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Maybe it was the angry expression on my face that made this indigenous woman speak to me. There I was at the Museu de Republica in Rio. A performance involving various indigenous peoples were taking place in honour of the fact that it was DAY OF THE INDIOS.


....From my point of view it seemed like a parade of all the acceptable sterotypes and images of indigenous people. Feathers, paint, indigenouspeople dancing in a circle, playing indigenous instruments. In a day that was supposed to inform the public about the situation of indigenous people what was striking was what the public wasnt been told.Information boards around the museum talked about customs, cooking utensils, fishing hooks....but there was no mention of disputes by indigenous people to reclaim their land, to have their territorial boundaries respected. No mention of how when the portugese arrived in Brasil there were over two thousand indigenous languages now theres only slightly over two hundred. No mention of how so many indigenous peoples were murdered. How so many cultures were decimated.
....On a very personal note for me there was absolutely no mention of Galdino. This patoxi indian had gasoline poured on him was he asleep on a sidewalk by rich kids in Brasilia. Galdino was then set on fire by Max Rogério Alves, Antônio Novely Cardoso Vilanova, Tomás Oliveira de Almeida e Eron Chaves Oliveira. He died from burns to ninety percent to his body. I never saw galdinos face but when i went to the trial of the four accused of murdering him his family showed me the coroners photos of his horribly burnt corpse.
....Thats something i would never forget.
....Yet at this event supposedly honoring indigenous people there was absolutely nothing remembering the life lost of this innocent man.instead what was being being forced into public consciusness was the image of the quaint exotic indienous person.invisible, non existent except and obscene caricartures on soap operas and at carnival. Beads, feathers, handicrafts these were the symbols allotted to indigenous people.
....A patricina walked in front of me. She was loaded down with an assortment of indigenous beads and necklaces she had bought from vendors.
....I said what do yu think of the fact theres nothing here to remember Galdino.
She stopped, gave me her full attention and with a beautiful smile innocently asked Galdino whos that angry i turned my back to her and walked away.
....I started thinking about the indifference I perceived to indigenous issues, even with all the media that Galdinos case received no one I asked could tell me the name of an entire music that solely dealt with what happened to Galdino. Someone pointed out a puesdo hip hop video that had a reference to Galdino. But this video was full of sterotyped racist refences to indigenous people.the video contained various scenes of painted indigenous people sitting around a fire. To me this was one of the most cliched images of indigenous people, perpetuating the image of indigenous people as animal like people limited to a life of just sitting around the fire in the jungle. But indigenous people are more than that; I thought of an indigenous friend of mine who was computer programmer and hacker, another who was a lawyer and got totally pissed off. Pushing this sterotyoe of indigenous people totally destroyed any good intention the artist might have had.
....I kept asking myself where were the voices of the artists and musicians speaking out about this tradegy that occurred with Galdino. Where were the voices speaking out about the way the serious life threatening issues of indigenous peoples. their issues practically never discussed.
Its as if indigenos people dont exist. Their issues dont count.
....When I travelled around brasil and talk with brasilans and artists about this people were usually sympathetic but there was always an attitude of indifference. Often I walked away feeling like I was talking to people about something they really didnt feel was that important.not that it didnt matter but there were things way more important to discuss and work on.talking about indigenous people well that was something left to gringos like Sting who like to go to the amazon and take photos besides painted indians.
....It was at this moment with my heart both angry and sad at the lack of remembrance for Galdino that this indigenous woman approached me.
....She was as angry about the event as I was. People are very happy to come to an event like this.
....They see painted exotic indians playing music and dancing.they think ah we have seen the real indians the ones that live in the jungle.but almost every big city has indigenous people living in it.
Theres a favela (ghetto) of São Paulo thats full of guarani indians. Are you telling me those arent real indians. I asked her what she thought was the reason for the indiference shown to indigenous people and their issues.
....She replied somehow we are programmed to see brasilian indians as inferior to "civilized people" and to "imported indians" like the american indians. They have this mystic this glamour. They are more beautiful than brasilian indians. People love tatoos with american indians.
....Brasian indians are seen like old old buildings that shouldnt be destroyed because they represent a piece of the nations history. They are seen almost like extinct animals. People dont care if they are living or how they are living. Theres more noise made about an old building about to be torn down than say when a group of indigenous people are murdered by cattle ranchers who want their land to raise cattle.
