.
Once again, FUNAI focused almost entirely on the Aikaná situation and essentially ignored the Latundê. This people also received little attention in Lima’s assessment study, as if nomadic and hunter-gatherer attributes make any special consideration unnecessary. Lima judged that the group must be kept in “(…) semi-isolation until the community, recuperating its numbers, and has an interest in participating autonomously in the Aikaná-FUNAI system.” Keeping the people in splendid isolation was good but insufficient advice. This is obvious in his own testimony of the involvement of the Latundê leader in the rubber-collecting regime and the perceived necessity of certain industrial items. This was further strengthened because of the premise that the Latundê will be integrated into the system, for in these circumstances the very presence of FUNAI at the Aikaná automatically warrants the expectation of some form of continued exploitation. Other sound advice recommended that the issue of health care receive attention, and specifically an increase in health attendant and medical team visits. There was also the first mention of the very necessary reminder of dental care in this type of report. The bureaucratic complications and difficulty of access most likely would result in an irregular and sparse visiting pattern; and emergency cases would entail an even greater effort than before. Despite these remarks, the Latundê receive no real special consideration. The Latundê persisted in being some kind of appendage of the Aikaná as the bureaucratic logic of one area affected actual practice. The entirety of the Tubarão-Latundê Territory was conveniently integrated and subordinated to the state bureaucracy. The Latundê’s place in this scheme was subsidiary within this larger whole: a subordinate sociopolitical place within a sociopolitically and economically subordinate area. After defining the respective territories as Indian Territories, the factual blending into one area and the redefinition of economic relations permits the reconfiguration of power relations into the domination of the most prominent and largest group, the Aikaná. This aim took precedence over a policy towards the Latundê. Owing to their relative isolation and marginality, they were viewed as an insignificant population. Order first must be established among the more resistant population, one with an alternative competing power system relating to outer society, consequently demanding priority in attention and allocation of funds.
Furthermore, notwithstanding a few exceptions of a critical stance, the acceptance in this report of FUNAI practice, planning, and spending, can be understood as an approval of the general outlines that orient these actions, essentially serving as a scientific justification of a supposedly rational policy[xciv]. Thus it leaves the implicit replication of the evolutionary postulate in the two-phase subordination unquestioned (i.e. the belief that some Indians have advanced less on the evolutionary road to civilization), especially when paired with the primitiveness of the Latundê as justification of isolation. Apart from the contradiction with the supposed necessity already created by a flow of commodities, isolation with only medical assistance may be read by administrators as a population which does not require any specific concerns and policy. Previous recommendations by anthropologists did not carry much weight in the bureaucratic report processing. These were apparently biased when invoked for administrative logic. The practical reason of bureaucratic rationality now dictated the flow of events. By this point, the dossier contains a small flurry of telegrams. The earliest was from 1984 and dealt with practical information regarding non-Indians residing within the limits of the Indigenous Territory[xcv]. The dossier also holds documents soliciting information on demarcation and ratification of the area in 1989 in order to substantiate legal action to remove noncompliant plot owners. At this time the area had been officially recognized, demarcated and ratified, by this time only the last formal step was required. This was dealt with in a separate dossier (3419/89). Little other information was given in these papers, except an occasional illustration of the importance of the impression implied in the name given to an Indigenous Territory. In 1989 a head of the land division sent the paperwork under the title “Tubarão Latundê Tribe” (no one mentioned before and probably unfamiliar with the whole process).
