Walking Stories

Cover 'Walking Stories'Lisa, a fragile Indonesian woman, walked along the paths of Saint Anthony’s park. Saint Anthony is a mental hospital. Lisa was dressed in red, yellow and blue; I was looking at a painting of Mondriaan, of which the colours could cheer someone up on a grey Dutch day. She had put on all her clothes and she carried the rest of her belongings in a grey garbagebag. She looked like she was being hunted, mumbling formulas to avert the evil or the devils. I could not understand her words, but she repeated them with the rustling of her garbage bag on the pebbles of the path.

When she arrived at an intersection of two paths where low rose hips were blossoming, she stopped and went into the bushes. She lifted all her skirts and urinated; standing as a colourful flower amidst the green of the bushes and staring into the sky. A passer-by from the village where Saint Anthony’s has its headquarters would probably have pretended not to see her, knowing that Lisa was one of the ‘chronic mental patients’ of the wards. Or, urinating so openly in the park may be experienced as a ‘situational improperty’, but as many villagers told me: ‘They do odd things, but they cannot help it.’ The passer-by would not have known that Lisa was a ‘walking story’, that she had ritualised her walks in order to control the powers that lie beyond her control. Lisa was diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’ and she suffered from delusions. When she had an acute psychosis, she needed medication to relieve her anxiety. Her personal story was considered as a symptom of her illness. That was, in a nutshell, the story of the psychiatrists of the mental hospital. Her own story was different. Lisa was the queen of the Indies and she had to have offspring to ensure that her dynasty would be preserved. She believed at that day that she was pregnant and that the magicians would come and would take away her unborn baby with a needle. To prevent the abortion, she had to take refuge in the park and carry all her belongings with her.

However, queens also have to heed nature’s call and thus she went to the best place she could find: the rose hips. Lisa is indeed a ‘walking story’. She has her story and she lives it. Her behaviour acquires its meaning when one knows the story. The story acquires meaning when one observes her behaviour. Saint Anthony’s is a place full of walking stories. For many people their behaviour is odd. Writing about them may be odd ethnography. However, beyond the oddity lie meanings that reveal the often taken-for-granted cultural knowledge and understandings.

What to do with Walking Stories?
Mad stories are evocative and metaphoric. They are full of symbols, but we think that those symbols are used in very personal, even idiosyncratic ways. We consider them incoherent and incomprehensible. They are not ‘rational’ and do not represent any ‘normal’ logic. They do not fit into categories. They escape every classification, save that of ‘psychotic stories’ or ‘mad stories’. They are matters out of place. They are viewed as signs of madness and therefore show how much we should value health and normality. Yet, mad stories are attractive. The many studies and literature on the topic which fill the shelves of bookstores and are so eagerly bought are the best proof of this attraction. Why then put another book on the shelves?

De-pathologising mad stories
Psychiatry kidnaps the stories of mad people. This means that the stories are often transformed and re-interpreted into medical stories. They become ‘pathographies’. By describing others as ‘schizophrenic’, they are incorporated into the cultural scheme of things. At the same time mad people are made into potentially ‘normal’ people. The madness can be overcome by conversion; they can be re-socialised into normality by therapies and pharmaceutical treatment. If they remain ‘mad’ this can be fought by higher doses. The greater part of scientific research on schizophrenia is blind to the possible different socio-cultural meanings of madness. The stories and behaviour are described in similar terms as used for ‘normal’ ones: expressions of experience, idioms of suffering. What the medical world sees as a disease has little to do with what people may experience. International, epidemiological studies leave out atypical cases to get better possibilities for cross-cultural comparison of onset and prognosis of the disease. One of the consequences of this practice is that the original stories disappear, taking on the meaning of a symptom, a sign of mental illness. In the clinic, during the intake process, the patient has to tell the story to enable the psychiatrist to provide good diagnosis. Clinical storytelling relies on a chronology of bodily and social events. The sick person experiences altered states of being and tells this to the psychiatrist or the therapist. The therapist renders the sick person’s story into narrative sequences to produce a diagnosis. The clinician brings the past to the present to locate causes of the sickness. The sick person, family members, friends and all relevant others have to recall the past to give meaning to the present state of the afflicted person. Reasons for misfortune are sought in the personal life of the sick person and his/her immediate social environment.

Yet, the stories themselves are thought to be important. This is stressed in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, DSM-IV. The story has to provide the diagnostician with a better understanding of the cultural background and explanations of the patient. Although cultural concerns are represented in a significant way in the text of the DSM-IV, members of the culture and diagnosis task force heavily criticise the text. Good (1996) discusses the task force’s critiques. They view psychopathology as social and cultural. One of the criticisms is that the DSM-text makes too sharp a distinction between disease and illness, wherein diseases are viewed as universal biological entities, while illness consists of forms of experience and cultural interpretations of the experiences of the individual and cultural groups (Good 1996: 129). Another criticism is that particular forms of science are hegemonic and that ‘the reluctance to incorporate knowledge generated at the social margins, are issues of power and what the French social theorist calls ‘symbolic violence’’ (Good 1996: 130).
This means that the stories are still transformed into the hegemonic explanations and that the people who tell them are further marginalized. Diagnosis is not the only reason for bringing the past into the present. The story has to be told in therapy. Thus the patient becomes an observer of himself. He has to objectify himself and to distance himself from the problem. He has to develop the capacity to reconstruct the story in a special way. Together with the therapist, it is transformed into a ‘new’ past with a different meaning and a ‘new’ sense so that people can live with it in the future. He has to cut himself off from the past and to look at it as if he were a stranger. He will become a stranger to his own story because it is transformed into the therapeutic myth and acquires the meaning of a symptom of severe mental illness. The result may be that, depending on the therapist’s and others’ position and strategy, which is linked to their interests, the story may offer either ‘victim blaming’, ‘madness’ or be a source of continued confrontation with and reflection about the past (Friedlander 1993: ix).

I do not want to show that psychiatry is a conspiracy against everything that is considered as odd, abnormal or awkward. Therapists sometimes understand stories as intelligible individual symbolic ways to signify feelings and experiences, but the stories always will remain idiosyncratic and do not have meaning to others. This may easily lead to the conclusion that the stories are outside the cultural realm and thus cannot tell about ‘the work of culture’.
However, Littlewood and Lipsedge, both psychiatrists, say that it is ‘particularly difficult to decide whether a person’s belief is a delusion or not relative to the usual beliefs in his community when its culture is changing or when it contains a variety of conflicting belief systems’ (Littlewood & Lipsedge 1989: 207). The authors give many examples which show that under certain circumstances, unusual beliefs are accepted or explicable. They argue that the community can use the stories of the psychotic as metaphors for their own experiences. They show that ‘psychic epidemics’ will occur when large parts of a population undergo experiences that they would be considered abnormal in other times. ‘Mass hysteria’ is an example.
The phenomenon of school girls in South Africa, who insist that they were sexually abused, or female labourers in Malaysia who said to be possessed, or that of parents in a small Dutch village, who insist that their children were sexually abused, becomes ‘hysterical’. Their stories show that the concept of mass hysteria (or conversion, as it is now named) is a useful term for disempowering dangerous forces and undesired movements or resistance and protest. I agree with the authors when they say that mad people do not become sane when we tolerate and accept their stories. Their stories should be taken as they are. When such stories are told, cultural symbols and myths, rules, morality, values and norms are tested, violated, constrained and turned upside down. This draws attention to their deviant nature, but also to the discomfiture of culture.

Chronic Stories
What about the ‘chronic stories’? What about the stories that never change? It is suggested that people with long-lasting mental illness cannot cut themselves off from the past. They lack the capacity to ‘locate the self as actor within a seamless unity of past, present and future’ (Adam 1992: 159). The past and future are mixed and they leave no room for reality constructing in the present (Ibid.). This is a strong belief which has been discussed at length in the literature (cf. Rosenwald and Ochberg 1992) and brought into the daily clinical reality. Rosenwald and Ochberg even suggest that the reason to tell stories is to liberate the stories and therefore the lives of the people who tell them, because the stories relate to critical insight and engagement. They see stories as reflections on social conventions and telling a story as a means to make a ‘better story’, which means that people re-signify life and change it.

Storytelling is empowering for disadvantaged people and protects them against moral judgement. Storytelling is ‘politics’, or as the subtitle of their book tells us, ‘politics of self-understanding’. Although I basically agree with the authors’ arguments, I do not believe that storytelling is always liberating, emancipating and empowering. The idea of empowerment and liberation in science is a cultural belief, based on the creation myth of western religions: ‘In the beginning was the word…’ The word created the world. Although words are powerful, their power in itself is overrated. The power of the words depends on who speaks the words, when, why and to whom. The words of mad people alone have no power. They need more. To make others listen, words and deeds are needed. The words must become flesh and blood to be effective and convincing.

Re-anthropologising mad stories may provide a different knowledge. Illness experiences have become an area of interest in the social sciences. Medical anthropology focuses on ‘the lived experience’ of what is going on in bodies and lives. Studies of illness narratives, like those of Kleinman (1988), Csordas (1994) and Good (1994), see illnesses as polysemic and multivocal. Meanings of illness are personal, social and cultural. They reveal what it means to be ill. Illness cannot be separated from the life course. Anthropologists have argued that stories are the forms ‘in which experience is represented and recounted’ (Good 1994: 139). Actually, we cannot directly obtain access to people’s experiences. Just like in psychiatric practices, life stories in anthropology are used as sources of information about the human condition. Psychiatrists agree that the life story has a potential for providing insight. Thus, psychiatry (at least part of the discipline) and anthropology have much in common.
However, anthropology may have a different approach to life stories. They provide a different sort of insight. Anthropologists often collect life stories in order to obtain information about cultural practices. The study of stories questions the relationships between experience, symbols and culture. We need to approach stories from a variety of directions in order to understand illness and suffering because all too often, suffering resists language and cannot be given a name (Good 1994: 129). We have to understand culture and its work in order to formulate a perspective on the interplay of cognition and emotion, rationality and irrationality, morality and immorality, fantasy and reality, and body and psyche as human features that play their part in the story and life, and people’s struggle to find a meaningful niche in society. But what will be the aim of understanding? Medical anthropologists differ in their opinions. Kleinman (1988) combined the anthropological and clinical traditions and opts for a more human relationship between the doctor and the patient. He sees experience as a mediator between persons. He argues for an ethnography of interpersonal experience, which gives room to ‘the local context that organizes experience through the moral resounding and reinforcing of popular cultural categories about what life means and what is at stake in living’ (Kleinman 1991: 293). Good comes to a similar conclusion: ‘Narratives are the source of contested judgements … a rupture of the moral order’ (Good 1994: 134). He suggests that we should investigate the ‘experiential dimensions of human suffering’ (Ibid.).

The problem is that human suffering escapes any category, whether it is ethical, political, medical or spiritual (Connolly 1996). Sometimes, suffering is a catalyst of more suffering. When people suffer, their relatives, friends and relevant others suffer too. Therapy with traumatised refugees often reveals that to tell a story may mean suffering again for the person who tells and for the listener. In my field experiences, this was the case with schizophrenic people. ‘Interpersonal suffering’ may relieve the pain and give a deeper understanding, but what do we do with this understanding when we only consider it ‘interpersonal’ or intersubjective?

The anthropology of illness narratives provides a preponderant number of studies that focus on the individual level, which is seen as the observable ethnographic reality. Health studies often ignore the active role of people who shape the broader context. Stories are not only stories: they come into life and are ‘acted out’. People actively shape their lives and are shaped by social and cultural structures. Stories are responses to conditions that the people have to face. This means that suffering is not only an experience, but also a social product ‘constructed and reconstructed in the action arena between socially constituted categories of meaning and the political-economic forces that shape the contexts of daily life’ (Singer and Baer 1995: 101).

Morality plays an important role in stories of misery. It is closely linked with emotions and passions. Anthropology has studied the relationship between what Scheper-Hughes and Lock (1987) call the individual body, the social body and the body politic. These authors discuss emotions and show how anthropology has always dealt with emotions when they were public, ritual or formal, leaving the more private emotions to psychoanalysis and psychobiology. Scheper-Hughes and Lock see these private emotions as ‘a bridge’ between the ‘three bodies’. Emotions, they argue, are signs that illness makes and unmakes the world. However, it is not clear in their argument how exactly emotions are ‘a bridge’ and how they are linked with morality. Morality mostly is understood as a set of interpretations of goodness, badness and obligation (Connolly 1996: 252). Taped conversations of the therapists and the patients made clear that those interpretations were contested and that both the teller and the listener judged each other (Van Dongen 1994). Without doubt, one may say that the power to define the situation of the sufferer lies in the hands of others.

The stories contain expressions of love, hate, contempt, disgust, anger, and fear. These passions are considered very dangerous and threatening to the social world and should therefore be controlled and channelled into culturally appropriate outlets. For example, the stories of Rosa, one of the people in the book Walking Stories, are full of hate and jealousy toward her mother (and vice versa). For example, she tells that both she and her mother fell in love with the family doctor. Rosa became so envious that she wanted to kill her mother. Those feelings are considered morally improper, but ‘natural’. Therefore, they must be expressed, preferably verbally, to a mediator: the therapist who has to resignify them. Maybe the therapist would judge the behaviour of both women, but the ‘badness’ would be considered as innocent because both women were ill. The problem will be followed by a ‘charity model of obligation, in which… helpers are pulled by the helplessness of the needy’ (Connolly 1996: 255). Connolly argues that sick people do not need help; rather they need engagement in what is called the politics of becoming: the right to form a new identity, which is formed out of old cultural possibilities.

However, this idea of ‘becoming’ is based in a strong cultural belief that also forms the foundation of the therapeutic myth: the belief in progress and change by reflection and hard work, which are – according to some authors – rooted in a ‘disenchanted worldview’, deriving from the Protestant Reformation (Gaines 1984: 179). ‘Becoming’ can be achieved ‘by action in this world, not by the intercession of preternatural forces and beings into this life. Action in this world is caused by physical factors, not by fate, immaterial saints, genies […], devils or miracles …’ (Gaines 1984: 179). However, illness by itself does not lead to ‘becoming’. In all those years I never heard people make the claim that they ‘have grown’ or ‘became’ by their illness. Those who made such claims and have written their stories are by no means the people in Walking Stories and in my ethnographic work. People like Artaud and Wolfi, both with mental illness, would have written anyway because they were writers. The people of Walking Stories are neither artists nor writers. They are ‘common’ people who have to struggle to find words for their stories.

Morality is also linked to the specific nature of the illness. In her paper on chronic illness, disability and schizophrenia, Estroff (1993) analyses how sceptical we are about chronically ill people. We cannot tolerate their presence on a large scale, but we also cannot punish or neglect those who are chronically sick. The author writes that our suspicion may increase regarding the role of will or individual unwillingness to become well. This is well illustrated by the mechanics at a garage nearby Saint Anthony’s.

A cordon of experts
Anthropology has described and analysed the consequence of this scepticism with the concept of liminality. Chronically mentally ill people are in a ‘frozen liminal state’ argues Barrett (1998: 481), because the rites of reaggregation are vestigial or absent all together. There is a lack of resolution.
I do not totally agree. In a sense, schizophrenic people are not liminal in our society. They are of concern to policy makers, health care, and social work. They are the focus of scientific research, pharmaceutical industries and even the arts. They are surrounded by a cordon of experts. Estroff (1993) argues by quoting other research, that among the factors that contribute to chronicity are the growing numbers of and the demand for jobs by mental health professions, the widespread belief (fuelled by public and political advocacy) that the people need medical care, and income maintenance resources that are illness-tested and bound to deservedness through disability. We may conclude that it is in the interest of many to keep chronically ill people in a ‘frozen liminal state’. Thus, we may listen to the stories as attempts to free oneself from this state.

Several authors have ‘de-medicalised’ mad stories. For example, Perry (1976) found that there were common themes and personalities in the stories of psychotic people which were typically cultural/archaic: the hero, the victim, the God, the queen or the king. Perry describes the common structures of the stories. Each story is ‘an inner journey’ with one or more of the following components: establishing a world centre as the locus, undergoing death, return to the beginning of time and creation, cosmic conflict when opposites clash, apotheosis as king or messianic hero, sacred marriage as a union of opposites, new birth as a reconciliation of opposites, new society of the prophetic vision, and quadrated world forms (Perry 1976: 82). The author sees psychosis as a process of personal renewal with the help of cultural myths.

Others have described mad stories as stories that cross cultural and social borders (Foucault 1961). For example, it is often assumed that schizophrenic people violate social interaction rules and that they are ‘out of reality’. This is too a general statement. Goffman (1961) describes a different picture. Working as an assistant physical therapist in a large mental hospital near Washington (D.C.), he was able to fraternise with the patients because he had a low staff status. He concluded that just as the patients’ behaviour was bizarre to those who were not living in a mental hospital, it was natural for those who live in it. Goffman also shows that the odd behaviour of mental patients makes sense in such a situation and even is often a sign of sensitivity to social rules and norms. Through breaking the rules, people show their awareness of them and also how the rules work.

Some authors have described mad stories as ‘ununderstandable’. For example, Jaspers (1974) argues that although people with schizophrenia are diverse, they all have the following in common: they are strange, they are enigmatic, they are alien, and they are bizarre. They are unknowable. You cannot empathise with them. Their symptoms lie beyond the realm of human meaning, beyond the possibility of human interpretation. They are, not to put too fine a point on it, ‘ununderstandable’ (quoted in Barrett 1998: 469).
Jaspers was trying to discover what it means to be human. For him, human is what is understandable and interpretable. Others have tried to bring schizophrenic people back into the human community of understanding by arguing that mental illness is a myth (Sasz 1961), or by making sense of madness through a comparison with art (Laing 1967) and modernism (Sass 1992). These authors found striking parallels between art, modern society and madness. I agree substantively with Barrett (1998: 488), when he writes that the problem with the idea of the relationship between madness and art, or between madness and modern society, is that it may lead to restigmatising schizophrenic people because they represent symbolically much of what is going wrong in the modern world, while they also have to deal with horrors and pain. On the other hand, it is acknowledged world-wide that social factors contribute substantially to mental health problems. We should do in-depth research to study how exactly social and cultural factors do that.

Schizophrenia is a well-documented illness and considered ‘a serious mental disorder of unknown cause characterized by delusions, hallucinations, associations of unrelated ideas, social withdrawal, and lack of emotional responsiveness and motivation’ (Kleinman 1988: 34). It is increasingly assumed that schizophrenia has a pathological basis, that it is a brain disease (Boyle 1990: 171). The consequence is that the focus is less on stories of schizophrenic people and more on the refinement of diagnosis. Anthropology could make an important contribution, but to my knowledge, few anthropologists have studied the meanings and consequences of a life with severe mental illness, or the stories of mad people. Corin (1990) studied the life worlds of schizophrenic people and showed that the behaviour of these people is based in cultural norms and values and that their way of living makes sense in the social context. Estroff (1981) immersed herself in the lives of patients at a day treatment centre and describes a group of chronic patients as they attempt life outside the mental hospital. Rhodes (1991) wrote an ethnography of an acute psychiatric unit. Using a Foucauldian perspective, she describes how the staff manages briefly to treat and place often indigent emergency patients. She focuses on the strategies developed by the staff members to deal with dilemmas they have to face every day.
My own work (1994) focused for a great part on the interactions of schizophrenic people and therapists. I showed that the odd behaviour and speech of schizophrenic people is often not a consequence of their illness, but caused by the paradoxes, ambiguities and power of the therapists. Martínez Hernáez (2000) showed that there is not only a pathophysiological or psychopathological reality behind the symptom, but cultural manifestations, metaphors, etcetera. He says that a symptom may be understood as a symbol which condenses social and political-economic conditions. This allows us to investigate the construction of meaning and the reality of suffering. Too many others have attempted to understand madness, to give meaning to it and make it ‘reasonable’.
I will not attribute new meanings to schizophrenia, nor will I give a description of life in closed wards. I will focus the work with culture of schizophrenic people. Culture is not only something people can have, it is also something they can use, or something that happens to them. Agar writes: ‘Culture starts when you realize that you’ve got a problem […], and the problem has to do with who you are’ (Agar 1994: 20). Usually, people are not aware of culture; ‘meanings usually float at the edge of awareness’ (Agar 1994: 21). People simply assume that culture is an unequivocal whole of meanings and symbols, while they mostly are capable of dealing with the contradiction: the ambiguity and multiplicity of culture. However, meetings with ‘walking stories’ change that.

Learning about culture through mad stories: tricksters and buffoons
Across Saint Anthony’s there is a garage. In the morning when the mechanics are working hard to get all the cars fixed, Vincent (one of the storytellers in Walking Stories; see below) comes from the hospital and leans against the wall of the garage with a bottle of beer in his hand. He observes the mechanics’ hands and overalls becoming dirty from the lubricant. Some mechanics greet him; others just ignore the man against the wall. Vincent grins and takes a good gulp from his bottle. He challenges the mechanics, saying: ‘You are crazy! You have to work to drink a beer! I don’t! I get my money and I am free.’ The atmosphere of benevolence changes into animosity. The tolerance of the mechanics becomes very low because Vincent touches on a sore spot in their feelings. Probably, they too want to be ‘free’, and drink beer in the morning sun. The image of the psychiatric patient, who is needy and with whom one should have compassion because he suffers changes into the image of someone who – in the Dutch Welfare State – gets his money from social security or insurance and seems satisfied and conceited. ‘Go to hell! We have work to do.’ Vincent smiles meaningfully and walks away, maybe to look for others with whom he can amuse himself.

This is one simple event out of the many I have jotted down in my field notes. Those events bring about the deeper layers of ‘the work of culture’ and the work with culture. Obeyesekere describes the work of culture as ‘the process whereby symbolic forms existing on the cultural level get created and recreated through the minds of people’ (Obeye-sekere 1990: xix). However, work of (and with) culture is not only the creation and recreation of symbols. Symbols hide something that cannot be mediated or symbolised openly. Passions and emotions like jealousy, hatred, disgust, contempt, anger, and anxiety cannot easily be communicated and symbolised. Yet, it is suggested by Scheper-Hughes and Lock (1987) that they are the mediatrix between the individual, the social and the politic. Mad people, like Vincent, display emotions in a vivid way.

They are thought of as having lost their feelings of decorum and control over their emotions. A well-known and dreaded phenomenon in psychiatric practice is ‘acting out’. Although psychoses may be overwhelming emotional experiences, I disagree with the idea that mad people have lost their feelings of decorum or control over emotions. Sometimes they may do, but often the ‘mad behaviour’ and ‘situational improperties’ are intentional. I do not see ‘intentional’ acts as wilful or purposeful and conscious, but as people’s state of which the content of assumptions, ideas, commentaries or beliefs have to be made clear to others (cf. Sperber and Wilson 1986). The madness cannot be divorced from the social and the moral, because others react to it. Fabrega (1997: 36) speaks of ‘emotional contagion’, which refers to others’ responses to emotional display. One may feel shocked and repelled when people talk so openly about rape, sex, violence, badness, incest and revenge in such an emotional way to everyone, certainly when one witnesses the story coming alive. One looks, and one probably looks twice… Miller (1997) argues that such paradoxical reactions to emotional stories and behaviour are both negative and positive, because they help to preserve dignity; they mark the boundaries between others and oneself, enabling one to overcome feelings of repulsion. However, those feelings go hand in hand with moral judgements of others and oneself, which one feels that one cannot make. Miller continues to explain that people are truly in the grip of norms and values, because once the emotional reactions are  recognised, the results are often shame and guilt. This can be illustrated by an event in Saint Anthony’s. Vincent, a colleague and I were chatting in the coffee shop. Suddenly, Vincent asked my colleague if she thought that he was crazy. Her answer was to pretend that there was nothing unusual about him. Vincent did not take that. He laughed and told her that he was really crazy and different from her and me. She should not lie to him. He said that he looked different and that he was not like others. My colleague felt uncomfortable. Miller might have explained this with the following:
The stigmatized variously generate alarm, disgust, contempt, embarrassment, concern, pity, or fear. These emotions in turn confirm the stigmatized person as one who is properly stigmatized. […] Strangely enough, it has come to pass that one of the surer markers of our recognition of stigma is our guilt for having recognized it. The stigmatized make us feel that we are not properly according them civil inattention, for we are never certain what we are supposed to do in their presence (Miller 1997: 199-200).

We cannot allow that moral emotions govern all situations, because people would be brutally and badly treated. Nevertheless, the emotions are there. We feel that there are sometimes instances that lie beyond our tolerance and decent treatment of crazy people and we feel guilty about it. Crazy people see through these behaviours and they will tell us so.

It is through the work of emotions and morality that one may compare mad people with tricksters. As one could see in the example of Vincent and the mechanics, mad people call attention to the ambiguity, ambivalence and instability of symbols, rules and morality. They deal with what Kerenyi (1972) calls ‘the spirit of disorder, the enemy of boundaries’.

Tricksters have a double role. On the one hand, they have creative insight and serve human beings. On the other hand, they show compulsive and excessive behaviour, lust and greed for unsuitable objects and relationships (Basso 1996: 53). Mad people expose the forces behind social interaction and the instability of norms and values. Their emotions counter rationality; disruption is more common than integration. Their stories will show that phenomena of ambiguity and instability belong to the essence of social life. Carroll (1984) poses the question of whether one should regard the trickster as a cultural hero or as a (selfish) buffoon. The underlying question is what the implications of ‘disorderly’ actions are. Should we see mad people as ‘free and uninhibited experimenters’ who are exempt from moral responsibility? This is suggested by the ‘mechanics story’. Vincent’s challenge triggered hidden opinions and emotions of the mechanics. I could not overhear the words of the men in the garage (if there were any) afterwards, but I can imagine that they might have said what I usually heard when I talked to villagers. On the one hand, they might have said that Vincent was mad and thus not knowing what he did. On the other hand, somebody might have said something about ‘injustice’ and ‘parasites who live on my tax money…’, not an uncommon banal accusation in a Welfare State. But there also might have been feelings of shame and guilt for one’s own feelings, like in the episode with my colleague. Madness is such a negative stereotype that it inherently threatens and even destroys being a social being, but feelings of shame and guilt may prevent mad people from total social isolation and downfall.

Mad people resemble the trickster. But for mad people, the repetition of their stories and what they do is problematic. Basso (1996) suggests that a trickster is successful only when he does not repeat an action. In trickster stories repetition is an indication that the trickster is foolish, compulsive and stupid. Mad people repeat stories and actions endlessly. And when they do, one speaks of regression and chronic illness. One labels them as chronic patients. Basso’s description of the trickster who fails is very similar to psychiatry’s description of chronic mental patients: ‘characters whose actions are stable and fall into a general pattern and whose goals and modes of orientation to goals seems not to vary are in danger of being regarded as excessively compulsive and inflexible and, ultimately, failing in imagination’ (my emphasis).
However, it is not only words that make mad people similar to tricksters. To compare mad people with tricksters also means that one has to study the dramatic performance, because performance is an essential part of social interaction. Anthropologists have studied drama as ‘social drama’, which is considered by Turner as the ‘social ground of many types of narratives’ (Turner 1980: 145). However, the social drama in Turner’s view is functional and cognitive. ‘The drama moves towards crisis and ultimate solution’ (Jules-Rosette 1988: 149). In mad stories and lives, especially those of ‘chronic mental patients’, there seems to be no ‘solution’, no finality or reintegration of members of the social group.

The assumption that contradictions and ‘disturbing compulsive, excessive behaviour’ can be transformed into socially acceptable forms is based on the functionalistic belief that order and consensus in society are norm-al (hyphen on purpose). It seems to me that the value of the performance of mad people cannot be measured with consensus and reintegration. It is by definition disturbing, shocking and jolting. Mad people’s stories and lives are dramas which have dramatic and comic dimensions (Van Dongen 1994). Especially the way in which the people involve others in their stories is an often humorous or ironic and intentional way to break social manners. By ‘bizarre’ connections of symbols of different domains (religion, science, art, sexuality, etcetera) and by suiting the action to the word, they make others laugh and – at the same time – they give others a fright about what is mostly hidden. It is extremely difficult to resist or ignore a man who comes very close to a therapist at the beginning of their conversation, touches him, opens his pants and shouts: ‘It comes out again!’ This is a ‘ceremonial profanation’, which is according to Goffman (1961) a token of sensitivity for rules, values and norms. This behaviour undermines power relationships and forces the therapist to reflect on those relationships. The man was saying: ‘I fuck you.’ The main characteristic of their performance is openness and reversal of taken-for-granted rules.

The meaning of the performance is in the performance itself. If the performance of mad people invites the reflection of others, it is the reflection in (social) daily practice (like in the event with the mechanics or the therapist). Besides, the idea of Schieffelin (1985: 707) that ‘through performance, meanings are formulated in a social rather than cognitive space’ fits very well in this case. However, mad people always run the risk that their performance turns against them. What keeps them from total exclusion? Ricoeur (1969: 219) noticed that tragic-comic persons amuse others, but also that ethical and moral accusations are essential in comedy. According to this author, the tragic person is protected against moral judgement and presented as an ‘object’ of pity. Tricksters and mad people both evoke double feelings in other people. Some of these feelings are pleasure, aversion, attraction, admiration, compassion and rejection. But others will never be indifferent to them. The difference between tricksters and mad people is that the latter succeed in letting others feel the stories they tell, because they do not stop to tell and because they perform so intrusively into others’ space. Nobody can resist Vincent when he comes close and talks about the cosmos and the apocalypse; nobody can ignore Joris when he speaks so loudly. The taken-for-granted world is usually turned upside down. The difference between tricksters and mad people is that reversal, which is a common phenomenon in trickster stories, carnivals, theatres and festivals, is permanent in mad stories (Littlewood and Lipsedge 1989). One should seriously wonder if this condition is a problem of mad people, or a problem of others. When one hears the odd stories, one knows that there is too much meaning. Too much is the revelation of cultural reserves. Madness is not a trick to reveal hidden meanings; it shows extra and unforeseen dimensions of symbols and myths. It shows that culture is a permanent unstable process.

Symbols, myths and magic in mad stories and lives
A general characteristic of the stories in Walking Stories, and all the other stories of the people in the wards, is that the tellers are ‘hermitic thinkers’. Hermitic thinkers see correspondence between events, models, myths, meanings and symbols. Everything is meaningful and people play ‘le jeu des ressemblances’. The world of the stories and subsequently the lives are ‘a palace of mirrors in which everything reflects everything’ (cf. Eco 1985). The stories rest on core models, myths and metaphors of the culture with which we all are familiar and which we take for granted.

These core tropes are used to make sense of lives. They also expose the basic building blocks of culture (Turner 1967: 110). They reaffirm and reinforce these blocks and they test, question and judge them. Anthropological studies of chronic illness have argued that stories often deal with the liminal state of people. From the perspective of those studies, chronic mental patients are in a permanent liminal state. It means that the final stages of the social drama as Turner has described does not take place. One of the reasons that those stages cannot take place is ascribed to the private, personal or even idiosyncratic use of symbols, myths and cultural models by schizophrenic people, which deviates so much from the way they ‘should’ be used that the stories are rendered incomprehensible. The problem is not how symbols, myths or models ‘should’ be used; close examination of mad stories makes it clear that they deal with the inherent indeterminate and ambiguous meanings of symbols, myths, models and metaphors.

Littlewood and Lipsedge (1989) discuss the relation between public and private symbols. They write: ‘To express adequately our experiences to others in our community we have to be able to perceive the world symbolically in a standarized matter’ (Littlewood & Lipsedge 1989: 219). The authors continue that when people have experiences for which there is no acceptable code, or when we are uncertain which is the proper code to use, confusion in communication may arise. The more uncommon the experiences are, the more difficult it is to communicate them to others. The authors write that schizophrenic people employ highly idiosyncratic symbolic communication. They write: ‘It is difficult to explain the overwhelming hold symbols possess over us unless they were learnt in association with powerful personal experiences. …They [the symbols] appear both to have a personal emotional or sensory pole and also to articulate general culture and social concerns’ (Littlewood & Lipsedge 1989: 220-224). I think that the authors are referring to the ‘combat zone of disputes over power…’ (Taussig 1980: 9) because what is personal and what is public, is not as plain as it seems to be and may differ from situation to situation, from context to context, from interest to interest.

Devereux (1979) defines a symbol as a special form of fantasy, ‘which as a rule, stands for something having, or alleged to have, an existence, and susceptible of being designated by a conventional and specific signifier’ (p. 19). Thus, convention is an important aspect of a public symbol. Devereux tackles and questions the problem of the difference between private and public symbols, which was discussed by Firth (1973). Devereux concludes that the nature and genesis of private symbols does not differ from that of public symbols and that both can be decoded by recourse to identical methods and techniques. In the first Lewis Henry Morgan lecture in The Work of Culture, Obeyesekere (1990) also discusses the distinction between private and public symbols. The author revisits the story of Abdin, a psychotic Muslim ecstatic, who hangs himself on hooks and cuts his tongue, both known rituals in Hindu India. For Obeyesekere, Abdin was ‘abreacting his past and using the pregiven cultural symbol system to express and bring some order to and control over his psychic conflicts’ (p. 10). Abdin reverted from the level of the symbol to the level of the symptom, because he repeated his acts compulsively. For Obeyesekere, a symptom is characterised by an overdetermination of motive, while a symbol is characterised by a surplus of meaning. The difference between a psychotic person and a priestess would be that the psychotic person moves in a regressive direction as he acts out the symbol system, whereas the priestess does the reverse (p. 14). Obeyesekere sees the significance of this distinction in the notion that people express their ontological problems of existence and being through the available cultural repertoires. Personal symbols are cultural symbols, public and private at the same time, that make sense in relation to the personal history of the individual. Obeyesekere calls the distinction between public and private symbols a false distinction (p. 24).
I too believe that schizophrenic people do not use ‘idiosyncratic or private symbols’. They use public symbols in such a way that others are alienated or become confused. The stories of mad people are full of (all too) well-known symbols which always have a surplus of meaning because cultural symbols are inherently ambivalent and ambiguous. For example, a chain may be the symbol of captivity, but also of solidarity.

Culture is extremely powerful. Even when people are overwhelmed by psychosis and madness, culture does its work. The views, beliefs, assumptions and opinions that are expressed in myths and stories by symbols, claim a certain truth, which is always debatable, because their meanings depend on the context and the situation. Symbols claim truth, but one can never be sure what exactly their meaning is unless one understands the context. The conclusion has to be that symbols are perfectly suitable for manipulation and (power) play. I disagree with the idea that the repetitive, compulsive use of symbols by mad people is regressive. I maintain that the use of symbols is ‘special’. It is related to a mimetic process. Mimesis is a normal human tendency and can be observed in education, schooling, cultivation, etcetera. It enables people to acquire certain cultural attitudes. It requires guidance and taboos. When no restrictions are accepted, it will manifest itself in every domain of human behaviour (Girard 1978). This is often the case in mad stories. The models and myths have a strong force. Models will be mimed. Often, this means that the symbols will be repeated, acquire unexpected meanings or will refer to additional meanings which we did not know existed.

One should do away with the traditional way of approaching mad stories and what they do, and presuppose heterogeneity between the stories of mad people and other types of stories. If those other types were to account for mad stories, they would make them say things that they do not say or that they do not signify. The known approaches to mad stories do not explain why the stories and behaviour remain the same over time.
I will try to explain my approach and I base my explanation on the work of José Gil’s  Metamorphoses du corps (1985), which takes an interest in ‘forces’ and power and focuses on the practical effects of signs and symbols. He takes the study of forces as the way to understand how signs and symbols function in their own right, sometimes in ways that may differ from the ways they are usually attached. Gil presupposes that phenomena in modern societies are quite similar to those that take place in bodies during magical ceremonies. Madness consists of extra-ordinary forces which drive people away from their community. The people of the wards told me that their psychotic experiences are fearful and incomprehensible for themselves. After they experienced their first episode of psychosis, they believed that their lives were profoundly changed, and that they had to make sense of their intense experiences. However, intensity of experiences is not enough to drive people to give meaning. What drives people is the fact that two forces are set in opposition to each other: the people’s struggle to signify their lives in a meaningful sense, and the social force to control that struggle.

Mad people try to get a grip on their lives and to influence their courses, which actually lie beyond their control. They do so through the use of myths and symbols, stories and models that ‘inspire’ their motivations and desires, and influence their emotions. Culture, as a collective of stories, is used to practise magic. The idea of magic in relationship with mad stories may be odd. Usually, magic is understood as something by which people influence the ‘supernatural’ powers of the world. Traditionally, anthropology sees magic in relation with religion. But the concept may be used in a broader sense without referring to religion directly. In this sense, magic is the human control of what actually lies beyond control, but, though there is strong belief that magic exists, it too must be controlled and signified. Magic is the ability of words to effect things.

On the one hand, madness is a power that exists and must be controlled by specialists. In this context, it is meaningful that psychiatry is sometimes seen as the ‘new religion’ of our society. People see psychiatry as a power that can control and manipulate the superpowers of irrationality through control of the powers of flesh and blood (i.e. mad people). On the other hand, culture itself is a powerful force to control the experienced powers in madness like devils, ghosts, voices from heaven, demons and spirits of the dead. Because the magic of psychiatry has more prestige than the magic of the mad, there is a gap between the two and mad stories will no longer relate to the former. It means to control and manipulate the powers of madness through the rituals of therapy and the use of medicines. However, in the case of chronic schizophrenic people it is difficult to control. Patients of Saint Anthony’s know for example very well how to escape regimens or how to play with rules and how to influence the flux of daily life in the wards.

