Indigenous of Brazil

Latest update December 15, 2018 Started on November 28, 2018

In Brazil, there are about 305 ethnic groups, of which 16 belong to the Xingú National Park. The Park, now considered an Indigenous Land by a demarcated protection area, has more than 6 million indigenous people living in numerous villages. Each village has its particularities, format, organization, art, and culture.

We invite you to travel with our team of specialists to this unique world in the heart of Brazil. Discover through our photos, videos and texts the routine of these peoples who have resisted and struggled to preserve their ancestral values, traditions and environment.

Project Leader: Natália Branco

Production: Roberto Benatti

Project Manager: Felipe Martins

Photographer: Carol Brenck

November 28, 2018
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Preparation Stage

Art or artefact?

Some handmade indigenous pieces can be considered works of art in a museum or gallery. However, the same piece can have different meanings in indigenous villages.

A good example of that is the hatchet from the Krahô people, the Kyiré. This piece is an important element in the Krahô culture and it contains songs and stories from its people, and protection for all indigenous people. There is a guardian that not only takes cares of it, but also raises it, making sure it is alive and active.

The anthropologist Harald Schultz had the possession of the hatchet for a while, later the Museu Paulista of Universidade de São Paulo (Paulista Museum of the University of São Paulo) kept it in a sealed glass furniture with a special light. Unlike the way it is handle in the village, by children, hunters, elders and in rituals.

There was a great action by historians, lawyers, anthropologists and Indians to retrieve the hatchet and put it back in the indigenous village, its true home. Months of debates and reflections later, the Kyiré was rescued and brought back to the village, thus coming back to life.

Access the link and watch the full story

Algumas peças do artesanato indígena podem ser consideradas obras de arte dentro de um museu ou galeria. Entretanto, a mesma peça pode ter outro significado em uma aldeia indígena.

Um bom exemplo disso é o machadinho da etnia Krahô, o “Kyiré”. Essa peça é um elemento importante na cultura Krahô e guarda canções, história e proteção para todo o povo indígena. Existe um guardião que não só cuida, mas “cria” esse objeto para que ele sempre se mantenha vivo e ativo.

O machadinho ficou sob o poder do antropólogo Harald Schultz por um tempo e depois no Museu Paulista da Universidade de São Paulo guardado em um móvel lacrado com vidro e luz especial. Totalmente contrário de como ele é manuseado na aldeia: por crianças, caçadores, idosos e em rituais.

Houve uma grande ação entre historiadores, advogados, antroppólogos e indígenas para se resgatar esse machado de volta e colocá-lo na aldeia, onde seria o seu verdadeiro lugar. Foram meses de debate e reflexões até que por fim, o “Kyiré” foi resgato e levado de volta para a aldeia e voltou “a vida”.

Acesse o link para ler a reportagem na íntegra

Expedition Background

“Every Brazilian has Indigenous blood, we are one single people."

Under this motto that Natalia, teacher, and artist, initiated a project in which she spread the indigenous culture through art and education.

She organized events in which it opened space for the indigenous to be protagonists of their own history. To make this possible, Natália visited more than 30 villages. It was an incredible journey!

In this Open Explorer expedition she opened her travel diary so you can get to know the Brazilian indigenous life in Xingu Park.

The project aims to learn about the reality of the indigenous people who live in the Xingu Park and explore all its existing biodiversity.   The natives will welcome us to their ocas (huts) and allow us to enter and live their routine by awakening our ancestry and raising questions so that we can reflect on their way of life, advances, setbacks, and difficulties.  

The Xingu Indigenous Park ( Parque Indígena do Xingu – PIX) is located in the northeast region of the state of Mato Grosso, more precisely, in the southern portion of the Brazilian Amazon. Establishing the park was not an easy task. It was a path full of wars, political agreements, epidemics, homicides, and a lot of battles.   Officially created on April 14, 1961, the park currently houses more than 5,500 Indians from 16 different ethnic groups. It comprises an area of 2,642 hectares, in an ecological transition region, with semideciduous dry rainforests to the south, and savannas. It also contains fields, cerrados, dry land woods, flood plain forests, and forests in the Terras Pretas Arqueológicas (Archaeological Black Lands). Due to the great advance of agribusiness, the preservation of the area by the native peoples who live there has been increasingly threatened. They also suffer invasions of fishermen, farmers, and miners.

With all these difficulties being part of the reality of the villages, the indigenous people organized themselves in different associations, public and private projects, and NGOs, all of which aim to develop autonomy to make decisions about their land.

Currently, the vast majority of villages have access to the Internet, electricity, health, and education. Neither of these factors negatively altered the traditional customs of not even one village. Leaders often come together to measure the impact of these resources on the community and reflect on the best way to use them.

Come with us, in search of adventure in an unknown world.

By Natalia Branco


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