Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
The profound impact of this potential for change can be clearly felt in the actions
of young adults (aged 18 to 25) at Itaóca and especially in the Mbyá community,
represented by Luiz Karaí, the political leader, health agent and teacher in the early
2000s; Sílvio Karaí, shaman's apprentice and musician; Mariano Tupã Mirim, health
agent; and Basílio Silveira, the first secretary ( primeiro secretário ). Since 1998,
when these young men took over the leadership of the village, replacing a Guarani
elder who had a reputation for drinking and involvement with “white women,”
considerable changes have taken place at Itaóca. I was able to follow very closely
the reasoning behind the activities of these young adults during mathematics and
health workshops they attended between 1997 and 1998 that I organized through
the Secretaria Estadual de Educação do Estado de São Paulo (SEDUC). During the
annual commemoration of the Dia do Índio, on April 19, 1999, rather than sponsoring
the usual “Indian dance” at the central plaza in Mongaguá, the Mbyá community
invited city officials to a “Guarani ceremony” at Itaóca. The highly political speech
delivered by Luiz Karaí and Basílio Silveira to their guests during the opening ritual
of the event reveal the leaders' intent to inaugurate a new era for the Guarani people,
based on the young generations' transformative energies:
Good morning senhoras e senhores , you are here today to learn many things
about the Guarani people, to learn the truth about us. Pay attention. First, we
have chosen a Guarani name for our [Mbyá] village, and that is Teko Wy'a
Pyau , which means Nova Esperança [New Hope]. As the new leaders of this
village, we want to change many things here. We want our children to grow
healthy; we don't want them morrendo que nem moscas [dying off like flies]
eating off the garbage dump.…We were also kids yesterday and we refused to
do that. We are not animals to eat trash, we are human beings.
We know this is hard, to change things around here, so that is why we need
you to learn the truth about us. We have the right to learn to read and write, to
know our numbers and to speak Portuguese well, not because we want to be
integrated into your society, but because we need to defend ourselves from the
people who want to take away our land from us. How can we draw a map of
our land if we don't know how to write, if we don't know your mathematics?
How can we talk to the doctors in the city if we don't speak Portuguese? How
can we write our own topics with the true history about the Guarani?
Yes, we are starting to plant our own gardens, even if the land you gave us is
full of sand. The children are happy, they are planting, too. We want our kids
to grow healthy, so we need tools and seeds, because Funai doesn't give us
anything. We don't want to end up in the hospital, that's why we are learning
to use your medicine for the diseases that you contaminated us with.…So we
are fighting hard [ lutando duro ] to change this world.…Our biggest fight now
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