The idea that certain phenomena in modern societies are much similar to those that take place in bodies during magical ceremonies, is described by Gil (1985). This seems to be the case in stories of chronic schizophrenic people, who also try to control the powers of madness. Magic is the ability of words to effect things. Signs, symbols and myths are recycled, mixed, and put together in a way that alienates others, but that has power to manipulate the course of events and the others’ responsive actions. This was exactly what nurses in the closed wards of Saint Anthony’s always complained about; their plans were thwarted by incarnate stories of their patients; they felt manipulated, and the daily routine was disturbed.

It is tempting and reasonable to describe the world of chronic schizophrenic-psychotic people as magical if one looks at core aspects of the affliction: ‘reality testing’ and the differentiation between logical and prelogical thinking. Generally, it is assumed that schizophrenic people live ‘outside reality’. It is also suggested that the psychotic world is irrational. However, it can be misleading to contrast the world of normal and abnormal; reality and ‘outside reality’. First, schizophrenic people also live in ‘reality’ (the normal) for a greater part of their time. Second, the magical world cannot be described in terms of the normal discourse. The mad world has its own universe of discourse, its own conception of reality and criteria of rationality, perhaps different from the nonpsychotic world. Until here, the argument is similar to Winch’s argument that describes the scientific form and the magico-religious form of thinking as a distinct form of social life whose practices and beliefs are only intelligible in the context in which they are held (Winch 1958). This is precisely the argument of Goffman (1961), which I have described in the previous section of this paper. It is also true, but not surprising, that the psychotic world is often seen as ‘savage’; that psychotic people are, to put it in Comte’s not too fine words: ‘slaves of the infinite variety of phenomena’ and ‘nebulous symbolisation’ (Comte 1908, cited in Lévi-Strauss 1996). However, Winch insisted on the incommensurability of the two worlds (science and magic). That would mean that no communication is possible. As we have seen in the discussion on private and public symbols, the symbols used by mad people are known, public and private at the same time. The differences between the two worlds lie in the fact that non-schizophrenic people and chronic schizophrenic people live different forms of life. For this reason, the magic world of mad people demands its own discourse, logic and rationality. The problem is whether others will accept this discourse.

There is another fascinating parallel between the magic world of mad people and other magic worlds, in relation to power. Both Taussig (1987) and Lévi-Strauss (1955) discussed the magical power of the written word. To quote Taussig (1987: 262): ‘what is in effect obtained through the purchase of magic books is the magic of the printed word as print has acquired this power in the exercise of colonial domination with its fetishization of print, as in the Bible and the law. Magica, so it seems to me, does not so much magicalize colonising print as draw out the magic inherent in its rationality and monologic function in domination’ (my emphasis). I see the parallel between the magical books of the Colombian Indians with mad stories in the idea of the power of written words.

Schizophrenic people also are very aware of the power the reports, files, judicial decisions – all written words, that determine and control their lives. The patients often counter them with letters to the board of the hospital, psychiatrists, judges, or other personnel of Saint Anthony’s, repeatedly and in a ritualistic way, often with similar words. Lévi-Strauss (1955) described the case of chief Namikwara, who imitated the ethnographer’s writing and in so doing gained prestige among his people, even if his writing was not understood. This example also shows a similarity with the patients’ writings. For example, Rosemary, an older schizophrenic woman in one of Saint Anthony’s wards, had a typewriter in her room with which she wrote letters about her life to staff members, to me, and to her mother. The typewriter gave her prestige in the ward; her room partly gave the impression of an office (she was a secretary at one of the Dutch multinationals), or a ‘writer’s room’. Besides, Rosemary tried to convince others with her letters that she, although ‘mad’, was capable of controlling her own life. Rosemary repeated her typewriting and her stories over and over again. It seemed, like the stories of other patients, a ritual performed with symbols, words, and attributes.

The repetitive and formulaic nature of the mad stories resembles the fixed rites in a liturgy, although this ‘liturgy’ is not, like for example the religious liturgy, in service of the community. But the mad stories have important liturgical characteristics in their repetition of the same symbols, words, and actions. Besides, like in a liturgy, they need answers from others (staff members, people in the streets, family members, the anthropologist). Mostly, it is assumed that the stories are about the past; the events of the past are constructed within the personal and social history of the patients. Thus seen, the stories are attempts to give meanings to the past. This is also the case in liturgy: what happened in the past – for example, the Last Supper – is re-given meaning and memorised.

However, mad stories are not so much attempts to remember the past or to give meaning to it; they are attempts to master and control the future. This also resembles the liturgy; it means reunion of people (and gods) and renewing the bonds within the group. Mad stories reclaim the place of their tellers in the community. Mad people tell and live their stories in an almost ritualistic manner: they tell the same stories over and over again, they use the same symbols and they will live them again and again. They have to, because they have to practise double magic: the counter magic to control the powers of the healing system, and the magic to control the powers of the madness.

Remembrance and repetition are attempts to master not only the past, but also the future. During all the years that I heard the mad stories of the same persons in different periods of their lives, I discovered that the stories did not change. This discovery was confirmed by review of the patients’ files and the stories of therapists and nurses. There was also something else. In anthropology, it is assumed that stories are about the past, about those parts of life which are already lived. Events of the past are constructed within the personal and social history. Thus seen, memories and repetitive compulsion are attempts to master the past and to give new meaning to it. However, we should not stress the reflexivity of people, the re-play of past actions, too much. In our studies of narration, we also should consider that stories may be a fore-play of what will happen in the future.

Having said that symbolisation and metaphorisation of mad people are not idiosyncratic or private, we still have a problem. This is the issue of distance and demetaphorisation. Usually, a metaphor or a symbol stands for something else, but mad people often are what they say they are. They tie the symbols directly to their body and life. Thus, there is no difference between the story and the life. Jim told me his story, as he insisted, for the last time in his life. Then, he told me that he was a rock. How can we understand this? We know that people can be ‘steady as a rock’, but this was not what Jim meant. He is a rock. Maybe, anthropology, and also psychoanalysis, would interpret the ‘rock’ as a symbol for insensitivity and closeness to the outer world and incapability to have inner feelings. Another interpretation is possible. The fantasy of the rock, a powerful cultural symbol, can be a mark in the process where a schizophrenic man closes his body for the forces which make him repeat his story vis-à-vis more powerful stories. The solution for his frustration and hopelessness may be to become a rock. The problem that others have with these kinds of stories is that such things are symbols for them, whereas they are reality for mad people.

This leads me to the role and the weight of culture in the stories and lives of the people of the wards. Anthropology may see culture as a collective of beliefs, customs, symbols, etcetera. There are more than a hundred definitions of culture, but what is often lacking is that culture is also a force, an energy that is directed to something. Culture has power over people. It is even so strong that people become ‘possessed’ by symbols and stories and do everything to come close to, for example, an ideal model. The body model of the tiny, active and thus beautiful woman may have such a strong impact on girls, that they will go beyond a healthy life pattern, become taken over by the image, and become anorectic. But when they are, they are told that they are not healthy or beautiful at all.
Cultural ideals and images cannot be described as coherent. What to do with ‘walking stories’? The stories will make clear, as we will see, that people are not helpless victims or scapegoats. They are active agents who have nothing else than what their culture provides them to combat. They reclaim more than their own lives. They also reclaim the right to be involved in moral and cultural matters. The symbols and myths are not used as metaphors for signifying illness. Rather, they are used by people to re-take their place within the culture. They have to tell their stories, and others should listen, because they are not about illness; they are about the human/cultural condition.

One of the stories from Walking Stories: Vincent, Morrison and the cosmic man

Desire and resistance of a schizophrenic man

Billy, are you completely crazy?
No, it’s true. Really. This guy told me. It’s true. I’m really gonna do it.
I bet only reason you won’t come with me is because I ain’t got any money. Well, listen, I’m telling you
I’m gonna go back up there and getme some money, lots of it, maybe
even ten thousand. And then I’m coming back for you. I’m coming back.
– Jim Morrison: the Hitchhiker

The story of Vincent is emblematic for my argument. I followed Vincent’s well and woo for many years. In general, his story and his life remained the same over all those years. Vincent had a dream and this dream became his life. He lived his story and he still does. Obviously, the ideas and models which were so important in our shared history were so strong for him that he could not resist them. His story shows the magic of culture and his struggle to resist and manipulate the world. How does this work?
Anthropologists have highlighted that ‘human motivation’ has to be understood as the product of interaction between events and things in the social world and interpretation of those events and things in people’s psyche (Strauss 1992: 1). This approach stresses that motivation depends on cultural models, but that the motivation is not automatically derived from ideology, discourses or symbols in a culture. Cultural models have a ‘directive force’; they set forth goals and include desire. Emotions and cognition are interrelated. According to Quinn (1992) an important way cultural models become goal-schemas is by supplying people with understanding of themselves. It often is assumed that mad people suffer from disturbances in the sense of self. These disturbances are attributed to a false incorporation into culture in the crucial stage of childhood, causing a semi-permanent identity-crisis and a repetitive desire to construct a self. This, in turn, results in continuous redefinitions or elaborations of an imaginative, ‘unrealistic self’.
However, the sense of self or self-understanding may vary throughout one’s lifetime and may even vary from situation to situation. We all have to deal with experiences which raise disturbing existential questions, with ‘sequestration of experience’ (Giddens 1991). Many of us are ‘homeless minds’ in an era in which old cultural boundaries are opened up and new ones are established. However, it is sufficiently shown that these disturbances and inconsistencies do not mean fragmentation or permanent disturbances in a person’s self per se. In fact, Vincent’s story is about a ‘stable self’: he remained the same ‘self’ over many years. The story of Vincent has to be interpreted differently; it is a reclaiming of his life and his story from psychiatric discourse and therefore is a form of resistance: against medical discourse, against moral ambiguities in his culture. Vincent’s desire seems to be a positive force which produces resistance against the moral and ideologies, power and control. Above all, his story and his life form a resistance against ‘settings of technical correction’ (Giddens 1991: 160) and a plea for imagination and emotional ‘play’ with culture.

The story and the life of Vincent
Vincent was a forty year old schizophrenic man. Vincent looks like his famous namesake: Vincent van Gogh. He was red-haired. His face has also the tensed and restless expression that can be seen on Van Gogh’s self portraits. As a result of extensive use of psychotropes his movements are sometimes slow and his tongue hangs out of his mouth. He has lived for more than twenty-four years in a mental hospital together with his brother, who is also diagnosed as schizophrenic. He is a well-known man in the hospital and in the nearby city. When a student came to see me for advice on her master’s thesis on mental illness she saw the portrait of Vincent in my office. She recognised him and told me stories about his life in the city. Those stories were very similar to what I heard during my fieldwork!

When we ascribe an identity to another person it may summon resistance of that person. The resistance is comprehensible, but in clinical psychiatry it is made an issue. Consider the utterance of Vincent, who was involved in a conversation with his personal supervisor. The conversation was a part of my research project on schizophrenic and psychotic people (Van Dongen 1994). Therapists and nurses talked with their patients about the patients’ lives. Contrary to most of Vincent’s conversations, this one was a rather sad reflection on his situation. It was not like his usual wonderful stories of success, pop culture and cosmic life.

The nurse and Vincent recorded the conversation. The opening is as follows: [Nurse: How long are you in psychiatry?] I want to undo my chocolate. [Nurse: Vincent?] Vincent undoes his chocolate and does not say a word. [Nurse: How long are you in psychiatry?] Vincent does not answer. [Nurse: Well, let me ask you in another way. How long are you taken in here?] Vincent: Twenty-one years!

These utterances point to several things: the starting point of the nurse, Vincent’s reluctance to answer the first question and the assumption that there is something special with psychiatry to Vincent. The nurse wanted to talk about Vincent’s life in a linear chronological way: from the beginning of Vincent’s admission to the hospital to the present. Vincent’s reluctance to answer the question about his life in psychiatry is clear.

However, as soon as the nurse asked in a different way, Vincent responded. He strongly disliked being identified with a mental inpatient. He had a totally different view on the hospital. For him, the hospital was a place to sleep, to eat and to get protection when the outside world had become too threatening. The hospital was a shelter for withdrawing and settling down after a turbulent evening out in the city. Vincent often remarked ironically that everyone had to work and yet could not be sure to have a home, good food and enough leisure time. He was sure to have such things. But he resisted being referred to as a psychiatric patient. This had a strong negative impact, as it did for most of the patients who participated in my research. The model of a mental patient had a negative moral dimension and a negative directive force. It did not fit into his self-perception, just as it did not fit most patients in my research. The model of madness was related to guilt and shame.

Popular ideas of madness in western cultures are less rational and biomedical than one may expect. Those ideas include different cultural models of the human mind, the brain, religion, etcetera. They also include models of the moral order. Popular models are vague and loosely constituted. However, they share one aspect. They explain when someone exceeds the limits of the social order. Exceeding limits is shameful and embarrassing, not only for the person who crosses the border, but even more for the members of the social group. By ascribing the responsibility for exceeding limits to individual failure and personal guilt the madness and shame become a matter of the individual who commits the ‘crime’. Madness becomes badness. To be assigned as a psychiatric patient means a moral judgement for the person. Vincent shows this belief in a compact package of ideas which is related to his view of the social reality and self-identification (cf. Strauss 1992: 205-207). The hospital was for Vincent a ‘place where strange and wild things happen’ and ‘fights are going on’. He went through ‘mad things like scuffles and breaking windows and so on’. He said that he had not a ‘psychiatric disease’, but that he went to the institution ‘to rest’ and ‘to become an adult’. For him, the hospital was a ‘nunnery’, which indeed it was twenty years ago. It had a protective meaning. His ideas about madness and the mental hospital belonged to an ‘authorative discourse’: ‘sharply demarcated, compact and inert […] one must either totally affirm it, or totally reject it’ (Bakhtin 1981: 343).

There is no doubt that Vincent rejected the model of madness and the connected intrinsic moral judgement. The consequence was a considerable inner and social conflict, since others identified him as ‘mad’ or ‘schizophrenic’. His turmoil was connected to conflicts with nurses, family and people in the town. In spite of his overt rejection of the madness model, Vincent was always involved in fights, quarrels, drinking, gambling, begging and exhibitionism. In short, he was involved in all the things, which he thought to have belonged to the mad-bad model. Vincent was very aware of the contradictions between his models and those of others, and of the difference between a part of his story and his actual behaviour. He knew that he was different. He said: ‘I am unlike others, maybe because I am red-haired.’ He knew that others rejected him and he cared about it: ‘They always reject me. When I enter a pub, they will say ta-ta. In other words, they say: Piss off. I am hardly inside when they say: Ta-ta, piss off!’

How did he manage the contradictions for himself and in front of relevant others? First, he reversed the moral dimension of the popular madness-badness model. He was not mad, he was not bad: God does not exist any longer, because the people are bad. The devil became a common human being. People destroy each other when they finish their plundering […]. All that I say wrong, are the thoughts of bad people. From my birth on I fight with bad people.

The badness of others was directly fixed upon Vincent. He experienced ‘the lives of others’. This sensation gave him ‘troubled feelings’, because ‘people creep under his thoughts’. The badness of others had become a physical experience. Other subjects like death, education, fatherhood, psychiatry and sexuality were penetrated by the evil of other people. This had such a strong negative effect on Vincent that he wanted to be ‘a cosmic man’, stripped of all human qualities and possibilities to do any evil: I want to be a cosmic man. Cosmic people don’t die. They don’t have an anus. They are very clean and wear white clothes. They have a kind of penis, but they don’t masturbate or crap. […] Life in the cosmos is rough. You have to drink until you feel good.

Sometimes he thought that he ‘had to lay down shorn and naked’ until he was transformed. The only way in which he would achieve his exalted goal was by a life in the hospital, where he could ‘work’ at his transformation. He said: ‘I work at my standstill, to live at myself.’ This higherlevel goal – the ultimate ‘good’ – was an echo of a Buddhist ideal of the seventies which told him to make his mind empty in order to achieve the absolute state of Nirvana. This ideal was mixed with other ideas of the seventies, when flower power, pop culture and alienation from the parental generation predominated the lives of adolescents. We hear wellknown cultural and psychological issues in Vincent’s story of the cosmos: human beings who are not imprisoned in lower desires like sexuality; white clothes could signify purity; the cosmos could be heaven: one feels good. Purifying oneself by removing everything that is dirty (clothes and hair): shaving could be symbolic castration. There exists an over-determination of meaning in Vincent’s story. There are lots of symbols of different (cross)cultural domains. Shaving for example is also a symbol of castration in Buddhist India. One can recognise the angels in the people without anuses and the little virgin penis. Thus, this polysemy refers to the determination by the motives of evil and good, and the many symbols which Vincent used. The problem is that there is no distancing or disconnection between the desire and the cultural public domain of storytelling. The story’s text remains close to Vincent. His story is perceived by others as ‘fleurs du mal’, an illusion, simply ‘crazy’, or personal symbolism. The assumption that crazy people tell through the use of personal symbols, which are cultural but not distanced from motives, desires or imagination, means that they are disempowered. The symbols are similar to the public symbols.

When Vincent was a young man he was very attracted by these ideas. He tried to get rid of an authoritarian father and he wanted to live like his idols Jim Morrison and The Doors. Vincent was the son of a factory worker. His mother was a housewife. He had left school when he was sixteen years old. He became a waiter in a second rate restaurant. He fell in love with a girl, whose parents were well-to-do. The young couple went out and made trips by taxis. The girl’s parents were willing to pay for them. Vincent must have felt very successful in those days, because his family was not rich and he himself did not have the job that could afford him the desired lifestyle. However, the relationship came to an end.

Vincent wanted to continue the life to which he had become accustomed. He remained a regular visitor of the city’s bars. He went for taxi rides and he took the train to Paris. His father paid these trips. When the father finally refused to pay, Vincent’s lived dream of glamour and wealth  collapsed. Vincent became psychotic and was admitted to the mental hospital in which he still lived at the time of my field work. But the dream remained alive and very strong. In the first years of his stay in the hospital he often lived in the locked wards. When his dream took over him, he broke the windows and escaped to the city or jumped on the train to Paris. He was imprisoned for some time, because his debts to the national railway company had risen to unacceptable heights. Seclusion and imprisonment could not prevent him from escaping again and again. What Vincent experienced as ‘high life’ was irresistible for him.

The idea of ‘standstill’, his identification with Jim Morrison and The Doors gave force to a range of related goals. He wanted to be sociable, successful and well known. In a certain way, Vincent succeeded in achieving these goals. He was well known in the hospital. Personnel and patients knew his stories and imaginations about his travels with Jim Morrison. Sometimes Vincent felt repelled, but he could not convince others of this feeling. When he tried to explain his feeling to a nurse, the latter said: When I see you in daytime… at night, well, everybody knows Vincent, and you set us on laughing. I don’t have the feeling that you are repelled…

Jim Morrison 1969

Jim Morrison 1969

Vincent was also well known in the nearby city. He liked to go to cafés, bars and night clubs and to talk to the people. Sometimes he travelled by train without paying. He still rode in taxis when he had the opportunity and the money. People would give him a blanket when he had to sleep in porticoes of a flat at night. However, as a psychiatric patient Vincent could not afford the lifestyle he desired. Social insurance paid him a little pocket money, not enough to cover his costs. He lamented: ‘How much does life cost to make it without begging?’ His passionate wish to be Jim Morrison or to be with the pop star was so strong that he had to go into the world, mixing with corruption and sin, dirtying [him]self with externals, having some trick with the despised forms, instead of worshipping the sacred mysteries of pure content (Douglas 1982: 155).

He felt frustrated, because he could not achieve the status of a ‘cosmic man’. He felt dirty and polluted. He had a strong but not unusual idea that money was a guarantee for success and happiness, which he saw as a bridge to the higher-level goal of the state of emptiness, Nirvana. Success was an intermediate station to cosmic existence. In his view earning money in the usual way was a sad thing to do. He rejected the social value of ‘working for your bread’ by saying: ‘Life is not for working, life has to be pleasant.’ However, he had to supply his pocket money in order to keep his dream alive and to live his dream. He did so by gambling, begging and exhibitionism. These activities belonged to the evil, the polluting. He slept in the street or in porticoes of houses on a piece of cardboard when he had no money to pay the bus or a taxi. For others he was no different from the tramps that people the modern big cities nowadays.

For himself, dirtying was a necessary evil: he did so to achieve his goals. Each little amount of money he got by begging, gambling or exhibitionism permitted him to be like Morrison for a short time. To be like the pop star was a mark on the road to Nirvana. The ideas of the pop culture – fame, plenty of money, beverage, women, music and a ‘flashy lifestyle’ – were part of Vincent’s success model. This model was a strong leading principle. But begging, gambling and other behaviour gave rise to conflicts with others. In the city Vincent was abused many times. The incidents that followed his exhibitionism illustrate this: I show my penis. [Els: You do?] They say that I must do that and I get forty guilders. [Els: If you don’t want to do it, you can refuse.] No, I must, otherwise they beat me up. It is like a rape when they beat me. They beat so heavily, it’s like I am in a woman. [Els: Why are people so curious to see your penis?] I am red-haired and red-haired people are special. So, people want to see my penis with that red hair. That’s special for them. [Els: Don’t you think it’s annoying for you?] Even the sportsmen do it when they take a shower. [Els: Is that the same?] Yes, they are naked.

In this narrative Vincent related his exhibitionism with his otherness. He also stressed the role of others and his helplessness. His abnormality was transformed into the badness of others. The realisation of his dream clashed painfully with his madness, the evil and the limits of society. No matter how strong the motivational force of his success model was, in this case the bridge between money and success and the good was very insecure. The piers of this bridge were inadmissible behaviour and social taboos. Nevertheless, Vincent showed a certain obstinacy in his continuously repeated efforts to achieve success on his way to the cosmos. Vincent was an incarnated problem of the western consumer society. One the one hand, his life is an extreme example of the rat race: pursuing success and happiness. On the other hand, his life was a struggle between evil and good.

Desire and passion
Vincent’s story may support the claim of certain psychiatric theories that the process of becoming a ‘self’ in psychotic people is disturbed. Serious disorders as psychosis and schizophrenia have disturbances in the sense of identity and capacity for social relationships. However, to view psychosis or schizophrenia as a combination of ego-functions and deficiencies in parental education, family structure and communication show the cultural foundation of the approach. The cultural beliefs and values are manifest on the level of ideology, but also on the level of behaviour and social interaction. Prominent characteristics are self-reliance, selfdirection and verbal expression (Kirschner 1992). These notions persist in modern psychiatric ideas. Vincent’s story and life may support this view. He does not seem a person who is self-reliant, autonomous. His behaviour does not match the accepted social behaviour, his verbal expressions violate the rules of interaction. His life story suggests that the theory of a derailed self through disturbed identification and education is right. His hospital files tell about an indulgent mother and an authoritative father; an uncertain situation in childhood, due to which Vincent’s ego was not integrated in the cultural domain.

In psychosis the passage from the imaginary order to the symbolic order does not take place (Lacan 1966). The name of the Father (to be understood symbolically) is rejected (‘forclusion du nom-du-père’). This means that the configuration of differences and rules – the law of the Father – is also rejected. The child does not participate in the symbolic (linguistic-social) game. The ‘metaphore paternelle’ fails and the result is that the child stays subordinated to desire (of the mother). The  child has no choice and no own identity. The child coincides with the other’s words. It has no possibility to take a symbolic marked identity from the symbolic order and therefore it has no distinguished position. His self is what others say it is. For Lacan the idea of an integrated ego is rejectable.
Every self is divided and fragmented. Desire is the inevitable result of division and fragmentation, and becomes the motor of human creations. Lacan’s idea is similar to Ewing’s notion. This anthropologist states that the presentation of the self may differ from context to context (Ewing 1991). Desire created Vincent’s ‘cosmic man’. The fulfilment of that desire (being first like Jim Morrison in order to become a cosmic man), however, could not be achieved through the life Vincent had since he was an adolescent. In a Lacanian view desire means only more desire. According to this view Vincent’s desire was a regressive process. His dream of success and the good leads him back to his starting point again and again. However, the dream and the subsequent stories are more than that: they are means to survive and to resist.

Plurality and anbiguity are to be studied in their context. Vincent’s ideas about the self embody certain assumptions about the person which are characteristic of the culture in the south of the Netherlands. Here the self consists also of significant others. The self is partly composed of elements over which a person has no control. The self can change and is less unbound and autonomous. Vincent shows for example this awareness when he said: ‘You have to live with other people in a social way.’ Psychotic people frequently violate the cultural rules in order to satisfy their needs. Vincent was involved in an ongoing social conflict. Sometimes it seemed as if he did not experience an offence of a cultural prohibition when showing his genitals in town. However, rather than suggesting that there is no conflict, as some psychiatrists do, I suggest that Vincent’s behaviour was intentional and conflictual. It is well known that when people learn different or conflicting assumptions about what is right or wrong, moral or natural, a possibility exists for resistance to cultural ideas and beliefs (Quinn 1992: 122). In Vincent’s case the conflicting assumptions had their origin in childhood. His rigid assumptions about the evil and the good were not simply cultural models which had directive force because they were learned in childhood and experienced as ‘natural’. Vincent’s story suggests a long process, beginning in adolescence, in which his ideas about failure, success, evil, purity, etcetera became incorporated in Vincent’s understanding of himself and led to the identification with Jim Morrison. His behaviour and his almost conscious will to behave like he did echoed, as I wrote before, ideals of the youth in the seventies: resistance against authority and the ideal of total personal freedom. In fact, it echoes resistance against the cultural law by a large ‘peer group’ of adolescents: the ‘protest generation’.

Vincent’s technique of resistance was that of parody and grotesque realism. He offended precisely those cultural norms of which he said that to offend was a bad thing to do. He did it very openly. Begging, drinking, and exhibitionism seemed to be what Goffman (1971) called ‘ceremonial  profanations’, i.e. conscious offence that shows sensitivity for values and norms.

Anthropologists showed that the directive force of cultural models is ‘over determined’. Social sanctions, pressure for conformity, reward and values act together to give a model its directive force (D’Andrade 1984: 98). In this sense the cultural models Vincent used seemed not very rewarding for him. His offence was chastised immediately, sometimes through beatings, sometimes in the hospital by being prohibited from going out. The socialisation process seemed not to be very effective. Vincent was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and he lived in the margins of society. He offended the rules and violated cultural norms. No matter what therapists or other mental health workers did over the years to reinforce a moral and proper way to behave, he maintained his dream and thus his way of living for more than twenty years. Obviously, there was a strong force involved. Vincent knew the values and norms of his culture, but he had different feelings about them. For him norms and values were associated with strong negative feelings. His experiences with people in town, his resistance against the ascribed identity of psychiatric patient and his feelings about the ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘badness’ of people caused these feelings. To understand what motivated Vincent (and others as well) we must know the feelings that he associated with cultural models as the result of his specific life experience. They were his passions of life…

If culturally organized views of possibility and sense must figure centrally in the acquisition of a sense of self – providing images in terms of which we unselfconsciously connect ideas and actions – then culture makes a difference that concerns not simply what we think but how we feel about and live our lives. Affects, then, are no less cultural and no more private than beliefs (Rosaldo 1984: 140-141).

Desire and intentions
It is not so strange that Vincent wished for a completely different way of life when we know how he lived. The different life was situated in the cosmos. For other psychotic people the ideal way of being was in heaven or in some utopia. One may say that the ‘real’ life of psychotic people forms a negative force. Often, this particular kind of desire had not developed in childhood, but in adolescence. From my research data it became clear that most of the psychotic patients which expressed so plainly a desire for heaven, utopia, or cosmos, were the adolescents of the seventies.

They were involved in the counterculture of that era. This desire is not so very different from a general desire people express for example in religion, myths or ideologies. The problem is not that psychotic people desire heaven or so, but that they desire it too often and too ‘loud’, therewith showing that the desire for ‘heaven’ is ridiculous. For us, this is very uneasy, because that which we express and believe in religion or ideologies, we deny to madness.

Should we define desire as a force that is characterised by a lack of something? Or should we view it as a positive force? Lacan (1961) defines desire as a lack, but Deleuze and Guattari view desire as a presence and a productive force. According to these authors ‘needs are derived from desire: they are counter products within the real that desire produces’ (Deleuze & Guattari 1984: 27). In their theory an individual is not bound to be a slave of his desire nor is the desire always a repetition of the oedipal triad mother-father-ego, but a will-to-power, a will-to-become, while opposing the regular social discourse. The authors do not exclude Lacan’s version of desire, but they see desire as discursive, that is, emanating from power and control, while the object of desire is created in social discourse. In their view desire is dual. I will explain this by Vincent’s case.

On the one hand, when his desire to become a ‘cosmic man’ is seen as a lack, there is always something that is lost and has to become reinforced. In a psychiatric view, what is lost is his sense of self and his sense of reality. What has to be reinforced involves re-territorialisation of his ideas and beliefs within the common ideology. This is what psychiatry wants to do. On the other hand, when his desire is conceived as a willtobecome, Vincent would have room for resistance to the social and the cultural order. In this case re-territorialisation becomes an outcome of discursive practices. This means for example that the ‘cosmic man’ can be made into a central figure in conversations with Vincent.

However, there is still Vincent’s desire to be like Jim Morrison. I explain this desire for identification as a bridge between his actual life and his life in the cosmos. This desire cannot be explained by repetition of an oedipal model or a familial model of authority. Morrison is for Vincent a model of anti-authority. It is possible to see the repetition of the ‘Morrison’-desire as ‘pursuing failure’, as Shafer (1984) describes for clients in clinical psychiatry. These clients have failed in life tasks and their emotional patterns related to these failures seem to persist. Failures become goals with directive force and their pursuit is valorised. Embroiding this theme, failure can be a model of something that happens to vulnerable people and the model of a vulnerable self with elements over which one has no control might make failure a goal. Thus, powerful forces like marginality, moral judgement of others, exclusion or denial of worth on the basis of a position as a psychiatric in-patient can lead Vincent to take on some of these models. It can be argued that this is for example the case with marginality when Vincent sleeps on the streets, in porticoes, or even on a dung-hill. But the Morrison-model – the desire to double Morrison – is more complicated than an intra-psychic model of free, individual choice (if there is any!). There are two important items related to Vincent’s Morrison-model, which I would like to discuss. Firstly, desire as a positive intentional force of resistance, and secondly, desire as a ‘political’ and mimetic process.

Vincent was an active agent. He was the ‘nomadic subject, able to become, to resist, to see that things can be otherwise’ (Fox 1993: 86). The desire of Vincent to be Morrison soaked his life. Morrison was a model with a strong directive force for many years. ‘Higher-level goals’ clustered around this model: success, freedom and happiness. Morrison stood for all. Nothing is abnormal in the goals of success, freedom or happiness in the Anglo-American and Northern European cultures. D’Andrade (1984: 98) notes for example about the American emphasis on success: ‘there are external sanctions involving money and employment, there are conformity pressure of many kinds, and there are the direct personal rewards and value satisfactions’.

However, for Vincent the achievement of these goals did not pass off by socially accepted employment, but precisely by the opposite. He tried to achieve the goals by begging, gambling or exhibitionism. These activities are not signs of madness per se, but in Vincent’s case they are signified as symptoms of mental illness. However, they offered Vincent satisfaction and pleasure, because if he succeeded to win a couple of hundred guilders by tapping the buttons of a gambling machine his dream about ‘good life’ became reality. People would accept a drink and would even have a conversation with him. He would take a taxi and the chauffeur would be polite and open the door for him. This gave him ‘the kick’.

The directive force of such models cannot be entirely explained by personal and social reward. According to D’Andrade there are two motivational systems involved with cultural meaning  systems: one that satisfies personal needs and another that represents a self as proof of a particular set of values (D’Andrade 1984: 98). For example, what motivated Vincent to identify himself with Morrison may be rewarding because it satisfied his need for recognition and attention. The effect of this open identification was the constant attention and care of mental health workers, because this identification was conceived as a sign of madness. Ironically, mad people have to behave mad in order to stay in social contact with others. The identification also represented the ‘free’ self and this self came close to the cosmic man.

However, the need for success and related feelings of freedom and happiness was only temporarily satisfied. The ways in which Vincent tries to fulfil his desire often meant a social conflict. We can hardly speak of any form of reward in this case. What made Vincent do this again and again? To explain this, we need another dimension of desire, namely intentionality. From a psychological view intentions are mental representations capable of being realised in action. I do not mean a full conscious effort to make something clear or to satisfy a desire. Analogous to Sperber and Wilson (1986) who see a communicative intention not just as an intention to inform someone else of something, but as an intention to make an informative intention known to the one who  communicates and the one who listens, intention of desire is a semi-conscious effort to make an intention clear or to make clear that there is an intention to everyone who is involved in social interaction. Desire is thus not only a positive force that takes place in the real, as Deleuze and Guattari see it, but also an intentional force, not only to fulfil needs but also a force that is effective and productive in the social domain. The desiring subject communicates an intention with the desire. The question is what effects it has, and what it produces.

Jim Morrison and especially his ideas of fame, a ‘flashy’ lifestyle, plenty of money, spirits, women and music, were strong leading principles for Vincent. The proceeds of begging, gambling and  other business enabled Vincent to live like his model. He could buy drinks and ride in a taxi. This, in turn, gave him the idea that he was ‘on the road with Jim’. Vincent told me: ‘I think I am the fifth Doors.’ This is a remarkable phenomenon. Vincent did exactly what Morrison did. Morrison was not only a ‘success model’ for young people. Essential components of his life were ‘doing dirty’, protest, nihilism, anti-materialism and death. It is striking that Vincent fitted almost perfectly in this double Morrison-model. But the dark side of the model, e.g. anti-social behaviour and death, was disregarded in Vincent’s discourse. About Morrison’s death, he said: Is he still alive, Morrison? [Therapist: He is dead.] He is dead? But I never found out he is dead! [Therapist: No?] Never. Does it hurt? [Therapist: I don’t know, I was never dying.] I don’t know whether he is dead or not.

When the movie on Morrison’s life and death was shown in the nearby town, Vincent did not want to see it. When I took a photo of Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise in Paris, he did not want to see it. He said that he disliked ‘the ugly images of Morrison’, but I believe that seeing Morrison’s grave or the film would mean the end of Vincent’s story and thus the end of his life. The most important thing in Morrison’s life for Vincent was his glamour and success. Doing dirty, although it is an essential component of the star’s life, was not a motivating force for Vincent, but an inevitable necessity. Vincent pointed therefore to the evil of others and the ‘logic’ of his own behaviour. He did dirty, but by doing so he was confronted with norms and values in his society. His behaviour was not tolerated. Complaints of his family, fights in the town, people making a fool of him and sending him away were the results. Yet, some of the things Vincent did are not uncommon in towns, where people ‘celebrate the weekend’ or have their parties. Carnivalesque ideas and a ‘we-live-just-once’ model could be seen. Vincent described this as follows: They say: We live just once, when they walk around with a big glass of beer. Do you understand that? Who lives once? They say: When we are dead, we rot away, so let us drink! That is not possible. There is maybe a life after life. Incarnation? Rubbish! It is your world. You see so many people and then you may ask yourself: Why are you seeing that? Why are they destroyed like that?

Vincent connected the carelessness of people, their badness, the evil and the consequent destruction. He contrasted these with the cosmos, the good and infinity: My life is eternal. […] I don’t reincarnate, I disappear. The universe is infinite. Life continues till the entire universe is filled up with cosiness. There is no end to my life.

Vincent did ‘bad things’ to be in the ‘scene’ he despises. This was not simply copying Morrison’s life. The proceeds of his ‘jobs’ guaranteed him not only fulfilling of a personal desire to be Morrison, but also meant (short-term) social relationships. This was the only way Vincent had. Alternative social institutions that could satisfy his social needs were missing. Through his madness and status of psychiatric patient he was marginal and lonely. So, social aspects created the conditions of the force of his models. The forbidden actions Vincent used to attain his goals belonged to these social factors. What he did openly, others did clandestine. He knew this: I have to tell everything to my wife. Are you mine? [Els: No, I have already someone else. I am not yours, but I am listening. Tell me.] Well, if I tell my wife she falls asleep… [Els: I don’t fall asleep. Do you have a friend?] Yes. She is a twin. [Els: Does she live here?] No, I meet her in town. She takes a gin from me and leaves it. Then my money is gone and she does not want anymore. If I had five thousand guilders, she would come with me, she said. She is so beautiful, she is a twin. I want to tell her anything, but she won’t listen.

He almost exactly copied a song of Morrison, i.e. ‘The Hitchhiker’ (the text is at the beginning of this part). This image suited Vincent. He was wandering about and he always tried to get some money so that he could buy love and a social relationship.

An older but still actual argument of Goffman (1971) in his ‘Asylums’ on intentionality of mad behaviour is that such behaviour is not so much a result of any violence, but an intentional offence of rules. The behaviour shows sensitivity for those rules. It is a profanation. According to Goffman the behaviour is of interest, because it shows us the common ritual order. In its offence the behaviour shows us rules of which we are hardly aware in our daily lives. Later (1971: 411), Goffman adds: ‘In sum, mental symptoms are wilful situational improprieties.’ It is not so difficult to see the intentionality of ‘mad’ acting here. Also the relation with Morrison’s wilful offences of culture and social rules and norms is clear. The openness with which Vincent offended cultural norms brought him not only into conflict with people in town, but the offence ridiculed a double moral.