The final pages in the dossier mainly repeated former reports. Also included was extensive material detailing evaluation of the infrastructure constructed within the Terra Indígena, determining how much was to be reimbursed to the owners who can claim good faith at the date of implementation[xcvi]. One dispatch concerns the denial of a road through the Territory, even when the Aikaná chief was in favor. The road was to be built by the municipality of Vilhena and would extend to Chupinguaia. FUNAI was being rightly mindful of any such large penetration of 22 kilometers at a time when the energy company contemplated the electricity dam. Other documents include a copy of a 17 July 1983 article in a national newspaper, the Folha de São Paulo. The article voiced the complaints of the fazendeiros (large landowners) who protest against the abnormality of being processed by one federal agency for possessing land distributed by another federal institution. The journalist unashamedly employs the usual stereotypes about development and so much land for so few Indians. He even lists other obstacles to development like the absurdity of the government of turning a prosperous land into an Indigenous Territory. The fazendeiros accused INCRA of negating the existence of a judicial process and thought no more about. Now they discovered the truth. That is, they claimed that the intelligent chief (an entrepreneur of Indian labor) imported Indians from Mato Grosso and then pleaded with FUNAI to allocate more land, specifically the land the landowners legitimately bought[xcvii]. The accusations apparently prompted FUNAI to respond. The response probably invoked the media which it used to present its side of the truth. Somehow this response seems to have sped up demarcation along with compensation and relocation procedures, in order to avoid the uncertain outcome of the court case (a fear expressed by a FUNAI lawyer)[xcviii].
In 1986, the decision-making council (the grupão) finally decided favorably in a short memorandum in which tribute was given to Rondon’s presence in the area. This act paved the way for the bureaucratic conclusion of the demarcation process. The dossier also incorporates details of the ratification process mentioned and copies of other documents. The final paper, however, is interesting and clinches the matter. In December 1991 the Tubarão/Latundê Indigenous Territory was registered in the appropriate office of land registration, shortly after its official creation by a decree of the president of the republic. This final act closes the long trail of papers needed to, one might say, verily and orderly regularize a portion of the national territory as an Indigenous Area and guarantee its exclusive use by its Indian inhabitants. Indians of a specific named indigenous group now are reduced from an autonomous and independent people into a named Indian group subordinated and incorporated into the state and subject to the agencies to which the state delegates its powers. Thus, the insertion and encompassing subjugation transforms a previously unknown people into a new known categorical unit. Sociocultural inventiveness created a new people circumscribed in its name, land and rights. To each people, as mentioned above, its own creativeness. The colonial conquest was now complete.
[i]I take the opportunity to thank the institution for access to the archive.
[ii] In interest of concision, note that italicized words imply the specific meanings of native terms (of oral discourse or quotes from documents).
[iii] In Brazil, the elite and its development agencies (like the World Bank of this era), could easily be described as development cultists. In general, among all classes in Brazil the word development conveyed a great potential in what, up until recently, was always optimistically considered as a country of the future. Accordingly, some sacrifices were necessary, and the Indians seemed an acceptable loss. For example, the term quistos étnicos (ethnic pockets, an expression with very negative connotations) is still used at the national military academy (a fact surfacing only recently). Though there have been changes after the so-called democratisation, much ideological and practical notions are still accepted. The scandalous treatment of the Indians in Porto Seguro in April 2000 at the commemoration of the inappropriately named event, 500 Years Since the Discovery of Brazil by the neo-liberal government of Cardoso, an ex-sociologist, is not the exception, but the rule. For example, funds allocated for the demarcation of Amazonian Indian Lands in 2000 were less than the money spent by the army to suppress the protests against the commemoration (Araujo passim Baines 2001: 37). Contrary to what the uninformed observer might think, this government did not make the same unconditional pledges as are found in the law. The ex-minister of Justice, Nelson Jobim, who used to be known as a champion for human rights, was responsible for a legal interpretation that tended to subvert Indian territorial claims.
[iv] For the institutional history of the SPI and the importance of these positivistic and humanistic ideas, see Lima (1995).
[v] The policies also depend upon the particular phase of the eventful political and institutional history of the agencies themselves.
[vi] This pioneering spirit is especially strong in Rondônia where the vast majority of the population in certain regions, like Vilhena and the southern part of Rondônia, where the Latundê are located, consists of immigrants from almost all of Brazil, though mainly from the South. Note that this part of the population is largely descendant from earlier European migration (the Germans are conspicuously present) and were originally completely unaware of tropical ecology and local living conditions.
[vii] This is the image circulated after Tristes Tropiques, even though Lévi-Strauss definitely is more subtle. He wrote about them as being part of a “society reduced to its most simple expression” (1984: 377). Doubtlessly Levi-Strauss appreciated the humanity of the people involved and noted, for example, “the most moving and true expression of human tenderness” between married couples (ib: 345-6). That is, a society of human beings with their own individualities.
