Thursday, May 31, 2012
5/30/12 Today we had a relaxing day at the house. We got to play with the kids and soak up some of that Brazilian sun. It has been so fun to spend time with the Cacique's children. Marcos Paulo, the oldest is five years old and full of life. He is charismatic, animated and kind. He always makes a point in telling the women they look nice if they got their hair done or are wearing a nice outfit. He is quite the entertainer, tonight he showed us his dance moves, with his little brother Yuri Mateus.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 10:15 PM
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
5/28/12 Today, Marcia and Lee accompanied Marcos into Pesqueira to buy paint for tomorrow, so the rest of us had a free day to work on some homework. I spent the morning playing with Yuri Mateus; I’m glad that he has really started to warm up to me. We sat outside on the patio and listened to music, danced, took a million pictures, and snuggled in the hammock.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 10:00 PM
On Saturday, May 26th the Cacique brought us to a very sacred site to his people. Apart from being honored at the fact that we were in a place that many Xukuru don’t even get to go to, I was amazed by the simplicity of the site and how close to nature it all was. The first stop on our journey to the site was at a small, simple hut built out of sticks and palm fronds and we stopped there for a while before climbing to the top of mountain to the main site. As soon as I saw the altar at the top of the mountain, my breath was taken away from me. I wasn’t sure what I had expected to encounter up there, but it definitely was not this. It was a simple, plain altar built out of the same rock that covered the mountainside making it indistinguishable from a distance. There was absolutely nothing spectacular about it in a architectural or decorative sense, but in a spiritual way, it was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen in my life. Although I have toured and performed in some of the great Cathedrals of Europe, this simple site was more magnificent than even the Cathedral of Notre Dame. I think that this is because we build our churches and cathedrals out of wood and stone which are often not native to the area, and we decorate them with stained glass, tapestries, and other adornments. Overall, it seems that we are trying so hard to impress someone, while this small stone altar was more spectacular than all of these because of its simplicity, and because it seemed to have come from the earth itself and the only decorations were simple white candles and the pink flowers that we picked on our climb. This was truly a sacred place and no words can completely describe the feelings of awe, inspiration, and something utterly spiritual that I felt at this place. It reminds me that spirituality does not have to be a show that only takes place in a church, but it can be something that can be felt in the simplest places. - Beth
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 2:09 PM
5/29/12 Today we went to a small village to paint part of a school. We all hopped into Cacique Marcos's truck, and started our journey to the village. Many of the roads in the Xukuru territory are not paved, to say they are bumpy is an understatement. If the roads seem hard to travel on now, they are almost impossible to travel on when there have been heavy storms. When we made it to the school, we all hoped out of the truck and got the paint ready. Like magic men appeared to help paint. The day started out cold, but the sun soon appeared. I have been recovering from a cold that has been going around, so needed to take a break from painting and sit down. As, soon as I sat down, I was followed by little girls.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 1:13 PM
On Tuesday, May 29th we went to Pao de Acuca to paint the wall surrounding the elementary school there. In December of 2011, Global Citizen's Network came to stay with the Xukuru and part of the service work they did was to move the school wall closer to the school itself in order to create space for parking and other activities in front of the school. We left the house at 7:30 and arrived around 8:00 in the morning. Cacique Marcos has arranged for community members to meet us and together we began to get all our paint materials together and ready to use. Two men from the community mixed the bright yellow paint, which Cacique Marcos selected a few days before, with water to expand the quantity of paint and to thin it out. We used paint rollers, paint trays, and a large brush to get into corners and to paint the lowest part of the wall nearest to the ground. The wall had been painted with white primer and was approximately 10 feet tall, and at its tallest points extended to approximately 15 to 18 feet where it connected to the school building's tiled roof.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 9:35 AM