Norms of what people can do in public are ambivalent and ambiguous. This ambivalence and ambiguity offered to Vincent (and other psychotic people as well) different possibilities to withdraw himself from the obligations of ‘social regulation’ and cultural norms. Vincent’s contempt of behaviour of the feasters in town was evoked in others by his own behaviour. Showing his genitals in town was to stage the hidden and secret perversity of people: ‘They say I have to.’ When Vincent would refuse to do what the drunken people asked, he was punished by abuse. When he did what was asked, because he wanted to earn some money and because people wanted to see his penis, he was punished by his supervisors in the hospital. This was a dilemma for him.

The question is then: who was bizarre? Vincent or the people in town? I would like to stress that I do not claim that Vincent’s ‘mad’ behaviour is a fully conscious act to make people aware of the ambivalent morals and norms and the hidden passions in his society. I argue that desire has three positive intentional dimensions which motivate people to act the way they do. First, there is the intention to satisfy the need to feel well, to be happy or get ‘a kick’. This is a personal intention. Second, there is the intention to satisfy social needs, for example to have social contacts or sympathy of others. Third, there is an intention to express displeasure or an awareness of hidden negative aspects of a moral system within a society. These intentional dimensions are intertwined. For example to express displeasure of negative aspects in a moral system can be of personal worth because it satisfies personal needs for a certain achievement and because ‘it represents the “good” self’ (D’Andrade 1984: 98).

Desire, resistance and mimesis
In this section I want to explore the intentionality of a desire in relation with the effects of the behaviour that follows from that desire on other people in Vincent’s culture. In other words, is desire a ‘will-to-power’ that has a positive social impact? Is it a political act? Vincent’s caricatured mimesis of Morrison and ‘wilful situational improprieties’ had an enormous impact on social relationships for himself, but did they show the ambiguity of cultural values and norms? In other words, could Vincent be compared with the trickster figure? Vincent’s life threw him into conflict with the cultural conceptions of a person, norms of behaviour and social rules, which are in force in the society. These are regulations that somebody is trained and educated to adhere to mainly in childhood. These regulations always enclose resistance, because individuals may differ in the degree to which they are committed to cultural ideas (D’Andrade 1992).* They can reject ideas totally or partially. [* D’Andrade expands the ideas of Spiro (1987) by adding the motivational force of cultural models to Spiro’s concept of internalisation. He writes: ‘Spiro has pointed out that all parts of a culture are not held by people in the same way; that cultural propositions vary in the degree to which they are internalized (1987)’ (1992: 36). Somewhat before he writes: ‘Thus it could be said that the statements generated by cultural models had directive force for some people, that is, had a force which made people obligated to do what the statement said. However, the term “directive force” refers to a specific kind of motivation – the moral or quasi-moral sort, where one feels obligation’ (1992: 39)] Vincent’s desire to become Morrison and finally become a cosmic man reflected intentional efforts to dismantle the cultural rhetoric on decency, autonomy, self-reliance, labour, and all other concepts which seem so important nowadays. He showed the ‘ridiculous’ and arbitrary use of these concepts. It was as if Vincent wanted to say: ‘You want me to be mad or to violate norms and rules? I will give you want you want.’ He did this by well-known mechanisms in our culture, i.e. ‘desire’, ‘mimesis’,  ‘identification’. The mime had the same effect as that of a clown.

Jim Morrison (Graffiti Rosario)

Jim Morrison (Graffiti Rosario)

The people in the centre of the city laughed and challenged him to behave ‘crazier’. Two issues are important. First, the issue of flexibility and constraints of cultural ideas. Second, the related issue of power. Obviously, notions of what is, what can be and what must be done have thresholds. On the one hand there are infinite possibilities for people to explain themselves. The flexibility, or pandemonium as Gergen (1985) names it, is not as infinite as it sometimes seems to be in a post-modern society. When Vincent said ‘I am Morrison’ or ‘I want to be a cosmic man’, the social impact and force was large, but only because of the irony, ‘exaggeration’ and impossibility of what he did. We cannot gather information about the irony in Vincent’s life from his texts as they are presented above. We canderive his ironical attitude from the tone in which he talked and from the rhythm of his behaviour. His stories were sometimes told in a Rabelian way.
They are of grotesque realism, using vulgarisms, puns, mockeries and benignant fabrications. His behaviour was also ironic. I happened to be a victim once of his way of begging. To illustrate this I quote a fragment from my diary: There comes Vincent! His red hair flickers as a warning signal in the sun. Without knowing why, I feel something is going to happen.‘Hey!’, Vincent shouts. With his long thin legs he rushes at me, his hand held out. He laughs. ‘How are you? What are you going to do?’, he asks, while shaking my hand. ‘I am going to work, Vincent.’ ‘Work? What work? Are you going to tell stories about the hospital?’ ‘Yes, I will.’ ‘That’s great, that’s very great. Are you doing this alone?’ ‘Yes, I do it alone.’ Vincent tilts his feet. He gets a deep breath and then: ‘Hey, do you have something for me? For buying a bottle of lemonade? You gave me something lately, but that is gone. It does not matter what: nickels, dimes. I pay you back, I pay you. I will tell you another story. I pay you back. Please?’ Vincent held his hand. ‘I am so thirsty, girl!’ [To make a longer story a little shorter, I gave him some money.] ‘I pay you back! Did you note down the dates of the coins?’ Vincent comes very close to me and smiles. I can smell his body and see his brown teeth. ‘Thanks, I pay you back!’ Then he disappears to the café.

I have to admit that this encounter gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand I felt rather defenceless against Vincent’s charms. I felt as if I had to laugh, which I did indeed. To note down the dates of the coins was ridiculous. On the other hand, I felt repelled by unwashed flesh and I also was embarrassed, because I did not like to be forced to give him money. The stories and behaviour of psychotic people are tragic and comic. Psychotic people amuse, but they are also accusing. The tragedy, which summons compassion of others, guards them from total rejection.

This resembles the reactions people have for the behaviour of the trickster. The effects of his behaviour may be compared to ‘the drastic entertainment’ of the tricksters’ stories (Kerenyi 1972). Stories of such grotesque realism, imaginations or fabrications are mostly only permitted in childhood, in our silent thoughts, in a cabaret or as an artist. What Vincent did and said had to stay behind the curtains of the public stage. His madness offered him a possibility to resist cultural values and norms, or to challenge them. Desire became a ‘political’ process. In the story of Morrison and the cosmic man Vincent presented himself as a caricature of the ideal of a totally free man. This was an ideal that developed out of the youth culture in the seventies and seems to be accepted as normal in the nineties. He pointed to the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’ and their ambivalent character. He pointed for example to drinking and gambling, which belong to evil things in popular cultural ideas, but which are at the same time permitted during an evening out. With irony and caricature the psychotic man or woman is accusing: he or she points to and makes a mockery of cultural values and norms.

However, we have to be careful to take this resistance and protest as political acts that undercut power and ambiguity. We can learn from feminist studies on disease that hold that resistance and protest against gender domination do not undercut existing power relations, but are utilised in the maintenance and reproduction of these relations (Jaggar and Bordo 1992). For example, a study on eating disorders shows that transformations of meaning ‘through which conditions that are “objectively” (and experientially) constraining, enslaving, and even murderous, come to be experienced as liberating, transforming, and life-giving’ (Bordo 1992). The transformations appear to be non-liberating; they reproduce the existing models of femininity. How is this in the case of psychotic people, whose ideas are dominated by the culturally accepted ideas? Vincent’s protest and caricature appeared to be counterproductive. The symptoms of chronic psychotic diseases weaken people and turn the lives of patients into an all-absorbing desire. Because psychotic people are wedded to an obsessive desire, they are unable to make an  effective change in their lives when others are not willing to acknowledge the social meaning of psychotic language. Vincent remained the ‘reproducer’ of the dependent person of the psychiatric in-patient. Employing the language of the moral through his own psychotic ‘language’ involved the ambiguity of that moral and suited perfectly the dilemmas of a culture’s mores, but everything remained in its place because Vincent’s language reproduced, rather than transforming what was protested and mocked. The fact that the psychotic world has been taken as the ‘unreal’ world during the history of psychiatry in spite of attempts within psychiatry to give this world its meaning, is significant. Psychotic symptoms and pathology as potential means for resistance and protest serve in the maintenance of established and generally accepted cultural order. How can Vincent’s desire become implicated in the cultural order?

D’Andrade claims that the standard analysis ignores what organises the desires. Desires are not simple things in themselves or motives independent of culture. D’Andrade claims that desires are ‘conscious interpretations of goals activated by other cultural schemas’ (1992: 55), and he agrees with the claim of the standard analysis that ‘idiosyncratic and cultural schemas (or models) are organised in complex hierarchies’. Which schema is at the top of a person’s interpretative system, varies. Top-level models are ‘master motives’ and contain the most general goals. For Vincent these were things like success, happiness, and standstill.

Further down in his hierarchy of models there were things like money, social contacts, drinking, women, etcetera. According to D’Andrade there are two empirical issues involved. First, it is not clear how the notion of ‘directive force’ should be used. D’Andrade proposes a psychological description by organising the data around cultural models which have the greatest directive force. Second, which factors cause cultural models to be internalised? For example why did the cultural model of success affect Vincent so deeply, while others of his generation are not so much attracted by it? D’Andrade gives us a part of the answer. It is because others have already learned other models, which interfere with the success model. The author concludes: Each individual’s life history can be viewed as the building of new schematic organizations through processes of accommodating to experience and assimilating these experiences to previous schematic organizations. The final result is a complex layering and interpenetration of cultural and idiosyncratic schemas which always contains some degree of conflict (1992: 56).

D’Andrade’s conclusion is valuable for Vincent’s story. However, there is a mechanism involved, that Girard calls mimesis. This mechanism is related to the directive force and internalisation of models and has to do with the maintenance of a model despite the evidence that desires will never be fulfilled. This is what has happened in Vincent’s life. Vincent was an adolescent in a critical historical period. It is suggested that the rivalry between youths and adults in western societies during the seventies was uniquely critical. The young were profoundly alienated from the parental generation. Two main forms of dissent were important in that time: the radicalism of European youths with significant social criticism,and an American experimental and flexible dissent from what Roszak called ‘the technocracy’ (1970: 4). Although the European radicalism was closer to the front door of the Netherlands, it limits itself to the intellectual young people at the universities. It seems that the experimental dissent had a greater impact on the young outside the universities in the Netherlands. Vincent was one of the latter. Flower power, hippy culture or pop culture flourished well with the youth. It offered them the impression of full freedom, with no binding loyalties, no personal attachments, no home, no family, no obligations, no authority. What Vincent, and many others with him, did not see was that the propagated ‘leisure’ of sunny beaches, luxurious hotels, big cars, cool drinks and drugs were adjuncts of the jet set and high income class, not of underpaid waiters in a small restaurant. Vincent was confronted with and opposing a  ‘technocratic society’ which equipped the young with an ‘anaemic superego’, made possible by unrestricted pursuit of profit, commercialising and permissive education. Withdrawing from the family and becoming a beggar or a gambler for example was a formidable gesture of protest.

The culture of permissiveness ill prepared the young for life. Adolescence was no longer a passage to adulthood, but ‘a status on its own and a prolongation of permissive infancy’ (Roszak 1970: 32). Vincent demonstrated awareness of this status of the adolescence period, when he said: At that time I could not care for myself. […] You are only an adult when you are forty. […] I am not a psychiatric patient. I stayed in the hospital because I got lessons, perhaps for becoming an adult.

Such a permissive culture as in the seventies smothered protest by saturation coverage. Strictly speaking, it was not the parental default, but the social conditions which caused problems. The counterculture of the seventies was not simply an expression of protest or cultural renewal. The essence of this culture was, as it is with all countercultures, to aggravate contradictions and conflicts which already existed (Abma 1990). These contradictions and conflicts were social conditions. One of these conditions was not the lack of models for mimesis, but the lack of someone in that time who told, for example, the adolescent Vincent that on the one hand, his identification with Morrison could be beneficial and rewarding sometimes, but, on the other hand, it could not continue life long. When he was young his fantasy was nourished by the indulgence of the parents of his friends and his mother. When he grew up he was left too long without restrictions. He did not adjust to prescribed patterns of an adult man. He continued to assert pleasure, freedom and doing dirty, just like Morrison. Originally developed as a resistance against authority and society, Vincent’s model came to dominate his entire life.

It came to belong to his passions and it shows the magic of culture. His mimesis presented itself as a caricature of the ideal of a totally free man – a cosmic man – an ideal that developed in the seventies and seems to have a climax in the nineties’ hyper individualism. Apparently, the model of freedom and standstill had not lost its force. On the contrary, Vincent mimed Morrison as much as he could. He was so fascinated by his model that he was warming up to it. Morrison was the embodiment of all ‘master models’ and the models lower in the hierarchy. The pop star became over the years Vincent’s ‘master’s voice’. The mechanism that lied behind the exceptional manifestation of mimesis was that Vincent’s being was no longer defined by a place in society. Motivation was stirred up instead of decreased (Girard 1978) and desire increased at the expense of differentiation between the model and Vincent. Being mad was being mesmerised by the models of desire. However, it is not fully correct to ascribe the mesmerising totally to Vincent’s madness. It is also not fully correct to see Vincent as a scapegoat. Through intentional behaviour Vincent showed the conflict, rivalry and undermining of the cultural order which were joined together.

Vincent’s behaviour did not transform the cultural ideas about a person or the cultural ideas of good and evil. On the contrary, it strengthened the cultural models of madness. The ‘solutions’ offered by psychotic language, too excessively uttered, lead to their own undoing. Vincent remained a ‘docile body’ (Foucault 1979). He remained a locus of social control; a psychiatric inmate.

In conclusion
If Vincent’s story is perceived as a ‘fleur du mal’ and a fantasy, how is it related to his life? Normally, lives are storied. What keeps the stories from being odd is that they summarise and justify the work from which they arose, and that they do not become identical with the teller’s desire or motives. But, this is precisely what happens in odd stories: the lives are not storied, but the stories are lived. They are identical with the tellers.

Crazy people are disempowered by the fact that their story is perceived as odd and personal. The problem with odd stories is that they are very attractive for normal people. We suspect ‘deep meaning’ in them. This becomes clear in the literature on art and madness. In this literature it is assumed that madness enables a person to get access to the deeper domains of creation and ontology. Good examples are studies of Nietsche and Van Gogh, and many other artists. Crazy people are ‘createurs bruts’, who have access to an original pre-cultural world, which serves as a source of creativity. I do not want to argue that every crazy man or woman is an artist, but I agree with the opinion that crazy people are ontologists: they are engaged in a new way of experiencing fundamental categories, in experiencing new frames from which reality can be described and experienced. Craziness is thus a new way of experiencing, like art. But it is an involuntary way, sometimes fearful and certainly not comfortable. Mad people do not invent a new culture or a new frame. They unbolt normative frames and inverse the rules of social relationships.

Their stories and lives have sensational and shocking attributes and therefore they resemble the trickster. But, everything in the world has a deep meaning and that drives them crazy. Mad people test possible worlds in their stories to see if they are endurable. Their stories must come to life because it is often the only way to contact the social world. But the openness with which Vincent and the others offend cultural frames (values and norms) brings them into conflict and ridicules a double morality and the arbitrariness of the frames. Cultural norms of what people can do in public are fully alive to ambiguity and ambivalence.

One does not show his penis in public, but when one is drunk on a Saturday night, one asks someone else to show the willy. Vincent and his story are at the core of our culture. We witness the interplay of emotions and cognition, of rationality and irrationality, of calculation and raging passions, of morality and immorality. It is a struggle to fight the magic power of culture. Vincent’s story is a sad one and he knows it. When the story comes to an end, his life will end too. His denial of Morrison’s death has to be understood as his will to survive. But what will happen when he becomes old?

Published in – Els van Dongen – Walking Stories

Rozenberg Publishers 2002 –  978 90 5170 655 0

In Memoriam

Els van Dongen (1946-2009)

By Sjaak van der Geest

In the evening of 4th February 2009, Els van Dongen, anthropologist, colleague and editor of this journal, died at the age of 62. Her death came after a long and painful sickness, a period of hope and desperation, of gratefulness for a rich life mixed with stubborn resistance to the unfairness of that same life.

Els was a gifted anthropologist and an unusual colleague. Students loved her teaching, original, sharp, concerned and full of entertainment. Colleagues admired her for her unbridled energy and productivity and her many talents. She was fast in everything she undertook and impatient if things went too slowly. She deeply disliked bureaucracy and its meetings.

Her anthropological life started late, at the age of 35. She first trained as primary school teacher, during which time she met her husband Leo Hulshof. From 1968 till 1978 she taught in two primary schools in the proximity of their beautiful house in the rural south of the Netherlands, near the Belgian border. In 1978 she decided to study geography. During that course she discovered anthropology, which she liked instantly.

In 1982 she decided to join the new part-time evening course anthropology at the University of Utrecht. She combined the role of student with the care of her family. She completed her master’s ‘cum laude’ in 1988 with a thesis on the semiotic approach in the study of illness [1988].

Six years later, in 1994, she defended her PhD thesis based on conversations with psychotic people in a psychiatric hospital. The title of her thesis ‘Zwervers, knutselaars, strategen’ (Tramps, handymen, strategists) betrayed her aversion to psychiatric labels:  She regarded the people she met in her research first of all as people out of tune with the ‘normal’ society, but gifted with extraordinary skills and ideas. I am sure that she experienced ‘kinship’ with them in their common ‘unusualness’. Provocative also was the quote from John L. Caughey that she chose as device for her book: “‘Schizophrenic’ is perhaps best kept in its traditional sense, as a pejorative label for deviants whose visions we do not like.” A few years later she would write that ‘madness’ showed: “that otherness is present in all of us.The otherness we fear”

In her book, which ten years later was published in a slightly revised English version, she sought to describe and understand how psychiatric patients experienced their world. She did so from the patient’s point of view, focusing on the fears and hopes that characterise the life in a clinical mental ward. Dilemmas in that life are: How to express subjectivity in an atmosphere designed to restrain demonstrative emotion? And how to maintain personal integrity in a completely ordered regime? She portrayed the psychiatric patients as ‘wanderers’ – homeless people, as it were – in an alien and hostile country, creating a ‘bricolage’ reality from materials at hand. Although she often positioned the therapists and psychiatrists as representatives of an oppressive regime, she did not doubt their integrity either.

In 1996 she joined the staff of the Medical Anthropology Unit at the University of Amsterdam and began to play her key-role as teacher and researcher in our team. She taught both general courses in anthropology and specific medical anthropology modules on themes such as ‘anthropology and psychiatry’, ‘anthropology and chronic illness’ and ‘medical anthropological ethnography in Europe’.

She published a collection of six narratives by people she met in the closed wards of the mental hospital during her PhD research. The personal stories are alternated by her observations and comments. The book, she wrote in her prologue, was her debt to these people: “I became indebted because the people shared with me what they had: their stories and (part of) their lives” .

A little further she reflects: “When I went into the hospital, my aim was to study how people deal with mental illness and how mental illness could be understood from the perspective of the people themselves. Now I must admit that madness taught me more about the power of culture and the power of people than about madness” .

The power of culture… In 2000 she co-edited a volume with contributions about the way Europe treated migrants in need of health care. A central theme in that volume is exclusion. It proved a recurrent theme in all her work: exclusion and marginalization of ‘others’, such as psychiatric patients, migrant, refugees, victims of violence and older people.

When she turned her attention to older people in South Africa, she came home with touching stories about the beauty and warmth of old age but also with horrifying data of older people being abused and maltreated by their own children and grandchildren. In one article she spoke of ‘social gerontocide’. Invisible dramas unfold in poor households where the young generation despise and reject their older relatives for their passive role in the Apartheid era and try to ‘kill’ them socially. But, she stressed, the older people are not helpless victims. They fight back and develop strategies to survive.

Research among older people drew her attention to remembrance. Being old consists of having many memories. Rejecting or silencing those memories, however, implies a rejection of the older people themselves. “It is almost as if the past never happened,” one person tells her. In one of her last published articles she quotes a common saying of the young silencing the old: “That was your time… This time is ours!” In other words: Shut up. The ‘culture of silence’ in which they were forced to live during Apartheid is thus prolonged into the post-Apartheid era. That awareness of muted memories inspired her and Monica Ferreira, with whom she collaborated throughout the South Africa years, to bring out a collection of ‘untold stories’ to give voice to the lives of older people in the new South African society.

Her last major publications were two edited books, one about lying and concealment in medical settings and one about distance and proximity during illness. The former, co-edited with her long-time friend and colleague Sylvie Fainzang, argued that lying is a way of dealing with major crises that people encounter, particularly during illness. The theme connects with ideas she has been airing from the very beginning: health problems are not only about health; they are linked to shame, exclusion, suffering and social violence. Lying in such circumstances may be the most effective medicine to restore the damage. But lying is mutual; those with power in medical contexts may exploit the lie as well, to maintain their position in the medical hegemony.

Facing distress, co-edited with Ruth Kutalek, brought together papers of a conference of the European Association of Social Anthropology in Vienna. Distance and proximity constitute the ambiguity of the illness experience. On the one hand, illness leads to loss of independence and need of help and care by others; on the other hand, illness makes one lonely as it isolates the patient from normal social encounters and may scare others away. The pain of the sick body will thus be aggravated or replaced by the distress of ostracism.

In 1998 Els and I organized the first conference on ‘Medical Anthropology at Home’ (MAAH). For Els doing fieldwork ‘at home’ was a personal experience. For about ten years she had been doing research ‘around the corner’ in a psychiatric hospital. For me, it was – and remained – mainly a dream. For both of us it was an attempt to contribute to the de-exoticisation of (medical) anthropology. The theme and format (small-scale / intensive discussions) proved successful and since 1998 the MAAH conference has been held every second year, in The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Finland and Denmark. Els, Sylvie Fainzang and Josep Comelles, became the driving forces. Els co-edited two voluminous special issues with conference proceedings and remained active as long as she could. She wrote a paper for the last conference in Denmark focusing on her personal sickness and suffering, but was unable to present it. We discussed her moving self-reflection in her absence.

In 1990 Els published her first article in Medische Antropologie. She described the social meaning of medicines in the psychiatric ward where she did her research. The medicines, she wrote, had a binding as well as an oppressive effect in the interaction between patients and staff. Relations between these two parties had the character of a combat in which medicines (taken or refused) replaced words. The article became a key-text in our work on ‘pharmaceutical anthropology’.

In 1994 she helped as guest editor to make a special issue about Zintuigen (The Senses) and in that same year she joined the team of editors. She kept that position till the end of her life. Medische Antropologie has been the main outlet for her ideas on health, culture and violence, certainly in the first decade of her career. She wrote eighteen articles and comments and an uncounted number of book reviews for this journal and (co-)edited five special issues on ‘the senses’, ‘older people, wellbeing and care’, ‘shit, culture and well-being’, ‘medical technology and the body’ and ‘violence and human rights’. We, the editors, will miss her fast and sharp judgment in the evaluation of manuscripts, her invaluable editorial suggestions to the authors and her cheerful directness during our discussions.

Another journal favourite journal for her was Anthropology & Medicine, in which she published about the creation of cultural difference, lying and illness, and bodywork in nursing.

From the beginning in 1994 she has also been one of the editors of the book series ‘Health, Culture and Society’ which has brought out sixteen titles so far.

Els was a person with many talents. She took lessons in drawing and painting and produced beautiful canvasses with symbolic objects and portraits of relatives, friends, and people she met during fieldwork. Many of her productions can still be viewed on her website. She was also a filmmaker and photographer. The topics she chose for her photographs and films were sometimes from her anthropological research but often focused also on other things such as nature, everyday life and unexpected details such as the movements of hands during a conference.

Els has lived a very full life and accomplished more than most of us will be able to achieve in a life twice as long as hers. Even so, she was not always a happy scholar, perhaps feeling that her close colleagues did not fully understand or appreciate what she was doing. Close colleagues are sometimes more distant than those who are far away. Nevertheless, in this space, she carried on with her own strong and positive energy, becoming a popular guest lecturer in universities abroad and serving on various international scientific committees. When her sickness grew more serious, about two months before her death, we decided to make a book of friends for her. Thirtyeight people, colleagues from Amsterdam, from other Dutch universities and from abroad, plus students and friends contributed brief essays (and one poem) that dealt with the themes that had been prominent during her academic life. They focused on people who are excluded or marginalised, because of their age, their illness, their  ‘madness’ or because they are living in violent circumstances. Other contributions were about people who are oppressed because they do not fit in the dominant discourse: people with HIV/AIDS, victims of (sexual) violence, refugees and migrants.

The title of the book ‘Theory and Action’, was the name of a famous core module that Els taught in the Master’s of Medical Anthropology and Sociology. In one of her papers she stressed that theory and action are closely connected in medical anthropology. “Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of facts,” she quoted George Santayana. Facts, she continued, acquire their meaning from what people do to them, in this case anthropologists and the people they are working with. Theory provides a way of finding pertinent meanings and making intelligent interpretations that open the door to relevant action. She then cited the famous line from Kurt Lewin that there is nothing so practical as a good theory. A good theory is practical because it enhances understanding and produces the questions that really matter in medical anthropological research. In her module, Els discussed with the students that problems of ill-health and suffering should be regarded in their historical, political and economic contexts and how larger social and political forces shape relations and actions and cultural imagination at the local level. The necessary – but often difficult – cooperation between anthropology and health workers received special attention. Questions that were addressed during the course included: Why do we need theory? Which theories are relevant? How can we link macro, meso en micro theories with practical work?

‘Theory and Action’ constitutes both medical anthropology’s ambition and its weakness. The frequent criticism that medical anthropology receives from those who work in the heat of the day confirms that, unfortunately, much academic work remains largely or totally useless to ‘actors’ in health care. Nearly every contributor in the book struggled in one way or the other with this dilemma and with the challenge of proving the practical relevance of theory.

When her condition became critical, we decided to tell her about the book and gave her the list of authors and the titles of their contributions. She was overwhelmed and deeply moved when she saw the list of so many friends. She gave us one of her paintings for the cover of the book and allowed us to include one of her last essays that dealt with her own illness and the way people express their connectedness in times of suffering and uncertainty. Four weeks later we brought the book. I held a short speech and she responded directly and with humour. She was almost too weak to open the paper wrapped around the book. We drank a glass of wine and had a lovely lunch while she observed us from the sofa. She read the essays and reacted personally to many of the authors. Ten days later she died. On the 9th February we said farewell to her in a ceremony full of music and words of comfort.


Van Dongen, Els – 1988 Betekenen van ziekte. Een explorerende studie naar de mogelijkheid van een semiotische analyse bij de bestudering van ziekte als symbool van sociaal conflict. University of Utrecht: Master thesis.

1994a Zwervers, knutselaars, strategen. Gesprekken met psychotische mensen. PhD Thesis, Utrecht University. Amsterdam: Thesis Publishers.

1994b (ed.) Zintuigen. Special issue Medische Antropologie 6 (1).

1997 Ouderen, welzijn en zorg. Special issue Medische Antropologie 9 (1) (co-edited with Sjaak van der Geest).

1999 Poep, cultuur en welbevinden. Special issue Medische Antropologie 11 (1) (co-edited with Sjaak van der Geest).

2000 Health for all, all in health. European experiences on health care for migrants. Rome: Cidis/Alisei (co-edited with P. Vulpiani and J. Comelles).

2001 Medical Anthropology and Anthropology.Special double issue AM revista della societa Italiana di Antropologia Medica 11/12 (together with J. Comelles).

2002a Themes in Medical Anthropology. Special double issue AM Revista della Societa Italiana di Antropologia Medica 13/14 (together with J. Comelles).

2002b Walking stories. An oddnography of mad people’s lives. Amsterdam: Rozenberg Publishers.

2002c (ed.) Medische technologie en het lichaam Special issue Medische Antropologie 14 (1).

2004a Worlds of psychotic people: Wanderers, ‘bricoleurs’and strategists. New York/London: Routledge.

2004b Untold stories. Giving voice to the lives of older persons in new South African Society. Cape Town: The Albertina and Walter Sisulu Institute of Ageing in Africa/University of Cape Town (edited with Monica Ferreira).

2005a Musa ukuba yibokhwe ezigusheni: Social gerontocide in South Africa? Medische Antropologie 17 (1): 7-22.

2005b Lying and illness. Power and performance. Amsterdam: Aksant (co-edited with Sylvie Fainzang).

2005c Violence and human rights. Medische Antropologie 18 (1) (co-edited with Annemiek Richters).

2007 Facing distress. Distance and proximity in times of illness. Vienna: LIT Verlag (coedited with R. Kutalek).

2008a “That was your time… this time is ours!” Memories and intergenerational; conflicts in South Africa. In: E. Alber et al. (eds), Generations in Africa: Connections and conflicts. Berlin/Münster: LIT Verlag, pp. 183-206.

2008b Cancer and integrity. Dealing with fragile realities. Paper for the 5th MAAH Conference, Sandbjerg, Denmark. Forthcoming in Proceedings.

2009 Keeping the feet of the gods and the saints warm: Mundane pragmatics in times of suffering and uncertainty. In: S. van der Geest & M. Tankink (eds), Theory and action: Essays for an anthropologist. Amsterdam: AMB, pp. 1-10. [First published in Anthropology & Medicine 15 (3): 263-269 (2008)]

Herinnering aan André Köbben (1925-2019)

Foto nsv-sociologie.nl

19 augustus 2019. Op 13 augustus, vorige week dus, overleed André Köbben. Hij was mijn leermeester, in allerlei opzichten. Ik ben vier jaar zijn assistent geweest in de jaren zestig van de vorige eeuw, ik ben in 1974 bij hem gepromoveerd. Vandaag wordt hij gecremeerd, in Leiden, waar hij woonde. Er is veel over hem te vertellen, en ik vermoed dat ik dat op deze plaats ook nog wel zal doen. Maar ter herinnering aan hem druk ik op deze dag een ‘gesprek’ met hem af. Ik voerde dat begin 2012, ruim zeven jaar geleden dus, voor een tijdschrift: Tijdschrift over Cultuur en Criminologie, waarin het later dat jaar (het septembernummer) werd geplaatst.

Een gesprek voor het Tijdschrift over Cultuur & Criminaliteit? Je bent van harte welkom, zegt André Köbben aan de telefoon, maar hij geeft me huiswerk op. Hij stuurt me de tekst toe van Bedrog in de wetenschap, die hij begin januari (2012) heeft voorgedragen bij de Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen. Ook vraagt hij me de nieuwe bundel met criminologische opstellen van Frank Bovenkerk door te nemen: Een gevoel van dreiging. Het ging hem niet om het motto van de bundel, ontleend aan Köbben zelf en met karakteristieke köbbiaanse ironie verwoord:Zelfs zou ik mij willen verstouten u, lezer, de vaderlijke raad mee te geven: in uw eigen belang en dat van anderen, waag u nóóit aan echte voorspellingen. Nee, ik moet lezen wat Bovenkerk heeft geschreven over de Noorse massamoordenaar Anders Breivik, de politieke moorden op Pim Fortuyn en Theo van Gogh, de spray shooting in Alphen aan den Rijn en de aanslag op de koninklijke familie in Apeldoorn in 2009.

De overeenkomsten tussen beide onderwerpen dringen niet meteen tot me door, maar na een kort college zie ik de analogie. André Köbben en ik ontmoeten elkaar bij hem thuis, in zijn gerieflijke Leidse studeerkamer. Opvallend netjes opgeruimd voor een werkkamer, maar wel met overal stapels boeken en notities – een onderzoeker aan het werk. Begin februari. Buiten is het heftig vriesweer en schijnt een oogverblindende zon. In de jaren 1960 ben ik vier jaar zijn assistent geweest en hebben we vaak zo tegenover elkaar gezeten, op zijn kamer in de Amsterdamse Spinhuissteeg, later aan de Keizersgracht; boeken, tijdschriften, blocnotes en losse papieren tussen ons in. Het voelt vertrouwd en eigenlijk volstrekt gewoon, zo hoort het – André aan het woord, ik met een aantekeningenboekje. Nu tutoyeren we elkaar, dat was destijds ondenkbaar. Ook hij heeft zich voorbereid, er ligt een cv voor me klaar, knipsels, tijdschriftartikelen.

In zijn lezing over bedrog valt Köbben met de deur in huis: ‘Op 8 september 2011 kwam het bedrog van Diederik Stapel in de openbaarheid. Het kwam voor iedereen als een donderslag bij heldere hemel.’ Velen denken dat het gaat om een uitzonderlijk geval en sommigen, onder wie de rapporteur over de zaak Stapel, beweren zelfs dat er sprake is van het ‘omvangrijkste bedrog ooit’. Köbben laat zien dat dit niet waar is, maar wat hem boeit is het stereotiepe karakter van zulke reacties. Net als het feit dat je allerlei commentatoren op ziet duiken die onmiddellijk menen te weten wat de oorzaak zou zijn geweest van Stapels bedrog. De gedachte erachter is dat je zulke incidenten eigenlijk zou moeten kunnen voorkomen, dat er maatregelen getroffen zouden kunnen worden om bedrog in de wetenschap uit te roeien. Daar zit een bepaalde logica achter en wel de ‘logica van de risicosamenleving’ – de term wordt gebruikt door Frank Bovenkerk en hij bespreekt het begrip in zijn bundel. De zin van het huiswerk begint te dagen. Als er een gruwelijke aanslag zoals die in Noorwegen gepleegd wordt – heel letterlijk: een donderslag bij heldere hemel – klinken er meteen stemmen die de overheid verantwoordelijk stellen: we hadden die Breivik toch wel eerder kunnen ontmaskeren als gewetenloze killer? De werkelijkheid is ingewikkeld, de misdaadbevorderende factoren die in het leven van Anders Breivik kunnen worden aangewezen, vind je ook bij duizenden anderen en daar gaat het blijkbaar niet mis. Toch wordt er een commissie ingesteld die één of een paar veronderstelde oorzaken belicht waar snel iets aan kan worden gedaan. Helaas is het onduidelijk hoeveel rampen in de toekomst kunnen worden voorkomen door zulke ad-hocmaatregelen. Bovenkerk zegt gelaten: ‘Het wachten is op de volgende calamiteit.’

De overeenkomst met wat André Köbben naar voren heeft gebracht in zijn voordracht over bedrog is frappant. Het rapport Levelt over de affaire Stapel bevat, betoogt Köbben, verstandige aanbevelingen hoe dergelijke ontsporingen in de toekomst te voorkomen. ‘Alleen’, zegt Köbben, ‘die zijn al eerder vele malen geopperd en deels al vastgelegd in beroepscodes. Maar ze zijn tot nu toe een dode letter gebleven. Waarom zou het voortaan anders gaan?’. In 2003 is het LOWI opgericht, het Landelijk Orgaan voor Wetenschappelijke Integriteit, waarvan de voorzitter onlangs naar aanleiding van de kwestie Stapel te berde bracht dat universiteiten ‘datamanagers’ zouden moeten instellen om alle onderzoeksgegevens te controleren. Bovendien zouden onderzoekers steekproefsgewijze gecontroleerd moeten worden op het sjoemelen met gegevens. André en ik kijken elkaar aan als we over deze parmantige LOWI-voorzitter komen te spreken en we moeten beiden lachen. In wat voor wereld leeft zo’n man? We hebben ieder oude veldwerknotities bewaard, Köbben zelfs nog van het allereerste onderzoek dat hij (in 1953-1954) verrichtte onder de Agni en Bete in Ivoorkust – stel dat we deze aan de voorzitter zouden willen afstaan, wat zouden zijn datamanagers daarmee in godsnaam kunnen beginnen? ‘Hij zou ze niet eens kunnen lezen’, zegt Köbben.

Het scenario waarbij de ‘donderslag bij heldere hemel’ gevolgd wordt door commissies die maatregelen voorstellen om ons in de toekomst te vrijwaren van andere ‘donderslagen’ is verhelderend en vermoedelijk in een reeks van uiteenlopende situaties toepasbaar. ‘Dat hebben we van de criminologie geleerd’, zegt Köbben. De criminologie en antropologie groeien naar elkaar toe, ook al doordat er de laatste jaren nogal wat antropologen in de criminologie terecht zijn gekomen. Goed voor het vak, vindt hij. We praten uitvoerig over de verwantschap tussen de vakken. Mijn oudste associatie met zo’n familieband is wat Köbben zei tijdens een college voor jongerejaars studenten over de Surinaamse Djoeka (‘marrons’) – in 1962 kwam hij er net vandaan, in dat jaar schreef ik me in als student bij de ‘Zevende Faculteit’ van de (toen nog) Gemeentelijke Universiteit te Amsterdam.