[viii] Almeida and Oliveira (1998) came to very similar conclusions in their work (1984-5). They adopted a more polemic style to engender discussion and purposefully did not explore thoroughly any specific case. Not all points of their discussions can be examined here, but in general, our conclusions tend to coincide.
[ix] The land terminology has changed over time; at one time such land was referred to as an Indigenous Reserve, later an Indigenous Area. Currently Terra Indígena (Indigenous Land) is used. It should be Indigenous Territory in order to convey the more encompassing and symbolic relation of a people to its land and I will use this designation.
[x] Many names have been changed to insure the privacy of those involved.
[xi] I translated all the notes, memos, and quotes used in this work. Incomplete sentences and spelling errors here reflect my attempt to convey the original flavor as much as possible although corrections have been made.
[xii] See Dal Poz (1998) for this history of how this people sought an alliance on their own terms.
[xiii] Interestingly, both these employees are substituting for the official occupant of the important local bureaucratic employee in their respective districts. Substitutes sometimes perform important roles for considerable periods in this kind of bureaucracy where bureaucrats may live in conditions not considered civilized and far away from the conveniences of urban facilities.
[xiv] This service order was dated the same day as the agent set out on his trip. This is usual in this sort of outpost. Paperwork is adapted to the rhythm of daily work, not the other way around.
[xv] The writer frequently mixed up plural subjects and verbs in the singular tense. This is a common feature of lower class sociolect and thus indicative of the level of preparation and education of this employee who is on a particularly important mission.
[xvi] For references regarding the Cinta Larga, see Dal Poz 1998: 169; for the Paresi see Price’s 1981a article. This issue is dealt with in detail in Parts II and III.
[xvii] Dal Poz 1998: 188. This was, in fact, the first real test because some of the Paresi already were in contact and, in general, not very wild. Rondon, his actions and their consequences are analyzed in Part II.
[xviii] The accuracy of these numbers is uncertain. Population estimates and familiarity with such high numbers is not part of the Indian’s culture. Although already familiar with the mathematics of rubber exploitation, at this stage it is uncertain if the Indians had these counting skills. Their apparent partly civilized state may have persuaded the author to accept these numbers. On the other hand, they compare well with the Latundê population reported later.
[xix] Not surprisingly, this type of planning caused many problems for the owners using the land. The realities of lowlands, hillsides, swamps, rivers, small streams, and the like impeded easy agricultural use. This occurred, for example, at the notorious Transamazônica Road which was planned to settle peasants from the Northeast, one of the other Amazonian regions that suffered under state colonization in the early seventies. Only after these difficulties appeared were attempts made to remedy this situation and to plan the division of the land according to geographic features. Even an exemplar for family farm exploitation, like Altamira I, one of the first projects in these times, was launched without adequate prior knowledge of the region and even still issued directives to the settlers as the settlement was already underway (Hamelin 1991).
[xx] A 400m x 2.5 km rectangle (Hamelin 1991: 167).
[xxi] An alqueire is a unit of measurement that varies regionally in Brazil. The measurement that applies in the Guaporé Valley is around 2.4 ha (Price, 1989b: 110). Documents show that the salary given was 60,000 cruzeiros. Although it is difficult to say now if this was a fair salary without a complicated way to calculate current value, the likely difficulty of sufficient labour force in the region may have guaranteed a reasonable payment. No comment is made in the document.
[xxii]Also, even those later implicated in the process of demarcating land for the Indians probably saw the Indian presence as a potential asset because these owners, backed by INCRA, may not have envisioned and anticipated any possibility of the Indians garnering political support to stay. The usual expectation, by the way, of the powerful in this sort of situation.
[xxiii] See Fearnside (1991) for these considerations and explanations concerning the reasons cattle raising, despite serious ecological and economic drawbacks, remains a major factor in deforestation.
[xxiv] See Miranda (1991), for a study concerning the creation of family agriculture colonization projects.
