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Brazil: Letters from Shamans and Young Guarani people

SourceAty Guasu


We, the Shaman of the Guarani Kaiowá and Guarani Ñandeva are no longer known as Ñanderu and Ñandesy. We rediscover an ancient term and we are now called again the Tekoa’ruvixa, the ones who give life to the children. What worries us the most is not being able to fulfill our dream of dying in our traditional Tekoha land. We want to come to our land and die in our land. This is our dream and we cannot wait any longer. We have our own way of life. We deal with matters our own way. Each of our prayers serves a purpose: for good crops, for health, to avoid storms and their widespread destruction. We pray for solar eclipses. It is our custom to boil Cedar woodchips and drink it to help us pray. We also use it to bathe the young and heal the wounded. We need the earth to keep our culture alive. Our culture is bound to the earth. We should not have to live by the side of the road or left at the corner of a farm. While we are landless, we cannot live. Many white folk believe that we all we seek is land. But what we really need is the earth, our lives depend on it. We have been landless, without our Tekoha, for far too long; our young have grown not knowing what that is and they have grown traumatised. Consequently, our young often shun us the Shaman, they do not know about us, they are far from nature, from nature’s medicine, from our rituals and from the forest. It is our land that provides all that. We have always had our health. But without the earth, we do not have the resources that kept us healthy for a long time. Without those resources we require government’s health resources. We had everything we needed to survive in the forest, the forest fed us, but it has been destroyed, it has been taken from us, so we depend on government’s staple food baskets. The earth means the survival of our culture, or our nation. This is our life, but we fear that, for the white folk, this means nothing. Our prayer house cannot be relocated. Our medicine is only obtained at our Tekoha. We have our own traditional education system and in order for that to continue to exist, we need our culture to exist as whole, so our young continue to be indigenous people. The older Tekoa’ruvixa are aging and dying and wish they were back at our Tekoha. They want to go back to our land still alive, they wish to die there, where our ancestors died. We cannot wait any longer. Aty Guasu Ñanderu Mo Mbarete
 27th July 2013
 Tekoha Jaguapiru, Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul   ***** Aty Guasu Ñanderu Mo Mbarete: Pauta de reivindicações Aty Guasu Ñanderu Mo Mbarete: List of Demands Gathered together at the Aty Guasu Ñanderu Mo Mbarete, between the 23r and 28th July 2013, in the Tekoha Jaguapiry, Dourados, Mato Grosso to Sul, we, the Tekoa’ruvixa, women, leaders, chiefs, teachers, agents, health workers and young Guarani and Kaiowá, with the support of the indigenous Terena and Kaingang people would like to present our list of demands.
  • A final solution on the issue of demarcating the land of all indigenous people in Mato Grosso do Sul by 05th August, as promised by the government. We have respected our agreement with the government and have been patiently waiting for any solutions, the government however, has not done anything so far. We will not accept another extension on the due date. From the north to the south of the country, we indigenous people are fighting together against the loss of our rights, against the loss of our lands and for the demarcation of our territory.
  • The Aty Guasu Council endorses the proposals presented at the National Justice Council, that aim at resolving the land conflicts in Mato Grosso do Sul:
  • a final solution in the demarcating the indigenous lands and compensation in the form of benefits for those who are entitled to them
  • Land expropriation for social interests
  • Direct acquisition of land
  • Settlement of small rural landowners
  • Judicial transaction and compensation for the unlawful State decision of illegitimate ownership of land
  • We, indigenous people will not accept any amendment to the report.
  • We demand justice in the dozens of cases of murder of indigenous leaders, teachers and young people during the conflicts over the land disputes. None of the murderers have been arrested and the families of the Guarani and Kaiowá victims were left unassisted. We demand the punishment of the guilty and respect to the victims and their families.
  • We are against the ceasing of demarcation of the indigenous lands.
  • The farmers whose lands are on indigenous territory need to stop with the deforestation of our land. We demand that the environmental authorities carry out the necessary inspections to stop these actions and stop issuing deforestation authorisations.
  • We demand that Sesai provides medicine, doctors, vehicles, fuel and all necessary arrangements to provide medical assistance in the indigenous villages and temporary camps and that all Tekoha have access to an indigenous health representative