Je kunt als onderzoeker op diverse manieren proberen te achterhalen wat de effectiviteit is van een bepaalde gedragsregel in de samenleving, hield professor Köbben ons voor – je kunt het mensen mondeling of schriftelijk vragen, maar je kunt ook afgaan op eigen waarneming. Wat gebeurt er als er een kip gestolen wordt? Als antropoloog ga je niet bij de mensen langs om daar hun opinie over te polsen, maar wacht je af tot er daadwerkelijk een kip wordt gestolen – dan kun je met eigen ogen zien wat er zich afspeelt.
We twisten over de vraag of het een kip dan wel een koe was geweest, maar het college herinnert hij zich nog. Tijdens ons gesprek realiseer ik me dat hij vanaf het begin van zijn loopbaan bezig is geweest met regels en de overtreding van regels. Voor studenten was zijn Van primitieven tot medeburgers verplichte literatuur, hoofdstuk 7 gaat over de ceremoniële betalingen bij de Bete en staat vol met boeiende gevallen waarbij de dorpsoudsten boetes opleggen voor ongepast gedrag. Een gehuwde vrouw gaat er vandoor met een andere man, haar echtgenoot wil haar terug en brengt de zaak voor het ‘Tribunaal’; hij krijgt gelijk, ze moet mee met haar man. Maar ze verweert zich als een furie en weigert: hij heeft nog geen cent betaald aan de bruidsprijs; ze dreigt zich van kant te maken als ze nog een dag langer met deze schande moet leven. Haar man vertrekt met hangende pootjes. Een ander college dat onder studenten opwinding teweegbracht, handelde over ‘recht’: wat is dat eigenlijk en hoe werkt het? Wat gebeurt er als verschillende rechtssystemen met elkaar botsen, zoals bijvoorbeeld in Turkije toen Kemal Atatürk in het kader van de modernisering van zijn land van de ene op de andere dag het Zwitsers privaatrecht invoerde?

Tijdens zijn veldwerk in Ivoorkust werd Köbben herhaaldelijk geconfronteerd met erfeniskwesties – mede als gevolg van het complexe adelphische erfstelsel. Daarbij gaat de erfenis, inclusief de grond, van een overleden man niet naar zijn kinderen, maar naar zijn broers van dezelfde moeder en pas als deze broers dood zijn, komt de volgende generatie aan bod. Dan ontstaan soms problemen, want de erfenis komt volgens de officiële regels van een matrilineair systeem terecht bij de zoon van de zuster van de overledene en niet bij zijn eigen zoon. In een situatie van economische voorspoed als gevolg van de invoering van cash crops, in Ivoorkust vooral koffie en cacao, kan dat leiden tot diepe weerstanden – de zoons van een gestorven planter zien met lede ogen aan hoe ‘hun’ kostbare grond in handen komt van neven. Rijke, en dus onafhankelijke, planters overwogen wel om hun situatie aan de (Franse koloniale) politie voor te leggen – volgens het Frans recht zouden ze dan zeker hun zin hebben gekregen, maar hun eigen groep zouden ze ermee verraden.

Iets dergelijks maakte hij mee bij de Djoeka. Op bepaalde overtredingen stonden forse fysieke straffen zoals stokslagen. Als je daarmee naar de Surinaamse politie stapte, wist je dat degenen die geslagen hadden als ‘misdadigers’ zouden worden beschouwd, terwijl de eigenlijke misdadiger opeens slachtoffer werd. Wat volgens het ene stelsel een terechte sanctie is, geldt in het andere stelsel als een ontoelaatbare overtreding. In sommige gevallen, met name bij de verkrachting van een jong meisje, kon het ‘uitheemse’ stelsel juist als een versterking van het ‘inheemse’ stelsel fungeren – dorpsoudsten kunnen soms hun gezag onvoldoende laten gelden en dreigen dan met de Surinaamse overheid die de overtreders aanzienlijk strenger straft dan ze zelf ooit zouden kunnen doen. Volgens Köbben was de dreiging met zo’n stap altijd voldoende om het volk in toom te houden.

Is er in zulke geïsoleerde ‘staatjes in de staat’ eigenlijk wel sprake van recht? Een vraag die Köbben zich uitdrukkelijk stelt in zijn studie over de Djoeka, waarbij hij gebruikmaakt van Hoebels klassieke “The Law of Primitive Man”. We kunnen spreken van recht als op de overtreding van een norm straf staat, waarbij fysieke dwang te pas komt, uitgeoefend door een persoon of groep die door de gemeenschap daartoe zijn gemachtigd. Volgens deze opvatting is er bij de Djoeka sprake van recht en Köbben licht dit toe aan de hand van allerlei gevallen van overspel. Hij heeft er met zijn neus bovenop gezeten en kan er nog steeds geestdriftig over vertellen. ‘Overspel is een veel bedreven sport bij de Djoeka’, zegt hij en de straf is een afranseling van de betrokkenen door de bedrogen echtgenoot, die daarbij een beroep kan doen op zijn eigen familieleden of die van zijn vrouw. Op een enkele uitzondering na worden de meeste geschillen bij de Djoeka intern opgelost. Köbben en ik spreken over Leopold Pospisil, die we beiden wel eens hebben meegemaakt, en zijn boeiende onderzoek bij de Kapauku Papoea’s op Nieuw Guinea. Hij hield zich bezig met ‘niet-fysieke sancties’; gelden die ook als ‘recht’? Jazeker, maar daarmee rek je het begrip uit en vervagen de grenzen van het juridische domein. Zulke sancties zijn bij voorbeeld spot of een weigering van gunsten of doodzwijgen. Maar, zegt Köbben, ‘het recht moet tanden hebben’. De gezagsdragers bij de Djoeka stonden soms machteloos tegenover ‘wetsovertreders’.

Misschien is dit alles wel waar het in de antropologie uiteindelijk om draait: het overtreden van normen en de gevolgen daarvan. Ik bedenk het achter mijn bureau als ik het gesprek met André Köbben nog eens de revue laat passeren; het geldt in ieder geval voor veel van het onderzoek dat hijzelf heeft gedaan maar ook voor veel werk van zijn leerlingen, leden van de ‘Köbben-familie’, zoals het gezelschap in de academische wandelgangen wel werd (en misschien wordt) aangeduid.
Op verzoek van een van die leerlingen heeft hij zich ooit verdiept in de ‘antropologie’ van het Oude Testament, te vinden in zijn boek De tijdgeest en andere ongemakken. Ook daar is sprake van kleine nederzettingen, net als in de binnenlanden van Suriname of de bossen van Ivoorkust. De hoofdmannen van de clans hebben verschillende functies in één persoon verenigd, waaronder rechtspraak. In latere tijden is de specialisatie zodanig gevorderd dat je min of meer gespecialiseerde rechters kunt onderscheiden, vrijplaatsen waar verdachten zich even kunnen schuilhouden, processen met getuigen. Desondanks speelt het principe van ‘oog om oog, tand om tand’ een belangrijke rol en wordt de doodstraf voltrokken door de familie van het slachtoffer. Er wordt volgens Köbben rechtgesproken namens een ‘tiranniek opperwezen’ dat absurd zware straffen oplegt, ook collectieve straffen waarbij de goeden onder de kwaden moeten lijden. Köbben vond een sterke overeenkomst tussen dit gedeelte van de Bijbel en de Koran: de diepe afkeer van homoseksualiteit en travestie, de zware (dood)straffen wegens overspel en de obsessie met maagdelijkheid.

Je kunt Köbbens studie van het wetenschapsbedrijf in hetzelfde licht zien. Als ik na het bezoek aan Leiden thuis ben, zoek ik het boek op dat hij samen met Henk Tromp geschreven heeft over de resultaten van wetenschappelijk werk die door opdrachtgevers vaak als een ‘onwelkome boodschap’ (de titel van het boek) worden beschouwd. We hebben er allemaal mee te maken gehad, maar als je alles achter elkaar ziet, word je even stil. Onderzoekers worden op tal van manieren onder druk gezet om hun opdrachtgevers naar de mond te praten of bepaalde resultaten te verzwijgen of te verdraaien; dat geldt niet alleen voor louche grootbedrijven en andere handlangers van het roofkapitalisme, maar ook voor ‘eerbiedwaardige’ overheidsinstellingen als ministeries en gemeenten. Köbben heeft het aan den lijve ondervonden in zijn functie als directeur van het Centrum voor Onderzoek van Maatschappelijke Tegenstellingen (COMT), toen hij zijn instituut draaiend moest houden op basis van opdrachtonderzoek. Ik heb een rijtje sancties opgeschreven die in het boek ter sprake komen: beëindiging van de aanstelling; dreiging met ontslag; (dreiging met) rechtsgeding; eis tot geheimhouding van de resultaten; isoleren; monddood maken; omkopen; overplaatsing; schorsing; verbod op spreken of publiceren; doodzwijgen… kortom, een oudtestamentisch horrorverhaal.

Praten met André Köbben is een feest. Hij is geestig en erudiet; hij loopt over van anekdotes en sappige roddels. Veelzijdig. Aanstekelijk. Zo was het altijd als je met hem sprak, ook als student of promovendus: je zag door zijn nuchtere benadering snel de betrekkelijkheid in van ‘onoverkomelijke’ problemen en kon weer voor een lange periode tegen het harde bestaan. We hebben in ons gesprek zijn hele loopbaan doorgenomen, die inmiddels ruim zestig jaar omvat – een mensenleeftijd. Door het lezen van H.A. Junods boek Life of a South African Tribe besloot hij begin jaren 1950 antropologisch veldwerk te gaan doen en hij had geen idee wat hem daarbij te wachten stond. Het moet iets als onblusbare nieuwsgierigheid zijn die hem heeft voortgedreven, want steeds sloeg hij weer een richting in die hem op onbekend terrein bracht. Een onderzoekspionier, tot op de dag van vandaag, ‘omdat ik het nog zo leuk vind’. Maar ook een docent tot in zijn vezels. Een paar jaar geleden vroegen Alex Strating en Jojada Verrips hem tijdens een interview naar wat hij had bereikt in zijn vak. Hij noemde de etnografie, de vergelijking, de studie van de academische wereld, de immigrantensamenleving en niet in de laatste plaats de 35 proefschriften die onder zijn leiding tot stand gekomen zijn. Hij prees de hoge kwaliteit en vooral de ‘leesbaarheid’. ‘De talloze uren die het me heeft gekost om de verschillende versies te doorgronden, annoteren en bespreken zijn goed besteed geweest’. Soms was hij het oneens met wat zijn leerlingen beweerden of de richting die ze insloegen en hij was niet bang om dat openlijk naar voren te brengen. Maar met velen heeft hij contact gehouden en in allerlei projecten samengewerkt, de leermeester-studentverhouding veranderde in collegialiteit en vriendschap.

Tijdens de lunch mengt echtgenote Atie Köbben zich in het gesprek en vertelt over de programma’s die ze ontwikkelt voor afasiepatiënten, ook pionierswerk en eveneens in nauwe samenwerking met de betrokkenen, patiënten in dit geval, die vaak letterlijk niet uit hun woorden kunnen komen. Als je er even over nadenkt eigenlijk ook een vorm van antropologie. André verleent hand- en spandiensten, vooral als fotomodel voor de didactische plaatjes die ze maakt; je ziet hem zittend in bad of met een lampenkap als hoofddeksel. Als we afscheid nemen, komt André nog terug op de kwestie Stapel. Hij heeft voor zijn KNAW-voordracht over bedrog in de wetenschap een reeks artikelen van de voormalige Tilburgse topgeleerde bestudeerd. Een bizarre wereld, die sociale psychologie. Stapel leverde zijn studenten kant-en-klare onderzoeksresultaten aan en had de interpretatie ook al gereed. Er was veel flauwekul bij, die nergens over ging.

André Köbben zegt: ‘Des te vreemder dat die studenten niet protesteerden. Het is toch verbijsterend om je te realiseren dat niemand ooit zei: professor, allemaal leuk en aardig, maar mag ik alstublieft mijn eigen veldwerk verrichten?’

Bovenkerk, F. (2011), Een gevoel van dreiging: criminologische opstellen. Amsterdam: Augustus.
Hoebel, E.A. (1954), The Law of Primitive Man. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Köbben, A.J.F. (1964), Van primitieven tot medeburgers. Assen: Van Gorcum, Prakke en Prakke.
Köbben, A.J.F. (1979), In vrijheid en gebondenheid: samenleving en cultuur van de Djoeka aan de Cottica. Utrecht: Centrum voor Caraïbische Studies, Universiteit van Utrecht.
Köbben, A.J.F. (2008) De tijdgeest en andere ongemakken. Amsterdam: Mets & Schilt.
Köbben, A.J.F. & H. Tromp (1999) De onwelkome boodschap of hoe de vrijheid van wetenschap bedreigd wordt. Amsterdam: Jan Mets.
Pospisil, L. (1971) Anthropology of Law: A Comparative Theory. New York etc.: Harper & Row.
Strating, A. & J. Verrips (2005), A stickler for words: an Interview with André J.F. Köbben. Etnofoor, XVIII/2, 9–23.

Eerder gepubliceerd op: http://www.lodewijkbrunt.nl/

Allegories of Wildness ~ The Name, Fame And Fate Of The Nambikwara ~ Three Nambikwara Ethnohistories Of Sociocultural And Linguistic Change And Continuity ~ Contents

A ‘primitive wild people’ that only Rondon could ‘pacify’, that was the reputation of wildness of these ‘savages’ around 1910. Not only that, Rondon also renamed them as the “Nambiquara” and hence, a few years later, this people acquiered its first fame in Brazil with a new name. Actually, colonial expansion and war had been part of their history since the seventeenth century. The crossing of the enormous Nambikwara territories by the telegraph line constructed by Rondon’s Mission produced, as far as known, the first real pacific contact. For those local groups most affected it proved as disastrous as all ‘first contacts’ without any preparation and substantial medical assistance. When Lévi-Strauss travelled through the region the so-called civilization had receded again. His research was very severely hampered by the historical consequences and by the fact the Indians still retained their political autonomy. Yet he has remarked they were the most interesting people he met and regarded this journey as his initiation in anthropological fieldwork. Tristes Tropiques made this people famous to a very large public and fixed another particular image of the Nambikwara. And then, in the seventies and eighties of the last century, the final assault took place by their being “before the bulldozer” (as written by the best known Nambikwara expert David Price). Only after a demographic catastrophy, permanent encirclement and great losses of territory, several Nambikwara local groups coalesced and emerged as peoples while many other local groups perished in this genocide. In effect, the so-called Nambikwara never were ‘one people’. This study explores the ethnohistory of the name, fame and fate of three of these peoples — the Latundê, Sabanê and Sararé — and dedicates some special attention to language loss and maintenance.

© Edwin Reesink, 2010, 2019 – Cover picture: Mísia Lins Reesink – Illustrations: Edgar Roquette-Pinto
© Rozenberg Quarterly 2010, 2019 – Amsterdam – ISBN 978 90 3610 173 8


Part One – Name
Chapter I – Documentary ethnohistory: the convolutions of the right to territory
Chapter II – Latundê ethnohistory and their contemporary situation

Part Two – Fame
Chapter I – The string of events
Chapter II – Converging histories: Rondon, myth, ideology and petty domination

Part Three – Fate
Chapter I – Refractions of wildness: the choreography of war
Chapter 2 – The cartography of war and peace: worlds in collision

A final summation

Allegories Of Wildness ~ Prologue

“It is singular to come so far and to see so infinitely little” [i].

The above passage is from Robert Louis Stevenson’s diary, which he kept during his sea voyage to Polynesia. The principle behind this quote has some general truth that holds for all voyages. Upon seeing the Polynesian islands, Stevenson was enchanted not just by the landscape, but by the inhabitants as well. He treated the Polynesians with respect and kept an open mind despite their strange practices. Although he denounced cannibalism when he visited the altar on which the native Marquesan people sacrificed prisoners for their own consumption, Stevenson claimed to have felt “infinitely distant”, as “in the cold perspective and dry light of history.” In part because of Western diseases and in part because of the cultural values of European conquerors, the Marquesans gradually abandoned their ceremonies, many of which the colonial government considered repugnant and savage. Stevenson deplored the consequences of contact, a term that the literature uses to describe the interaction between indigenous peoples and outsiders, and went so far as to demonstrate his respect for the imposing cannibal chief. Stevenson even questioned the moral basis for the European rejection of cannibalism; after all, he notes, the slaughter and eating of animals would cause a similar revulsion amongst Buddhists. Stevenson’s strong egalitarian views are evident in his suggestion that “(…) to cut a man’s flesh after he is dead is far less hateful than to oppress him while he lives.”

These observations serve as a reminder of a deplorable and all-to-popular story of the effects of colonialist expansion on all indigenous peoples. Unsurprisingly, the history of Brazil’s Nambikwara is not unique. “History” always engulfs these people and in so doing destroys not only sociocultural and political autonomy, but often much of the population. The name “Nambikwara” evokes such battles, some of which are quite well known. First, there are the ‘indomitable warriors’ that Rondon succeeded in pacifying, despite their initial rejection of civilization and contact. The model of making contact with wild tribes that Rondon established endures even now. Second, there is Lévi-Strauss’ field study as described in Tristes Tropiques, a work that made the Nambikwara one of the most famous tribal peoples in the world. The lasting impact of this book is clear, it continues to be cited in a variety of scientific and non-scientific books and papers. Lastly, there is the prime example of victims of so-called development forcefully promoted by the Brazilian government. Such “progress” typically manifests as road construction and the interference of bureaucratic agencies in a certain region. Many of these projects involve financing from the World Bank. David Price exposes the negative impact of such national and international organizations. He notes a near complete lack of consideration and respect for those “before the bulldozer” suffering the regional consequences of globalization (Price 1977a; 1989). Such peoples, and, in particular, the Nambikwara, were about to be pushed aside in favor of a different civilization. Rondon was a man who believed that he represented this society benevolently. He remarks often on the compassion and kindness of the Nambikwara civilization. Lévi-Strauss, by comparison, wanted to avoid discussing it, even as he treaded through the devastation caused by contact with the Nambikwara. Price (1977) denounced continued contact as being strongly detrimental to the surviving members of what was once a large group of peoples, known for their strength and heartiness.

The goal of this work is to explore relevant aspects of the history and the modern sociocultural situation of three Indian peoples, the Latundê, Sabanê, and Sararé [ii] . The fact that these names are not well known demonstrate the unique fame associated with the Nambikwara. This project involves three case studies of individuals and peoples. Of particular interest are specific historical narrations about contact, the individual pasts of the Indians along with their contemporary situation and their unique modes of interaction with Brazilian society. Note that all three peoples are related not only to one another, but to variety of other peoples and groups. For simplicity, I refer to all these people as members of the Nambikwara language family. A considerable amount of dialects and languages make up this language family.

The plan to study Nambikwara stems from two linguistic considerations: (1) Despite the fact that a number of studies are already published (on the South Nambikwara language group in particular), this family has not been studied in all its variety and in consideration of its descriptive complexity. Preliminary work both by David Price and by members of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), a self-styled linguistic branch of a Protestant missionary organization, exists but remains incomplete (currently the SIL is working on some studies of a so-called Northern language). (2) Certain interesting phonological and morphological phenomena may be relevant materials in theoretical linguistics. The Nambikwara language family represents a relatively small group at the southernmost point of an area of impressive linguistic variety, which includes a number of small linguistic families and language isolates, in what is now the southern part of the Brazilian state of Rondônia. For many years the Latundê were the only, isolated, local group representing the Nambikwara in Rondônia. Today, however, there is direct contact with two isolated languages in this linguistically and culturally rich region.

While the prime objective of this project largely stems from these linguistic considerations, the choice of the three groups derived from the logic of research in this discipline. Stella Telles completed much Latundê research in her PhD dissertation. Her supervisor, Prof. Leo Wetzels of the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam also became the coordinator of this project. Prof. Wetzels conceived of two complementary studies conducted by two other PhD candidates: one about the Sabanê language, previously reported as a separate and unique branch of the family, and the other regarding the Sararé, the most distant member of the Southern cluster, possibly representative of one of its four major dialect groups [iii] . By way of this choice, the two most extreme geographical positions of the two major groups were chosen jointly with the only existing representative of the presumed third branch of the family. The choice of particular groups within the language family consisted of linguistic and not sociocultural criteria, but it stands to reason that cultural variation bears a certain relation to linguistic variability. Language is the medium of culture and humanity and, as such, of the sociocultural order. Linguists are very worried about the lack of attention and visibility of the threat posed by social factors to the permanence of the present diversity of languages. The theme of language diversity is much less evident than that of biodiversity or even ethnodiversity.

For this reason, and without transforming the project into a sociolinguistic study, the inclusion of an anthropologist in the Project expands the objective of language analysis and incorporates an exploratory study of the ethnohistory of the three peoples and some of their notions on their own culture and language in comparison to the Brazilian counterparts. In brief, this relates to the political and social Brazilian conquest which overwhelmed all these native peoples. The political system that allowed interethnic territorial encirclement and subjugation, with the dissolution of the previous sociopolitical autonomy effectively dominates all Nambikwara local groups and peoples and pushes indigenous languages towards extinction.

The general aim of the present study is therefore an introduction to the ethnohistory and to some selected topics on the present sociocultural situation of these indigenous peoples. Note that the idea of ethnohistory refers here to both uses that circulate in the literature. First, it concerns the description of the history of a people from an external vantage point. Also, it relates to the people’s own way of describing and portraying their historical contingencies. Both perspectives are, of course, essential to an anthropological approach of history and of what we may subsume under the headings of change and continuity of a people’s diachronic passage through time (even if reality itself is actually only change as Lévi-Strauss, the most famous author on the Nambikwara, once wrote; Reesink 1999). Furthermore, the particular history of each people also yields some idea of the conceptualisation of the sociocultural notion of the person and the sociocultural predicates of indigenous human personhood and alterity.

The Nambikwara (by which I mean a foreign conception of “one people”), possess a number of myths and stories about their origins and past events that depict their views on their own history. Ideally, such histories yield significant information on the way the Nambikwara shaped their responses to the intrusion of the outsiders. Generally, the most ‘significant others’ were various Brazilian agents and agencies. It is thus very important to gauge all types of impacts on the diverse Indian peoples. This includes examining how the diversity between them makes itself apparent and what the parallel extraneous structural constraints to which they were all subjected are. In this way, I intend to make an exploratory initial contribution to the study of one national ‘cosmology of contact’ opposed to three Indian ‘cosmologies of contact’ (see Albert and Ramos (2002), especially in Albert’s model introduction). As in all these ‘cosmologies’, the other peoples constitute ‘wild others’. Accordingly, this effort is related intrinsically to the idea of allegory in that it is an element that reveals something beyond itself and is not just what it initially seems. Literally, an allegory requests one “to say the other” (Kothe 1986: 7)[iv].

The Project, financed by the Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, provided for a two year post-doctoral research position at the Vrije Universiteit (September 2000 – August 2002) of which over six months were spent in Brazil. Therefore, there were definite limits to the extent of fieldwork among each people and the documentation of the results. The fieldwork was projected to be done among all three peoples (two months for each one) but its realization was hampered by a number of unforeseen practical complications [v] . On the other hand, the extension of six months of guest hospitality at the Vrije Universiteit to write this book allowing for the fact that our return to Brazil only took place in the middle of 2003 permitted an expansion of the use of documentary sources and of the literature. However, for a number of reasons the final publication of this book was very much delayed. This means that a number of references published afterwards are only incorporated in this final text in very limited way. Although these obvious limitations must be kept in mind, I hope that the reader will agree the result still is a worthwhile introduction and a relevant first step in an analysis of Nambikwara ethnohistories.

In effect, the information obtained in the field is one important source for the chapters that follow, but the slowly expanding and hardly known literature on the Nambikwara constitutes an additional fund of knowledge from which I will draw heavily in order to supplement its limitations. Rondon himself wanted to be known as a scientist, a naturalist, and an ethnographer and he published on the Indian peoples along with his Commission. When Lévi-Strauss followed the route of the telegraph lines installed by his famous predecessor, he noted that these lines had not fulfilled the promise of the future that Rondon was certain his work would be shaping. Lévi-Strauss was a little recognized ethnographer, and considering the fact that he never had the chance to visit a permanent village and also did not have the opportunity to learn the language except for a very rudimentary frontier pidgin, he managed to write a more scholarly treatise on the Nambikwara. His Tristes Tropiques molded the image of the Nambikwara so strongly that the works of Price are not sufficient to correct opinions in the many quarters where the popular book was read. Price’s own thesis remained unpublished, as were the theses of a score of other Nambikwara students (Aspelin; Figueroa; Serafim; Costa, published in 2002; Fiorini, also to be published soon). Employing these writers’ articles and material from the archives of Brazil’s Indian affairs bureau, FUNAI, I provide fresh interpretations from the Nambikwara point of view. Hopefully, these efforts succeed in making history a little less dry.

Having embarked on this project with these general ideas summarily outlined, the first local group to be visited was the Latundê. The reasons for this choice are purely practical and had to do with considerations relating to the access to the Indigenous Territories. Such access was extremely difficult, if not impossible, during the rainy season. Correspondingly, I embarked on this visit in the beginning of September, 2000 and I left the group less than three months later. The field research at the Latundê received the wholehearted support of the linguist Stella Telles and we passed some time together at the Latundê and Aikaná villages. The Latundê are the only Northern Nambikwara people still living in their own village in the immense region that was once populated with many peoples and groups. Rondon, the first explorer to create the fame of the Nambikwara, had already contacted all of these other peoples. In fact, Rondon chose their name. For a variety of reasons, the reader will note that names and naming are significant and constitute one of the recurring issues of this work. The Nambikwara names of people and the secrecy of personal names are the theme of Fiorini’s (2000) thesis. The publication of this study represents the first extensive modern monograph on Nambikwara culture. Due to time limitations, my research aims at a less comprehensive ethnographic objective of this culture and I will mainly discuss the relation between naming of local groups and the contemporary process of group-formation. For the Latundê I start with the bureaucratic process of the national society’s method of naming, classifying and creating the people and the peoples’ land within the surrounding framework of the nation-state. Later, I turn to the native viewpoint, although in a restricted way due to language barriers and psychological difficulties which inhibit discussing such a traumatic past with a stranger. Finally, I turn to some considerations about the future of the people and their language. In particular, the endangered status of the language plays a prominent role in the maintenance of culture and sociocultural tradition.

The Sabanê were contacted at the time of Rondon’s construction of the telegraph line that penetrated the heart of North Nambikwara territory. At the time, according to this people, they had migrated from Mato Grosso and participated fully in the fabric of relationships in this vast region that encompassed an uncertain number of peoples, each with at least one village. Some part of their particular history appears in the writings of the Rondon Commission. Here the reader will gain a glimpse of the native conceptions of contact. Rondon, for instance, became a mythological hero in both the national society and among the Nambikwara peoples whom he contacted. The subsequent Sabanê history is full of adaptations, clashes, and contingencies that severely affected their possibility of continuing as an autonomous people and especially the maintenance of their language. I did some collaborative fieldwork on this topic with another linguist, Gabriel Antunes, who was working on a thesis on the Sabanê language. Antunes was also very worried about the future of this language. His census of native speakers revealed that the language is nearly dead and that the number of native speakers was less than ten (and decreasing). As usual, younger generations are generally monolingual Portuguese speakers. As a people, the Sabanê do not suffer the threat of extinction but rather the demise of their unique language, the only one of the third branch of the Nambikwara linguistic family. Here the threat of language death is pre-eminent. The recent founding of a new Sabanê village on the Roosevelt River (in Rondônia) in their own traditional lands alleviates the tensions amongst the Sabanê themselves and their immediate neighbors in the Aroeira Indigenous Territory, Mato Grosso. Sadly, however, this may be a necessary but insufficient condition for language revival and permanence.

As for the last group, the Sararé is the only case where neither the language nor the people run the clear risk of extinction. This does not mean that the history of the various autonomous groups now known as Sararé (or sometimes as Katitauhlu) is less complicated than of the two previous segments of the Nambikwara group. For instance, some peoples of the region have died out. The history of the southernmost peoples of the South Nambikwara language cluster can be traced further back and also raises specific questions as to the length of the occupancy of the region of the upper Guaporé River with the Sararé River in the center. In the eighteenth century, mining operations invaded the region and, after initiating their decline, there was a perpetual war between Indian peoples and the regional society represented by the inhabitants of the first capital of Mato Grosso, the contemporary municipality of Vila Bela. This protracted war resulted in the withdrawal of the intruders and the autonomous occupancy of nearly the entire region by Sararé Nambikwara. Here one wonders whether these peoples simply reconquered their lands. As usual, historical sources are thoroughly confusing about the names of the peoples who fought the whites, be they the Cabixi, the Paresi, or both. Furthermore, usage of such names is very inconsistent. Only at the end of the nineteenth century did it become clear that Cabixi must have been the most common name for the peoples who later partially merged into the entity now known as the Sararé.

It was Rondon’s decision to name all of these people as Nhambiquara. Here I discuss some problems of the mode of occupancy of the Nambikwara and their characteristic form of leadership. Some narratives of the Nambikwara do Campo partly elucidate both aspects of the relationship to the land, the character of the local group and the enormous individual and social suffering provoked by the ‘contact situation’. The war in the Sararé region itself ended only in the 1960’s. The Sararé maintained a relatively positive self-image but the population decline and subsequent very slow recovery after contact was agitated further by the invasion of many gold miners and lumber companies. Even if the recovery did take place and the population grew again ensuring language and sociocultural survival, the continuing allure of their natural resources for the most perfidious sectors of the local population, who possess their own socioeconomic mythology and interests, causes a persistent disquiet among the Sararé.

Briefly, these are the peoples and their ethnohistories. The first Part of the book is called The Name because issues raised by Latundê history are a good introduction to the process of naming by others. Part II on the Sabanê is titled Fame, by virtue of the prominent role played by Rondon in real life and in the mythology of both parties when for the first time, the Nambikwara really reached national fame. Finally, the last Part is called Fate, because of the long history involved and the way the long term vicissitudes of contact shape a significant part of the destiny of the Nambikwara.

The similarities and differences in the historical processes of these three representatives of the whole group demonstrate a reasonable array of possibilities for antagonistic contact between national society and the component segments of the Nambikwara. Processes of ‘deculturation,’ ‘acculturation’ and language maintenance or death of these peoples illustrate the same historical globalizing colonial ‘encounter’ imbued with the attempt to oppress and construct submission on the one side, and, on the other side, the effort to maintain autonomy, transformation, accommodation and the resilient, recurrent and courageous expression of a local sociopolitical agency. At various times and in various frameworks, the clash of perspectives and power shaped three different outcomes. One element, however, stands: in all cases, including the peoples not discussed here, the Nambikwara peoples showed an astonishing resilience and capacity. Only in the face of overwhelming odds and forces do they conform to extraneous impositions. Despite the unfortunate contemporary outcomes, their histories still are a tribute to human imaginativeness and inventiveness. If the capabilities could ever be applied to the present situation, perhaps there may be a future that heals some of the ruinous effects of history. If properly managed, the Nambikwara languages and cultures can, through their reiterated recurrent and reflexive practice, transform and persist into the future.

When I took unpaid leave of the Federal University of Bahia in order to accompany my wife for her doctorate, I began to keep an eye open for other opportunities to fill in the temporary hiatus. By complete coincidence, the Nambikwara Project of Prof. Wetzels of the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam was being presented to the financing institution, the WOTRO (the Dutch organization for scientific research in the tropics) when we were about to leave Brazil. Prof. Adelaar of Leiden University referred the project designer and supervisor to the possibility of my participation. So it is to him that I owe my participation. By then professor Wetzels had collaborated with the anthropologist Prof. Jarich Oosten, also of Leiden University. They accepted the suggestion by Prof. Adelaar and kindly invited me to participate in the Project. As the subject matter lies within my normal research area and I found the issue extremely interesting, I jumped at the possibility. In Brazil they gave me the opportunity to make some suggestions and otherwise contribute to the definitive research design that was approved several months later. I thank them all for the opportunity and, as they are all very dedicated scientists, for the fruitful cooperation that followed. The WOTRO (part of the NWO, the general Dutch institution for the financing of scientific research) henceforth financed the post-doctorate position and the trips to the three areas. I am therefore happy to thank the WOTRO and NWO for the grant (WAG 52-897) that made this research possible.

Research for this monograph was carried out during a stay at the Faculty of Humanities of the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam, in The Netherlands. I am very grateful to the Vrije Universiteit for the academic hospitality that was given to me during the six months I stayed there as guest. I also gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance that I received from the Vrije Universiteit Algemeen Steunfonds for preparing the camera-ready manuscript. I wish to thank Matt Coler for his assistance in giving this book its actual form as far as style and grammar is concerned and also the Van Coevorden Adriani Stichting for its financial assistance, which has allowed me to profit from Matt Coler’s expertise.

Of course, while the Vrije Universiteit provided all the bureaucratic support and lodging, my most frequent contact was with the general supervisor and professor of that University, Prof. Wetzels. We also traveled together through nearly the entire Nambikwara region in July and August 2001. Considering the circumstances, it was an especially interesting and rewarding trip. Prof. Wetzels was always available to help. He leads a most promising and interesting study program of the Indigenous Amazonian languages and I thank him this unfailing support. The anthropological research also benefited from the support of Prof. Jarich Oosten to whom I am also very grateful.

Due to the long term of participation, this book is tributary to the research group and tradition of the PINEB. The latter – the Research Program of the Indigenous Peoples in the Northeast of Brazil at the Federal University of Bahia – headed by Drs. Pedro Agostinho and Ma. Rosário Carvalho transformed itself from the pioneering anthropological research effort on the indigenous peoples of Bahia into an enduring anthropological enterprise that extended to the whole of the Northeast. From its birth in 1971, it has produced a substantial amount of novel work and has always sought to foster creativity and intellectual growth. Most importantly, it serves as an uncommon stimulating intellectual climate that promotes discussion and dialogue. All in all, although usually not cited as such, the present effort is tributary to the Brazilian tradition represented by the PINEB and which combines the tradition of studies of interethnic friction (initiated by Cardoso de Oliveira) as well as the tradition of ethnographies of Indian peoples (from Nimuendaju to the growing number of renowned contemporary anthropologists). Cardoso de Oliveira (1978: 189; orig. written in 1972) for example, clearly pointed out that the term “Nambikuara” covered a truly interethnic spectrum.

Despite some problems that will be discussed later, the great majority of the different Nambikwara peoples where I and the members of the Project did research viewed our efforts favorably and I sincerely hope the result will be helpful to them. Listing each individual would require pages. I am especially grateful for the help of the Latundê, Sabanê and Sararé peoples and am in debt to Terezinha, Mané, Manézinho, Ivone, Tereza, Américo and Saulo. Furthermore I greatly appreciate the hospitality of the Aikaná of the Gleba in Chupinguaia. The prefect of Chupinguaia at the time, Ataíde da Silva, furnished some much-needed transport.

FUNAI granted me the necessary authorization and support. Thus, I am grateful for the assistance of people like Ariovaldo dos Santos, Natal, Ana Maria Costa and the staff in Vilhena, especially Nicodemus. I particularly thank Aldair Algayer for a very instructing time. Last, but not least, I appreciate the time, however brief, I spent with the retired Marcelo Santos.

Employees working for organizations like the PACA (Raquel and Sandro) as well as those from the NGO and the teaching missionaries in the Sararé and the Funasa also supported the research during key moments. OPAN and João dal Poz aided me by graciously permitting access to certain documents in Cuiabá. In The Netherlands, Hein Van der Voort and Willem Adelaar offered critical advice and support. The ambiance and team spirit of the linguist members of the Project, Cristina Borella, Gabriel Antunes and Stella Telles (always complemented by the untiring Marcos Galindo) provided intellectual stimulus. Finally, my family, Mísia and Loïc (later also including Anik), and my late mother Mw. Reesink, unfailingly supported my work.

I am grateful to all these people, each of whom played a key role in this research and without whom none of this would have been possible. Thank you all.

[1] These and other quotes in this section are cited in Bell’s book retracing the travels of Stevenson in the Pacific (Bell 1995: 31; 58; respectively).
[ii]  Italics indicate native terms, whether Indian or, like the word Indian itself , having originated in Brazilian national society.
[iii] This is suggested by David Price, the major anthropologist involved with the Nambikwara, mostly with the Nambikwara do Campo dialect group, (See Price 1978 for his overview of the linguistic relations between the diverse Nambikwara local groups).
[iv]The title is also tributary to the title of the stimulating book Allegories of the Wilderness by M. Jackson (1982). In a sense, some features about the allegorical stores and personhood are based on or relate to Jackson’s work.
[v] For example, among the Latundê there are no elders to recount history; among the Sabanê many of the small group of elders were not accessible for unexpected political reasons; and among the Sararé the elders do not speak Portuguese and the younger men can be enticed only with great difficulty to aid in translation.

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.

Allegories Of Wildness ~ Latundê Ethnohistory And Their Contemporary Situation

First times: another view of Latundê history

The prior history reconstitutes the trajectory of observations, research and intervention materialized in the paperwork of a file generated to constitute a bureaucratic dossier that documents the way to the final legal act of creating an Indigenous Territory in accordance with presidential decree. It becomes obvious that it concerns a legal, bureaucratic, and social fiction that presupposed the recognition of concepts and objects – of people and materials – postulated pre-existing. In effect, the history examined so far grounds and socioculturally fabricates the people and their land as a reified object. This corresponds to a dialectal process of what evidence really exists and what was thought to exist or should exist. From this examination of the file, two major points are especially salient. Historical contingencies of context play an important role in the specific structure of conjuncture (in the words of Sahlins) where local time and place are relevant and national and international factors prevail. In current fashion, the local and the global, and between (unsurprisingly this is not always very well represented in the case itself and a point not fully dealt with in this chapter). A small and hardly known group of people, even in specialist circles, suffers immensely from the process of internal conquest. The result is the formally named and grounded Latundê, a distant appendage in the bureaucratic dominant and dominating structure put into place to exert state control over a land and people previously uncontrolled. The state delegates to FUNAI the function of the authorized mentor of land and population management of previously uncontrolled people. In turn, FUNAI occupies a subordinated place within the state when conceived of as an arena of competition between different federal agencies. It is noteworthy that the process so far had very little to do with consultation of the group directly concerned, even the anthropological reports rarely succeed in gaining some insight in the conceptions and opinions of the Indians. As said, this derives from the restriction and subordination of anthropological work within the bureaucracy[i]. Overall, the dossier reflects bureaucratic inconsequential attention, inefficiency, negligence, and sometimes criminal collective and individual behavior and responsibilities.