[xxv] Interestingly, a Brazilian wearing blue jeans is not an American but an Indian wearing clothing forced on him after contact is less of an Indian (for further elaboration, see Reesink 1983).
[xxvi] The front presented by subordinates to their ethnic superiors, as the Indians to the powerful landowners, can be carefully crafted to protect against retaliation by acting stereotypically stupid or simple.
[xxvii] For a short history of Rondônia and the role played by the federal government and INCRA in particular, see Becker (1990). Note that from 1970 up to 1974-5, when the colonization projects contemplated family agriculture, these were implemented north of the area of Corumbiara (distributed in 100 ha parcels). In this sense, this Gleba prefigures the later preference for capitalist agrarian enterprise and much larger land holdings. Doctor Marcelo represents a clear paradigm of the contemporary major landowners in the region, being from the south, of a higher class, not residing on the property and raising cattle. Observe that the map (o.c.: 151) erroneously shows the contours of the Tubarão/Latundê Indian land as “traditional occupation” and not as subject to state directed land distribution (except further south outside of the 1975 INCRA map), as if wholly unaffected by the interference of this enormous project. On the other hand, the author notes in passing (o.c.: 159) the process of land distribution in parcels of the projects’ size to private enterprise, apparently by public auctioning, in 1972 and 1975, just as in the project in question (o.c.: 151). Moreover, the administrator ends his letter by stating that several plots in the ‘fertile subdivision’ have already been paid for.
[xxviii] Someone from the town of Pimenta Bueno went to prospect for gold on the upper part of the river and visited the village of Tubarão. It is clear that he dominated the other villages by force. The Aikaná were very likely among the latter and became known by the stranger’s name. Maybe the people mentioned as living in two small groups on both sides of the river in 1964 are the Aikaná: forty people in a seringal; one independent village (Spadari 1964).
[xxix] FUNAI and INCRA did consult one another for many years. Research on the period between 1982 and 1985 shows how FUNAI always responded late and that INCRA practically ignored procedure. Real cooperation did not exist even then. INCRA tended to identify unclaimed land as public federal lands, i.e. a stock of lands at their disposal and the foundation of their power (Linhares 1998). Later, some of the specific details of the problems caused by INCRA intervention with the Corumbiara Project are explored.
[xxx] Perambulation signifies an area that is traversed and inspected for resources but is not used to build a village.
[xxxi] My translation: Leonel 1991: 327.
[xxxii] Note that the heinous act of temporarily lifting the ban of one of the areas and allowing the landowners to return legally was taken by a civilian and not a military representative. Romero Jucá, who later started a political career in one of the most anti-indigenous states in Brazil, Roraima. Obviously, such former actions earned him certain political support. Rumors of corruption in acts such as lifting FUNAI’s prohibition of access to specific areas circulate in the region. This particular act seems quite equivocal, suspiciously so, but any claim in a case like this is very hard to substantiate.
[xxxiv] Ferrari 17/12/1976, Relatório de viagem à Pimenta Bueno (proc. 3503/76, pp.34-82).
[xxxv] INCRA employees demanded instant consultation and expedience from the FUNAI employee, probably because of the usual difficulty to get a response. It is no surprise that an evaluation of the joint commission and the Work Groups on both sides concluded its failure to resolve the conflicts created by the projects of INCRA that were elaborated in complete disregard of indigenous areas in all of Amazonia (Almeida 1991: 266).
[xxxvi]FUNAI generally adapted to the reality of power relations in the state sponsored conquest of Amazonia and many cases during this decade prove “(…) the subordination of agencies responsible for the preservation of the human and natural environments to other agencies charged with the promotion of rapid industrialization and capitalist expansion (Bunker 1984: 116-7; for a general overview of FUNAI’s obliging of superior agencies, see pp.117-122).
[xxxvi] The proposal comes from a medical doctor attending the Indians and is said to have the support of the Indians. An eye-witness account of part of the terrible misfortunes of the mismanagement and sufferings of the Indian peoples in the Aripuanã Park can be found in Chiappino (1975).
