Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
“civilizing” attempts. The term animal taming was also used by colonizers to describe pacification
well into this century (Nimuendaju 1952:432 as cited in Oliveira 1969:47). In Brazil, there are today
approximately 60 Indigenous Peoples living in isolation from the broader Brazilian society (Funai
n.d.) - that is, as yet not “pacified” or “contacted.” “Pacified Indians” are usually hired by Funai to
serve as potential translators when approaching the group to be contacted and as jungle guides, cargo
haulers, and providers of firewood, drinking water and game. The Juruna, for example, participated
in the “pacification” of the Suyá in 1958 (Ferreira 1994a:38-40), the Kayapó-Metuktire in that of the
Panará (Ferreira 1994a:216-217), and the Kayabi in that of the Arara (Ferreira 1994a:111-117).
The documented history of the Xingu populations dates back to the late 1800s, when the German
explorer Karl von den Steinen described his exploratory expedition to central Brazil (Steinen 1942).
The southernmost area of the Park - known as Alto Xingu - is inhabited by communities (such as the
Kuikuru and Yawalapiti) that have occupied the area for at least 400 years (Franchetto 1992:341). The
northern section of the Park - Lower Xingu - was increasingly populated, as of the mid-1800s on, by
peoples (Juruna and Suyá, among others) seeking refuge from Portuguese settlers and missionaries,
fur traders, gold prospectors, and rubber tappers. Waterfalls and rapids along the Xingu River made
the area - later a national park - inaccessible to the so-called civilizing fronts of northern Brazil. Other
groups (Panará, Kayabi, and Tapayuna) were brought in as of the mid-1950s, as mentioned above.
The first contact between the Juruna and Portuguese missionaries was in 1655 (Oliveira 1969:6).
In 1842 Adalberto (1979:185) reported that of the nine Juruna villages he visited in the state of
Pará, “seven had successfully been Christianized.” Adalberto estimated that in 1842 the total Juruna
population was approximately 2000.
These figures are from Travassos 1984:27 and CEDI 1990. Canísio Kayabi estimates the total Kayabi
population before the arrival of the Portuguese settlers as 2000 individuals (see Ferreira 1994a:132).
This figure is according to Schultz 1960 as cited in Seeger 1981:54 and CEDI 1990.
In 1980, for instance, several Xingu peoples joined together to kill 11 peões (individuals working off
indebtedness, or peons), who were logging inside the Park (Ferreira 1994a: 202-204). The Xingu War,
enacted against FUNAI in 1984, is also a clear example of how hostilities among peoples of the Xingu
Park gave way to intertribal alliances that eventually came to cede the indigenous societies' right to
self-determination and the respect for their constitutional rights (Lea and Ferreira 1984).
Caxiri is a word in Portuguese for a variety of fermented alcoholic beverages. It has been adopted
by Xingu peoples to refer to most alcoholic beverages. The term in Juruna for the fermented drink is
yacuha .
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The system of gift exchange has also been described in detail by ethnographers such as De Coppet
(1968, 1970), Malinowski (1964), and Trompf (1994) in Melanesian societies; by Evans-Pritchard
(1940) among the Nuer of Sudan, and by Boas (1925 ) among the North American Kwakiutl.
At the time, Funai paid teachers on indigenous reservations the minimum salary, which was
approximately equivalent to U. S. $200 per month in July 2007. Antonio, on the other hand, was hired
by FUNAI as a so-called coordinator of pacification fronts, that is, as a supervisor of expeditions
carried out to contact isolated Indians. At the time his salary was approximately 30 times the minimum
salary; this is a considerable income in a country where 16 percent of the working population (62
million total) earn less than a minimum salary per month, and especially high for someone who
dropped out of school in fourth grade.
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Castelo dos Sonhos is a well-known prospecting site in the state of Pará, near the western border of
the Xingu Park. The site is divided into individually owned lots. Prospectors use the BR-080 road that
cuts through the Xingu Park from east to west, just below the Diauarum Post, to travel around the area.
The official name of Bang-Bang is São José do Xingu. It is not called by that name, however, either
by its inhabitants or by outsiders.
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See Dimenstein 1992 for a detailed account of the traffic of women in Northern and Central-Brazil in
the late 1980s. I witnessed one of these sales in Bang-Bang in 1999, when a woman with all her teeth
was sold to a goldminer for U. S. $40.
According to Max Weber, the “predatory” nature of “parasitic” capitalism has an “irrational and
speculative character” and can be “directed to acquisition by force, above all the acquisition of booty,
whether directly in war or in the form of continuous fiscal exploitation of the subject populations”
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