Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Land - there is a different headman for each of the two separate cluster of households,
and the daily activities, such as cooking and cleaning, and planting are not shared.
Mbyá houses are organized around the opy or prayer house, while the Nhandeva
do not have an opy and their houses are scattered on the reservation. There are also
various Nhandeva families living in plywood (or any other material they can find)
shacks in marshy areas or on the margins of highways on the outskirts of different
cities in the Baixada Santista. These families, as well as the 150 Nhandeva in
Aldeinha, Itanhaém, are not recognized by Funai as “Indians,” and receive very
little support from the government.
The Aldeia Itaóca (Itaóca Village, as the Terra Indígena Guarani de Itaóca is known
in the area), was created in 1991 by a small group of Mbyá who migrated north to
São Paulo from the states of Paraná and Santa Catarina, and a few Nhandeva families
dispersed on the coast of São Paulo, looking for a place to live. In April 2000, the
land was officially delimitada (delimited, its official boundaries identified) after a
series of clashes between local landless peasants, drug dealers, and the Indigenous
communities. 13 The Aldeia Itaóca, however, is still not physically demarcated (no visual
boundaries have been set up), and neither is it part of the city of Mongaguá's “Plan of
Urban and Touristic Development,” designed by city officials in 1999. Because of this,
the Guarani do not have access to any utilities (potable water, electricity, sanitation),
and the city's dumpsite actually invades some of the territory and contaminates small
streams that run into the land, posing severe health problems to the community.
The small plot of land (533 hectares or approximately 1,304 acres) is surrounded
by tourist summer houses, a banana farm, an evangelical church, a cemetery, and
the garbage dump - where tourists' household waste, hospital trash, and industrial
chemicals are routinely dumped. These are the sites to which Guarani children
graduate when they become teenagers and adults: boys pick bananas at the farm
and mow the priests' lawn, girls clean tourist houses, and young adults excavate
piles of garbage for food to eat and tin cans to sell. The cemetery - ironically called
Cemitério da Igualdade (Cemetery of Equality), is the end of the road for the worldly
existence of the children and young adults who were not able to achieve the marae'y
quality of the Guarani body: life expectancy is less than 45 years for men and women
alike at the Aldeia Itaóca (Ferreira 1999c).
Before being summoned to work, the Mbyá and Nhandeva children at Itaóca
entertain themselves trying to make sense of the brutal reality within which they are
born. Everyday life feels like war: the children have to fight for food, wood, and water.
The houses they live in are infested with rodents, flies, and cockroaches, and it is
not easy to hide bits of stale bread and crackers found in the dump from the equally
starving animals. Drinking water is unavailable near the houses, and the water the
kids use to try to relieve their dry, parched skin covered with scabies, mosquito and
even cockroach bites is filthy. For breakfast, there is usually nothing to eat: the lucky
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