[xxxvii] H. van der Voort’s thesis examines the Kwazá language. He described the term as derived from the name with an Aikaná suffix (2000: 518). Some ethnographic information is given in the thesis and continued separately in the encyclopedia of the Instituto Socioambiental (Van der Voort 1998).
[xxxviii] Indians provide information that makes clear that the rubber boss who helped resettle them did so because his property at the Pimenta River was to be transformed into large landholdings with pastures, and thus incompatible with the Indian presence. Thus, actually, he sold Indian land.
[xxxix] The daughter of Afonso França, an SPI employee introduced in Part II.
[xl] These people were victims of a tragic history. The men of their autonomous village of about fifty people on the Omerê one day found another Indian village and set out to procure wives. They never returned. The women left the village and tried in vain to find the men. Many got lost. Or, in a later version, they found the men dead and decided to commit suicide. At the last moment one older woman vomited and convinced her sister and their children to stay alive. The sister went mad and disappeared. Eventually five people were contacted in 1995. In 2000 only four people were alive (Algayer 2001, personal communication). In 2003 another two people died and only a sister and a brother remained behind, deeply depressed (Bacelar 2004: 41-2).
[xli] This is odd because of the subsequent history of the Omerê where in the mid-1980s, a Tupian village was razed and the inhabitants massacred (now Akunsun). Plainly this entailed an attempt at complete genocide. The landowners perfidiously negated any Indian presence and only with great difficulties did FUNAI eventually act (Algayer 2001, personal communication; the case of the lone survivor seems to be the massacre reported in van der Voort (1996: 383) as perpetrated by H. Dalafini of the Modelo ranch in January 1996). Naturally, it does not yet imply that this man was really involved in any deliberate concealment of further Indian presence in his Project. After all, the same employee claimed to have alerted FUNAI and readily admitted to the existence of the other two groups.
[xli] That they took the initiative and left an indeterminate amount of gifts at their own costs does not contradict what was said before about making contact but can be considered as the introduction of the reciprocity necessary for a minimal alliance. The observation that they did not enter into contact again contradicts the mention of the visits of the Latundê to the Tubarão (perhaps the same one who intervened before?). The explanation for the contradiction varies. The Indians simply may not have mentioned it.
[xlii] It is not well known that certain groups of the Nambikwara did, in fact, produce ceramics. Comparatively, poisoning is a notorious Nambikwara ability. Accordingly, it is easy to see why the visitors were not keen on continuing their visits in the savanna.
[xliv] “Benefactions” is the literal translation of the Portuguese word and is iconic of the underlying paradigm that untouched nature is useless, wild and brutal. Nature awaits man to charitably domesticate it. Ecologists note that pastures are classified as an improvement to nature, while ultimately it may be destructive, unproductive and not sustainable development (Fearnside 1991).
[xlv] Some of this is discernable in the structure of the report, resuming the most relevant information for action and final recommendations in the first part of six pages. Afterwards comes the history and cultural traits of the Forest Indians, and after that the collected information on the same topics for the unknown group. Then, of course, the annexes, some of which were already mentioned. This is a strategy of the author to facilitate bureaucratic attention.
[xlvi] Muita terra para pouco índio. Even now, this is a widely circulated proposition by anti-indigenous interests, sometimes to deliberately confuse the public. The obvious trick is to reduce the ethnic specificity of an Indian territory to the relation of a rural landowner to his particular piece of land within the Brazilian territory, a kind of fazenda or smallholding. In other words, the Indian as the poor peasant he is supposed to become. A self-fulfilling prophecy if such image guides the official policies and not some kind of natural law of evolution.
[xlvii] Personal communication by Jurandir Leite (2000).
[xlviii] For example, in the archives with information about personnel, there is mention of the problem of a man whose title was rural auxiliary. He worked with the Tubarão but was transferred away. This is the first time his name, João Fonseca, appears. His role is important, as will be discussed shortly.
[xlix] Note that this time the principal executive of the regional branch changed again. Such employees often change, usually coinciding with the changing of the FUNAI president, depending on the external and internal political situation (as well as administrators of the Indian Posts in the territories themselves). In this case, this particular agent, who pursued a full time professional career within FUNAI, would one day become its president.