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
5/27/12 Today, I learned a big lesson in cultural differences and how our actions (or lack thereof) can be perceived by others. Because of the language barrier we share with our host family, we need to try to be extra careful to not put on any kind of facial expression or emit body language that could possibly be misconstrued due to the lack of dialogue that accompanies it. There are so many things I am trying to get used to when it comes to being here, and at times I have found myself forgetting that there are cultural differences at play here and that it’s too easy to get complacent. For example, the family here gets up super early, even on the weekends. Nobody sleeps in, whereas I didn’t get up today until 9, and didn’t emerge from my room until 10:30 or so. Later, I learned that Dona Helena had gone through all the trouble of making breakfast for us, and eventually put it away because nobody was there to eat it. Upon hearing this, I felt devastated. She works so incredibly hard to make sure that everybody is taken care of in every way possible; from what I’ve seen, she hardly ever sits down to take a break for herself, she is the first one up in the morning and one of the last people to go to bed, and she is constantly making sure that nobody has want or need for anything. When I had a stomachache, she boiled me a pot of special tea to make me feel better. Whenever she prepares a snack for herself, she always brings it out to share. It’s little things like that that make her so special; she always puts the needs of others before herself. The last thing I want for her is to feel like we are taking advantage of her, and I want her to know that I appreciate everything she does. Another example would be our obsession with technology and the kind of presence we emit while we’re fixated on it. We used our “free day” to catch up on homework, get news from back home, Skype, etc., not really realizing what kind of message it sends when we’re glued to our computers. I think while we are here, we’re partly using them as a way to feel a familiar connection; as badly as we want to talk to the family here – converse with them, take part in the dialogue, stories, laughter, etc. – we just can’t because we can’t follow along… and it is FRUSTRATING! So on the flip-side, our lack of involvement can be misconstrued as a lack of interest. We need to learn how to find that delicate medium so we can make sure there’s no ambiguity in our actions. -Shayla
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 12:03 AM
Monday, May 28, 2012
5/28/12 "Life is beautiful, but it can also be difficult, and its full of flowers, but it can also have thorns.." Cacique Marcos The Cacique drove four hours to Recife, for a two hour meeting and four hours back today. Every time he leaves the Xukuru territory he has to have police escorts for his own protection due to assassination attempts, so a non-uniformed officer had to travel with him. When he came home, he made a point to shake hands and greet everyone in the house. Even though he is busy and had a long day, he took time to sit and talk to all of us, like he has done before. Tonight, he talked about how important it is to spread the word about the Xukuru people, and all ingenious people in Brazil. They have a long history of being marginalized, and are often overlooked and cast aside. The Cacique became chief at the age of 21, and he believes that youth have p0wer to mobilize there community.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 11:14 PM
Dona Zenilda’s grandmother taught her how to use plants and herbs for medicinal purposes, but before that the people were taught by nature itself. Not only do the Xukuru have an understanding of what the plants do for the human body and for other animals, but how animals are an integral part of the life of plants. Whether it be that the animals have caused deforestation, like with the cattle overgrazing that occurred when the Fazendero’s lived on the land, or the relationship between the birds and the plants- in which the birds eat the fruit and, in turn, spread the seeds by natural processes. Our group was honored to have Zenilda and another Xukuru leader give us a tour of their garden. On this tour they pointed out all of the plants that were used for medicinal purposes, the one that were used for food, and the ones used solely for animal feed. Many of the foods grown in these gardens are used to feed the students at the schools that we visited on Day 3 and 4. By using these fresh, locally grown foods, the children are receiving great amounts of nutrients from their school food. The foods grown here look, smell, and taste amazing! The tea made from these herb are also wonderful!