The Indians were more object than subject of these constitutive processes. They are not just victims, but are the foremost interpreters and, in their own way, agents of their history. What is apparent from the reports aligned before is that the impact of the euphemistically labeled contact was devastating in its population effects. From 1977 to 1981, the absolute lack of medical assistance caused the death of nearly 60% of the entire group, diminishing it from about 23 Indians to 9 at the lowest point, not counting Mané. It was only with marriage and new children that the population began to approach a number closer to pre-contact times. The damage done was tremendous in these first years of pacified relations as most of the older generation perished, particularly after the measles epidemic. I emphasized the example of the Latundê captain’s death and the Mané’s ascent to command. Doubtlessly, the measles epidemic was avoidable, especially so long after contact and considering that the effects of contagious diseases on indigenous populations are notorious. The havoc caused by this small scale genocidal tendency of non interference after primary contact left a strong imprint on the survivors. The only anthropologist to pass four days in the village commented on the distinct difficulty among members to speak about the dead and to take stock of the ravages of population decimation. This difficulty persists even today. Stella Telles, the linguist working with the Latundê language started her visits in 1997 and established a firm rapport and empathy with the group and some of its members in particular (Telles 2002). Impressed by the plight suffered by this people she tried to gather some data about their history. One of these efforts concerned the reconstruction of the group’s history at the time of contact. The result was a painstaking, but especially painful, exercise with the most senior woman, Terezinha, of one of two households, a woman who is still the most senior Latundê[ii]:

Telles describes the living situation as follows:
House 1: Terezinha, the oldest sister in her sibling set, an adolescent man José and his younger sister Madalena;
House 2: Terezinha’s father Davi, her mother Madalena, and her siblings Fatima, Sebastião, João and Francisco;
House 3: Terezinha’s older brother Cinzeiro, husband of José’s and Madalena’s mother (as José is the major surviving Latundê man, he is the reference point for children);
House 4: Chico, José’s older brother;
House 5: the father of José and his siblings;
House 6: Batatá’s mother;
House 7: Sebastião, José’s brother, and his wife, Terezinha’s aunt;
House 8: Batatá and her husband (older adults) and Terezinha’s younger sister Lourdes, living in a place somewhat detached from the other houses;

This only amounts to 19 people. First, it must be noted that for official purpose the date of contact concerns the first time FUNAI established an encounter with the Indians that lead to initiating a permanent relation. Put differently, as if the moment of constitution of this relation depends on the state’s recognition, as if to emphasize the veritable genesis of the people involved and their inclusion into the state apparatus. In a sense, this is true. The official version, however, often does not reflect factual situations. Indeed, previous contact might have been made by a large variety of agents and representatives of the national society. In this case, the Latundê report that a helicopter once threw down objects and that, when on a foray, an older man had an encounter with a Brazilian who gave a machete to the Indian. Hence, at least one friendly encounter already had occurred and new tools were known. Clearly, the supposed isolation of the group was not absolute. Furthermore, it is possible that there were previous contacts but that they are either not remembered or reported. The idea of isolation perpetuated by the FUNAI notion of isolated Indians contrasts with the fact that these groups usually felt the presence of the encroaching national society before official contact and frequently underwent important sociocultural changes. There was some contact and encounters before INCRA and FUNAI officially took notice. Doubtlessly, these situations must have made the people that came to be known as Latundê to speculate about these strangers, but unfortunately very little is known of this impact and the related views. Generally, the Latundê apparently considered outsiders a threat to their lives and well-being. Judging from Nambikwara group relationships patterns, the isolation from other groups must be at least partially due to geographic considerations – the Latundê were located on the far edge of the Nambikwara area. Any relations with neighboring allied groups would have been cut off long ago due to the changed contact situation, all of whom suffered strongly themselves. Isolation here connotes an historical contingency, probably sought after because of the circumstances, and is certainly not representative of any previous indigenous history or pristine state.

Terezinha’s testimony conveys a stressful and traumatic series of events. In itself the need to rely on her story as the most senior Latundê is significant. In the years following the contact in 1977 diseases killed most of the older generation. Thus, the husband of Batatá died having never received a Portuguese name. A few other adults also did not live long enough to receive such a name, thereby complicating the reconstruction because of the absence of Latundê names. Several attempts to reconstruct the pre-contact Latundê population by asking for their names were to no avail. People claimed that the dead and even some of the living did not have names in Latundê. Very likely this assertion is related to a common feature in the Nambikwara ensemble: the interdiction to speak the name of close kin and of the names of the dead. Speaking of the deceased (in particular the recent dead as reported for Southern Nambikwara) may encourage the deceased to take away the living. Obviously establishing pre-official contact population numbers and demographic trends is very difficult, if not impossible. Criminal post-contact negligence left the group consisting of only two older adults, one being Batatá, who continued living in her Latundê-style house until an illness shortly before my visit and Terezinha’s older brother, nicknamed Cinzeiro (ashtray) because of the burns sustained when sleeping near the fire. Batatá does not speak Portuguese and is somewhat difficult to approach with an interpreter. Cinzeiro does not speak Portuguese and is considered rather feeble-minded by the others (although he is very friendly)[iii]. It is believed that, according to Latundê theory of causality, he came to be so by touching meat which a vulture had eaten from. This leaves Terezinha, who, being the oldest daughter, at the time of contact already had completed the first menstruation seclusion ritual. As her sisters were both children then, she is the major source of information.

One major feature in the organization of the Latundê at the time of contact is the proliferation of houses. Not only did every couple possess a house but also bachelors and single divorced people tended to live alone, except for the little group in Terezinha’s house. Photographs taken by Price reveal that the village had a small macaw house (casa das araras in Portuguese). This place was a home for the many representatives of various species of parakeets, small macaws (ararinhas), parrots and possibly macaws[iv]. Until very recently this traditional house was maintained by Terezinha. The two sites of current occupation (as of 1999-2000) both had their own macaw house. Although Terezinha let her house disintegrate, leaving only the scattered remains and part of the frame, she dug a hole in the ground for the birds to stay in. The passion for all these different types of birds continues. In a way, the very presence of the macaw house not only indicates the prevalence of the domesticated birds who, in comparison with other animals, receive a preferential treatment and constitute the main stock of domestic animals, but also the pre-eminence of the house epitomizing individual autonomy. This tendency prevailed until recently. Batatá built and lived in the last Latundê style house until she moved into a partially open and independent room in José’s house (regional style). Later illness forced her to move to the Aikaná village where the Aikaná husband of Terezinha’s younger sister later built her a small house. She still lives there and continues her role with the macaws by lodging them in her house. At the same site where Batatá used to live, Cinzeiro also own a regional-style house. This place commonly functions as the kitchen for the other family in residence, José, Lourdes and their children, who occupy a separate house, directly in front.

At the time of contact, the social relations among the Latundê explain the distance of Batatá’s husbands’ house to the others. Thus, all members of the group demonstrated their relative autonomy in house-building patterns, a fact apparent today in the distance from Mané’s and Terezinha’s house to the site of José’s, a twenty minute walk. Though the same pattern continued to prevail, one exception is Terezinha’s younger brother who stayed in their house and still lives there. However, this young man was in a fashion raised by the older couple, and is markedly shy. The costs associated with a modern house are much greater than a traditional house. As José is strengthening the already strong ties with Mané’s household, he started to build a new house at the other man’s site and prepared a large garden jointly with the men of the same house (except Mané). This house is being built with the assistance of the sons and the younger brother living at Terezinha’s house, also men who are his partners in the preparation of the gardens, at the time of Telles and my major stay ay the Latundê house (September to October 2000, the main ethnographic present in these chapters). Nearly a year later, in August 2000, on occasion of a very rapid visit, everyone was already living together at the same site (and Cinzeiro had, at least for the moment, not built a separate house). The houses made by the elders denote a strong tendency of individual autonomy which is unlikely to carry on to the next generation. For the younger people, constructing their own house implies more work, as they prefer Brazilian style homes. The other younger brother of Terezinha’s siblings who lives with and works for other Indians, after some sort of misunderstanding with his patron, decided to live in an abandoned house constructed at the fazenda not far away from the Latundê main site (a house and pastures resulting from an INCRA-authorized land invasion).

In some respect, the Latundê settlement pattern persists even with the adoption of the regional house style. Terezinha was a young woman when she married Batatá’s husband (one of the men who remains nameless because of early post-contact death). This man was married to Batatá, Terezinha, and her younger sister Lourdes. She, however, had a fight with the husband and left him to live in a house with the adolescents, one a marriageable boy, José. This seems to be in accord with a notion of easy divorce for young married people. The importance of autonomy is also evident in the Nambikwara ensemble custom that permits young women to try out more than one husbands until settling down, the end of this period habitually being heralded by the birth of a child (Price 1972). Lourdes, was the next youngest sibling (assuming the usual Nambikwara practice of birth spacing, she should be between two to four years younger), had not yet completed the coming of age ritual and consequently could not yet be a wife. She probably entered the house while still being raised to be a future wife by her husband, another practice also quite common among neighboring peoples. In the Nambikwara ensemble even very young children have marriages arranged by their parents. Their other four younger siblings lived with their parents, the only united and not divorced parents with children inhabiting a single family house. It is interesting that the couple made up of the oldest sibling of Terezinha and the other one constituted by José’s older brother were both still childless. Another of José’s brother also lived alone but could have been a choice for the girls from the first sibling set. Even though some partners were available possibly political choices were made such as marrying the sisters to Batatá’s husband and not to the young adults. Later Terezinha did marry one of the younger men but this husband died of illness in the contact phase.

All of this provides clues about organization and reproduction, admittedly in a probabilistic fashion and in comparison with numerous patterns abstracted from other Nambikwara sources. This is basically speculation and not without pitfalls. For example, the customary pattern for Northern Nambikwara village displayed two larger houses and not small-individualized houses. This demonstrates that the Latundê may have changed certain social arrangements and practices as this new set-up differs from neighboring Northern Nambikwara peoples. For the moment, this rearrangement lacks any plausible explanation. It may be the effect of long isolation from other villages. One hypothesis would be that the shelters normally set up for temporary lodgings were, in a way, transformed into small individual and familial houses (I discuss the village pattern further in Part II and III). Be that as it may, it is safe to say that only two couples were producing children, siring the sibling set of Terezinha and that of José. Batatá’s mother was the only other child-bearing person alive, while her daughter, though apparently older than the sibling sets, did not have any children. According to one comment by a Latundê, she did not want any children. Given the general Nambikwara practice of wishing to have children, this may be the reason for the polygamous marriages of her husband[v]. If the judgments from post-contact reports hold true that the major leader of the group was either Terezinha’s father or José’s father, then the only polygamous man was not the group leader (a fact also evident by the dissension of a separate house site). Not only did Batatá’s husband not have descendants but he also does not seem to have been the groups’ leader, contrary to the Nambikwara pattern postulated by Lévi-Strauss but conforming to the much ampler later sample discussed by Price[vi]. In a way, the partitioning of the group and keeping apart of one house turns the major part of the group essentially into the fusion of two older couples and their descendants. Later one of these couples divorced, possibly reinforcing Davi’s authority, the father of Terezinha and the major set of siblings (as well as the marriage of the ex-wife to his son too). A remark likely made by Price in 1977 on the photograph of José’s father accredited him as being the leader. This comment aside, both of the elder men should be the senior persons in the small group as the men of the two principal couples that already have adult male and female children. In sum, it is uncertain whether leadership involved either one or the other, but both were in a position of influence and must have had significant authority.

The situation, particularly at contact, almost mirrors the basic reduced model (in the words of Lévi-Strauss) implicit in Dravidian kinship: two couples exchange their children (like cross-cousins) and ensure reproduction of the group (whose children would be cross-cousins and could thus ensure population growth). In effect, both Cinzeiro’s marriage at the time and the later, still existing marriage of José and Lourdes express a relation of potential affinity and not any impeditive consanguinity between these couples[vii]. It is important to stress that it is impossible to confirm this conjecture due to the absence of the full kinship relationship system. Several attempts by the linguist Stella Telles to elicit anything more than the kin-term for brother, sister, father and mother did not succeed. It is unclear whether the Latundê really have a Dravidian system and the cross-cousin preference that other Nambikwara possess. This seem partially due to language problems, as well as something possibly more profound; either a refusal similar to reluctance to pronounce personal names and to map people on this social chart, or else to discuss real relations even with sympathetic outsiders. In fact, Telles could not establish some important kin relations within the group at the time of this house arrangement. For example, that Batatá’s husband is unrelated to anyone is extremely improbable in such a small isolated group[viii]. Yet the presence of this relationship system is extremely likely. Material available from the last native speaker of Lakondê and her own knowledge about the Latundê (though second-hand) confirms an extreme linguistic closeness among the two dialects. This person, Dona Tereza hence advances the hypothesis that the two groups derive from a common ancestral group and were separated by historical accident in the not too distant past. After becoming acquainted with Dona Tereza, Telles expanded her fieldwork with the last Lakondê speaker and her thesis treats both languages as Latundê and Lakondê (2002)[ix]. Among the Lakondê, kin terminology follows the general Dravidian pattern of the Nambikwara cultural ensemble (as far as Telles and myself have been able to establish; compare Price 1972; Fiorini 2000).

Also without entering into many details, Terezinha mentioned that the group passed through some serious difficulties; for example, Mamaindê attacks to kidnap their children, an event that caused casualties (at least one of these attempts succeeded and later the kidnapped person was found among them). She seems to imply that her father and José’s father reconstituted the group to ensure its persistence. Though the group lived in the savanna for a considerable time, it suffered pressure from the Mato Grosso side and may have been pushed up into Rondônia, through other savanna areas, to escape these assaults. If indeed this group is a remnant of the originally northern Lakondê (Telles 2002: 12-3), their original impulse would derive from fleeing illness, Whites, or both, to the south-southeast. Then, after an unknown and undocumented period, the two couples constituted the basic core of the group that could exchange their children and assure the general sociocultural reproduction. This is especially important because the third couple did not have any children but the marrying out of the sisters could create a valuable alliance to the group and amplify marriage choices of future generations[x]. In this sense, the pre-contact situation in the Campo do Barroso appears to have been a relatively stabilized group with a core the two older couples in a position of affinity (the men probably treated each other as brothers-in-law) and of potential affinity by the future exchange of children with some other aggregated inhabitants. Thus, the group managed to grow and live traditionally (probably after some serious problems). It seems likely that the Latundê might have persisted in this mode if the encroachment of national society had not imposed contact. It seems safe to assume that the somewhat precarious mode of sociocultural reproduction, however possibly unstable in some aspects, was sufficient to guarantee the group’s permanence as a distinct social unit.

Difficulties before contact also transpire in several observations about the personality and behavior of certain people within the group. First, the distance between the main body and Batatá’s husband is sometimes translated in the affirmation of the existence of two malocas. Batatá’s husband may have been an important man as one of the three older pivotal leading men but preferred to maintain some distance between his household and the other ones. The physical distance indicates a demonstration of his wish for some autonomy within the larger group and probably signals at least some latent tension. In effect, there may be an ethnic and historical explanation for this division. According to Dona Tereza, her brother Joaquim told her that the Latundê local group consisted of descendants of two different local groups still extant in the beginning of the fifties. The Tawandê attacked, dissolved and incorporated all of the small villages of three Northern Nambikwara speaking peoples of that time, including the last independent village of the Lakondê. Despite having been a real and intimate brother to Dona Tereza, Joaquim actually pertained to one of the other two peoples whose members also either were forcefully incorporated into the Tawandê or fled and went to live at José Bonifácio. That is, the current Latundê would be made up of people originally from the Yelelihrê and another closely related people, possibly Sowaintê (the first name as transcribed by Telles 1992: 12). Although these peoples were very close in language and culture, they still considered themselves as distinct from one another and for this reason the local groups may be called ‘peoples’.

Hence it is possible that Batatá’s husband belonged to a different people than the majority of the group and that such a fact added to the potential tensions of the small group. He allegedly beat his new wife, who had recently completed the seclusion ritual, and that induced her to move out and set up another household with a pair of siblings. Tensions between husband and wife (or wives) existed at least in some cases. Moreover, other tensions between people happened as a function of individual behavior. Some persons were known for their antisocial characteristics, and were referred to with the Portuguese expression, brabo (wild, untamed). This is the same word used to describe the uncontacted and hence untamed and undomesticated Indians. That is, the expression points to asocial and uncivilized conduct and the accusations against some of the women of the group include thievery and there are charges against one or two men of unruly violence. Once, Terezinha’s father nearly killed one of the female thieves. Formerly, such conflicts were resolved by changing groups or locations, and the very absence of alternatives likely caused a profound change in the former pre-contact patterns of group and individual relations. Now the regional society deprived the Latundê of participating in the usual mesh of alliances, animosities, and the concurrent circulation of visitors and spouses. Apparently no relations remained with other Nambikwara groups, only the hostility and the threat of the Mamaindê. Thus, isolation possibly condemned the group to live together as one unit in spite of significant tensions.

Living in the savanna was advantageous in some ways. The usefulness of the savanna does not issue from any particular ecological adaptation, although it certainly did have its uses. The open spaces are remembered as an imperative of defense. The high visibility made possible on the open savanna contrasts with the forest. Also, the Indians used to burn the low vegetation of the savanna. The benefits of this activity included killing game. Terezinha still very occasionally burns to clean the plain and kill some meat in the process. Additionally, the burning clears the vegetal cover and leaves no possibility for anyone to sneak close up and surreptitiously attack the maloca. Terezinha remembered the savanna as the original and preferable habitat of the group for its safety. Today, however, she also adduces a pragmatic reason for preferring to live in the forest, the fact that mosquitoes and other insects infest the savanna and make life difficult. The sandy soil of the savanna provides the White sand the Nambikwara Indians normally preferred as their bedding on the ground near a fire[xi]. In this respect, of course, her people exhibited one of the primary distinguishing features within the Nambikwara group, along with the preference for open spaces. However, it is quite clear from the photographs taken by Price and the statements that they differed in another salient feature[xii]. Even though the people did not go about naked in the sense that they wore few ornaments – a collar on the waist or across the upper part of the body for the women and armbands on the upper arm for the men, other more general Nambikwara features – they did not pierce noses or lips. For some Nambikwara this feature normally consigns unknown people immediately to the category of belonging to the Nambikwara ensemble, as one Nambikwara do Campo asserted to Price (1972). In my sense, the hypothesis must be that the exception to the rule entails that the people have lost this practice for, as far as I know, all other peoples in the ensemble always wore those ornaments. Even other local groups, apparently unknown to the Latundê, reported to have been previously living near the Pimenta River before contact and now extinct, did so. The complexities of their history may explain this remarkable absence, shaping a situation in which the group found itself on the edge of the Northern Nambikwara cluster’s area in the physical sense, simultaneously being on the edge in a larger sociocultural sense. Again, recall the possibility of prolonged but not so splendid isolation.

That is, this people was very likely not just on the edge but also was on edge with the outside. This isolation represented the flight from enemies and the absence of outside allies, internal strife and internal tensions that may have caused fissioning the group in other circumstances. The fact that they were on their own and had only themselves for sociocultural and economic reproduction was feasible until contact[xiii]. Thus the recollections of the surviving generation features many people living in the savanna, suggesting a group sufficiently numerous to allow for an endogamous cross-cousin marriage system and continued population maintenance or growth. The image further brings to mind the positive side and a largely positive evaluation of the complete autonomy of the time. Reports confirm that the horticulture practiced in the nearby forest in conjunction with hunting and gathering activities provided more than enough food. The receptions with abundant food depict a people well accustomed to permanent habitation at the Campo do Barroso. Though in political terms seemingly a refugee area, ecologically and economically speaking, the adequate adaptation to the savanna probably followed the usual historical patterns. The village built sustained a permanent and not just seasonal occupation, even when it is likely that hunting and gathering expeditions of variable duration were mounted[xiv]. Again, these people were not nomads, as some reports discussed above claimed, nor was there a poverty in adaptation that forced even the to women hunt, as one of these observers noticed with surprise[xv]. The fact that at least some women hunted with bow and arrow (as did Batatá and the two mothers of the sibling sets) does not necessarily imply group disorganization. Nor it is not proof of any insufficiency of the male hunters. It might very well be an expansion of the women’s role as gatherers, a task that always included capturing small animals. In fact, women hunted smaller prey and only killed game from the savanna or forest floor, not including animals living in the trees except when they passed by on the ground (Terezinha recalls only one such instance when her mother killed some monkeys).

Overall the people apparently succeeded well enough in providing for their sustenance. The group used its own repertoire of food crops (like maize, cará (yam), and manioc) and complemented them with gathering other vegetable foods (and tobacco). Some of these plants, like maize, probably were distinct varieties lost in the contact phase. This was a loss of genetic diversity that affected not only this small group, but the global community too. Such losses have only recently been recognized in ethno-ecological studies[xvi]. The gathering of plants nowadays has diminished; a cará do mato (literally a forest yam) collected by Cinzeiro was shown to us as being part of this older repertoire of edible plants. The youngest generation had not yet eaten this food and some took the opportunity for their first taste. Even before contact, one notices the experimental attitude of José’s father when he collected sugarcane at a distant fazenda to bring it home to plant. An expedition in which, naturally, he took care in attempting not to be noticed by the owners of the plantation, apparently taking the plants out of the field in the dark. In this event both curiosity and willingness to improve on the stock of available plants to cultivate are manifest, a sharp contrast to the stereotype of alleged conservatism. Scouting in the region and some knowledge of the regional society also show curiosity about the outside. On the whole, horticulture was a prominent part of the economic activities of sustenance, but gathering provided a fundamental component. Hunting of larger animals like deer and tapir also contributed to the group’s nutrition and general sustenance (exploiting different ecological zones). Terezinha remembered living in a fixed village with much daily activity. Water, for instance, had to be fetched from a far-away source. There was a distinctly active life of food production and procurement, and sustenance with the presence of many people that Terezinha recalls fondly. She recollects a satisfactory, even happy life. Even if her memories may be biased towards the better reminiscences because of subsequent disasters, her judgment should be basically sound. As a whole, the group regarded their specific way of life as a viable and valuable mode of living.

Contact from other perspectives
After offering a tentative picture of the history and situation at contact, I attempt to examine some characteristics of the prior situation. The fact of living in what is normally called isolation might give the erroneous notion that the pre-contact history had not been influenced by the encroaching regional society. However, the turbulent history before official contact directly caused changes in the mode of living of the village and the inhabitants had less overt contacts. These encounters and the normal avoidance of regional inhabitants must have shaped the notions entertained by the Latundê of this kind of stranger. Only a few such events are known to us. The theft of cane has already been mentioned. Another case concerns the encounter of the same Indian with a fazenda employee who was working not far from the village. Somehow, the two men met in the middle of the savanna and conducted a peaceful encounter from which José’s father came away with the gift of machete. Such a tool must have been enormously beneficial. The practical Indians doubtlessly found much use for such an advantageous tool. In this way, some of the advantages of a peaceful exchange relation with the intruders preceded the first tentative openings towards the group. By the seventies, the Tubarão settled to the east, relocated by the inaction of a government agency that shamelessly approved their removal from the fertile lands along the river to the south (a map of the soils in Rondônia shows that this area is one of the very few patches of red soil (terra roxa), the best available and in total contrast to the dry savanna or the mostly sandy soils supporting forms of a low bushy forest[xvii]). One of their occupations at the time was to engage in wage work or to contract work for the fazendas whose land was yet to be delineated. As mentioned above, this temporary demand of labor provided many much-needed jobs, compared to the small number of employees necessary to care for cattle. Thus, the ranchers employed the Tubarão to scout the area and literally clear the straight property lines through the forest as they appear on INCRA’s map, effectively recreating the map on the ground[xviii]. On one of these missions, some Aikaná came across signs indicating the presence of wild Indians in the area and their first reaction was to retreat, afraid to enter a region inhabited by unknown peoples. The Aikaná belong to another ethnographic area and participated in a distinct interethnic multidimensional exchange system, centered along the axis of the Pimenta River. They knew peoples like the Kwazá, Kanoê and Tupi speaking groups which had evolved an interesting complex of relations between themselves[xix]. The Latundê (or any other group of the congeries of Northern Nambikwara), however, are believed not to have participated.

So their unexpected presence posed a practical and interpretative problem to the Tubarão. In 1974, according to one participant in these events, nobody knew they were there when the land surveyor engaged by the fazendeiro (large landowner) employed them to open the picadas (path lines) cleared to constitute the property borders. Then, after fifteen kilometers along line 120, they noticed some signs: one of the Indians’ paths; a place of collection of honey and grubs[xx]. Significantly, they did not know about FUNAI at the time. This clean path came out of the forest and entered into the savanna and then the Indians returned with the knowledge of Indians on the savanna. Returning without further investigation left them still unaware of whether these were tame (manso) or wild (brabo), the first question on their minds. That is, having assimilated the idiom of the branco (Whites in these contexts is always an ethnic and not a ‘racial’ term), the first relevant classification concerns the condition of domesticated (in effect, dominated) or unruly (autonomous and not subjugated by the system). This idiom is widely used, for example, by peasants and farmers to contrast land and animals not under human control with those that are brought under human mastery by means of human labor. Wildness is not viewed as a positive attribute, nature is seen as a force to be conquered, transformed by human capacity, put to use and gain value (in both senses). The basic opposition also classifies people with respect to their capacity to work and be useful. This can be thought of as the ability to be self-domesticated. People should labor to transform savage nature into humanly ordered cultivated space. Thus, this classification immediately refers to a larger cosmological scheme which may be applied to both the southern migrants coming into Rondônia as well as the natives. This is unmistakable when Fonseca told Price of his wish to teach the Indians to work. In this system, hunting, gathering and nomadism fail to constitute work, neither are they the predicates that found real people nor classify as a normal and satisfactory human relationship with nature.

The Aikaná finished their task afraid to encounter these unknown Indians but completed their work without incidents. Later, talking to the chief, they decided to go out and look for them. The chief asserted that if they were wild, they would make them throw down their arrows and be domesticated (amansar), if they be already tame, he planned to converse with them. The chief in this case is actually a man from Ceará who engaged the Indians in rubber extraction. Fifteen men went on the trip, all armed, taking little chances in case of an incident and trying to make an impression based on numbers and force (according to the statements of an Aikaná participant). When they arrived near the open savanna they heard the pounding of maize kernels to powder and afterwards saw two malocas. The sound was one of the older principal men pounding maize and the Tubarão cried out to make their presence known. The man went into a house and came out with four other people, three women and an elderly man, all armed. They waited outside, equipped with bow and arrows and a club while the group approached them, gesturing and requesting that lay down their arms[xxi]. Batatá was ready to shoot arrows at the strangers but the older man intervened to make his people drop their weapons and establish a peaceful connection. Another participant remembered that at this point the Aikaná maneuvered the White man from Ceará to be up ahead of the row of men, with a revolver in his hand, right at the front where any violence would break out first[xxii]. It is probable that the older man was the father of José (as told by another participant) and that his prior contacts prepared him to risk the approach. Bear in mind that the group consisted of most of the Aikaná male population and that the future Latundê were likely familiar with firearms. Fear dictated these precautions and caused the display of armaments and manpower on both sides:
[We believed that] they are wild, [that] they would fire arrows. I told my people, if he wounds someone, one of our companions, you may fire at him too; but if he does not wound anyone and misses his shot, hold your fire. If he hits one of ours, if we see that he [a member of our group] really is going to die, then we would have reacted and shot them. But thank God they did not do that. I think, maybe they were frightened too, who knows. I know they put all their weapons down and they greeted us without harm. We confirmed they were not wild, but we were afraid. They wanted us to stay the night but I said that we were not going to sleep there. We left.

Evidently, violence was a real possibility and the whole expedition might have led to a bloody encounter in which doubtlessly the Latundê would be the primary victims. Such an accident would deeply unsettle the Indians’ way of life and leave them with nowhere to flee[xxiii]. Violence is well known to the Aikaná and their neighbors, in pre-contact times, during contact, and obviously after contact with their subjugation and incorporation in the rubber collecting enterprises that often relied on weapons to subdue wild Indians. Luckily, the intervention of the older man carried enough influence to stop the outbreak of violence to these unexpected visitors appearing all of a sudden in his own village. This visit is even more terrifying when the native people have no allies in the world[xxiv]. This moment of courage was crucial to the group’s very existence. By preempting a violent encounter, the older man, certainly one of the leading figures, avoided a situation that may have resulted in the demise of his people. His conduct was interpreted to signify that the group could be approached by people employing signs of peaceful intentions.

Even though it was clear that these people could be domesticated, prejudice and preconceptions still played a significant role. In this particular pacification effort lead by Indians and Whites, the Aikaná understood the nakedness, and their choice of habitat as indicative of a strange and wild people (note that the Aikaná lived on the river and in the forest). Moreover, before their actual approach, the Aikaná were already afraid because the older Indians of their group described the unknown people in frightful terms: because these people kills us, eat us, and drink our blood. One leading Aikaná told the others that they kill and suck blood and roast the flesh for consumption with manioc cakes. They attributed to these others a very dangerous quality and the initiative of the expedition actually may have resulted from the persuading of the White chief, their patron in the rubber business. In effect, the Aikaná admit having practiced a form of cannibalism, as did other peoples in the interethnic complex of the Pimenta River. They accuse the Kwazá of indiscriminately eating the whole body – possibly denoting the view that they hunted humans as they did any other animal prey instead of a mode of consumption demanded by this distinction. The suction of blood appears to be an accusation of another thing not done although the reason for this taboo is obscure[xxv]. Some Indians refused to participate in the expedition to the Latundê. These ideas infused the whole expedition with an atmosphere of fear of violence because among the Aikaná the unknown also inspired the trepidation and dread of the uncivilized and unpredictable. Preconceptions on both sides shaped the actual encounter with a large amount of fear and potential for hostilities.

Attempting to speak different languages did not resolve the problem of oral communication but after the strangers took his hand and greeted the leading man, the Indians gave them chicha (a drink made from maize or manioc), smoked meat and manioc cakes (beiju). The main narrator I consulted attributed a prominent role to himself (he became one of the formerly mentioned chiefs who actually appear to have functioned as patrons) and reported that he insisted that his companions eat this food and did not throw any of it away. His perseverance illustrates the tension and lack of confidence prevailing in this first encounter. Although the food was said to be good – proof of the sustenance provided by the diverse productive activities – many were concerned about poisoning. In order to normalize relations one had to eat the food, overcoming a fear certainly not unfounded as the Nambikwara are notorious for their knowledge of natural poisons. Even if the Aikaná did not want to, they ate the food. After all, refusing the commensality of eating together implies the insult of refusing a token of amity. One Latundê Indian sneaked away to warn the others, at the other village, and some time later another seven people arrived at the gathering, threatening to use their weapons. The older man intervened again, took their weapons away and stored them elsewhere. These newcomers also brought food and they offered these to the strangers who ate even more.

Afterwards, according to one version, the visitors made their hosts understand that they were asking them to dance. Another narrator with a better memory affirms that the idea came from José’s father. The Latundê then carried out their dancing and singing, without playing any instruments. One Aikaná wanted to reciprocate with a song but the flu had made him too hoarse. This casual remark reveals that he likely functioned as the vector that transmitted the virus to a previously unexposed population. Thus, the Tubarão[xxvi] seem to reproduce a template of initiating cordial alliances (similar to the customary proceedings before contact), somehow also reminiscent of their inter-ethnic relations with Whites. A short look at this history displays some features of this learning process. At a prior point in their history the various peoples of the Pimenta region lived together in one big village, but in separate malocas, because of the White mans’ domination and want to gather them in one centralized area to collect rubber. During this period, the White dictated his will because of fear and factors related to real and symbolic violence (Bourdieu’s notion) to the Indians. Among other things, the present-day Aikaná recall that the Indians thought the White man killed Indians to mix with rubber and make tools. This belief of fabricating the tools from Indian bodies possibly conceived of as conferring a superiority to the tyrannizing Whites is full of implications. One concerns the salience of bodily idiom and substance, a familiar feature in the ethnological literature of Lowland South America, to construct similitude and difference (more on this in Part II). In a way, it is quite true that the rubber and the subsequent tools were fashioned from their bodies; the coveted commodities served to assist in the subduing and extracting labor from the victims in a closed circle of substances. The circle, in turn, raises the hypothesis that it is modeled after previous notions about the circularity of predation in the universe. Without knowledge of the Aikaná these conceptions cannot be explored and confirmed. Regardless, violence, subjugation and the fear of this figurative cannibalism by the White man is an integral part of a historical experience that may have predisposed them to conceive and treat the Latundê this way.

After leaving the village, the party spent the night on the road and one participant remembers how they, despite the exchange, did not dare to sleep out for fear of a surprise attack. Nothing happened though, and three days later the Latundê took the initiative to seek out a rubber tapper that lived in the adjacent forest (perhaps at a two hours walking distance). They wanted industrial commodities, mostly metal objects like machetes, axes and pans. The tapper offered them some older goods and they returned home. The visit shows that the Indians knew the general direction their visitors came from and demonstrates the enticement of these commodities (a desire generally one the major causes for pre-contact contacts and the acceptance of contact). Afterwards the Aikaná made contact with FUNAI in Vilhena and the agency brought a lot of material as presents for them. The auxiliary Fonseca appeared in the history of both peoples at this moment. The chronology of events is to some extent resumed in this particular narrative, for the Aikaná claims that this must have happened in 1977. That, according to him, was the moment when FUNAI established itself in town and Fonseca was in charge of Aroeira (people of the Nambiquara Project were also present)[xxvii]. The Aikaná man and Fonseca jointly took the presents to the Latundê and that domesticated them somewhat further. The Aikaná remembers tools, hammocks, shoes, clothes, blankets, matches and tobacco as gifts. The Indians did not have any salt, rice or any foodstuffs. The clear memory of this distribution relates to the quantity involved and especially to the fact of receiving so many things the Aikaná themselves habitually worked so hard to get. Fonseca took Mané Torto with him as a translator on his second visit. Fonseca later left Mané with the group, claiming that as he did not have a wife, it would be best for him to stay. He married Tereza and stayed there. And so they were domesticated. And when, in 1979, the FUNAI agents from the base in Riozinho (in the direction of the town of Pimenta Bueno) sent more presents and, with Mané already living there, in his mind this signaled the end of the process: they ended domestication[xxviii]. The flow of gifts, the usual template of pacification, in his sense too correlates with taming wildness.

In the reports cited so far, the special role of Fonseca in this process and his relevance for both peoples is apparent. For one thing, he openly announced to Price what his project for the transformation of the Latundê implied. In fact, his proposition only resumes the essence of the colonial project of conquest. Nowadays the state does not directly order or condone murder of Indians and does not forcibly take away all of their territory (as in the just wars of the past). The slowly increasing recognition of prior rights to life and land does not dispense the states’ general intention to transform both, and the society’s individual and collective projects of appropriation of these resources. It has been unusual to recognize all of their lands as Indian Territory. A major contradiction experienced as a result of the pacification template always concerns the barrier all the contacted peoples run against: after the more or less liberal flow of free industrial goods in the pacification period, the flow inexplicably dries up. A new regime of trade terms is introduced where their values of industrial goods must be compensated for by values produced. A major problem, naturally, constitutes the fact that the appreciation of value is completely dictated by the economic logic of the national society. This generally has little, if anything, to do with the economic logic of domestic mode of sustenance with the sharing of produce and with the modality of direct equivalent trade prevalent between similar groups (as described, for instance, by Lévi-Strauss, 1984). The terms of trade are then translated into the necessity to produce within the framework set up by the dominant society, this entails the transformation of the, so to speak, valueless domestic economy into an integrated subordinate part of the economy with the production of valued products and the corollary modification of the independent worthless producers into useful laborers (and, less significantly, consumers). Naturally, the resources of an Indigenous Territory, the labor force of the inhabitants, and the consequent economic autonomous production of sustenance when still an independent circuit of particular ecological adaptation and socioeconomic organization really is useless and valueless to the capitalist world economy. These areas are mainly viewed as unexploited resources and are thought of in terms of their exchange value instead of the uncomplicated objects with a use value to the immediate producer and consumer. More relevant are the variegated regional and national interests that now apprehend the entire independent Indian system as valuable resources to be incorporated. Such a perspective is only valid in the capitalist economy in which the Brazilian agents themselves are inserted, generally in a subordinate position, within Brazilian society. A perspective of a cosmology of labor that extracts products from natural resources represented, reified and objectified as the only natural and obvious reality of the world, especially in regards to its workings, the position and ranking of people, and the notion of personhood (on these points, of course, I am inspired by the work of Sahlins).