[l] This village very probably is the same as seen and photographed from the air before, though the photographs do not permit a definite conclusion. There are six other photographs before these two, all in color and probably taken with a different camera, an indication that they were taken by different people, but most likely obtained from Fonseca.
[lx] One woman wears a dress but the other few people visible wear only the usual ornaments on the upper arm, collars and one older woman wears a sort of collar around her waist. On the face of one adult man, though unclear in these black and White photographs, one does not note any traces of the habitual Nambikwara pierced nose or lip ornaments. The same man had a civilized haircut. Previous photos showed all men with shoulder-length hair, probably the pre-contact style.
[lii] For an account of the influence of the military and their alliance with mining interests in the sensitive Yanomami area, see Albert 1990. Albert shows that the disreputable influence was still prevalent even after the formal democratization of the country and until today. Note also that Ismarth was no longer the FUNAI president, the position was held by yet another military man, Nobre da Veiga.
[liii] Definite proof of not having read the existing report comes from his short observation, which he apparently believed novel, that there existed another Indian group in the region known as the Tubarões.
[liv] This reserve usually is called Aroeira, the name of its major village but officially goes by the name of Pyreneus de Souza (situated near Vilhena but on the Mato Grosso side of the border). Tolori is the name of a river and a region within this area, not the name of the reserve. Another odd feature is the classification of the visiting Indian as Tatayé, as no such name is in use. It is likely a transformation of the word Tawandê, a Northern Nambikwara group with a closely related language.
[lv] The body was found some twenty kilometers north of the Latundê village. Many of these incidents are examined more closely in the following chapter.
[livi] Codemat is one of those developing agencies that opened up entire new regions for colonization, usually with very little regard for the previous existing occupants.
[lvii] Price conceived the Nambikwara Project in the mid-seventies to cushion the impact of the brutal advance of the frontier. This took place during an interval when the FUNAI administration admitted the relevance of anthropology and employed anthropologists to implement certain programs on a more solid and less prejudiced basis (Agostinho 1991). By virtue of the inherent contradictions with former practice, other conceptions, and political realities within FUNAI, it is no surprise that these experiences did not last. Thus, Tolksdorf’s note of the problems faced at the end of 1977.
[lviii] There is one more rapid visit of another FUNAI anthropologist named Lange in 1979, but her report is in another file that is not included in this one. I do not have a copy.
[lix] The work on the Aikaná is competent and very interesting, worthy of publication especially as this group is practically ignored in the ethnographic literature.
[lx] According to dispatch by regional administrator dated September 4, 1979 João Fonseca was “dispensed” by portaria no. 560/P at 27.08.79. At the same time, he suggests the allocation of a certain employee to the area as his local replacement.
[lxi] The concept of agency sometimes remains ill defined; here I adopt the simple ‘bare bones’ definition provisionally proposed by Ahearn (2001: 112): “Agency refers to the socioculturally mediated capacity to act”.
[lxii] It is unclear why the first proposal could be rejected except, perhaps, owing to the belief that two dissimilar populations ought to be treated separately. In hindsight, it would have been best to recognize the necessity of establishing a separate relation with the Latundê and refer only to the second proposal.
[lxiii] This block, the southwestern part of the southern margin of the river, includes the upper part of the Omerê River and thus possibly may include these previously isolated Indians. Another liberated part is located at the opposite point, a block of plots in the northeastern corner, north of the location of the Latundê, an area actually not occupied by them, although this is not mentioned and probably unknown. The principal motive for this proposal refers to the fact that these plots included a part of the BR 363 highway and the previous occupation alongside it.
[lxiv] Price mentions the delicate labor of the transference of different Northern Nambikwara groups into the Reserve (from Rondônia to what is now Aroeira). That is, from the area north of the Latundê and more or less within (or very close to) the corner slated for liberation. All Indians moved, except the Indian Mussolini and his wife (more on them in Part II) who stayed at the Seringal do Faustino (by the margin of the national highway). No other Nambikwara member remained in Rondônia. The precedent probably fuelled Galvão’s insistence not to remove the Latundê.