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 10:56 PM
5/26/12 I can’t express in words how truly grateful I am for today. We woke up early and Marquinho took us to a place most Xukuru people don’t even get to experience: the sacred Pedra do Rei (Rock of the King). There is an alter at the base of the rock marking where the Xukuru first began the fight to take back their land; on top of the rock (more like a mountain), is another sacred alter. Up here is where one goes to hear and receive the encantadas (the spirits). As Marquinho explained it to us, Pedra do Rei is not a place where one goes to pray, or to ask for or expect anything. It is a place to just go and be – with an open mind and an open heart. This is the only way one could truly experience the special things that take place there. From up here we had the most magnificent 360* view of all the Xukuru territory. We sat down quietly and just let nature take over and run her course; the feel of the wind on my face and in my hair is something I’ll never forget for as long as I live. I can’t describe the feeling of being there or all of the emotions that seem to surge through you at once because no words would be enough. Because of the language barrier, all I could give Marquinho was a simple “thank you,” though I believe he knows how much more than that I meant by my humble expression of gratitude. -Shayla
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 2:14 PM
We have been visiting several different schools, in the Xukuru territory. On Monday we helped deliver food to different schools. The food we delivered was all fresh fruit in vegetables grown organically on Xukuru land. The Xukuru people put great emphasis on their childern's education, On Tuesday we visited a larger school and got to talk with the teachers and sit in on a class. The Xukuru schools put great emphasis on teaching their children about their history and values. In the class we sat through, the teacher was explaining how important it is to work as a community and share resources such as water.She put a problem on the board asking the students to divide the number of Xukuru people by the amount of land they have, and later went on to explain how important it is to live collectively, so everyone can share the resources.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 1:45 PM
5/27/12 I must have caught the cold that has been going around the house. First the kids got it than Isabell, and now me. Although, its uncomfortable to be away from home, let alone in another country while I'm sick. The family has been wonderful about taking care of me. They have been giving me special ear-drops, that they make from local herbs, and I have been drinking Helana's lemongrass tea. It's so nice to be around a family, it reminds me of my own family. I like hearing the kids playing and running around, and the buzzing of the family getting ready for meals. As, a college student living in an off campus apartment, I often spend a lot of time by myself. This summer when I go back to Grand Forks I will be living alone. Although, I will be busy with work, and have friends in and out. I'm sure I will miss having a family around. Erin
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 12:56 PM
5/25/12 The tour of the Xukuru territory today was quite the adventure. Due to the terrible conditions of the roads it felt like we were off-roading the entire time; and, since we were four-deep in the backseat of a three-seat bench, it was hours of “extra” fun. We got to have some great quality time with Cacique Marquinho and experience first-hand how he interacts with his people. Everywhere we went he was greeted with a huge smile; the amount of love his people have for him was plain as day for everybody to see. His picture was in every school we visited – one child even had his picture glued to the front of her notebook! In turn, he greeted everyone he encountered with a hug as though they were family. The relationships people have here with each other are really special. It also became even more evident how much he cares for the people around him, even if they aren't his own people, by lunchtime when he took us out to eat at a local restaurant. Knowing that we were slightly homesick for "familiar foods," he ordered fried chicken, french fries, and Coke (alongside traditional regional foods, of course). While each of these were slightly different in taste than those found at home, everything was still delicious and it totally hit the spot - we went through two liters of Coke! It was a real treat.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 12:54 PM