  • The Aty Guasu council must approve all government decision with regards to health care, resources and projects allocated to the Guarani and Kaiowá and the indigenous representatives must also be consulted.
  • The health care drivers must be recognised as health care professionals and should possess the same rights and benefits of those.
  • We demand that the local councils and the education bodies respect the indigenous school system. Indigenous schools must be run in accordance to traditional indigenous education, not dictated by government education bodies. The directors and teachers must be indigenous. Most indigenous schools are run and taught by white teachers and that has caused major problems to the community even when it comes to support the indigenous cause in land conflicts. This has to end.
  • We want the government to create centres for indigenous education connected with the official education bodies, so that the indigenous people are directly involved in the decisions made with regards to the education of local communities.
  • We demand the creation of schools in all the tekoha villages and temporary camps, with classrooms, teachers and lunch ladies.
  • We demand that the State Secretary of Education provide transparent accountability of the funds allocated to Ára Verá and those to be transferred to Aty Guasu.
  • We want an extension of the courses Ára Verá and Teko Arandu.
  • We are against the changes in the processes of demarcation of the indigenous lands.
  • We demand the end of persecution against the pro-indigenous movements and against the non-governmental bodies that support our cause. We are autonomous and independent and we decide our own political relations, which is not a crime.
  • We are against the PLP 227, PEC 215 and Ministerial Decree 303.
  • We want safety in our tekoha. Because we are landless, we are camped in small holdings and suffer constant threat from hitmen and private security staff at the service of farmers.
  • We repudiate the actions of the Federal Justice, the Military Police and the Civil Police in handling the investigation of the attacks against the Ita’y community.
  • The Aty Guasu elects Ladio Veron as the representative of the Guarani and Kaiowá at the PNEGAT.
  • The Aty Guasu nominates Léia Aquino as the representative of the Guarani and Kaiowá at the Consea.
  • The Aty Guasu introduces the five representatives of the Guarani and Kaiowá at Apib: Bento Hara, Jorge Gomes, Roseli Gonçalves Barbosa, Celso Alziro and Fabio Turiba.
  • The Aty Guasu supports the demand of the indigenous people with regards to the removal of non-indigenous people from the board of Sesai MS and the appointment of Professor Alberto Terena and another indigenous person (to be confirmed) for the board of Sesai MS.
Aty Guasu Ñanderu Mo Mbarete
 27th July 2013
 Tekoha Jaguapiru, Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul ***** Aty Guasu Ñanderu Mo Mbarete: Letter from the young Guarani e Kaiowá We, the young Guarani, Kaiowá, Terena, Kadiwéu and Kinikikau, are gathered together with the indigenous leaders, the Teko’aruvixa Shaman, teachers, agents and health workers in Dourados, in the Jaguapiru village, at the Aty Guasu Council. We have been witnessing great suffering in the conflicts for the demarcation of our land, our tekoha. We urgently need our traditional land to be demarcated. We are the future and the root of our land. We want our land back. We are fighting for our rights. We have been going through many problems and obstacles trying to reclaim our land and we worry about our leaders, who have been threatened countless times and continue to be threatened in their struggle to get what is ours. Because of that and for all the other problems the villages and temporary camps are suffering – now being discussed in the Aty Guasu Council, we hereby support our Tuvixa because they are our roots. We promise to value our land, our culture and our prayers and give continuity to the traditions handed to us by our ancestors. This is our only weapon. We ask the authorities to resolve our struggle once and for all, so that all indigenous people have a voice once again. We demand our education to follow the indigenous traditions, that our schools have indigenous teachers, as we already have many education professionals amongst our people. We suffer daily from the lack of medicine, medical vehicles, doctors and dentists. The health situation in the camps is very precarious, as we also lack health workers in general. We want differentiated public tenders for indigenous people, in the health and education sectors. We want to be guaranteed safety, with enough resources to protect us (vehicles and fuel), especially in the conflict areas, where we are constantly under the threat of hitmen and private security staff. And we want to be guaranteed public policies for the young Guarani, Kaiowá, Terena and other indigenous people of Mato Grosso do Sul. In the hope of being heard, we are looking forward to hearing from you. Aty Guasu Young Indigenous People 27th July 2013
Original letter can be read here (in Portuguese). Translated for LAB by Marianne Arake.

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