Dancing for the Xingu River

Dancing for the Xingu River

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John Ahni Schertow
January 17, 2009
 

There was an historic gathering in Brazil last year, the “Xingu Forever Alive” Encounter, which brought together Indigenous Peoples and allies to reject hydro development plans on the Xingu River.

You may recall reading about an incident during the encounter, where an indigenous woman cut the arm of an Electrobras official with her machete.

Historic in its own right, the exact same thing happened in 1989, the last time Indigenous People from the Xingu Basin gathered to reject hydro development on the river.

A few hours after the incident, on May 20, 2008, “a local news station reported that Mr. Rezende, the Electrobras official, was sent to the hospital and received 6 stitches from the wound he received on his arm,” explains a report by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). “People cheered! Then the station ran an interview of a FUNAI (Bureau of Indian Affairs) official who denounced the ‘attack’ and said that ‘the Indians would be held accountable’. People began yelling and chanting in anger.”

Then, the Kayapo stood up and began to chant war songs and dance, which soon inspired the Kamaiura, Kaiabi, Suia, Kuikuro, Xavante and every other tribe that that was there to join in.

The dance lasted for hours — marking yet another historic moment for the Xingu Encounter.

It was perhaps the most important of all, because a number of these tribes have been at war with one another — but rather than restrict themselves by old grudges and differences in cultures and opinions, they unanimously chose to come together for the Xingu River.

It’s something we can all stand to live by: that our differences and our feelings and our opinions and beliefs come second to the needs of the land.

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