5-25-12: After our tour today, the Cacique brought our group to a small restaurant in Pesqueira where he ordered a large meal for us. He was sure to include "batatas fritas" (French Fries) and multiple large glass bottles of Coca-Cola along with the local cuisine for his American guests. While attempting to read the menu in Portuguese, I realized that the first meals offered were large, communal meals - like the one the Cacique had ordered for us - and that ordering an individual meal was not the norm due to its placement further back on the menu. This is one of the major differences from American culture that I have noticed. Everyone in the Xukuru territory seems to do everything together or for the good of each other, and that meals are always shared and are comparable to social event. am told that this is because their society more closely relates to a sociocentric society while a majority of American society is based on the individual, instead of the collective.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 11:17 AM
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Today is Friday, May 25th and my students, Lee (from Global Citizens Network), and I spent the day with Cacique Marquinho, who woke us up early to show us the total perimeter of the Xukuru lands. Helena had coffee, French bread, butter, and fruits for us to eat for breakfast. We began our tour in the Aldeia (village of Santana where Marquinho lives) and drove to the following aldais: Corodantas, Coral de Boi, Cimbres, Jatoba, Coral Velheo, Passagem, Calderao, Pao de Acuca, Pe de Serra dos Nogeira, Pe de Serra de Sao Sebastao, Capim de Planta, Canna Brava, and back to Santana. Cimbres is a historic city with the church Nossa Senhora das Montanhas. This church was central to the attempted assassination of Cacique Marcos Xukuru because it has been part of an ongoing battle between local politicians, businessmen, and a small number of Xukuru. This is another story, which I'll tell later. The total tour took us approximately six hours. As we passed through each aldeia, Marquinho stopped and talked to everyone we passed, usually because everyone has some kind of problem or issue they needed to talk to him about. That gave us an opportunity to meet many local people, learn about the issues that needed attention in each aldaia, and to get out of the car and walk around or take pictures. I'm posting photos of our tour with this short post. The Xukuru territory is large, but today there almost 12,000 Xukuru living on 27,555 kilometers. There is a growing need to expand the territory that they currently have. On our tour we saw how the Xukuru are developing various agro-petrol projects for alternative combustible fuels. The Brazilian government is interested in developing a variety of new types of fuel for cars and trucks and for industrial use that includes a plant called 'mamona'. They already have an enormous production of fuel made of sugar cane that is the major type of fuel for Rio de Janeiro and a variety of other urban centers. This is the 'mamona' plant:
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 12:25 AM
Thursday, May 24, 2012
This is the Formal Letter from the 12th Assembly of the Xukuru People - Originally Posted on the web page of CIMI (The Catholic Indigenous Missionary - link provided below) This letter outlines the organized and collectively identified mission and goals of the Xukuru for the coming year (2012 - 2013) and summarizes the issues discussed at this year's assembly. Xukuru People of Ororubá conduct assembly with focus on agriculture through Living Well Original posting CIMI: http://www.cimi.org.br/site/pt-br/?system=news&conteudo_id=6285&action=read Translation by Meg Kidd - Sent to us by Meg on May 25, 2012: For a militant agriculture through for Living Well, which breaks with the colonized perspectiveof utilization of Mother Earth, the Xukuru of Ororubá held between Thursday May 17th and Sunday 20th , the XII Assembly of the people with the traditional warrior descent from the Sierra Ororubá toward Pesqueira, Pernambuco, symbol and memory of the