THE DIAUARUM SCHOOL: IS GIVING ALWAYS A MINUS?
As the day breaks, Tarinu Juruna bathes in the Xingu River with other Juruna, Suyá,
and Kayabi who study at the Diauarum School. The temperature is still cool, and
the water feels warm to those who spent the night in hammocks slung across the
beams of the Post's thatch-roof houses. At 7:00 a.m. everyone is already at work,
tending gardens, grating manioc roots, sharpening arrowheads, or setting up the
school's activity grounds. Not all of the classes are held indoors. Some involve trips
to nearby villages in order to interview elders for the newsletter Memória do Xingu
or to collect information on house building and other activities.
Wenhoron Suyá tells us that a timbó ( Tephrosia sinapu) fishing expedition 20
is taking place near the Suyá village. He invites Tarinu and several other fellow
students to visit the site. The group departs immediately, taking plenty of arrows,
spears, baskets, and food for the day in their canoes. The students also carry writing
material with them in order to record whatever aspect of the fishing expedition they
later want to share in class.
At the end of the day the people who remained at the post shout in pleasure at
the sight of the loaded canoes landing ashore. The trip has been a success. Fish is
distributed by the Suyá to all who have come to the port. The circulation of food is a
necessary requirement of their gift exchange system, as we have seen. The fish racks
in each house, including my own, are now loaded, and the smell of fish being smoked
attracts those who have hitherto been unaware of these events back to their homes.
Figure 1.10. Wenhoron Suyá. The Suyá Village, Xingu Indigenous Park, 1983.
On the following day Wenhoron Suyá presented figures he collected during the
fishing expedition to his classmates. He had counted the fish carefully: “total =
323; 57 big, 98 medium, and 168 small.” Based on the information that he and his
friends brought to school several arithmetic problems were created to practice sign
operations (addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication). The choice of which
sign operation to use - plus, minus, multiplication, or division - challenged most
students, to my initial surprise.