[lxv] Which he did by comparing a list of words to the Mamaindê language in an attachment to the report; the other employee was chief of the Mamaindê Post.
[lxvi] See Price (1972), his PhD thesis, where he considers how the Nambikwara recognize the family resemblance of the many different groups by the pierced nose and lip ornament.
[lxvii] In the next chapter, I examine Fonseca’s version.
[lxviii] The participants of the expedition thought the fact of such rapid transmission was odd. They apparently were unaware of previous rapid contacts with representatives of the regional society or the Aikaná. It is unclear if any preventative measures were taken to avoid the spread of contagious diseases during the first contact. Nothing is mentioned and given the account it seems unlikely.
[lxix] This is a double bind involved with being the savage, and an unworthy Indian, and also with the unwild, domesticated Indian (or caboclo) forced not to be not wild but then not truly an Indian (especially legally). Even when no longer wild, the former or partial Indian is never considered a full member of society and discrimination persists (see Reesink 1983 for the extreme case of Northeast Brazil).
[lxx] It is unclear why he alleges to have advised to allocate the Latundê to Rondônia when all logic points to the continued inclusion in the Nambiquara Project, even going so far as to complain that they extended assistance to these Indians. This seems like a covert ploy to cover the tracks of the events of 1977. Obviously, this reaches the limits of what can be reconstructed in this complicated process.
[lxxi] In June, 1981 another participant of the group accidentally came across the coordinator of the Nambiquara Project who reminded him of the uncontacted Indians so he, in his turn, reminded a Department in Brasília of this fact. Once again, this relevant information was not dealt with and failed to prompt expedient action.
[lxxii] This is one of the symbolic reasons why the autonomy of independent Indians is so much denigrated and feared by bureaucratic institutions like the military, nobody should live an existence free from the aegis of the all-encompassing state, the idea is intolerable, especially within its own frontiers.
[lxxiii] It remains unclear if any later precaution was taken. The presence of two Indians in Cacoal means that some assistance finally did reach the Latundê by this time.
[lxxiv] The Latundê, for example, did not live near the Pimenta River, but the interpretation is understandable because the author probably listened to a story by the Portuguese speaker about other Nambikwara groups in this region. The corrections on this Nambikwara model by Aspelin, then recently published, had not reached FUNAI yet, coloring this image in a definite way. For example, the Nambikwara are not typical hunters and gatherers.
[lxxv] A location in the direction of the Omerê area; after the massacre, this area eventually entered in the process of demarcation (but at the time of our visit not demarcated).
[lxxvi] Making a total of 90,000 hectares, the description of the area included both areas of both peoples, even when the WG only was engaged to deal with the Latundê Indigenous Area – and demarcation would be executed this way.
[lxxvii] This sort of conjecture follows from the application of received ideas from the literature that Nambikwara are monogamous except for headmen, a proposition by Lévi-Strauss not corroborated by later research by Price (whose work, surprisingly but comprehensible with respect to FUNAI’s bureaucratic chaos, is never cited). All discussions about the adaptation patterns of the Nambikwara, particularly the nomadic tendencies in the dry season famously postulated by Lévi-Strauss, do not receive any notice. I will turn to such issues in Part II and III.
[lxxviii] It is remarkable how much paperwork is dated near the middle and end of this year. It is unclear why this may be, but such concerns can only be resolved by a different kind of research.
[lxxix] Though not explicitly stated, the Work Group members apparently visited the village. Among the participants was the head of the Mamaindê Indian Post, Marcelo dos Santos, so some of this inaccuracy is somewhat odd. It was not the only visit by this dedicated and highly reputed man to the Latundê but then he, contrary to the early proposal by Price, never became responsible for the Latundê (and did not speak the language). Alternatively, perhaps this reflected suboptimal cooperation between Work Group members in the area and those in Brasília.
[lxxx] The third domestic unit contains a potential couple, one younger adolescent girl and one older woman. The authors do not discuss these arrangements any further or the potential for recouping some of the population losses.
[lxxxi] An interesting observation is the acceptance of the previous proposal when, as noted previously, the Work Group actually divided the Latundê land into two parts, one meant for the people itself, the other part protected only because of rumors of uncontacted Indians. As those uncontacted Indians turned out to be Sabanê, this confusion may have ultimately benefited the Latundê.