struggle of the Xukuru people for occupation of the territory. At the end of the encounter, the indigenous people wrote a letter with the main points discussed in the four-day meeting. Read in full: Letter from the XII Assembly of the Xukuru of Ororubá We, the Xukuru People of Ororubá, men and women illuminated by the force of Sacred Nature, met in the XII Assembly, which had as theme: "Limolaigo Toípe - Land of the Ancestors: Xukuru Agriculture practicing Living Well", from May 17 to 20, 2012 in the village of Capim de Planta, with representatives of the villages: Pão de Açucar, Pé de Serra, Cana Brava, Brejinho, Afetos, Caípe, Caetano, Couro Dantas, Oiti, Caldeirão, Capim de Planta, Lagoa, Cimbres, Sucupira, Guarda Jatobá, Pedra d`água, Curral Velho, São José, Gitó, Mascarenhas, Santana, Passagem e Cajueiro; in addition to partners and allies of our people, among them: the Potiguara People, Truká People, Xukuru Kariri People, Wassu Cocal People, Kapinawá People, Kambiwá People, CIMI, APOINME, la Quilombo Community la Negros do Osso,, SESAI, SECRETARIAT OF AGRICULTURE, SAF / MDA, SEDUC, IPA, CONSEA / PE, ADAGRO, State Secretariat for Women, the State Secretariat of Education, SEAF, Movemento Mangue- Crew, Movemento Pé no Chão, Rede Reflectação, Centro Josué de Castro, CDAPP and DIOCESE DE PESQUEIRA. Concerned with the dwelling of our Ancestors, and our relationship with Mother Earth, we reflect on the type of agriculture that we desire. Observing the current practices and uses in our territory, we identify and reflect on the elements that might make fragile and those that can strengthen the Project for the Future of our people. Recuperating the memory of other assemblies, we verified that concern for Mother Earth has always been present. In this meeting, we deepen the debate to ensure our autonomy in syntony with the principles of Good Living and of Sacred Nature. Thus, we believe that Xukuru Agriculture has as principles: • Respect for Mother Earth; • Ensure the collective usufruct of the Xukuru territory and the free Earth; • To attend to the basic necessities of the family and not the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few; • The consciousness of care and concern, and not of exploitation of nature ensuring our Health This consciousness has an intimate relationship with the Education of the people, valuing also learning with others in daily living; • Dialogue with Sacred Nature, for it is she who is able to give the answers for the time of planting and harvesting, and conducting tilling of the fields; having as reference the customs of our ancestors; • To esteem in equality of the conditions in access to all that nature offers us; • Not to commercialize, but to preserve, protect and care for our Mother Earth; • To recognize the mutual rights and responsibilities for the common good; • Everything must be done with autonomy and liberty, free from the production rules of the market and from government policies contrary to our project of life. We reaffirm that for us nature is sacred, is the dwelling place of our enchantments. To injure her is to commit to our own lives and those of all living beings. While we have water, earth and forest we exist and live well. For this, we have to live practices that ensure the land be free, the waters alive and the forests protected. The religion is our source of strength and wisdom. The Xukuru People are opposed to any and all governmental practice that disrespects the dignity and lives of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil. Therefore, we oppose the approval of PEC 215 and the PEC 038 and, in addition to development projects such as the PAC. And in opposition to any measure that might injure the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular Articles 231 and 232 of the Federal Constitution of 1988. That the government respect the decision of the indigenous peoples, quilombolas and traditional communities in order to have time for a broader discussion on the regulation of the consultation process as recommended by Convention 169 of the ILO. Aldeia Capim de Planta, May 19, 2012. And tell the people to go forth! *** Povo Xukuru do Ororubá realiza assembleia com foco na agricultura pelo Bem Viver Inserido por: Administrador em 23/05/2012. Fonte da notícia: Assessoria de Comunicação - Cimi http://www.cimi.org.br/site/pt-br/?system=news&conteudo_id=6285&action=read