....She reached into her bag and pulled out a photo. She said im going to show you something that runs counter to all the streotypes of indian people, she shown me a photo of a group of indigenous women some were masked all were carrying rifles.
....Im not trying to glamorise guns here ,the media is always doing this.i know in this situation these indigenous women have guns because they are in a desperate situation and they were forced to defend themselves.but the reason im showing you this is because it goes completely against the image of idigenous people as passive people always willing to accept the misery and oppression they often face. The public doesnt think of brasilian indians as people ready and willing to fight back.most brasilians would get really surprised if i show them this photo.
....On this point i really agreed with her.i told about the krikati indians of maranho who fought back against the government and hydroelectric companies. Destroying powerlines.knocking out power in cities.forcing the government who ignored years of peaceful negotiations to finally pay attention to their need for territorial demarcation.a courageous action by a small nation of people but something that is not discussed.the image of passive indigenous people is so powerful yet the zapatistas of mexico are applauded by many in brasil and many wear zapatista t shirts but i often ask myself arent they aware that most of the faces behind the zapatista masks are in fact indigenous people.
....There are indigenous people involved in resistance movements in various parts of the world.
....When I mentioned this she pulled out a magazine. She said look at this magazine it has some good information on indigenous people in brasil.but look very carefully who publishes it .this magazine is done by missionaries.we cant forget missionaries have an agenda.They are on a mission to convert.we cant deny the assistance they give to indigenous communities doing work that no one is else is doing.But we have to ask ourselves why is no one else doing this work.where are the people from the left and progressive movements.how is they have allowed the church to gain so much access and power with indigenous communities here in Brasil. (yet these same people will often complain how christianised indigenous people have become). We cant forget the role the missionaries played in the history of the slaughter of indigenous people. They aided the spanish and portugese conquisadors as they tried to eliminate indigenous cultures. To stop them from being heathens. They imposed their language and religion on indigenous people. We know many indegenous women and children were and still are sexually abused by missionaries and priests. I have an indigenous friend who is now in the process of suing the church. she along with other members of her family had been sexually abused by catholic priests.
....
I knew exactly what she was talking about.
....She stopped and laughed .you know maybe thats why the church talks so much about the importance of forgiveness.they know all the shit they have done.
....After we laughed at this she continued.the point is indigenous people need to own and control their magazines and we need to talk more about the difficult realities we face extreme poverty, suicides, gringos coming in to steal our herbal and medicinal knowledge, lack of land, the land that was stolen from us. We never signed legal documents giving the portugese the right to our land and resources.one day when we have more indigenous lawyers we will challenge this in court.then they will be afraid.
....W
e need to talk about indigenous reality. Indigenous resistance. because some of us are fighting back!
....
This vinyl you have in your hands is the first release from our new label I.R a label owned and controlled by people who have indigenous ancestry.in brasil this record is made available free of charge to the public.this vinyl is not to be sold under any circumstances in brasil.
....We are not an ong we didnt received assistance from the government from a politiical party from any ong from any record company to do this record.we are not rich but we believe nothing comes without struggle and sacrifice and we believe in the philosphy of Malcom X thats says by any means necessary. Thats how you are receiving this record for free.we are part and work alongside a group of artists like asian dub foundation,underground resistance, Marcelo 'Troublemaker' Yuka who believe artists have a role to play in the postive transformation of society.its not just about making being famous ,making money and its definately not about being afraid to live on less than 8.000 reias a year......
....
As we write these liner notes a friend sends us an email saying that in the period of ten days 3 indigenous people have been murdered in brasil:

  • 6 january 2003 in Rio Grande de Sul,3 guys kicked to death Leopoldo Crespo a Caiagangue indian who was sleeping on a sidewalk.
  • 9 january Aldo de Silva Macuxi indian was killed in Roirama.
  • 14 janury Marcos Vernon a cacique Guarani-caiui was killed in regards to a land conflict between indigenous people and ranchers in Mato Grosso do Sul.

....She also informed me that one of the guys who murdered galdino was now free.
We need to understand what happened to galdino is not an isolated incident. From our perspective these incidents reflect a sentiment that the lives of indigenous people are regarded as not as valuable as those of other citizens.
....We need to remember those murdered have families who will weep for them. They too like all other brasilians had the potential to make a contribution to make a better brasil.

....Its time for resistance and awareness.

....As we like to say: FUCK BABYLON!