from. The 52-year-old man explained to me that he would resort to their erudition in
identifying the sacred locations of Suyá territory that I, as the anthropological expert,
should make sure figured prominently in the judicial report. As Intoni produced the
drawings of the underwater creatures and their transformative powers, the shaman
explained to me the qualities of each creature - qualities, he emphasized, the Suyá
evoke today to face the increasing encroachment of the surrounding Brazilian society
upon their territory.
Figure 2.7. The 12 underwater creatures. Intoni Suyá, 1999.
Intoni interpreted the role of each underwater being as follows (my translation from
Portuguese and Suyá):
1. The diacuí or flute fish. It has a lot of bones and only moves and swims when
other fish do. Suyá men should learn from the diacuí that they should never act
in isolation, but act collectively in trying to regain disputed territories.
2. This little blue creature is the boss of the diacuí flute fish. This means that
eventually a political or religious leader can tell a Suyá to act in isolation.
3. The black fish, peixe preto , is just like a canoe, but it is a fish. When it wants
to surface from the depths of the water, it does so as a canoe. The Suyá people
treasure their canoes and should learn that no matter how appealing cars or
airplanes appear to be, canoes are the valued means of transportation because
they are genuinely Suyá.
4. The needle fish, peixe agulha , floats on the water's surface. It has the capacity
of being in the water while surveying from inside what's going on outside above
the surface, without raising any suspicions. Suyá men should act accordingly in
the court case, trying not to raise unnecessary suspicions about, for example, the
eventual use of violence if the results of the court case are not successful.
5. The sieve fish, peixe peneira , is full of holes but it is still a fish. This fish can
swim swiftly against the current, because the water will pass through him and
push him even further upstream. Suyá people must have this ability of fighting
against strong currents.