Por uma agricultura militante pelo Bem Viver, que rompa com a perspectiva colonizada de utilização da Mãe terra, o povo Xukuru do Ororubá realizou entre a última quinta-feira, 17, e domingo, 20, a XII Assembleia do povo com a guerreira e tradicional descida da Serra do Ororubá rumo ao município de Pesqueira, Pernambuco, símbolo e memória da luta do povo Xukuru pela ocupação do território. Ao final do encontro, os indígenas escreveram uma carta com os principais pontos debatidos nos quatro dias de assembleia. Leia na íntegra: Carta da XII Assembleia do povo Xukuru do Ororubá Nós, Povo Xukuru do Ororubá, iluminados e iluminadas pela força da Natureza Sagrada, nos reunimos na XII Assembleia, que teve como Tema: “Limolaigo Toípe – Terra dos Ancestrais: Agricultura Xukuru praticando o Bem Viver”, no período de 17 a 20 de maio de 2012, na aldeia Capim de Planta, com representantes das aldeias: Pão de Açucar, Pé de Serra, Cana Brava, Brejinho, Afetos, Caípe, Caetano, Couro Dantas, Oiti, Caldeirão, Capim de Planta, Lagoa, Cimbres, Sucupira, Guarda Jatobá, Pedra d`água, Curral Velho, São José, Gitó, Mascarenhas, Santana, Passagem e Cajueiro; além dos parceiros e aliados do nosso povo, dentre eles: Povo Potiguara, Povo Truká, Povo Xukuru Kariri, Povo Wassu Cocal, Povo Kapinawá, Povo Kambiwá, CIMI, APOINME, Comunidade Quilombo la Negros do Osso, SESAI, SECRETARIA DE AGRICULTURA, SAF/MDA, SEDUC, IPA, CONSEA/PE, ADAGRO, Secretaria Estadual da Mulher, Secretaria Estadual de Educação, SEAF, Movimento Mangue-Crew, Movimento Pé no Chão, Rede Reflectação, Centro Josué de Castro, CDAPP e DIOCESE DE PESQUEIRA. Preocupados com a morada de nossos Ancestrais, e a nossa relação com a Mãe Terra, realizamos uma reflexão sobre o tipo de agricultura que desejamos. Observando as práticas e usos atuais em nosso território, identificamos e refletimos sobre os elementos que poderiam fragilizar e aqueles que podem fortalecem o Projeto de Futuro de nosso povo. Recuperando a memória de outras assembleias, verificamos que a preocupação com a Mãe Terra sempre esteve presente. Neste encontro, aprofundamos o debate para garantir a nossa autonomia em sintonia com os princípios do Bem Viver e da Natureza Sagrada. Deste modo, entendemos que a Agricultura Xukuru tem como princípios: • O respeito à Mãe Terra; • Garantir o usufruto coletivo do território Xukuru e a Terra livre; • Atender as necessidades básicas da família e, não o acúmulo de riquezas nas mãos de poucos; • A consciência de cuidado e zelo, e não de exploração da natureza garantindo a nossa Saúde. Esta consciência tem relação íntima com a Educação do povo, valorizando também o aprendizado com o outro, na convivência diária; • O diálogo com a Natureza Sagrada, pois é ela quem pode dar as respostas para o tempo de plantio e colheita, além da condução da lavoura; tendo como referência os costumes de nossos ancestrais; • Prezar pela igualdade de condições no acesso a tudo que a natureza nos oferece; • Não comercializar, mas, preservar, zelar e cuidar da nossa Mãe Terra; • Reconhecer os direitos e responsabilidades mutua para o bem comum; • Tudo deve ser realizado com autonomia e liberdade, livre das regras da produção de mercado e de políticas de governo contrárias ao nosso projeto de vida. Reafirmamos que para nós a natureza é sagrada, é o local de morada dos nossos encantos. Feri-la é comprometer as nossas próprias vidas e de todos os seres viventes. Enquanto tivermos água, terra e mata nós existiremos e bem viveremos. Para isso, temos que vivenciar práticas que garantam a terra livre, as águas vivas e as matas protegidas. A religiosidade é nossa fonte de força e sabedoria. O Povo Xukuru é contra toda e qualquer prática governamental que desrespeite a dignidade e a vida dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil. Portanto, somos contra a aprovação da PEC 215 e a PEC 038, além dos projetos desenvolvimentistas como o PAC. E contra qualquer medida que venha a ferir os direitos indígenas, em especial os artigos 231 e 232 da Constituição Federal de 1988. Que o governo respeite a decisão dos povos indígenas, quilombolas e comunidades tradicionais para que se tenha um tempo para uma discussão mais ampla sobre a regulamentação do processo de consulta como preconiza a convenção 169 da OIT. Aldeia Capim de Planta, 19 de maio de 2012. E diga ao povo que avance!