In his own way, Fonseca shares this perspective from the stance of his humble origin in a rubber collecting region of Rondônia. His own account solves one previous mystery and, from his own way of representing the course of events, demonstrates the negligence of FUNAI agents[xxix]. It is worthwhile to resume his own narrative and add yet another point of view. His career begins as a poor rubber collector where he earned valuable experience in the wilderness. Later he worked as assistant to a traveling boat trader, and learned about trade. Basically expelled from the interior by the economic crisis, he settled in the town of Porto Velho, with a quick passage through São Paulo. Later on during his stay in town he became a widower with children, with an experience more suitable to moving through the forest and a positive appreciation of rubber collecting and selling rather than being qualified for a job in town. One day he encountered a higher-class friend who immediately set out to help him and arranged, in the typical paternalistic fashion, a job with FUNAI (after another attempt that did not suit him). Francisco Meirelles, then in the FUNAI agency of Porto Velho, accepted him on account of his degree of excellence in forest experience (in 1970). First he went to live with three qualities of Indians up the Guaporé River, he sent for the Indians of the Mequens River (not so far away from the Pimenta River) because the Jaboti Indians at the post were all lazy[xxx]. They did not have manioc, they did not have maize because they were too lazy to work. Two Indian captains and their people came down river and we constructed a row of houses and large fields with lots of produce. Quoting an Indian he calls simply chief: Here I like to work, Mr. Fonseca, here they are people. Producing palm oil to sell at the market resolved the necessity to buy the lacking commodities from the outside[xxxi]. After a period of pacification with the Paaka-Nova (Wari) that did not go very well (being so wild as not to obey and who left him with a few arrow wounds), he was transferred to Cuiabá and the Aroeira Post. There he lived quite well and was pleased with himself. Once and a while he conducted explorations with good Indians (by implication, obedient ones) along the famous Telegraph Line. The land at the Aroeira Post permitted horticulture, and was said to be good to work. He urged the Indians to get manioc to plant, because before his arrival the Indians hardly planted. Equating work with ample and diversified horticulture and large amounts of produce, he condemned anyone who did not share these ideas as lazy. He, a man who claims to abhor the idea of being subordinate to someone in his own work, did not shy away from strong measures to enforce compliance.

Then an opportunity arose: They sent me, FUNAI sent me. He set out alone and later organizing a team of Aikaná, the first contact was not an immediate success. Once the expedition got on its way, it took a lot of effort to find them. After three days of searching, one of his companions, the tuxaua and guide, already wanted to return as the food was running out and they had not seen traces of Indians. Insisting in trying another direction as a last effort, he was worrying about what to say to FUNAI about this failure. Then, finally, they encountered a caboclo (Indian). Whispering, the Indians told him to lie down, just as the armed Indian they spotted had done. So he decided to encircle the other Indian, as he was accompanied by six Tubarão (one being Arara, Kwazá[xxxii]). When the Indian noted their approach, he stood up, trembling in fear. Both tried to communicate but the Indians of the party said they did not listen (i.e. understand). They managed to ask for the maloca, the chief, and the Indian, with a grunt, indicated the direction. The large house occupied the top of small hill in the savanna and was visible from a distance. Before arriving there, circumventing a lake (of the Barroso savanna), two girls were roasting yams. These people are still alive and when they see Fonseca embrace him exclaiming they owe their life to him[xxxiii]. He already had given some knives and mirrors to the man, Cinzeiro, when the other Latundê descended the hill, armed and with the captain in front[xxxiv]. He was so furious for some reason that he was foaming from the corners of his mouth. Talking did not establish communication but after leaving all the presents which were not touched at all by the intended recipients, the captain of the Tubarão succeeded in gaining permission to leave and they left. So, apparently contacts had been interrupted for some time, possibly even some incidents occurred to raise the wrath of the leader and turn the whole encounter into a tense affair. Also, conspicuously absent and leaving no doubt whatsoever as to this point, no other FUNAI agent participated in this attempt to apply the classical pacification template.

At this point, Fonseca went to see a White man in Marco Rondon who employed a number of Nambikwara to produce foodstuffs like manioc flour. These are part of the Indians Price mentioned in the same report of 1977 as having accepted, with one exception, relocation within the reserved lands of Aroeira (see Part II). The solution was proposed to all the dispersed Northern Indians who customarily were integrated into a situation of subordination and exploitation, and who already had been alienated from their homelands. He then invited the leader of one of these peoples, a socially and historically important man named Joaquim, and mounted a new attempt with the assistance of these Nambikwara, in particular with this Sabanê who prized his capacities to speak languages[xxxv]. Fonseca alleged that the unknown others were actually not that wild, rather it was only that nobody succeeded in speaking with them. This, he argued, the Indian should be able to do. Fonseca not only paid him but also appealed to him to participate as a favor (presumably because he would be in dire straits without his help). At the time no road existed between the main highway and the interior. After passing through the Aikaná village, they reached the savanna and set up their approach, at about four o’clock in the afternoon. Everyone carried a gun, to inspire some fear. From then on the initiative rested with Joaquim, the Indian leader Fonseca appointed. He instructed Fonseca to stay behind him while the other Indians remained in the background. Then the wild Indians descended the hill, yelling, as riotously as the first time with their captain in front. Joaquim and the captain talked for such a long time that it made the expedition’s nominal leader anxious. In effect, according to Dona Tereza Lakondê this was her brother Joaquim and not a Sabanê at all, hence his fluency and competence in the dialogue. To assuage his fears, the Indian said to Fonseca, let him grow tired, let him blow off some steam. The two leading Indians pursued their dialogue and even Fonseca’s presence cropped up and, stamping his feet, Joaquin presented the auxiliary to the Latundê leader as a captain, a chief. After sending most of the accompanying wild Indians away, food arrived for the visitors, honey, roasted maize and yam, meat, everything. The Indian leader told him that they would stay the night, as it would be much more comfortable then staying in the forest. Notably, no one saw any women, only men, the classic sign of distrust. At night the local Latundê leader authorized the outsiders to arrange themselves for their staying the night, to improvise beds and to sleep.

Here it is clear that the actual process of contact was conducted by the Indian leader and that the choice of this man proved to be providential to the whole effort. From then on the encounter followed Nambikwara conventions of confrontations with unknown others, firstly because effective communication proved possible and then ensued a tirade and dialogue which brings to mind the kind of encounter described by Lévi-Strauss (1984). At this instance, a meeting between two opposing groups with mutual complaints, the leaders voiced these grudges loudly in a reciprocal harangue. It does not seem far-fetched to presume these new ingredients are the essential novel features that guaranteed success. In other words, bringing in a knowledgeable leader that conducted the interaction in terms of a sociocultural Nambikwara template (as opposed to relying solely on other designs of interaction), was probably the only way to begin disarming the fear, anger, and distrust. It is clear that venting such strong feelings, short of complete and utter defeat, must be channeled through mutually comprehensible discourse and means. The show of arms, incidentally, is a normal part of pacification ( a term that is military jargon for bringing peace) with the connotation of gaining control over the legitimate use of violence[xxxvi]. At night the functionary resumed the command of negotiating the peace, promising that I and captain Joaquim will send blankets from over there. The Latundê leader did not know what a blanket was. The same leader sent one young naked girl each, the poor child, to provide a small fire for both visiting chiefs and they stayed on sitting there on the visitor’s side. Then, later at night, all the men sang, but not the women, singing eh eh e e eh, brandishing their clubs (bow and arrow were used more by the women than the men). They passed close by his bedding, what did stir him into a little anxiety. Nothing happened, the singing stopped after some time and the Indians went away. Only the girls stayed to tend to the blanket of the Indians and a small fire (he believed the fire was very small, although it was likely the standard kind for sleeping next to). From then on he obtained permission to return whenever he wanted. Feeling authorized he did so and one time even took a priest to visit the Latundê.

It is remarkable that the previous and still ruling autonomy is recognized because Fonseca emphasized that he was authorized by the local leader. He proudly reports on these visits despite the fact the official rules clearly prohibit them. He mentions with pride the episode of a priest from Porto Velho who had heard about my pacification [of the Indians]. Naturally, the whole description confirms that the enterprise shows signs of practices that are in stark contrast to the rules. Most strikingly at odds with the rules is the original order that sent this man on a mission for which he was totally unprepared as an Indian agent, a sertanista. This remark is not intended as a personal criticism, as his inventiveness and persistence shows, rather it must be observed that his action was shaped by a regionally accepted common sense that FUNAI should do its utmost to expunge. The preparedness for the especially delicate task of approaching an autonomous people draws only from his own resources and has nothing to do with any FUNAI training. The pacification template contains its own very questionable premises but it usually functions to establish a relation. What really motivated Fonseca to assume the task was the promise by Tolksdorf, the man who was officially charged with pacification. As noted above, the same sertanista who claimed in his later report to have succeeded in contact and who later in the same year abandoned the official command of the process of dealing with the Latundê people. This was the same sertanista who had experience in conducting the delicate operation and who, on paper, refused to initiate such an operation without sufficient funds and medical support. Nowhere in this narrative is there any indication of special measures and precautions taken. For example, the basic safeguard of avoiding bringing in people infected with influenza or to bring in a medical team for consultations and vaccinations. No precautions seem to have been taken and Fritz Tolksdorf delegated his task to his subordinate in a completely irresponsible manner. Fonseca claimed he was sent by FUNAI, by Fritz, who promised that if I went he would compensate me with the post of sertanista! Or, It was ah …Fritz, you go, if you pacify this village, I guarantee that I, jointly with the personnel here, will give you the post of (…) indigenista, and you will earn well for the rest of your life. From his perspective, the previously mentioned opinion of the Aikaná corroborate that he carried out his activities as a solitary agent: I pacified them.

Fonseca believed that he was not promoted for two reasons. First, there was Tolksdorf’s death shortly after the effort[xxxvii]. He further attributes being relieved of duty after pacification to the personnel of the Nambiquara Project, particularly to the agent of the Post at the Negarotê (at the time, of the Mamaindê, Marcelo Santos who Price suggested to replace him). Afterwards, receiving another task, he continued to maintain a presence in the area. While living in the Aikaná village, he concurred with the Latundê leader to go to the Tubarão village and get the goods over there. Then, after giving commodities like tools and ornaments, he gave shorts to the women, as they could not walk around [naked] they must be clothed, I clothed them”. Then everything was beautiful. Until this point, the Latundê tore up and threw away the gifted clothes, blankets and hammocks in the forest, in a place separate from normal refuse in the savanna. Nakedness was an offense that must be remedied as fast as possible and the fact that now they do not want to know any more about that (that they once went naked), implicitly recognizes the evident superiority of clothing. These culturally insensitive beliefs ignore the subjectivity of such judgments. The aesthetic pattern of beauty does not inhere in the clothing itself, it acceptation rather epitomizes dominance. Like many others, Fonseca believed that ethnocentric patterns are cross-culturally valid. For instance, an old woman threatened the strangers during their visit. Joaquin advised him to leave her alone, and let her vent her fury. He agreed and found that the strategy worked, because it was a woman. Perhaps the same woman was renowned for her hunting and later she insisted with him that she did kill, kill, roast (imitating their Portuguese, limited to a few words). Aside from his remarks about female hunters, Fonseca attested to a sufficient food production. Even though their field was small in comparison to his standards, it contained many yams (called batata in Portuguese, a generic term referring to potatoes and in general to similar tubers) and a specific variety of soft maize, good maize. Complementing this life style, the village was full of birds, parakeets, [and]macaws”. In other words, his testimony of savanna life indirectly confirms its resilience and apparent viability, at least around the time of contact.

He was also proud of constructing the road from the Aikaná to the Latundê village and of establishing a mule train to make the monthly delivery of the goods bought and to collect the rubber produce, saving the Indians the trouble of carrying everything on their backs. Indeed, a number of feats were worded in the typical Brazilian construct of what I have done and accomplished (a phrase especially prominent in politics when someone claims credit for a collective or state enterprise[xxxviii]). In his opinion, his merits are obvious, as he oriented the Indians in their productive activities and kept the records of all transactions with rubber and the commodities bought with them. Again the mode employed to depict the years with the Aikaná is couched in the amity idiom that subsumes the paternalistic attitude of teaching what is good for them. He employs the same style to assert he was helping them to grow (economically) and points to the signs of mutual assistance and care (receiving meat and manioc and treating the ill). He even includes joking relationships. Such amity does not exclude command. At one point he mentions that he called the Indians together and I appointed the captain, who was the son of the former captain, and as there was another group, indicated another man, expecting to be respected by both leaders. If this is how this happened, then he appointed the leaders through which he relayed orders for the organization of rubber production and commerce[xxxix]. With his management, the Aikaná apparently did conform to reasonably productive standards that permitted a surplus large enough to buy a light generator for the village, as noted by Fonseca. It is noteworthy, in this respect, that he ascribes the incorporation of the Latundê into this system to the insistence of the Aikaná, who accused them of stealing. This stealing is still mentioned by the Aikaná today, especially by those who used to live in the forest closer to the Latundê village. Even in the present, the accusation recurs with respect to certain individuals during their visits to the Aikaná village. For a while this caused such visits to be stopped. Here occurs the same problem of the formerly free flow of goods, at times abundant and apparently easily replenished, a contradiction to teachings about the notions of property and scarcity, and of the concept that goods are to be exchanged for products in accordance with supply and demand. The latter scheme functions quite differently from former notions of reciprocity and is not universal, as Fonseca knew very well when expressing the idea that he was going to teach them to work. What he did, however, was not so much teach the wild Indians, as set up a system of rubber exploitation with the more experienced Aikaná neighbors.

Conflicts of competence and conflicts of the truth
The interruption of Fonseca’s activities with respect to the Savanna Indians partly sprang from Tolksdorf’s withdrawal of support. Fonseca believed that in consideration of the degree to which advancement depends on one’s personal connections and how much FUNAI is riddled with factional strife, the motive of his being dismissed from his pacification can only be personal; he missed his reward because of a persecution essentially representing Santos’ jealousy or discrimination for something similarly unconnected to objective operational reasons (enumerated by Price). On the contrary, his version of an inquiry to determine if he was misappropriating funds only served to confirm to him his efficacy in rubber collecting and commerce. Once the rubber collecting system had been set up and Fonseca was working among the Aikaná, some wealth accumulated and rumors about unfair distribution began. According to him, the rumor that he was getting rich at the cost of the Indians motivated the FUNAI commission to investigate his financial operations. The complete records of all transactions and the transparency of both the records and the registration of all labor and produce earned him an easy acquittal. Moreover, the commission expressed their praise for the total system put in place, even remarking that this was the best organized Indian village they knew and that the model should be copied in other areas: beautiful (in the Brazilian colloquial). In effect, given the circumstances of the time, it is quite possible some member praised his efforts. Purporting to live off his own salary, supplemented with meat and manioc furnished by the Indians, he said to have led an easy enough life and did not in any way embezzle funds. This was a period when FUNAI pushed community development projects. Such projects were designed to put Indian labor and resources under the auspices of national economic logic so as to make the Indians produce a surplus to pay for their needs and, preferably, for the costs of their protection too. In this sense, the efficient system of exploiting rubber and the market integration really proved to be a windfall for FUNAI. The changes in Indian society and the aspects of domination and coercion implicit were either not seen, or considered the unavoidable concomitant of progress and integration. The same goes for the Latundê, where the engagement of Mané Torto and others into the system resolved the particular problem of the demand imposed and created by contact. Customarily the FUNAI more readily paid for attraction then for the resultant situation created by the permanent relation.

The introduction of Mané among the Latundê is a disputed issue and there are several versions. The former Aikaná tuxaua asserts without a shred of doubt that his former collaborator Fonseca took Mané with him on his second visit to the savanna to translate. Then, arguing that Mané did not have a wife, Fonseca later left him with the group. He married Teresa and stayed there. And so they were domesticated. The presence of a man accustomed to the regional society, trained to work (in the gardens, he learned rubber gathering skills later), speaking a variant of the language and a smattering of regional Portuguese certainly makes sense as a mediator in a civilizing project. As he is Tawandê or Tawaindê (both names appear in early writings on the Northern Nambikwara), the Aikaná narrator actually thought that the name of the group should have been Tawandê, but they put Latundê. He claimed the FUNAI employee that registered the name did not know how to say it correctly; she pronounced the name Tawandê as Latundê[xl]! Whatever the case, the mystery of his arrival persists, because Fonseca himself insists Mané’s arrival had nothing to do with him. “Mané used to work with Crusoë in Marco Rondon. But the thing is that this guy, the one I am calling, oh [Santos], got it in his head that he should go there that there I don’t know what. He fetched him and took him there. He, being still very young [and should be interested in the] (…) girls, they arrange one for you, you stay here, in no time you are the chief, they all died (…) It was he who took Mané Torto. Crusoë produced manioc employing Indian labor and in his memory Mané lived with them, a mistaken belief[xli]. Fonseca began to hear of Mané’s presence from a rumor about an Indian with no shame, one who would teach the others to drink cachaça (sugarcane alcohol). As it no longer really was his concern, he did not attempt to intervene. Fonseca later concluded his deal with Mané and drew him into his productive orbit, as was probably the intention of the overseer, the White boss, who led the Aikaná to make first contact. On the other hand, the agent, Marcelo Santos (then stationed at the Mamaindê Post), denies all of this. On the contrary, he avouches that, unknown to him, someone took the Indian to the Latundê during his absence from the region while on vacation[xlii].

To the main interested parties, Mané, his wife Terezinha and their family, the answer is quite clear. After the pacification and the visit of Price with his former assistants from the Nambiquara Project, the latter pursued the intentions mentioned by Price to take charge of the new group. The Latundê belong to the Nambikwara ensemble, and thus the claim that they should be included in the Nambiquara Project is valid because of the linguistic and sociocultural affinities. The marked difference with their immediate neighbors and the danger of their incipient domination by neighbors tied into a rubber exploitation system fully justified a differential treatment by Nambikwara experts. If it is true that the Project in some way influenced naming the Latundê, at least some of the people of the Project possessed the most intimate knowledge of the Nambikwara ensemble. The Project originally conjoined personal dedication and novel indigenist practice. In a way, this conception ended up clashing with the older constellation of ideas common among sertanista factions within the agency and the commonsensical definitions of progress and backwardness held close by higher echelons of bureaucracy and politics. The prevalence of endemic factional strife about the power distribution and the material and symbolic spoils at stake within the agency itself, engendered the permanent antagonism which shaped a difficult context for the innovation inherent in the Project’s practices and for its far less ethnocentric ideas of indigenist intervention. The result was Price’s dismissal as Project head. The ironies in his report about his successor, a clear representative of an affiliation to another more romantic and prejudiced generation, speak for themselves[xliii]. In another ironic twist, the Latundê invoke a part of the general pacification template, the taming of the wilderness, as the reason for the introduction of Mané Torto: his entire household concurred in attributing his mission as their own domestication – exactly as the auxiliary formulates his role – mentioning, for example, buying clothes and teaching them to wear them.

In effect, the agent who was proposed to deal with the post-contact situation did take charge for a while, although the dossier discussed above does not contain any material about these actions. For instance, he took the Indians to visit both Aroeira and their traditional enemies, the Mamaindê. No doubt he aimed to diminish the fear of the outside world and achieve some alliance with other similar groups (already after Mané’s arrival). Later on, pressed by the bureaucratic decision to change the formal responsibility for the group (as noted in the above report of his one-time boss Tolksdorf), he halted direct action with this group. From the Indians’ point of view, it was he who proposed that Mané marry into the group and they hold him in high esteem[xliv]. That is, it is a double contradiction that a member of indigenists faction with an alternative view of what should be Indian policy should have introduced this non-member outsider with some criticized credentials. That is, at the time, the death toll had not narrowed or eliminated marriage possibilities within the group. Accordingly, on the contrary, his entry was logical to Fonseca who had little reason to deny his role except for the antisocial behavior that rumor attributed to Mané. The same accusations lead Fonseca to accuse his supposed rival Marcelo Santos of mismanagement. On the whole the migration does not make sense within the kind of Indian policy Santos adheres to, except as a mistake or the unintended consequence of some other action. I may conjure up some ways to reconcile the conflicting versions but the truth remains difficult to envisage without some deception on some part[xlvi]. For the present purpose, on the other hand, it is enough that the conflicting versions demonstrate the strife within the agency and the way in which these affected the course of events of the treatment of a people who were thrown into a realm of interaction completely foreign to their usual appraisal and conceptions. One wonders how this ended up legitimated in the eyes of the Indian protagonists, essentially putting the latter on a route of sociocultural and linguistic change.

The reports discussed so far document the negligence of FUNAI’s responsibility and the way the higher ranks left room for the reservation functionary João Fonseca to realize his plan for economic integration of the Indians. Jointly with the Aikaná, as seen, who in this respect were heavily constrained by dependency and lack of alternatives because of dearth of FUNAI action, to some degree are not just impassive victims but partially implicated in the constitution of the paternalist regime implanted. The drawing of the Latundê into the rubber collecting system was at least partially due to pressures from the Aikaná neighbors fearing for their own meager means and objects; implicitly (or perhaps explicitly), they partake in the ideology of work and progress. The reports obviously simplify their plight and present their abandonment as the sole cause of their sorrows and the lack of official assistance as a sufficient cause for the adoption of a passive attitude. Given the commentaries in all the reports there is a surprise: the land on which the contemporary village of Gleba is situated is not very appropriate for horticulture or agriculture (the situation is somewhat better at the other settlement Rio do Ouro). Until today, no effort has been made to relocate the village or even to furnish greater access to the more fertile lands bordering the Pimenta River. At the risk of the anachronism of projecting the present into the past, this may have occurred because of the rubber regime that downplayed the importance of self-sufficient horticultural practices. Today most of the Indians participate little in horticultural production and consequently depend largely on buying their food in town. This is perhaps no surprise in light of the situation during the rubber period coupled with the prevailing FUNAI-managed infrastructure. Comparatively, the contemporary implementation of some community gardens largely depends on the initiative of the local FUNAI agent[xlvi]. In 1979 or 1980, when all these Indians engaged in rubber collecting it was necessary to produce provisions for the collectors and Fonseca arranged for Mané to come and live at Gleba (the main village).

According to the former Aikaná captain Luis, in 1979 Mané came to work the gardens at the Gleba owned by the other captain, Manoel, planting rice, beans, and manioc for flour. Two men and a woman worked with him before they died from measles. He was presented with clothes for himself and the women, [as well as] hammocks. After the deaths, Mané and the remaining Latundê went away and Mané never returned, even though the Aikaná continued visiting very occasionally. The epidemics also reached the others who had remained in the savanna. Mané learned to extract rubber and after 1980 he worked fully integrated in the system. Then the goods bought (rice, sugar, whatever you need, clothing, we will furnish) used to be taken to the Latundê in exchange for rubber gathered by workers. He went to work his own crops and continued collecting rubber. Until 1990 the Latundê participated in this trade, others like José, also entered this system until the prices fell and the whole system collapsed[xlvii]. After this, the other captain, Manoel, now also called cacique in an effort to be modern, left the area because his wife separated from him. The other former Aikaná captain, Luis, remained cacique for ten years, selling Mané’s rubber and taking the goods to his house. To both men’s minds, things like hammocks and shotguns were necessities. As an Indian patron, he did everything he could to help Mané and the Latundê: [I gave him] everything he wanted, really helping him. After his retirement from the post, he asserted that the new village leaders never aided Mané or his people. The latter being largely true, his own former help consisted mostly of taking care of the delivery of the goods at or near the Latundê village, i.e. ensuring that nothing was stolen when these were first delivered at the house of other Indians living near the Latundê and who were more easily reached through the existing road. Thus, this delivery was liable to theft before the Latundê received the goods. Notable are his repeated paternalist idiom of helping in selling his rubber for Mané and delivering his commodities – and the general supportive attitude as if the system put in place is a neutral exchange, even some sort of favor rather than a relation of exploitation. The same evaluation applies to the period in which Mané and others worked for his colleague Manoel, as well as for the time when Luis was directly involved as the intermediary situated one place up in a chain of commerce. This formed a relay system that reflected more than just the economic dimension but shaped the sociopolitical matrix of dominance. Although it is left unsaid, his standard of evaluation probably accepts this relation as just.

It was not just the deaths that caused Mané Torto to return to the interior. At least today, in his judgment the exchange did not satisfy his criteria for a fair trade and he still holds a grudge against Luis. Previous observations make it very likely that the Latundê were treated as savages, or at best, as primitives, and were consequently not entitled to the same treatment as the Aikaná Indians. Certainly it is unwarranted to claim Mané and his group had everything they wanted, all signs indicate the probability that Latundê were being exploited more than the others. On the one hand, the sharing of this point of view between Fonseca and one of his ex-bosses, who actually were being patronized, shows what FUNAI could and should have avoided. In particular, the establishment of a strong connection between the Latundê and the Tubarão part of the Indigenous Territory and the conduit of the Indian Post in this system should have been examined with care and rejected. There was never any FUNAI action to remove the Latundê from the influence of the Aikaná. In reality, the Latundê’s retreat to their own lands only occurred because of the deaths of the mother and a brother of Terezinha at Gleba (and one other unidentified man, possibly José’s father). Fonseca buried them in the graveyard he made. According to the Aikaná, their people also suffered deaths in this period. According to Fonseca, the ex-manager, his actions and those of his wife (a nurse) succeeded in limiting the number of deaths[xlviii]. In the savanna, Terezinha’s father had held out to the force of attraction and the attempts to turn his people into a cheap workforce at the service of the Aikaná rubber collecting system. The leader persisted in living traditionally and kept his two small boys, the youngest members of the group, with him. Nevertheless, the epidemics reached the interior, possibly transmitted by frightened Indians fleeing to the woods because of this very illness. He died at the savanna, and, just as the documents discussed above confirm, all these deaths virtually deprived the group of the majority of the older generation and thus of its sociocultural memory and lifestyle. Terezinha commented that he was not old, indeed, her last sibling was born during the time of the initial contact. Worse still, the death of the leader left the group without the only person with shamanic capabilities and hence without a curer[xlix]. She also emphasized that her mother engaged in rubber collecting and thus was a productive and capable person; she even learned to speak some Aikaná. For obvious reasons, these traumatic events impressed her so much that even today she hesitates to talk about them and, on one occasion when we attempted to elucidate some events, her grief rendered her unable to speak. Examining this period entails traumatic and painful memories of suffering and loss. According to some others on the Indigenous Territory, after the outbreak, the Latundê collectively decided not have any more children and to terminate their ethnic existence (Van der Voort 1996: 380).

Thus, the absence of vaccination and the attempt to socialize the Latundê in the ideology of work caused the partitioning of the group and exposed them to devastating viruses. At first sight, this could be thought of as unintentional genocide or genocide by negligence. Yet, this blame rests with the state, whose obligation to know the deleterious effects in advance transforms disregard into genocide (Palmer 1998: 89-90); the definition of genocide implies intent and centuries of experience characterizes negligence as intent and the UN convention mentions as one of its reasons to qualify for genocide: “(…) 2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group” (Hinton 2002: 2-3; and that such harm could lead to death should aggravate the charge). Take the following example. A similar situation occurred in Paraguay in April 1978 when contact was established with a Northern Ache group of 22 people of whom only two children, already ill before contact, died as a result. This low number is because of the immediate permanent medical assistance. In 1979 in another group of 37 people only one child died (in both cases the death rate is measured for the first five years after contact and hence represents precisely the most difficult period for the Latundê; Hurtado et. al. 2001)[l]. Of course, the accusation does not hold for all of the individuals involved, some of whom were not in a position to judge the risks and effects of their policy and did not intend to cause harm to the Latundê. Those who should have known for some reason either withdrew or hardly paid attention. The bureaucratic confusion of responsibilities after contact probably generated an administrative gray zone where particular people in command did not feel responsible, or felt that they could not be held accountable for non-action. Their conduct contributed to the general malaise[li]. For Fonseca inspired as he was by the charitable aim to put the Indians to useful work, the condescending attitude towards this group came naturally. For instance, Indians without Brazilian names themselves chose Christian names freely. When Fonseca later spoke of the naming, he added that if nobody did so, he could have assigned them new names. Reminiscing about the time of his visits, he affirmed that when he would like to eat bacaba [a palm fruit] and they would fetch it in the savanna; I could go there today, [and] take Cinzeiro to dig and see what is there. The implication about authority and respect already mentioned is present in these examples; to him they illustrate the naturalization of command with which he condescendingly gives orders.

The commentaries about the nature of the relationship with the Latundê occur in unusual contexts, as when Fonseca confirmed the story of the helicopter discovery of the Latundê. Some time later, the pilot of the aircraft turned up at his home. The pilot wanted to examine the possibility of some kind of mineral present in Latundê territory and offered to engage Fonseca as his guide into the area (FUNAI’s presence inhibited his attempt to go in alone). The pilot confirmed one of the versions of the discovery of the Latundê Indians, the one that attributes the first sighting to people likely involved with the RADAM Project, a federal research project that intended to take stock of the inventory of resources in Amazonia (land, soils, minerals, etc.) using radar and satellite pictures to support research on the ground. During a reconnaissance flight, a team supposedly detected some resource but did not verify this on the ground as the Indians shot arrows at them[lii]. Much later, the pilot tried to penetrate the area on foot, but after he failed to locate it, he resolved to employ an experienced guide. After all, he was formally prohibited from entering the former heartland of the Latundê. Meeting Fonseca at his house, the pilot explained the case and offered money. Fonseca accepted with the assurance that I can take you there, through Gleba, [because] I am authorized to pass through everywhere. So, despite leaving FUNAI, at that time of the visit and actually until today, his sentiment of being “authorized” (and in that sense being an authority himself) is strong enough to make him feel free to enter the area. He acted as if no restriction applied to him and as if to look for some mineral deposit is a normal, legal activity. Note that the pilot’s belief refers indirectly to the older regional story that some sort of gold vein is waiting to be discovered in the area (see Dequech’s writings on his search for the legendary mines of Urucumacuan[liii]). Only a few years ago unknown men penetrated the Latundê region and were seen from a Latundê house. At that moment only the women were present but the strangers went away after Batatá threw things and made a commotion at the forest’s edge (Telles witnessed this). The pilot never returned and news reached Fonseca informing him of the pilot’s accidental death. Once again, the opportunity to earn a fortune vanished with the death of a superior high-class person.

On politics and economics
After the deaths and the integration into the rubber collecting system, the Latundê, now headed by Mané Torto, moved to the forest, closer to the rubber trees and the adequate plots to grow food. Despite moving from the savanna, they were, a Fonseca observed, still on their land. After the collapse of the rubber market and the group’s leaving of their manager, the Indians of both groups searched for alternative income sources and fell easily into the trappings of the demand of regional and national society. The small town of Chupinguaia grew in the eighties and nineties due to the forest resources and in a significant part of that growth was sawmills. The opening up of fazendas, which made necessary the felling of forests for pastures, supplied these mills with timber. After the fazendas were developed, the pace of this so-called development slackened and the lack of new clearings later made the sawmills look out for alternate sources[liv]. The Indian forest resources naturally caught their eye, as in light of the rubber crash and the few assets at the Aikaná village, there was little opportunity to earn money. The Indian reserve was an easy target. According to Fonseca, the Indians did not know how to manage the land and resources and simply sold the timber. In reality, it is more complicated to assess how the newly renamed roles of cacique and leader performed the mediating role with outsiders[lv]. The persistent problem persists that even though the Indians chose their own leadership who represent the community, the profit redistribution almost always caused dissatisfaction and accusations of preferential treatment or excessive personal gain. Allegations of bribes paid to FUNAI agents in this process are also very common in the entire region. In part, by the way, these rumors are further augmented because they issue from the intra-agency strife where such charges form a key part of internal politics in order to disqualify opponents[lvi].

Thus, after the rubber market dried up in the early nineties, some important economic and ecological changes occurred. Looking for alternative sources of income to pay for industrial goods, the timber in the Indigenous Territory often served as the substitute for rubber[lvii]. The traces of these logging operations are easily noticed when going through the reserve to the Latundê village and particularly in its vicinity. One especially notes the existence of some now abandoned roads, and even some felled trees. These trees could not be removed because a few days prior, there was one of the rare official actions against illegal logging. As a result, in parts of the total area these operations impoverished the forest and diminished the availability of game. Although this wasteful and ecologically harmful practice disturbs the forest, the immediate Latundê area did not suffer major environmental changes. Though it is difficult to assess the real destruction inflicted in this study, the environmental damages in terms of forest and game seem relatively contained. Latundê damages, however, are evident in other aspects of exchange with the loggers. They earned (ganharam is the original Portuguese verb) food like rice or biscuits given by the loggers who also cut wooden planks for their houses and provided them with industrialized plates for roofs. Thus, they provided them with the kinds of building materials commonly used in the region for the construction of the simple, basic houses of the poor. The Latundê, as far as could be established, considered this to have been a fair trade and Mané still waits for their return to collect the cut trunks in the forest in expectation of some such rewards.

This type of house is present in the majority of the Nambikwara villages, signaling earlier trading with loggers and the distribution of spoils. With the notable exception of Aroeira, almost all villages in the Guaporé valley engaged in this trade at some time. As expected, the Indians usually profit very little from this in comparison to the lumber mills. The mahogany trade was officially prohibited somewhere in the middle of the nineties but at a time when most reserves already had been exhausted, including the ones in Indigenous Territories. One mill owner in the Guaporé Valley was asked by a missionary why he paid so little to the Indians, the original owners. He responded that he could only pay them from the money left over after he paid off federal officials (notably those from IBAMA, the agency most concerned with forestry and preservation, local FUNAI agents, and even the Federal Police). Of course, such admission is rare and made off the record. The speaker made clear that he would deny everything if ever questioned officially. But in truth, it is common knowledge in the whole region and in Amazonia that the timber trade is fraught with corruption and Indigenous Territories within the Guaporé Valley are said to be exhausted in the highest valued timber, particularly mahogany[lviii]. The Latundê do not posses the slightest notion about the workings of the capitalist economy in general and the export values of wood in particular. Even Mané, raised in a post-contact situation of labor exploitation and engaged in wage labor as a young man, does not have the necessary skills to deal satisfactorily with money or to correctly evaluate the values of extracted forestry products. The group only began using money a few years ago. Today some of the adults are starting to learn to count money, and to distinguish between different denominations of paper currency. Many are starting to appreciate the monetary value of goods and services. Contrary to the presumption of complete and equal access to market information of the economist’s model of the capitalist system, the reality of ignorance more easily allows for continued realization of profit for the local entrepreneur and the de facto transfer of value of exported products like mahogany to the so-called developed countries. There, such products are significantly marked-up thereby grossly minimizing return to the original providers insuring a vested interest by these different actors in keeping the Indians in ignorance[lix].

The Latundê’s circumstances are complicated because of the peculiar political arrangements in which their land is considered one shared area. Instead of a clear ‘one people in one area’ concept, the bureaucracy created a single area named after both groups, as if this was a totally reasonable solution. The single unit approach applied to the one Indigenous Post, located near the main eastern entrances of the Territory and at the Aikaná village, while the Latundê occupy a village reputed to be roughly thirty kilometers away. Currently the road that runs from the east to the west has fallen into disuse, although there is an Aikaná-Kwazá Indian who owns horses and mules and is repairing the major part of the road so that he can use his mule-drawn buggy[lx]. He lives and exploits lands to the south of this road, using the thicker forest soils towards the Pimenta River. Also, he is one of the very few Indians who own cattle. The animals graze on the pastures of the abandoned fazenda near the Latundê, which technically must fall within the boundaries of the Latundê area. His house is likely the best made amongst the other Indian houses at the Latundê and Gleba villages. Such patterns of land use seem to indicate the lack of firm notion regarding the boundary separating the Aikaná and Latundê. Although there is a definite conception that the land around the Latundê site is theirs, this is not the true size. The actual locally recognized territory is smaller, particularly the southern part which does not seem to have been especially occupied by the Latundê. This territory is called Barroso and when the Indians obeyed the necessity of implementing the general political indigenist template of choosing a cacique and selecting representatives, they instated only one representative. Accordingly, the representational system condensed the Barroso area into the single unit construed in accordance with models that echoed FUNAI’s bureaucratic vision of simplistic convenience.

The net effect of this mold of representation has been to the detriment of the Latundê and their visibility from FUNAI’s point of view as well as the actual happenings within the Territory. Owing to the Post location and the obvious practical difficulty of reaching the Latundê, the group receives at best minimal attention from FUNAI agents. Some regular routine assistance was furnished and occasionally some commodities reached the Indians. For example, the agent then delegated to the Post visited the Latundê roughly twice in 1999 but, impressed by the large clearings for horticulture in comparison to the lack of similar activities among the Aikaná, resolved to support these efforts and distribute an ample measure of tools. Such favorable comparison is rare and partial to this particular point, because largely the agents and the Aikaná mutually recognize the primitiveness of the Latundê. To aggravate further this unfair comparison, the Aikaná also have a demographic superiority that helps them maintain disproportionate political control over the territory underrating the representativeness of the small Latundê. Thus, until October 2000 the Latundê did not have their own representative in the general council. Adopting the geographic criterion of constituting a representative for the whole of Barroso, mixing the Latundê with other Aikaná households (one or two), the mentioned Aikaná-Kwazá (married to an Aikaná), one pure Kwazá, and one headed by a couple of Northern Nambikwara and of Aikaná-Kwazá origins, the representation until this date had been solely by one of the other area inhabitants. In effect, the representative all but left his house and gardens to live in town. Here this man kept a broken down Toyota jeep as if it was his own. Actually, this jeep was the result of the timber trade and the return for wood taken out of the Barroso territory. The Latundê complain the vehicle very rarely has had any use for them and do not think of it as theirs. The owner was bankrupt after the trade came to a halt, and the car remained in town awaiting repairs, leaving the others deprived of a means of transportation. The Latundê hardly benefited from this spoil of their own area and although Mané thought about investing in the necessary repair, the owner hardly seemed disposed to accept sharing the car.

