Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Figure 4.16. Aspects of the Palikur numerical system.
numerical system does not exist outside of the people's conception of the world today.
It is a fascinating universe that only quantifies its members insofar as it qualifies their
special attributes, revealing, in its inner workings, the uniqueness of what it has meant
to be Palikur or Pa'ikwené throughout, at the very least, these last five centuries of
relentless colonization. The study of Palikur mathematics reveals not only how they as a
people count, but a complex and intelligent system that has the ability to use geometric
thought to enhance the contribution of all beings to the making and remaking of the
world experienced.
The acknowledgement that each and every group of people or nation, Indigenous
or not, constructs its own mathematics, is not anything new to most historians
of science, and other scholars. 6 Further, to recognize that “Indigenous Peoples
have the right to revitalize, use, develop, and transmit their histories, languages,
oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and
retain their own names for communities, places and persons,” now recognized in
article 13 of the UN DRIP, was mind-blowing to most educators, Indigenous or
not. The teachers-in-training at the Cajamar Institute, however, reacted to these
assertions with some skepticism, but mostly with great joy. “You mean, could
this really be true, that we Indians have our own mathematics? How come we
were always told we're ignorant and stupid and can't learn any numbers,” asked
Poty Poram. “It has to be true we know mathematics,” responded Mauro Warã,
“because the Guarani can travel in the forest without getting lost, and you're
saying that orienting ourselves in space is part of mathematics.” “I believe it, too,”
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