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 11:31 PM
5/24/12 Day two was the day of the mass and the march, and it was absolutely incredible. We woke up bright and early and were ready to follow Cacique Marcos out the door at 8 am. We hopped in the bed of the pickup (my new favorite thing :) ) and drove high up into the mountains until we couldn’t go any further because the road was too treacherous. (The roads here are terrible because they can’t afford to fix any of them. And when I say terrible, I mean dirt roads in conditions you can’t even imagine.) We passed so many Xukuru people driving or walking to the same site, which is incredible because just getting to the place where we had to park and THEN walk was still really, really far. From there we parked the truck and walked the rest of the way to the place where they were holding the mass. The site, Pedra do Rei (Rock of the King), is a Xukuru holy site where Xicao Xukuru, the cacique who was assassinated in 1998, is planted. Cacique Marcos’ brother and sister-in-law, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2010, are also buried there. To get to the site we walked up the mountain and then down into a valley that was a thicket of trees; inside this thicket is where everything took place. When we got there, plenty of Xukuru were already there dancing the tore (I really wish I could make accent marks on my English keyboard, because there’s supposed to be accents everywhere here). The tore (tor RAY) is a spiritual dance where they sing, chant, and dance/march/stomp their feet in a circle. It’s a lot like pow wow dancing… that’s the only thing I can compare it to. They danced until the holy man, Marcos, and a flutist came out. While the man played the flute, the holy man prayed at Xicao’s grave, then had this lit pipe from which he blew smoke all over Marcos' body to bless and protect them. He then blessed him with more prayers. They had the mass, and it was this incredible mixture of Catholicism and native spirituality. I could follow almost the entire mass, even though it was in Portuguese, because it had the same rhythm and sequences as Catholic mass back home. They also incorporated these elements of nature worship, and sang traditional Xukuru songs praying for Mother Earth to bless them and their lands. It was really, really cool. After mass, all the Xukuru people (and I’m talking about thousands) walked back to Zanilda’s house. Zanilda, Marcos’ mother, is known as the "Mother of the Xukuru," and she is an absolutely incredible woman. She’s actually been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for all the work she’s done, and people come from all over the world to try to meet with her. It’s really amazing that we get the chance to be so close to such important people. Everyone gathered outside her house and on the road; we, and other people got to go inside and hang out. Basically the point of meeting here was to get some food and rest before the big march. While we were in the house, a couple of the local boys painted our faces in a traditional Xukuru style. Mostly everyone had their faces painted or had designs stained onto their skin (almost like henna tattoos, but black). Cacique Marcos saw us and kind of chuckled and said we were American Xukuru. At 2 o'clock, we started the march at Zanilda’s house (which is high up in the mountains), and walked down the mountain all the way into the city of Pesquiera. We marched for almost three hours, but I didn’t get tired. Everyone was filled with this huge sense of energy… I actually wanted to go faster. People at the head of the march were jogging a lot of the way and I desperately wanted to be up there with them, but we all had to stick together because the crowd was so thick and getting lost would've been too easy. Trying to put the march into words is kind of difficult. Imagine thousands upon thousands of people all gathering for the same purpose. They don’t worry about themselves, they aren’t selfish; the people here think about “the collective” - the greater good. They worry about each other; they fight for each other, rather than against each other. I wish more people and more societies could be like that. The synergism that I witnessed among the crowd is indescribable.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 7:58 AM
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Greetings Everyone, I haven't been very active on the Xukuru Human Rights Blog recently except to post information about the legal proceedings against Cacique Marcos Xukuru and the continued support and involvement of the American Anthropological Association's Committee for Human Rights. I have created a new Brazil Field School that is housed in the Anthropology Department in the University of North Dakota. I brought three anthropology students with me to Pesquiera, Pernambuco Brazil on May 19th and the students will be here until June 8th. The goals are to gain experience in the field about who the Xukuru people are and to learn first hand about the legal criminalization of their leaders, and to learn how to apply social activism using social media to raise awareness and support for indigenous human rights in Brazil. We are now staying with the Xukuru and are actively doing service work in a variety of locations that include Xukuru schools, working in distributing organic foods by loading trucks and meeting students in local schools on Xukuru lands. The students are also receiving special lectures by a variety of leaders and local artisans and they are learning the history of the Xukuru's 30 year fight for the return of their traditional lands, formally homologated in 2001. My students will be posting on this blog daily, talking about their impressions, thoughts, ideas, and questions. We hope you will join in the dialogue, and participate with us as we spend the next three weeks with the Xukuru. They are also making a list-serve of universities across the United States with anthropology departments and anthropology clubs in order to make contact with fellow anthropology students. We hope to include them in our experiences here and to exchange information about human rights and indigenous peoples in Brazil and the United States. My students' names are Erin, Shayla, and Beth. Each entry is dated and signed by the student who wrote it.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 2:56 PM