The proposal of the Nambiquara Project to open and maintain a separate entry road connecting the Latundê directly to the BR 364 highway or in the direction of Vilhena never materialized. The whole of the FUNAI operation after initial contact utilized the Aikaná entry and always oriented the Latundê towards the Tubarão villages (especially after the relocation of the Post at Gleba). The presence of FUNAI thus privileged drawing the recently contacted Indians into a pattern where they occupy the last and most distant tier of the relay chain of bureaucracy and state control. This model of subsuming the Latundê people in a geographical unit is very unfair to the Latundê as they have hardly any autonomy to represent themselves. While I and Stella Telles stayed in the Latundê village, the local Aikaná-Kwazá man spearheaded a political change. The Latundê felt that they were not being adequately represented and wanted to oust a representative who mainly lived in town and put his own interests first. We discussed the subject with the oldest son of Terezinha and Mané who is groomed to be the group’s future leader and representative[lxi]. Of course, we emphasized the necessity for the Latundê to select their own leader, as they were a quite distinct ethnic unit. In the subsequent community meeting the young man did speak up to talk about his fathers’ position and in fact was elected to be the representative of Barroso. However, though this signifies a small step in strengthening the socially shy Latundê, the political situation is still dominated by the Aikaná. This is primarily because of the election in itself. The choice of the Latundê is not independently made but later sanctioned by the Latundê and Aikaná together who could have chosen a different person. Previous comments by the ex-captain of the Aikaná, Luis, now an affine to the Latundê are revealing: We put Luis as a leader [of Barroso] at the meeting. He knows a little writing, and he added next year I am going to put him in school[lxii]. From the perspective of Gleba, the recognition of the Latundê plea did not endanger political hegemony and structurally the relations between the Latundê within the territory remain essentially the same.

The period after the Latundê deaths at Gleba motivated Mané to enter into isolation with few intermittent contacts with the people of Gleba. The relations with the neighbors in the Barroso area were always somewhat strained and alternated between cordial alliances and avoidance. For example, some neighboring people asked for seedlings at various times in recent years but only one returned the gift with a counterprestation. Due to such happenings, Mané’s opinion of his neighbors fluctuates, but in general he adopts a suspicious attitude likely similar to the pre-contact Latundê opinion (and with grievances we do not know about). Post-contact reality is unlikely to have improved relations between the two groups. Note that for the Nambikwara, death is rarely caused by natural reasons and is often attributed to supernatural interference by others. Only in recent years with the coming of age of the post-contact generation, the Latundê are seeking closer contact with Gleba and are making a few trips to nearby towns (mostly for medical services). Mané, the group’s leader, had not left his area for several years because he suspects the neighbors, especially at Gleba, of unfair treatments. This tension accumulated in his one-time suspicion of a plot to assassinate him. The younger generation, not having passed through the traumas of their parents and grown up in a context of contact, are becoming less shy even when influenced by the fears of their elders. They are becoming better accepted by the Aikaná, as the indication of the young leader evinces. Acceptance mostly comes from a compliance with standards like the one expressed by Luis that the young man is liked because he is not lazy. Observations imply this activity to be helping others at certain activities and participating in the newly initiated community projects. The social shyness at least partly stems from the evident low regard in which group members are held by the majority. The Aikaná appear to have changed their minds about Latundê cannibalism but not about the basic backwardness of the Latundê. When asked whether they are still like before, Luis (then recently married to a Latundê) answered: they are still meio brabo, still somewhat wild and unruly, all of a sudden they may want to do anything; they cannot be trusted. Even without the cannibalism rumors, the Latundê still are considered unequal, prone to unpredictable conduct. The presumption of primitiveness, a kind of refracted premise by others who themselves are already placed in the position of the primitive, perseveres.

In this context the sociopolitical emergence of the Latundê can only be slow. They are thoroughly distrustful of the outside world and at considerable distance from the main site of the majority ethnic group and the employee at the FUNAI Post who marks them as primitive and volatile. Resultantly, they gradually conform to Aikaná social norms in dress and custom, as a sort of compensation for their ethnicity. This is obvious in differences in clothes worn in the Latundê village and the clean and proper clothing carefully chosen to wear when visiting the Aikaná village. Here they customarily wish to present themselves in their best clothing. The second oldest son, for example, did not feel up to visit the Aikaná village because he did not have a pair of jeans. In becoming aware of money and local standards, some Latundê (and particularly the oldest member of the post-contact generation) are gradually learning to find his way around at Gleba and acquiring familiarity with the nearby town and its inhabitants. The same younger brother is following suit. After succeeding in obtaining proper clothes he went to stay at Gleba to study at the local school, with very little success, until August 2001. When the young new representative of the Latundê (the oldest of the younger generation) attempted to create an independent household and also to wander about, he followed a pattern of young bachelorhood similar to other Indigenous peoples, like the Sararé. A year after our stay he remodeled his parents’ house in order to close one room and constructed a single independent entry that he locks when he is away at the Aikaná village. This happened after a short period where he and Terezinha’s youngest brother joined her other younger brother at a house at the fazenda. This change did not last, probably by virtue of the difficult personality of Terezinha’s brother and the lack of a sufficient cash income to provide food and industrial commodities[lxiii].

The notion of food highlights the political and economic dimensions of interethnic relations. By the presence of Mané, raised in the context of the Tawandê who were exploited by a local patron and therefore became accustomed to the regional Brazilian food staples rice and beans, these foods entered into the village. When the Brazilian foods were introduced, it seems to have received a certain preference to their fare. In contrast to the general Brazilian preference for balanced proportions of the two products, however, these Indians tend to prefer less beans and more rice[lxiv]. Interestingly, when the processed imported food is consumed, they say that the food is finished, as if the potential abundance provided by their gardens would be irrelevant. Of course, practicing shifting cultivation and field rotation within an ecologically ideal area (as evident by the tree height) and raising various crops, ranging from maize to fruits and manioc, the dearth of the food bought is more then compensated for when the women revert to consuming locally cultivated foods. Considering the group’s work ethic which was already further motivated with the equipment provided by the FUNAI agent, cultivated produce certainly exceeds the necessities of daily sustenance (so much so that resources can be used to raise domestic animals. Note that this probably entails an increase of horticultural activity since 1977). The continuation of the Nambikwara style horticulture supplies enough food. This is evident in the comparatively little clearing of the felled vegetation used for planting in opposition to the mainstream regional practice of cleaning the field by burning this mass as much as possible. Typical food includes manioc cakes dried and roasted over the fire for days before eating the flour as beiju, a kind of pancake, epitomizing a common Nambikwara practice. Interesting is a tendency to copy the Brazilian timetable when eating Brazilian food, and a dispersal of eating activities throughout the day when consuming traditional produce. The latter type of foods and the mode of preparation and consumption are sometimes clearly presented by themselves as being traditional, as Indian, in opposition to the outside food and their cooking methods.

As with the clothing apparently worn at home even when no stranger is around, cooking rice and beans are known to be imported habits from the outside incorporated into the customs and tastes of the small group. These habits prevail among the outside ethnic groups, both Aikaná and regional Brazilians, and were adopted mainly through Mané’s influence and under the pressure of the conscience of discrimination on both scores from the adverse ethnic outside. One may conclude that there is a relative effectiveness of these acculturating constraints to conform to certain key sociocultural practices. The Latundê’s increasing visits (with exception to Mané and Cinzeiro) signify a type of glebalization (excuse the pun). On a miniature scale, the Latundê are drawn into the orbit of other Indian groups and the regional local society within the framework of Brazilian society. It is also clear that the relative isolation that prevailed since the return to the Latundê Territory preserved them from the brunt of outside coercion and from being forced into incorporating external sociocultural practices. As such, the question of food evokes this precarious balance between their own economic and sociocultural autonomy and the felt necessity and desire to import certain commodities from the exterior[lxv]. Industrialized foods constitute a prominent part of a shopping list that every month goes to the FUNAI agent. This small but steady flow of commodities ensures a permanent but limited channel to provide for some of the prized material objects, presently, for all practical purposes, considered necessities, to a certain degree. Apart from fabrication of the occasional artifacts like necklaces, the participation as a workforce (rare and only by the few younger male adults), or the sale of something gathered from the forest, this shopping represents the most constant relation with the encompassing economic system. The surplus production of the contemporary gardens, inspired by the FUNAI agent who believed that this might afford them an alternative source of monetary income is actually very likely valueless as it seems impossible to bring the goods to market without adequate transportation[lxvi].

With the decline of the rubber trade and the group’s subsequent withdrawal from the market (Mané being the first), it would have been difficult for the Latundê to earn an income and a saleable produce had it not been for an arguably fortunate coincidence. Without any product to offer in an extraneous market – with the incomprehensible sociocultural construction of a totalizing exotic economic system – no easy avenue of access to commodities exist. After much delay, in the mid seventies the Brazilian government implemented a law that grants a small pension to rural laborers above a certain age. Some time later FUNAI started to pension off the oldest Indians in the entire Nambikwara region. Price wrote about the possible political repercussions of the pensions among the Southern Nambikwara as it may affect the traditional way of constituting the authority of a leader (1977). In the case of the Latundê, on the contrary, the regular influx of goods of the compra (purchase) that has been established by the pensioning of Mané, Cinzeiro and Batatá actually benefits the whole family. Mané’s purchases are shared with his household; Cinzeiro’s benefits the family of José and his wife. Batatá’s goods used to go to her house and were pooled with the neighbors, but now that she stays at the Aikaná village, resources may be shared with her granddaughter and her Aikaná husband[lxvii]. The FUNAI profits very much from this arrangement because it alleviates the demands upon this agency and it is certainly no coincidence that it organized the necessary identity cards and subsequent registration. It is this source that enables the FUNAI agent to buy the monthly provisions mentioned above. The pensions guarantee a small but steady trickle of goods that contributes to minimalizing the necessity to find permanent solutions to the acute problem of economic articulation within the wider economic system (compare Kearney (1996) for articulation theory and peasantries) . This is epitomized by the major problem of navigating between autonomy and dependent subordinate integration, of the ‘balance of payments’ between the local, usually low valued produce and the costly (by local standards) import of commodities[lxviii].

The shopping list of sought-after goods, as dictated to Telles and me in Mané’s house, resembles more the enumeration of perceived necessities and consumption desires than a valid notion of purchasing ability. With little concept of the monetary value of the pension and the price of the commodities, the list of items requested inevitably exceeds the meager funds available. On the other hand, as the pension is always expressed in the same monthly delivery, it provides a tangible measure of the deterioration of real buying power readily assessed and certified by the Indians in recent years. The fact is, it is impossible for one such pension to furnish a household as large as Mané’s and Terezinha’s with food that lasts the whole month along with other necessities like sandals, clothes, shotgun ammunition and shotguns for hunting. There was also the issue of paying off installments for expensive repairs for the gun. The perceived needs, therefore, exceed the value of the pension and enlarge the temptation to sell timber and palm hearts[lxix]. The new scarce means entering into the reservation by way of the official appointments of the positions of local Indian health agent or the newly introduced bilingual educational agent is coveted for being low salary but steady income. As the Latundê are politically subordinated within the reserve all these jobs go to other Indians; in the case of the Barroso the post health agent is occupied by a young Aikaná living at Gleba. He rarely visits the area[lxx]. The current building of a school in the Barroso Area expresses the same reality; the building is farthest from the Latundê village, much farther than from the other houses. Also, the already nominated schoolmaster is the brother of the informal Aikaná/Kwazá leader of the whole area who designated another brother as general cacique. To be fair, as the Latundê are only relatively dependent on this extraneous flux of commodities, they do not seem to feel the need as acutely as the Aikaná who, from an overall perspective, do not appear to have a sufficient harvest and depend much more upon the buying of even basic foodstuffs for their survival. In conclusion, the economic articulation remains quite precarious but does not yet seem to be a decisive factor of destabilization of the group’s material reproduction.

Language, society and reproduction
Bearing in mind observations made so far it is clear that the future of this group and the survival of its unique culture and language is dependant on a variety of external and internal factors. Of obvious primary importance is maintaining a sustainable population. This is largely influenced by individual capacities, proclivities and trajectories, the sociocultural dynamics of the group within the encompassing framework of their territory and interethnic relations. The Latundê are keen and curious observers of sociocultural differences and are aware of the respective particularities of the other groups. For instance, in the case of the food mentioned above, they are aware of the specificity of their former varieties of domesticated plants and their own way of food preparation; particularly the method of roasting meat, either in or under the ashes of the fireplace, or on a rack above it (for both meat and manioc). This is perceived as representative of their practice and is the kind of food occasionally rejected by strangers. The food and its modes of preparation materialize the dissimilarity of the opposing cultures and societies. Among these distinctive features perceived by the Aikaná, Latundê, and the Brazilians are their respective languages. The deculturation brought to bear on the Aikaná has not hindered their use of the native language, even among children. Many of the oldest group members speak very little Portuguese. All of the younger generations apparently grew up with Aikaná as their first language while the learning of Portuguese is, in the contemporary younger generations, simultaneous, resulting in bilingual speakers (apparently perfect speakers). Even when the pressures and historical contingencies of the Aikaná made them suffer and, in general, their culture lost some important features (like shamanism and certain rituals), they showed a strong adherence to their language. Normally everyone speaks and small children continue to learn the language. Nowadays, contrary to the deculturation pressures from the past that used to consider the Indian languages as inferior and useless in the modern world, such languages officially receive an encouragement from government institutions like FUNAI and the Ministry of Education. Thus, beginning in the nineties, the new appreciation of Indian languages is a positive feature for the Aikaná and actually aids them in being Indian as the lack of original culture militates against their supposed purity and generates specific prejudices against them among Brazilians and the FUNAI agents stationed at the Gleba[lxxi].

The Latundê do not easily suffer from a deficit of symbolic indianidade (Indianness), the general conception of their backwardness grants them the undisputed right to be Indian. Their relative autonomy and isolation shielded them from the major deculturating forces and sustained exposure to prejudice and discrimination notwithstanding the other Indians and temporary invaders. This might have helped preserve the linguistic and cultural patrimony. However, the arrival and integration of the outsider Mané changed the biological, sociocultural and linguistic reproduction among the small group of Latundê. After the extremely unfortunate and traumatic disappearance of the leading part of the older generation, Mané Torto became the group leader. First, he married all of the three sisters but the presence of José without a wife obliged him to cede one of them to this Latundê. José suddenly had been made into the oldest normal man present (Cinzeiro is older but thought mentally deficient). Being a young man at the time of the upheavals of contact, he did not possess the knowledge of Portuguese and of the outside that enabled Mané to deal with the socioeconomic agencies meddling with a people in search of the gestation of a new lived world (Gow 2001: 29). For some time, Cinzeiro was married to José’s deaf-mute sister, until an Indian from Central Brazil came along and, when working on a nearby ranch, took her away to live in Vilhena as his wife. This reduced the group to one Latundê couple, one mixed polygamous household with the addition of two young brothers and the two older survivors of the formerly leading generation. In this respect, Mané seems to have been transformed into the focal point of the social and biological reproduction and social renewal of the village and the birth of his oldest son with Terezinha marked the return of natural fertility and a renewed capacity for survival. The sister who left with José also is said to show signs of incomplete personhood, for example even her Latundê language phonology is criticized by other Latundê. Thus, it may be said that the major vital capacity for economic and sociocultural reproduction rested in the hands of Mané and his household.

During the years after the debacle of staying at Gleba, the population slowly increased and almost doubled. Terezinha (as seen the oldest sister of the surviving siblings and Mané’s first wife) had children roughly every two or three years. She had many children, at present there are two young adult sons, one pre-adolescent daughter and three younger sons one of whom is about three years old. This household also raised the two younger brothers of her own sibling set. Terezinha’s younger brother is only slightly older than their two nephews; hence the youngest uncle seems almost thought of as an older sibling. Mané’s younger wife and Terezinha’s younger sister, only a child at contact, has a very different reproductive pattern then her older sister. Her daughter, her only living child, had just entered adolescence. She had another child but he died young, the cause of death is in dispute between the mother and her former co-wife and household members. In fact, the mother is accused by her elder sister of purposeful negligence, an accusation that reveals the tensions between the former co-wives. Having brought up the younger sister after her parents death, the older sibling considers herself as the first and rightful wife. On the other hand, the usual Nambikwara pattern shows a preference in certain kinds of domestic and sexual activity of the husband towards the younger wife and thus, usually, the woman less affected by age and childcare responsibilities. This pattern was not evident in this household. The older wife jealously attempted to maintain dominance. For instance, she normally shared the bed with her husband in their house while habitually a husband favors the younger wife for sexual relations and a certain companionship (Lévi-Strauss 1984). This permanent tension may have been a factor in the much lower birth rate of this ex-wife. It also accounts for her recent fleeing to the Gleba and subsequent marriage to the Aikaná Indian Luis. Her former husband was displeased and imposed the condition that their daughter would remain living in his household.

Though this crisis ended up in the gradual return of more amiable relations, the older sister also saw her own plans for a possible separation preempted by her younger rival and some tension remains. Furthermore, the newly allied brother-in-law although apparently quite satisfied with the marriage, still holds his affines in an offhand manner as not totally reliable and somewhat backward. Some friction arises, mostly implicitly, when Terezinha and her children spend a few days at the Aikaná village. Their other sister, on the other hand, hardly seems to play any prominent role, for the reason mentioned above. Worse than just mere mispronunciation of Latundê, she suffers from a culturally attributed inability to act as a normal adult. In fact, contrary to her older sister, when it was her time to participate in the female seclusion ritual after her first menstruation, the turmoil caused by contact prevented her participation. This used to be one of the major Northern Nambikwara rituals. The seclusion of the young woman is thought to be necessary in the formation and shaping of the adult body, particularly by means of a special diet. The new adult tends, at least among other peoples, to marry immediately after the final ceremony when she comes out of seclusion. This is congruent to a more general Amazonian indigenous belief that the body needs to be culturally constituted a conviction supported by the tenet that the food intake literally constructs the body. Accordingly, the Latundê seem to conceive her body as incompletely transformed into an normal adult. In the local interpretation, this explains not just her flawed social capacity but also the passing on of these attributes to her children. Most of them seem somehow affected genetically and display some sort of physical or behavioral disorder. The two oldest boys, one almost an adolescent, usually appear normal, but there are some anomalies that may indicate handicaps. Their younger brother of approximately four or five years old suffers from epilepsy, for which he has been irregularly treated, and clearly shows to be mentally retarded. The youngest boy is still an nurturing infant and it is unclear if he is affected in any way. The Latundê believe that these evident bodily defects arise from the mother’s deficiency and it is not irrelevant in their opinion that they consider one child to be sired by her own less capable brother, and one or two of the others to have been born out of liaisons with outsiders (one being a harvester of palm hearts). An imperfectly constituted body shelters, in principle, an imperfectly socialized human being[lxxii]. That, incidentally, may be the reason why they admit to the incest while not being very forthcoming to discuss some other tensions within the group.

The population growth must be evaluated as less promising than their numbers alone suggest. The complicating factor stems from the fact that there is no offspring fathered by Terezinha’s older brother owing to the dissolution of his marriage with José’s sister. All of the new generation came from the three sisters, making them either half-siblings or parallel cousins, which in the Latundê framework is equivalent to being siblings. Thus, all of the new post-contact generation belongs to one set of siblings or parallel cousins, all share consan-guinity[lxxiii]. This implies an incest prohibition inherent in the preferential marriage with a cross cousin I hypothesized above that they believed this conduct to must be obeyed by normally constituted human beings who, as one of the Latundê said, are not beasts. It ensues that the whole generation cannot reproduce within the group. Endogamy foreclosed, this raises the acute problem of finding exogamous marriage partners for all of them. Additionally, their two slightly older uncles are also without any marriageable partner. Their other uncle, José, is dissatisfied with his marriage, possibly for the reason of his wife’s problems. It is for obvious reasons that at least two men of the older generation expressed a strong interest in their niece, the sole young woman coming of age. They attempted to establish a relationship in contradiction to the wish of the parents and her other mother (her older aunt), all of whom intend to see her married to a younger man. Thus, of necessity, they prefer an outsider, and discourage an incestuous endogamous relation. If the Latundê resemble their very close kin of the Lakondê and general Nambikwara practice, they disapprove of avuncular marriage. Of course, necessity may cause them to break the law (some Nambikwara broke the rules in Price’s time but did feel quite uncomfortable about it and tended to hide the fact; the same holds for a Wasusu case reported by Fiorini (2000), personal communication). José is some kind of cross kin[lxxiv]. In other words, he does not stand a direct prohibited consanguineous relation, but is a potential affine and hence marriageable.

In reality then, the social field of the small group is strewn with potential and actual tensions between the constituent composing people, aggravated by the lack of possibility of endogamous reproduction and the imperative to search for alternatives outside the group. In part this procurement started at the Aikaná village, where there are a few eligible young women. However, the betrothal with some girl or woman from another people obviously creates a range of problems, including different life expectations, sociocultural background and language barriers. Mixed marriages are notorious for the implications on the language spoken by descendants. Depending on the context, the potential effects include an array of possibilities, ranging from adopting the use of a third language spoken by both partners up until the child learning both parental languages as a fully bilingual speaker. One family at the Gleba demonstrates instances of this continuum. The older couple (Aikaná-Kwazá) still experienced some of the life of the independent Indian peoples and villages before their subjugation to the rubber extracting regime. The Kwazá suffered more from the ravages caused by conquest and resultant the dispersal and population decline. They allied themselves with the Aikaná and this resulting marriage produced the sibling set of the current cacique and the informal leader, all of whom, by influence of their mother are bilingual (up to the point that the leader served as the primary informant of Van der Voort that recently studied this isolated language; Van der Voort 2000). All but one of these siblings married Aikaná women. The older children of the leader and informant also speak Kwazá because their grandparents used to live with them in the forest. Their grandmother taught them the language in daily life. When the living situation changed, the younger children lost the opportunity and hence the ability to speak this language. Research shows that children become true bilingual speakers if they learn the languages before they turn seven (Dalgalian 2000: 25). Slowly, therefore, the use of Kwazá is declining and is not passed on to all of the potential bilingual (or often potentially trilingual) speakers. Some of the brothers, stimulated by their patrilineal inheritance, want to adhere to the Aikaná ethnic identify, the dominant ethnic group in the area[lxxv]. Their father did not learn the language of his Aikaná-speaking wife.

As the example of this older couple shows, the Aikaná language prevails over any other existing language. This represents one of the unfortunate dangers of a further glebalization of the Latundê. The youngest sister’s presence in the Gleba weakens the group’s reproductive potential (it still would not solve the exogamy problem). In terms of her language, she is improving the Portuguese that she uses to communicate with her husband and is learning Aikaná too. At the same time, Batatá’s presence maintains her Latundê ability. The bilingualism of the Aikaná could be a stimulus for the Latundê to copy the same model and improve on their Portuguese without abandoning their own language. The permanence of Aikaná seems further assured by the teaching of the language to all infants and the newly introduced bilingual education. Notwithstanding the positive value that accrues to the native practice of language maintenance by virtue of the institutional support, locally maintenance may be complicated. The daughter of the same Aikaná-Kwazá couple mentioned above is a speaker of both languages. Her husband’s surname is Sabané, but his father actually was a prominent Lakondê. He is only a passive speaker of his ancestral language, and so tends to speak Portuguese[lxxvi]. As a result, his children (at least the oldest sons) favor Portuguese and are not well disposed to speaking Aikaná. The most dominant language in the regional context begins to make some inroads in the Territory and the teacher complained that, after the recent introduction of the Indian language at the school, their negative attitude towards the utility of Aikaná began to influence the other children. Subsequently, some of the grandchildren of the same Kwazá woman who took pains to maintain her language with her children and her grandchildren she lived with, now has a some grandchildren only interested in the major dominant language and averse to the diverse Indian languages spoken around them by own their family. A rapid and probably common pattern of language shift is evident. The last Lakondê generation to experience some semblance of Indian village life speaks at least one or two Indian languages and are even reputed to have had traditional knowledge and to be traditional minded, but one of the few people of the next generation became a passive bilingual when the Lakondê dispersed and lived and worked among Brazilians; finally, with his mixed marriage, it are his older children who are choosing the hegemonic regional and national language.

School language is predominantly Portuguese. The introduction of an officially sponsored language program, although a clear and much needed sign of progress and respect, still does not extend further than the appointment of a bilingual Indian educator and limited usage of the language as a teaching tool in class. It is treated as if it was a foreign language, and receives attention only a few hours a week. The limited use does not compare to the total immersion method, when the Indian language would actually be the dominant language, without the exclusion of Portuguese (its use should be gradually expanded)[lxxvii]. The school represents a powerful means of acculturation if the contemporary national reviews of school curriculum do not take certain specificities into account. As for the Latundê, just like the Indian health agent, their future school teacher is one of the younger brothers of the informal leader and who is also one of the main beneficiaries of the school construction in the Barroso area (because his children can stay at their home in the forest instead of having to live at the village and pay the additional costs such a change implies). In such a small school, an Aikaná teacher and bilingual education seem unlikely. Furthermore, that still leaves open the question of which language is to be encouraged. It remains to be seen whether in the future the Latundê children or young adults shall visit the school regularly and, even if so, whether their language will feature in the curriculum. They do demonstrate interest in the school and the older ones also show interest in further mastering their traditional language. This is apparent in the two young adults and their younger siblings when they attend the school in the Aikaná village during their irregular visits[lxxviii]. The newly appointed Latundê representative had an affair with one of daughters of his Aikaná affine who is much older than his wife, and who also happens to be one of the new teachers in the Territory (both called Luis). Apparently, he plans to marry the slightly older woman with a child and trade her position with the assigned teacher for the Barroso. Then they could live in Barroso, enjoy a regular salary and support the schooling of their children. Maybe he even contemplates studying himself in order to qualify to be the indigenous health agent. Such a situation would be an ingenious solution for a variety of the problems, but essentially depends on a precarious personal arrangement that in 2001 shows signs of turbulence. Tactically the situation is even more complicated; both moves require uncertain political maneuvers. The future hinges on many uncertainties.

The prospect of relevant schooling, bilingual education and their supportive assets for language maintenance leaves much to be desired. The necessary institutional patronizing may not be forthcoming for a group of approximately ten children and so an uncertain ethnic future awaits them. Luis Latundê believes that one belongs to the group of the language that one speaks. His belief entails that if he marries the Aikaná teacher he should teach any child his own language for him to be a Latundê and foster the persistence of his own people and language. This too does not appear to be an easy task although arguably should be easier if he lives closer to the Latundê village and ensures their children’s school attendance. If his perspective is shared by his kin in the village (a likely fact, but it could not be verified), than two other components of this complex situation come into play. First, there are the linguistic capabilities of his father. Mané Torto lost his parents through assassination when still an infant during a raid by other Northern Nambikwara Indians, perhaps the same people that raised him as their own. Like the accusations of the Latundê against the Mamaindê, these raids entailed a mechanism to steal women and children to demographically strengthen the group. This apparently occurred very frequently after the problems associated with contact, various epidemics, and Cinta Larga attacks. Internecine demographic predation, so to speak, among the Northern Nambikwara in this situation generated more deaths and thus aggravated the general demographic reservoir for the Northern cluster. In this sense, the sociocultural mechanism to react against the nefarious effects of contact only reinforced the very cause. Mané asserts the action extinguished his people[lxxix]. Raised afterwards as a Tawandê, he probably did not acquire a bilingual fluency in his native language but reached only a passive level of competence. Accordingly, when incorporated within the small Latundê group, he insisted that his wives learned to speak Portuguese, even when Terezinha strongly opposed this for some time. She finally gave in. This language is a very insufficient medium for her. Her husband actually does not display a great competence either, yet, given his dominant position, he assured that their children were spoken to in Portuguese. If it is valid to extrapolate from the contemporary way of socializing and enculturing the children, then the post-contact generation grew up being addressed in the outsider’s language and learned to speak this language as their primary language.

This may come as a surprise as the group maintained a certain isolation after the hazardous and disastrous first four or five post-contact years. The tragedy of these years caused a profound impact on the survivors, some of whom barely survived the epidemics[lxxx]. Other calamities were manmade. The Yelelihrê man who was in reality the one brought in by Fonseca to assist him at the pacification but who confronted the angry Latundê by talking to them and letting them vent their ire and hostility, thought up his own scheme of dealing with this group. The newly discovered Indians spoke a dialect so close to his own that his sister asserts that he claimed that the language is the same as his own (like mentioned above, he affirmed them to be partially of his own people). His designs, according to his younger sister, referred to dislocating the Latundê and providing them with the ability and example to improve their original living conditions. Again an Indian with some experience with regional society and its project of acculturation – who apparently considered this people as his brethren – apparently deemed them as backward and in need of instruction in some of the Brazilian sociocultural practices and beliefs[lxxxi]. He believed that he pursued a course of policy that should benefit the group very recently coming out of isolation. Without the knowledge of the FUNAI officials and in the absence of the Indian agent from the Nambiquara Project, he convinced a large part of the group to visit Aroeira, hitching a lift on a truck, with little or no clothing or other amenities. Aroeira is the site of the relocated remainders of other Northern peoples and the local Southern local group all very much affected by their very difficult and stressing contact history. When the Latundê arrived there, they were in a precarious and vulnerable position in a foreign territory. Whatever the real purpose of the man, a strong man (a ‘natural’ leader), the Indians at Aroeira abused the fragility of the Latundê, using, for example, the women for sexual intercourse. All peoples being small and shattered by contact, the Indians general policy actually pursued the goal of incorporating the new group especially envisioning espousing the women, adopting the children and, perhaps, exploiting the workforce of the men. The Latundê did not appreciate this abuse and succeeded, at great cost, to return to their homeland.

This traumatic experience must have contributed to the general weakening of the Latundê resistance. As mentioned, slightly after contact, one of the few adult men was found dead in the savanna. The cause of death was likely a fatal arrow shot, but the investigation never concluded. The assassination undoubtedly generated more tension. These unfortunate events were followed by a transient period when a part of the people lived at the Aikaná village and their patron/manager and the other two languages, Portuguese and Aikaná were dominant. This traumatic era with the almost total failure of the official protection agency ended with the death of the older generation and the retreat into the Barroso area occurred under Mané’s leadership. The imprint of the outsider and his precarious Portuguese ability becomes understandable. This is another result of the historical contingencies that caused so much mayhem among this formerly independent, autonomous and ethnocentric group suffered. Despite a number of serious problems, these people accomplished fairly well their sociocultural and linguistic reproduction. Both the resistance and final giving-in of the Latundê wives and the rest of the group stems from post-contact fragility. Although they were seriously weakened, they seem to have resisted to the best of their ability. The post-contact generation thus grew up learning first of all a variant of Portuguese and only passively became bilingual in their own Latundê language. This biased bilingual ability represents the balance of political prominence of the ethnic outsider and should not have happened if any effective protection had been given[lxxxii]. This attitude is even more impressive considering that the entire older generation speaks the language very badly and the oldest members of the senior generation (Batatá and Cinzeiro) do not speak it at all[lxxxiii]. Terezinha demonstrates a very basic command of Portuguese but manages to communicate fairly easily with her children. The only other family shows an extremely limited competence that makes one wonder how the mother communicates complex matters to her children. Only the closeness and daily mixing of the new generations of the two families explains how these other offspring succeeded in learning some Portuguese. Their aunt Terezinha confirms the interaction gave the two older nephews a passive knowledge of Latundê (Telles 2002: 23). As the boys learned an inadequate Portuguese from their mother, they display deficiencies in both languages. These children represent a kind of worst-case scenario as far as language acquisition goes.

This acculturation process that mainly resulted from turning an outsider into a group member is a two way process. The destructurization of the Latundê cleared the way for the imposition of an outside model of work and language via the incorporation of the outsider socialized in circumstances basically dominated by the exploitation and forced acculturation by Brazilian patrons. On the other hand, the group incorporated Mané and transformed his language and possibly some sociocultural attitudes. For instance, the most influential couple and caretakers of the adolescent girl agree on the necessity of the seclusion period (the father and her aunt she calls mother). When the girl had her first menstruation and nothing was done, the proper moment for enclosure passed. At the time they believed that the situation was too unfavorable to practice this rite of passage. The couple of the older generation both agreed about the maintenance of an important particular ritual. Researchers consider the seclusion to be a characteristic Northern Nambikwara rite that used to be present among all of its peoples and thus this practice probably is seen as traditional by both partners. Given the argument above, the ritual’s performance implies both securing the health of the girl and guaranteeing a healthy future generation. The aunt alleged several reasons for postponement and affirmed the wish to hold the seclusion ritual later. Whether this will happen is uncertain, as the general context of the Territory does not appear very encouraging for cultural revival. In this sense, the wish may indicate a more general desire to continue to adhere to their sociocultural practices and conceptions. Despite Mané’s presence as a Tawandê among the Latundê, their two cultures overlap often and so both have a mutual longing for the maintenance of certain rituals and customs. As to other ceremonies, however, Mané sometimes imposes his version upon the entire group. Included is a Tawandê variant of a feast where the men play flutes, both a variety of secret ones and another of public access[lxxxiv]. During our first visit, the Indians decided to demonstrate some of their culture and the feast held included these flutes – which actually constitute a kind of trumpets – an instrument unknown to the Latundê. Terezinha reluctantly confided to us that they used to sing and circle around the patio without any accompaniment and she and the Latundê, significantly restricted to the women and their brother Cinzeiro, decided to demonstrate their own version of the ritual after. In this manner both the Latundê and the Tawandê culture are currently present in some aspects to various degrees.

The cultural information and training transmitted by Mané’s uncle, a Tawandê leader and shaman, prevail in Mané’s conception of what their Indian cultural heritage should be. Sometimes this inheritance coincides with Latundê practices and sometimes it does not, and this creates a tension within the group. On the other hand, as his linguistic competence did not extend to a full bilingualism, the same tension did not exist in regards to the original Indian language. Not being qualified to vie in this respect with the fully developed skills of the Latundê, Mané actually has been acculturated in the Latundê language. According to his oldest son, he did not speak very well at first but now he speaks the language suitably. In fact, once and a while his father holds long speeches within the kitchen construction (partially open house beside the main house and the usual place to stay during the day), while the other present members of the household and neighbors go about their business apparently without giving his monologue too much attention (his wife, older sons and even the neighbors). He appears comfortable expressing himself at these moments and, despite appearances, the people minding their own activities sometimes show signs of paying attention[lxxxv]. This important aspect of the household communication indicates that the Latundê language is adopted by all of the older people and remains a significant means of expression that confronts the younger generation not divided by ethnic cleavages and some of the tensions of their seniors. As is always the case, the people are quite aware of some of the major differences in culture and language with their neighbors and the older people take a reflexive position of preserving their own distinctive sociocultural and linguistic patrimony. This is evident in the maintenance of the rituals, like the attempt to actualize the seclusion of adolescent girls, the playing of trumpets, and the acknowledgement of the uniqueness of the Latundê language. All adults who commented on their language and its permanence expressed the desire for language competence to be upheld as a means for comprehensive and daily use among group members. Mané even remarked that the recognition of indianidade is strongly related to the presence of language and so he favors its use. In spite of the teaching of Portuguese under his own inspiration, the solution implemented has been to teach the younger generation to assume fluency in the Indian language when reaching adolescence or young adulthood. This is what happened for his two oldest sons who effectively mastered the language, appreciate its value and use it daily. Their newly maturing sister Maria is being taught the language by the older people and particularly by her mother. The mother commented that she really is improving her proficiency, albeit on more than one occasion she denied knowing the language to us, apparently feeling some shame imposed by outsiders. It is remarkable how this pattern replicates the process of linguistic socialization of their father. He had limited Portuguese as primary language, and a passive ability of the native language and as an adult became proficient.

This desire and will to maintain their own language is noticeable in the praise or criticism directed to the minor boys who possess a greater or lesser passive command of Latundê. One of the oldest sons observed the lesser language command of the next-oldest brother and prodded him to improve his language while his mother approvingly commented that her youngest son spoke the language. The adults normally tend to speak Latundê among themselves. They usually do so when discussing history or Indian affairs but habitually use Portuguese if the subject refers to outside business. Latundê still is probably the more frequently used language in daily life (Telles 2002: 23). Notwithstanding the positive attitude and these expressions of the adherence to the value and continuity of their own language, the adults consistently converse in Portuguese with the children and the latter systematically reciprocate in that language. Moreover, we noticed that in daily life the children used Portuguese amongst themselves. They switched to Latundê once in order to discuss something privately about the linguist Telles in her presence, as a kind of secret language. This kind of usage seems to be one of the major reasons for talking among themselves at the Aikaná village and one stimulus for language maintenance. The incident shows that most or all children can adopt an active competence even when hardly using this language in normal daily life. Still, the Portuguese spoken is their primary language, the major one of socialization and enculturation in detriment of the native language, although in a manner encompassing their daily life, the latter tends to be reduced to passive capacity and active competence is only occasionally present during childhood. Either out of modesty stemming from the conscience of her limitations or because of the virtual shame attached by outsiders to their native language, Maria claimed not to know this language at all, even when her elders pointed out that she did.