[lxxxii] For practical purposes the report lists all of the non-Indian occupants of the area and explains the manner in which the survey was realized.
[lxxxiii] For an interpretation of the rigidity of the law disregarded regularly by local Amazonian elites, who use the circumvention of the law as a structural resource of power for a paternalist mode of domination, see Geffray (1995). Bureaucratic discontinuity also is manifest in that this summary is the first to remark on the prior efforts of SPI deployed in the region of the Pimenta River in the 1930s and 1940s.
[lxxxiv] One piece of information helps exemplify the bias about the Latundê house style (shelters with roof and walls made of vegetable material are not real houses) but the note is completely contradicted by several reports. The existence of a larger group that separated into minor ones does not confer with any report in the dossier. On the other hand, the summary seems to be incomplete and pages are lacking. The Sabanê, for example, were unmentioned.
[lxxxv] Common sense presupposes that reality is simply out there as pre-existing things to be discovered. The substance and essence of objects — people and things – are givens and not the collective sociocultural construction of reality it actually involves. As seen, neither the Indians and the Latundê nor their land existed as such before the whole process of contact and state intervention.
[lxxxvi] This certificate declared that the land in question was uninhabited by Indians.
[lxxxvii] For reasons not available in the dossier, the dam was not built. In later years a similar case concerned Aroeira, where consultations with the Indians did occur and maybe objections killed the idea as the dam was not built.
[lxxxviii] For more on the notion of conquest and the exercise of tutelary power as being fundamental for the operating of SPI and consequent scandals and corruption, see Lima (1995). He noted that the positivist action of Rondon, much of it regarding the Nambikwara, implies ‘tutoring’ the Indians in civilization. This is examined in Part II.
[lxxxix] A linguist visitor who stayed for around ten weeks in the Gleba in 1984 confirmed that Luis had taken over as “patron of the rubber business”. He added, however: “my strong impression is that everything is unusually fair and above-board” (Carlson 1985: 3). He also noted the strong integration into the market economy of the Aikaná and how this situation both favored and disfavored cultural and linguistic continuance (ib.: 3-7).
[lc] The exact nature of this consultancy remains unclear, as the study constitutes a part of a larger report about several areas and peoples. Obviously, this type of consultant always runs the risk of being subject to certain direct and indirect restraints by the agency evaluated.
[lci] The economic information copies the FUNAI report from 1981, emphasizing seasonal hunting and gathering and mentions nomadism and rudimentary agriculture, typical inaccuracies. For a general picture and more profound analysis of nomadism and other stereotypes in the national society, see Ramos (1995).
[xcii] In this dossier nobody ever remarks upon the contradiction between the report by Price and the allegation of the sertanista about the initial contact phase.
[xciii] After commenting on available resources and planned purchases, the phrase that (…) FUNAI maneuvers to avoid the disarticulation of the current economic system based on the rubber exploitation and carefully avoids interfering in questions regarding Indian-leaders”, is a contradiction in its own terms.
[xciv] As for the distinct modes of appropriation of anthropological knowledge, aside from the previously mentioned instrumentalization, there is legitimation (although probably not by an anthropologist but by a specialist). See the discussion by De L’Estoile, Neiburg and Sigaud (2000).
[xcv] It is noteworthy that several of the plot owners were resettled by Incra in an area that was to become the Mequens Indigenous Territory. This may represent another example of Incra defiance of official legal competence, or perhaps lack of effective communication.
[xcvi] The issue of good or bad faith is not so easy to determine in practice. Generally, the organization tended not to pursue bad faith and to indemnify simply everyone and everything within a system of given rules.
[xcvii] The major criticism, maybe the only one possible at this time of the military dictatorship, thus points to the lack of rationality of the state when it attempts to project the image as a legitimate modern power moved by the principle of rational direction of society (see De L’Estoile 2000).
[xcviii] A visit by a local FUNAI functionary from Aripuanã Park disclaimed major tensions in the area and noted only few producing plots – but even those were being phased out.