The Portuguese spoken shows many particularities in lexical, syntactical and, especially, intonational aspects. The variety spoken derives heavily from a regional, pre-migration form of the language. The multitude of variants of the contemporary situation in Eastern Rondônia has not yet been consolidated into a new regional accent. Isolation and the presence of a native language lent it a specific quality that renders the current speech form almost into a pidgin or possibly a creolizing language (Telles 2002: 22-3). The lexical and syntactical elements are mainly an impoverished regional variant. The most distinctive feature is its musicality that owes its rhythm to the native language. Overall, these characteristics impede an easy understanding for the outside Brazilian speaker who sometimes, especially at first, loses himself in the nominally identical language. At the Aikaná village, older speakers tend to harmonize their Portuguese with the other Indians and even the children seem to be cowed into curbing their melodious speech. A quite peculiar version of Portuguese must be the result of the same initial traumatic conditions of the low point in Latundê history that shaped the acceptance of this language. A variant transformed by the particular proficiency of the only speaker also bound to engage in a reciprocal learning process that forged something new, a Latundê Portuguese dialect. Under Mané’s influence, the Latundê language adopted (or perhaps more accurately, was imposed with) a variety of lexical elements of Tawandê (in itself a sign of his passive command of a native language). Terezinha identifies these lexical changes if requested to comment on such loanword, (which may be more accurately considered an imposed word), she still can produce a Latundê synonym. However, for both cases of learning another language linguistic research holds that: “It is commonplace in second-language learning, for example, that learning to put in elements of the target language which have no counterpart in the native language is much harder than learning to leave out” (Wilkens apud Dorian 1981: 92-3). For instance, most striking to outside speakers, even in proper names the gender suffixation in Portuguese can be used as if equivalent, producing variants of Lurdes like Lurda and of Luis like Luiza. Moreover, it is possible that when the language is really learned at adolescence (the sons) or adulthood (from the basis of a previously latent close dialect), it may undergo morphological and phonological simplification of the original richness. Certain simplifying phenomena have been noted, amongst the newest native speakers, especially with the respect to loss of phonemes least similar with Portuguese (Telles 2002). It is also quite likely that the younger generation analyzes these imposed lexical items as Latundê words. The language may undergo a reduction of the more complex structural features. Typically, such changes commence in the phonology (Telles 2001, personal communication).

In other similar circumstances in which parents spoke one language amongst themselves and a dominant one with their children, children are known to have acquired fluency by adulthood (Dorian 1981). Still, even early passive speakers may demonstrate a limit to proficiency and complete linguistic mastery if active speech acquisition occurred after the age of seven. There is also the likelihood that the differing conditions of social life result in an impoverishment of the cultural conceptions and practices. For example, the possibility of the loss or impoverishment of a sociocultural system and idiom like the kinship relationship terms that we have not been able to solicit may have serious cultural repercussions. Such a change can even occur when the community is bilingual and the native language still prospers and constitutes the sole vehicle of other rituals still performed enthusiastically[lxxxvi]. The vicissitudes of the reintroduction of the seclusion ritual, where both sociocultural Northern Nambikwara Indian traditions coincide, not held at the proper time or even when the situation seems to be permit its viability, shows the troublesome state of affairs of active and reflexive sociocultural and linguistic maintenance. With these epitomes of language and cultural change the situation probably approximates that in which occur other contexts of language shift during which the community usually is unaware that young fluent speakers may simplify their language performance and that the sociolinguistic factors account for a high degree of change “(…) even among fully fluent, language-loyal speakers of a threatened language” (Dorian 1981: 154)[lxxxvii].

The interdependency of the sociocultural domain and the linguistic means of expression correlate the impoverishments of both domains to each other, sometimes serving as each other’s mirror images, and sometimes one precedes the other. This, even when the deeper structural features of language drift do not directly correlate with culture change (Sapir n.d.: 218-9); it should hardly be surprising that it brings about the loss of one the “treasures of humanity” and “a storehouse of the power of expression and profound comprehension of the universe” (linguists Zepeda and Hill 1991: 49). A general tendency to impoverishment can be anticipated in this case, which by the loss of what might be called ‘distinguishing complex features’, might lead to a “pseudo death” (Wurm 1991: 15). Some indications of this process have been noted, like the loss of shamanic capabilities, a very serious privation in a universe populated by dangerous supernatural entities. Just like among the Yanomami, this fact causes not just a strong anxiety regarding the lack of protection to body and soul, but, in all likelihood, includes the loss of creative and reproductive sociocultural characteristics of shamans. When the Yanomami shamans specialize in curing they also learn the complex intellectual form of culture with myths, cosmological concepts, ceremonial discourse and conceptual fundaments. With the deprival of shamanic learning “(…) el universo pierde su coherencia y su significacion. La vida intelectual se retrae, la lengua empobrece” (Lizot 1999: 43; also Tierney 2000). Our fieldwork does not permit any definite conclusions but the indications available justify the hypothesis for the case of the Latundê. In this sense, the particular blending historically created inflects towards the unexpected renewal and probable maintenance of a part of the Tawandê culture, strongly promoted by Mané who also recounted the history of his adopted family and their myths and conceptions. He regards this as an important task and his wife apparently accepts a certain male predominance in this respect. She only recounted to us a myth her father had told her after our insistence and corollary valorization of her own transmitted sociocultural patrimony. In contrast, Mané recorded various myths and historical stories of his own choosing as a reflection and demonstration of both his authority and his special knowledge. This may result in the paradoxical situation that these Tawandê myths are preserved by the Latundê while being lost in the original language among the group of Tawandê in Aroeira (where, significantly, the oldest fluent generation strongly adheres to shamanism)[lxxxviii].

In conclusion, the sociocultural and linguistic patrimony of the Latundê changed in the post-contact catastrophe and the incorporation of Mané and his different ethnic origin . In my sense, the contemporary sociocultural and linguistic situation represents a new configuration with a large component of dispossession and persistence of the original Latundê, the introduction of Tawandê elements, the Portuguese language, and of industrial commodities where one observes an amalgamation of loss, resilience and re-creation of these diverse traditions into a new mélange. Of course, to the Latundê their own particular transformed blend will, in the ethnic sense of being conceptualized by themselves and others as a distinct patrimony still be peculiarly Latundê – even when impoverished from an extraneous diachronic perspective. As I noticed above, the introduction of Mané very probably assured the continuity of the people, while transforming Latundê culture and language with advantages and disadvantages. As to the language, only a real proficiency test can verify the proposition of language simplification, yet the contemporary speech behavior strongly indicates the probability of decline in performance and complexity. The tendencies in both principal domains (language and culture) represent a clear outcome of the contingencies of the historical process the Latundê suffered as victims and as reflexive agents. A certain quality of being and speaking Latundê is not immediately threatened by their doubly subordinate position originating in the forceful integration into the wider system, the problems of socioeconomic articulation, and especially the necessity of construing a new world view and constructing marriage alliances. Yet these issues do pose enormous problems of reproduction as a people in the near future, of how to attain the social, cultural, economic and demographic viability required to continue to be a self-conceived distinctive ethnic, sociocultural and linguistic group.

A short review of the future of the people’s language maintenance manifests how opposing current tendencies make the scenario contingent on a number of relevant factors. The preservation of their language depends on a particularly diverse range of issues. In favor there are a significant number of factors. First, the disposition of adults to teach the language, stimulate its use, the general intent to maintain it, the group’s loyalty and the decision not to abandon the language. This appears to resolve the issues of the status of the group’s relation to their language and they demand to make a conscious decision and effort to maintain it, especially with respect to the post-contact generation. Regaining their own autonomous village, at a distance from other peoples and the demographic recuperation in the past prepared the minimal conditions for the existence of a post-contact generation that, at least so far, has demonstrated to learn and value the language. The durable possession of an exclusive home territory is essential to maintain a separate sociocultural sphere where one can be Latundê without recriminations. Latundê functioning as a secret language in other villages may help convince the younger generation. The conceived relation by the elders to ethnicity and the essence of distinctiveness also may play an important role. Today official pushes to respect and cherish native languages should be creating a more favorable atmosphere. Also worthy of consideration is the inverse, the negative image and disapproval of official agencies of people not speaking their language. In a similar way, elder people critique the younger generations of Tawandê and Sabanê for being less than bilingual and this count as a more diffuse general support. The example of the Aikaná, their most immediate relevant Indian neighbors, and their pragmatical full bilingualism (despite some initial difficulties), fully demonstrates this possibility. Lastly, when people like Telles and me expressed interest in the language, prestige and value is conferred to it[lxxxix]. These sociocultural vectors are cited in works on language shift as contributing to language maintenance. Maybe they do not exhaust the total number of possible positive components. The complete set does point to the possibility of maintenance as the Latundê conceive of it as the ethnic language of a distinct people.

On the other hand, an equal or perhaps even larger set of factors militate against the continuance of the language as an operational and fully functional tool. There is the small size of the community and the dubious likelihood of continuous demographic recovery, as evident in the genetic problems, a continued dispersal of members, and the possibility of renewed outward migration that leaves certain members permanently in a different linguistic environment. Furthermore, the bilingualism of the young adults relies increasingly heavily on Portuguese as contacts with the Aikaná and the outside increase. The domestic domain is conceived of as the usual bastion of resistance to change, and it is here that especially the older children are regularly encouraged to speak Latundê and acquire the language. Yet, the children are socialized in Portuguese and, by the Indians’ own appraisal, this negatively affects some of the younger children’s competence in Latundê. There is the distinct possibility that the younger generation feels shame for speaking their native language. This phenomenon was noted above in Maria’s refusal to admit speaking ability. Educational issues include the very uncertain teaching of the language in school, the unlikely introduction of Latundê bilingual education, and the bad example of a younger generation’s resistance to indigenous languages and bilingual education of one family of mixed ethnicity in the Gleba. Culturally, there is the general label of primitiveness ascribed to this language and politically the domination by other ethnic groups that may affect the indispensable self-esteem of the people. The problem of demographic reproduction if solved by mixed marriages, will transform the indispensable alliances into obstacles for easy language transmission. The general utility of Portuguese in the post-contact phase where the younger generation observes its necessity and social dominance, including the habitual negative image of Indians and their languages in the overwhelming surrounding national society (many of these preconceptions are present among almost all members of the agencies responsible for protection and health care). The collection of possible adverse vectors seems to offset the set of positive factors. The question of which will prevail awaits a firmer answer.

In a way the very continuance of this small group of people is at stake. Survival will demand a social creativity and engineering of the Latundê and, preferably (but highly problematically), a more efficient and efficacious action by FUNAI appropriate for these constraints and contingencies. As far as any sociological exercise of foresight of the future is valid, there is an array of virtualities in the summation of factors of continuity and change but in general they convey the notion of a threatened people. This danger is compounded as the culture and language are already impoverished from a combination of sociocultural conditions. All of the constituents of the sociocultural situation in the preceding paragraph may be vectors of a language shift away from the native language. Perhaps this will not be an immediate change, but the constraints definitely shape a slow process of erosion. The younger generation may reduce the Latundê language away from the complex richness so much so that it may eventually be reduced to a vocabulary or even disappear altogether. Language survival depends on native language maintenance. In this regard, the foremost element may be Latundê adults’ loyalty to the language. The major favorable component here concerns the inclusion of the new generation already grown up in a fundamentally different situation of adverse relations of dominance. Their historical experience tends to direct them to be impressed by the outside world and the limited values of the Latundê language (as a medium and the low esteem of other peoples). From these assumptions, resulting from the historical contingencies, hypothesizing about the future cannot be very constructive. At the most, the scenarios forecasts an array of possibilities, with at the extremes both language death and full maintenance, the only certainty is a difficult period for the native language to avoid language death and ensure maintenance.

Perhaps then, among the specific heritages of the Latundê tradition, their language is, due to the contingencies and the structural components of their particular history, the foremost candidate for extinction. No threatened language is automatically condemned though (Dorian 1981: 110). Change is, of course, always the real nature of culture and language and no merely mechanical process of maintenance and reproduction exists. As Lévi-Strauss once said, permanence and sociocultural continuity is in need of explanation, not just sociocultural change or language drift. The problem here is, evidently, that the life or death of the language (as maintenance or language shift are often called) depends only partially on the speakers themselves. Thus, while the Latundê constitute the essential core of the language maintenance as fully capable and reflexive intentional agents, when they find themselves surrounded by several adverse social forces, the outlook looks gloomy. Then again, as the Latundê demonstrated a surprising resilience in the past, having recuperated against major odds during a terrible time in their history, perhaps they will creatively resolve this ordeal of the future being as they are armed with the intent and the desire. Time will tell. Let the steady flow of time enable the musical flow of Latundê.

[i] It must be noted that as 1975-1980 featured comparatively more anthropologists in the bureaucracy, relatively well-qualified anthropologists conducted the research. Many times FUNAI also employed people in the created bureaucratic post called anthropologist who were utterly without any qualifications. Additionally, such posts demand expert knowledge that the academic anthropologists rarely possess.
[ii] For several reasons the following account cannot be anonymous so personal names are used to give the situation a more personal feel. In a community as small as this one, personalities and personal characteristic take on a great importance for the constitution of social life and its reproduction.
[iii] Much later it was also suggested that Batatá too is somewhat simpleminded but not in the same way as Cinzeiro. In that case, whatever the exact nature of her disability, the general loss would be still worse.
[iv] Real macaws were absent in 1999, but there were several varieties of parakeets (differentiated by habitat) and small macaws. Later on a young parrot was caught and given to Terezinha. In August 2000, she caught macaws; they nested in the savanna near the village at the time of contact (an area that came to be known as Campo do Barroso).
[v] It is unclear why she would want to remain childless. It is tempting to speculate that the tense pre-contact situation has something to do with it. It is also unclear how she avoided getting pregnant, perhaps she consumed certain plants to prevent fertilization or induce abortion.
[vi] For the revision and discussion of some of Lévi-Strauss’s original ideas, see Price (1981b) and Part III.
[vii] The marriage of Cinzeiro and José’s mother implies that the two older couples probably did not result from an exchange between two pairs of brother-sisters for that would mean marrying his aunt (FZ), in an improbable inversion of oblique marriage. Oblique marriage was postulated by Lévi-Strauss but Price and Fiorini found no supporting evidence.
[viii] According to one of the three sisters, Batatá is the sister of her maternal grandmother. The age difference between the mother and the great aunt was not that large, however.
[ix] She visited Dona Tereza after a suggestion made by myself and the linguist Gabriel Antunes, see Part II. For political and ethnic reasons she considers the two as languages, despite the closeness. I agree with this judgment, the difference between dialect and language depends on sociopolitical context.
[x] The Lakondê, in the person of the already quoted speaker of the language and her brother who actually made contact with the Latundê in the contact period, did not retain any memories about the moment or size of the group that she now supposes to have split away from the main group because of the language.
[xi] Recall that this whole area consists of largely rather infertile soils except near the Pimenta River. Much of the forest near the savanna is made up of varying degrees of lower levels of vegetation and much of the soil is sandy.
[xii] Another courtesy of Stella Telles; she, in turn, received the small number of photographs from Santos, Price’s former collaborator.
[xiii] Caution is necessary as it is disputed how many people are required for a viable self sustaining endogamous group.
[xiv] Both curiosity and care for defence also induced ranging through the region to learn about resources and possible enemies. On one of these occasions one man reached the Pimenta River but Terezinha herself never went there. Living in a hostile world possibly also makes one reliant on familiar settings and does not encourage ventures too far.
[xv] The stereotypes of poverty and nomadism were among the most tenacious. They and others circulate in many forms as facts (especially because corrections do not achieve the same publicity as a work like Tristes Tropiques has).
[xvi] According to Marcelo Santos (in a personal communication to Telles), all Nambikwara groups once had their own variety of maize. For many years Santos served as the agent at the Mamaindê or Negarotê Post and he is well acquainted with the Nambikwara, especially those of the northern region. For more on ecological adaptations of a people from the Chapada dos Parecis savanna and the Guaporé Valley, see Setz (1983).
[xvii] This map, and others prepared by a geography study can found on Internet.
[xviii] At a later stage these ‘path lines’ are often transformed into fences.
[xix] As suggested by João del Poz (2001; personal communication) this complex now totally destroyed by the conquest, reminds one of the Alto Xingu. Some older Aikaná still carry the memories of, for example, the head-ball game contest between hosts and visiting groups, which included exchanging arrows, and betting. Generally speaking, the relations between these peoples of unrelated languages probably involved a series of exchanges (see also the works of Van der Voort). One notable feature is that most or all practiced different forms of cannibalism. The Aikaná probably lived up farther north and came south because of conflicts with unallied peoples and rubber collectors.
[xx] Such insect larvae grow in rotting trees and are a prized food and a source of protein. The Latundê adore this food and know which larva belong to which species of tree and whether it is edible.
[xxi] The club seems to be like the ceremonial weapon used in ritual dances and might be used to lance or hit someone. Nowadays these are called swords in Portuguese and only appear in rituals. Real clubs are not currently made by the Latundê so it remains unclear what is actually meant here.
[xxii] He delivered this remark with a smile, if the man wanted to lead the expedition, let him bear the brunt.
[xxiii] In time the Latundê were hemmed in by pressure from the Mamaindê (east), the road from Vilhena to Porto Velho (north), the road from the Porto Velho to Chupinguaia (west) and the Pimenta River (south). This territory was later subject to INCRA colonization.
[xxiv] The same Aikaná narrator reported that a Mamaindê told him that the Latundê were many when living near [the town of] Colorado, near the frontier with Mato Grosso and the attacks of the Indians caused depopulation and the flight into Rondônia. This supports the sketch of a migration route outlined earlier.
[xxv] Although I collected a little data on the subject (that is not always considered taboo), it is remarkable that the very high age reached by a recently deceased wandering Kwazá woman is generally attributed to her consumption of human flesh, particularly of the head (eating the brain with roasted maize). In many other Indian cultures, by the way, obtains a general aversion to consuming meat with blood. Ironically, the source quoted for the knowledge about the suction of the blood is himself renowned for having eaten another Aikaná. The man later married into the victim’s family and all of them now live on the Tubarão/Latundê Territory.
[xxvi] The Latundê usually refer to the Aikaná as Tubarão (though they pronounce it Tabarão). Similarly, I too use Tubarão and Aikaná interchangeably in this text.
[xxvii] It remains unclear exactly how much time elapsed between the expeditions but it must have been at least one or two years, again indicative of Aikaná reluctance. Apparently hardly any or no other contacts occurred in this time.
[xxviii] In a sense analogical to amansar an animal, breaking and taming an animal to live in the company of man and to be utilized by an owner. Price (1983b) already mentioned the importance and implication of terms like taming Indians. He writes that in the past, some Whites spoke of domar, to break, the Indians in the same way that one breaks in a wild horse. This is not always just a figure of speech. When the police repressed what they thought was a revolt of the Pataxó of southern Bahia, some of the prisoners were subjected to a bridle and ridden as if animals (Florent Kohler 2003, personal communication).
[xxix] His credibility is difficult to establish. I met and interviewed the man in his home in a town of Rondônia with a credential of a friend of his living in Chupinguaia (the interview lasted about two hours). He evidently exercised some caution and restraint because he is aware of his bad reputation in some circles. Still, seemingly convinced of the correctness of his acts, the following appears to be reasonably faithful to his vantage point.
[xxx] It must be noted that this edited reproduction mostly follows the narrators sequence and the very points he himself came up with are stressed in the flow of the dialogue. That is, concepts like work and laziness figure immediately in his own presentation of himself and his life history.
[xxxi] He also mentions buying things with his own money when needed. In fact, as his current house and other testimony of his period at the Aikaná attest, he did not make a fortune out of these managerial and intermediating activities. The major motivation seems to be ideational and have nothing to do with corrupt intentions, contrary to many similar cases.
[xxxii] The name Arara, Macaw, was regionally used for the Kwazá. In the FUNAI’s registration one encounters the surname Arara for the Kwazá. Other peoples also received this denomination. The name “Macaw People” might have been applicable to the Latundê because of their domestic habit of earlier times of keeping these birds in a specially built house.
[xxxiii] The narrator stresses his later firm relations with the Indians. In his view he established an amity with most Indians, both Aikaná and Latundê. Of course, as is common in Brazil, this can be an asymmetrical, paternalistic amity. Remember he entered the Service as a favor to a friend.
[xxxiv] The man died from measles, although wild caused admiration too because of his demonstrated valour (valente) and the narrator laments this unnecessary early death.
[xxxv] At this point the narrator mentioned he did take a Sabanê with him before but he also did not establish oral communication. The captain, on the other hand, was not impressed with the linguistic capabilities of these prior participants.
[xxxvi] Rondon’s famous mandate not to kill but, if need be, be killed, does not mean walking about unarmed or not using a show of arms but enjoins, if necessary to save lives, shooting over the heads of any assailant to shy him away. It is unclear if Fonseca was aware of this rule or if he had the authority to restrain his companions if necessary. Perhaps the Indian captain had more authority.
[xxxvii] He offered this fact with absolute tranquility, but recall that the paperwork discussed includes documents in Tolkdorf’s hand dating from 1979 and the pacification occurred in 1977. He withdrew himself and the Project from offering Latundê assistance that same year but did not die then. This contradiction is inexplicable even when the withdrawal and subsequent lack of communication may have been mistaken for death.
[xxxviii] Other assertions range from the graveyard I made for them to the Indians did not have anything, especially no land, and I gave them the land (this is because of his census and reflects how he went to Brasília with others to ask for land; this was registered in reports of the dossier as visits of the cacique).
[xxix] Even though these men probably already had some qualification for the job.
[xl] This fits into a larger pattern of naming a group after an important figure within it. After all, this is exactly what happened with the Tubarão (actually a Tupari Indian of an extinct group living with the Aikaná) and Massacá (an Aikaná). In this case the name of the tuxaua becomes a synecdoche the ethnonym of the group who adopted him
[xli] According to himself, Mané was raised in the Seringal do Faustino, partly by the owners and partly by the older Indians. In 1970 members of a foreign medical survey of the Red Cross considered the conditions there to be near slavery and a disgrace for Brazil and the world. In 1971, Hanbury-Tenison (1973) did not notice any real improvements. Finally, in 1972, another international commission still found the place in bad shape but the Indians commented that things had improved (Brooks et. al. 1973: 39-40). It is in this ambience that Mané grew up and in that sense has suffered from one of the worst social experiences of the process of integration into the national society.
[xlii] Working, as stated, in close collaboration with Stella Telles, this information is a personal communication of the agent to the linguist.
[xliii] For an evaluation of the Project, see Agostinho (1995). He makes it clear that the later developments of small reserves and the transfer of peoples and Nambikwara populations derived form the logic of the obstacle of progress ideology, in sharp contrast with the Project aims (this issue is examined more closely in Parts II and III).
[xliv] As Mané said: [the agent] left me here to take care of the people.
[xlv] Apart from what someone like James Clifford, in a somewhat anxious exaggeration, might call the allegory of the detective story, truth in these cases is an elusive concept, yet its search is relevant. Perhaps the complexity of the truth is larger than the simplified positions rendered afterwards. The fallibility of memory, hindsight, and political motives harden points of view and fix them into more rigid affirmations. In a situation of sociocultural diversity, there is also ample room for misunderstanding.
[xlvi] This contrasts with the accepted and documented concept of the Aikaná as hard workers and producers of foodstuffs. Their former manager Fonseca mentioned how he obtained some manioc and monkey meat to supplement his income and live well enough without embezzling from the rubber production. Thus, he too apparently appreciated their efforts contrary to later FUNAI evaluations.
[xlvii] The Latundê speak of Terezinha’s younger brother participating too and Mané himself downplays his personal activities in the system. The breakdown occurred so fast that the Aikaná asked whether José still possessed that ball of rubber he had not sold.
[xlviii] The couple had an enormous difficulty in making the Indians stop bathing. The Indians suffering from fever wanted to bathe in the small river along the village but as such conduct tends to worsen the treatment of their illness, much vigilance was necessary. This is a recurrent feature in this kind of situations.
[lix] In Portuguese the regional name for shaman adopted is curador or doutor, not the more general pajé.
[l] In the absence of any government agency like FUNAI in the case above, an anthropologist and missionaries provided the assistance. The absence of mortality does not mean that in general health did not decline.
[li] This seems a typical case in which the dilution of responsibility causes no one to assume major responsibility. Even if someone felt a personal liability, he was probably thwarted by lack of support from colleagues of the agency where he worked.
[lii] Possibly this is the source of confusion mentioned before about Ferrari’s plane being attacked. One might also affirm, by the various examples, that exactness in some of the documents is not necessary for the bureaucratic uses of information and sometimes maybe not even be welcome in presenting the case within the agency and to other agencies.
[liii] This is an old story, in the early forties an expedition explored the upper Pimenta in search of this gold, but apparently only encountered Indians like the Aikaná and their neighbors. They proposed to install a Post but little action followed and the Indians were left in the hands of White exploitation. Rondon endorsed the search and funds were allotted to SPI (Lima 1995: 288-9; Dequech). This episode was missed by almost everyone who was involved with the Aikaná and the region in the production of the documents cited in the dossier. This illustrates the lack of continuity of the protective state action in those days as well as the weak memory of this bureaucracy in the course of time.
[liv] The selling of the standing wood by the fazendeiro either substituted the capital he spent to acquire the plot or generated the capital to maintain operations. So, as one indigenist commented about the Corumbiara Area to the south of the Pimenta River, the creation of the fazendas requires very little real investment from the owner (Algayer 2001, personal communication). That is, it entails an enormous transference of capital and a perverse concentration of land and income benefiting those who need it least.
[lv] The change in vocabulary results from an increment in contacts with the outside and the growth of the Indian movement in Brazil. The term captain stems from an analogous military patent deriving from the days of Rondon, cacique even when an imported word from the Caribbean at least has an Indian etymology.
[lvi] The suspicion of being an accomplice is natural when a former local FUNAI agent is said by the Latundê not at all to have opposed the exploitation of timber a few years ago. These agents are presently one of the weakest chains in the FUNAI bureaucratic structure because they usually are not trained for the job, are mostly employed on a temporary basis, and earn a relatively low salary.
[lvii] Another exploited product that is practically exhausted is palm hearts, the inner parts of palm trees.
[lviii] Some valuable timber still exists in a few areas; for this reason the Sararé area is still in danger of invasion.
[lix] Geffray’s proposition (1995) that the law often seems a front to be circumvented in a profitable manner by some of the local actors in the illegal circuit applies. Still, the idea of creating a law to impose illegal circuit and its attractions must not be exaggerated. Many politicians who accrued wealth from the lumber business before going into politics (a very common phenomenon in the region) lobby for the abolishment of the stricter ecological legislation or its alleviation. Still, in a perverse way, some people such as lower FUNAI employees involved in the control of illegal logging have interest in the continuing appearance of the necessity of the local inspection of repeated invasions. In this case, their salary can regularly receive a very significant supplementation from extra pay received for each day in the field.
[lx] There is still about 7 km where the road is impassable. At the beginning of the impassable section, the road diverts to the south, to Mario’s household in this neighborhood. He also owns a house at Gleba for his children to frequent school and where he can stay during his regular visits.
[lxi] This is not to say that Telles and I somehow pushed the issue but, as far as we can tell, only stimulated the airing of an old complaint and a more assertive attitude.
[lxii] Already mentioned and quoted before, after being captain, this man’s personal history involved divorce because of alcoholism and a long period outside the territory. Now others claim that he wanted to return to a leadership role for which they do not see him fit because of his previous record. It was rumored that he wanted to become the Barroso representative. His contemporary position as affine to the Latundê enables him to perform a mediating role, for example by providing lodgings when they visit Gleba, and as is clear from his second quote, he claimed to exercise a tutoring role to the young man but actually seemed to want to exercise influence.
[lxiii] This man must not be easy to live with as he has a peculiar understanding of the contemporary world. He was the oldest boy mentioned as still living at the savanna with his father when the latter died. These two boys are the last two Latundê being initially raised in the previous lifestyle and later adopted into the household of Terezinha and Mané. Maybe this background accounts for the difficulty of the oldest man to understand the new situation and find a place in this world after he left the household, lived and worked for other neighbors, and attempted to take care of himself by living in the fazenda house.
[lxiv] This predominance of rice may have to do with the filling effect of the grains and the facility of rice cooking in comparison with the difficulty of cooking beans (and the laboriousness of manioc). There may also be the symbolic reason too that Whites are known as Bean People by the Southern Nambikwara. Too many beans would substantiate too much Whiteness (see Part II for a more extended argument about a similar case of a physiology of contact).
[lxv] An exterior that remains foreign and extraneous to their group, as they have not really learned yet from the same outside that they are considered Brazilian too.
[lxvi] The size of the fields and Mané’s gardening activities must be viewed as more than just an ethics of work, as the FUNAI agent inclines to do. Probably the indigenous model of leadership plays a part as this role prescribes the leader as the most active producer and example of the village (see Part III). Many current features may be considered as simultaneously sociocultural maintenance, renewal and innovation.
[lxvii] It must be added that in these micro-politics the original excuse of “weakness” for not returning to the Latundê after her illness certainly was valid, being too weak to make the long walk. Notwithstanding her gradual increase in well-being, however, the permanence of Batatá, with the building of her small house by the Aikaná affine, may also have to do with this circumstance as both this man and his Latundê wife do not posses any regular source of income.
[lxviii] And, I may add, if one looks at the photographs of the pensioners in the dossier and at their bodily form, it is clear to both Telles and me that they may be a bit young.
[lxix] The oldest sons lived with and worked for the Barroso representative. They even picked up some Kwazá but eventually became dissatisfied when perceiving the material exchange as unequal; there was no hard currency involved and the workers were compensated with material goods.
[lxx] Although the selection of the agent proceeds from a community choice, there is often a preference by outsiders for someone with some formal education and Portuguese ability. The real choice in these cases is made almost purely in terms of local politics and that may circumvent the concerns of the most interested party, here the Latundê.
[lxxi] As mentioned previously, these FUNAI agents usually are unprepared men from the lower middle class and are instilled with the dominant ethnic ideology from the surrounding population. They learn the idiom of acculturation with the negative connotation attributed to Indians who are already acculturated (citation from one agent), reified, for example, in the very fluency in Portuguese. Many believe the Indian languages to be a dialect or even slang (very common in colonial situations; Wurm 1991: 5); very rarely are they interested to the point of learning some of the language save for a few key words. Only one of the dedicated agents of the Nambiquara Project succeeded in acquiring fluency in Southern Nambikwara.
[lxxii] We have not obtained an explanation that accounts for the normal children of the youngest sister, unless, perhaps, her lesser fertility could be attributed to the fact that she too did not go through the seclusion rite. Her daughter apparently does not suffer from any kind of physical or mental defect.
[lxxiii] José’s sister did not have any children with her new husband either and so this is a dead end for the presence of any kind of cross cousin.
[lxxiv] Once more, it proved impossible to establish a genealogy to clarify these relationships but, as seen, it seems fair to conclude that José pertains to a cross affinal relationship. Additionally, the uncle interested is the same one who tried to find a life between the old traditional way of life and the outside in his own peculiar way. He is considered somewhat odd by the other Indians in the Territory (lessening his chance to an interethnic match).
[lxxv] According to some comments from pure Aikaná, they are not really considered as full members of this people and though they speak fluently, their slightly different accent demonstrates their different origin. One brother is married to a White woman that does not speak Aikaná and his son seems to be bilingual in Portuguese and Aikaná. The two other brothers married Aikaná sisters and did not have any children. One of them divorced and married a Sabanê. Kwazá is on the road to extinction because of the dispersal of the last speakers. While the recent formation of an Indigenous Territory in Pimenta Bueno for the Kwazá should aid in avoiding this, actually, it is said, that the people living there do not use Kwazá anymore and are intermingled with Aikaná.
[lxxvi] He claims to be a passive speaker of his father’s language and asserts that he understands Latundê. He affirms that the two languages are actually the same. This concurs with the Lakondê speaker cited, his paternal aunt, to whom the two languages are very close (but there are differences, see the comparison in Telles 2002).
[lxxvii] This is the method now in use in a part of French Brittany where the results of teaching in Breton as the first language show promising results that do not harm the academic performance of the students nor their acquisition of French (an irrational fear strong among nationalist Republican opponents; see Libération 11 Nov. 2001; also Dalgalian 2000: 92).
[lxxviii] Their father expressed to me the wish to send only the older children and young adults. He may not consent to let the young children go to school. The school was being built a two-hour walk away from the Latundê village. This does little to encourage a permanent and regular school routine.
[lxxix] Telles (2002: 18). Dona Tereza describes that during the last Tawandê attack on the Lakondê, around 1950, only four of the last nine Lakondê survived. She herself was taken but later handed back to her maternal aunt. The people of Mané were named Yelelihrê by the Lakondê (Telles 2002: 12-3). As seen above, his people were close neighbors of the Lakondê at the time of the attacks, which happened around the same time. Note that, in this roundabout way, a stolen child of the Yelelihrê, a close ally of the Lakondê, brings a Tawandê influence to a village partially consisting of descendants of his very own original people.
[lxxx] Fonseca claims to have saved several people like Cinzeiro with great personal effort and the help of his wife (an assistant nurse, a position popularly known as nurse but in fact she was a trained auxiliary with limited skills).
[lxxxi] Just like the Aikaná and the new Latundê affine who thinks them backward. This is partially because of the lack of the road to the village and the lack of real FUNAI assistance. There is a condescending attitude that they are blessed with an infrastructure and are more modern. These Indians form the core of the recently created Massaká Association of the Indian Peoples Aikaná, Latundê and Kwazá and entered in the so-called project culture created in the 1990s. They attempt to fund some economic development projects (note the name and sequence of peoples). These concentrate on the Aikaná villages and, not surprisingly, only one project included the repair of the road to the Latundê. Such a road also entails an improvement for the other area inhabitants (and facilitate general penetration of the Barroso area too in that it would expand their range of possible locations for horticulture). In this project, they typically aggregate the Latundê with the other inhabitants of the Barroso totaling 41 people. The Latundê are the largest of the handful of groups in the region, and the only one originally based there.
[lxxxii] The World Bank’s official and largely symbolic policy created token projects of protection for the vulnerable indigenous peoples assaulted by the development that affected the region. Even these the government only reluctantly implanted for these primitive obstacles of development and then with a minimal regard to Indian rights. The menace of physical extinction hovered over other peoples too when epidemics decimated the populations. A 1987 World Bank internal report on Rondônia mentions epidemics of several diseases (including malaria and tuberculosis), systemic pillaging of Indian lands and corruption and fraud in FUNAI (Rich 1994: 28). For more on the dismal historical record of the World Bank with regard to local and indigenous populations, see Rich 1994.
[lxxxiii] It is noteworthy that Batatá apparently did not teach her language to her grandchildren, as was custom for Kwazá speakers in the case of the family cited; possibly this is a confirmation of a lesser intellectual capacity.
[lxxxiv] Another Tawandê trait in a similar ceremony includes the use of adorned swords in a dance, a ritual absent among the Latundê. The latter assure that did possess the variant of secret flutes. It is safe to say that not all rituals are identical, even among the Northern Nambikwara, but the extent of variation is, naturally, impossible to establish at this moment.
[lxxxv] He seems to be discussing past events that befell him and explaining certain opinions of the present situation. Apparently he is transmitting some historical knowledge to the younger generation, possibly a part relevant to contemporary affairs. It must be noted that to an outsider these monologues appear to be without an interested audience. However, this kind of soliloquy format is common among the Nambikwara of the Plateau (Price 1997: 21), and so the analogy makes this interpretation seem acceptable.
[lxxxvi] This example comes from Northeast Brazil where the Fulniô speak their own language (Yathê). It is difficult to obtain the original kinship terminology as in this domain apparently the Portuguese terms substitute the Yathê terms (possibly accompanied by the gradual dissolution of original marriage rules).
[lxxxvii] The SIL linguist David Eberhard (2001, personal communication) found significant changes between his current work and that of his predecessor Kingston on Mamaindê, a related Northern Nambikwara language. The direction of change also entails a simplification process. The Mamaindê suffered greatly from contact but their community is more populous and much less influenced by incoming Indians from other related peoples and always maintained a certain independent social unity. They probably lived in better conditions and yet the same phenomena occur.
[lxxxviii] The Latundê have visited Aroeira to procure cures for the ails attributed to supernatural causes. However, the cost of traveling and paying the shaman impedes an easy access to the curing ritual. The people of Aroeira related to Mané continue their attempt to interfere with his life and create additional tensions among the Latundê.
[lxxxix] The simple consultation of a Negarotê speaker living at the Aikaná village (herself a strong proponent of language maintenance, recounting the difficulty of the father of her Negarotê children to make the ashamed child speak his Northern Nambikwara language) provoked an immediate negative reaction even with the clear provision that this was not the kind of work as in progress with the Latundê. Strong jealousy made the linguist abandon any conversation that might recall any linguistic work. This should be a strong inducement to additive and not replacive bilingualism.