Xavante Leader Addresses Brazilian Government in Letter
The following is an English translation of a letter written by Damião Paridzane, Chief of the Marãiwatsédé village home of the Xavante people in Brazil recently reported on by Indian Country Today Media Network in Brazil’s Xavante People Struggle for Their Territory, and translated by Raphael Tsavkko and Diego Casaes from Global Voices Online. The letter follows the appearance of farmers and politicians, behind poor peasants, appearing in local press as victims of the state, and saying that the indigenous communities do not deserve the land that they were recently awarded.
During ECO92, we started to fight for our land, the land of the Marãiwatsédé.
Within this region, the ancestors, our great-grandparents, used to live on the surface of the land. This territory is the origin of the people of Marãiwatsédé. It was in this land that the people of Marãiwatsédé was born.
Now, eviction has already begun. The elders waited too long before they expelled the non-indigenous people from the land. They had to undergo great sufferings. A lifelong of suffering, as they waited to evict the big farmers.
The federal laws, the Constitution, the authorities are on our side. The National Force authorities, the Army, the Federal Police are all on our side because President Dilma knows that the land belongs to the Xavantes of Marãiwatsédé.
We thank the authorities and all entities that support us in this struggle of truth against lies. The eviction of the intruders is glorious.
Is it really right to say that the land belongs to the white people? Were the farmers’ parents, grandparents or great-grandparents born here? We know, and the community in Marãiwatsédé knows as well. They were not born here! It was the indigenous people who have always lived in this land. The Xavante of Marãiwatsédé. Today the community calmly awaits for the eviction of the intruders.
It was our parents, our grandparents, our great-grandparents, who occupied the land, were born here, grew up here, threw parties for the teenagers. They fought a lot, and did rituals within the territory of Marãiwatsédé. Neither farmers nor squatters lived here before 1960.
There were only the indigenous people, and the elders recall that; there were only two houses in São Félix do Araguaia. When we were taken to the Indigenous Territory of São Marcos, soon they created cities and our territory was destroyed.
Who destroyed it, was it the indigenous people or the white people? We know it – it indeed was the white people that destroyed the forest. This is not our life. Our life is to preserve the land, nature, rivers, lakes. This is how we live, our people respect our mother and our mother is nature. We calmly await for our victory. We calmly sleep, and have beautiful dreams about the victory over our land.
Before the withdrawal from our land, they killed many Xavante. The farmers of that time were very crooked. [They] killed with gunshot[s]. Tseretem, Tserenhitomo, Tsitomowê, Pa'rada, Tseredzaró, were all killed with shot[s]. We will not betray their spirits.
They were just murdered upon this land. Will farmers pay for compensation?
When the people of Marãiwatsédé lived here, it was Ariosto da Riva who first appeared. He made photos of our people. He tricked the Xavantes, destroyed our land. He did not ask for the Xavante people if he could destroy the forest. It was he who invaded our territory. The older ones remember, and his pilot was named Nelson. The Xavante community of Marãiwatsédé wants the land back. It has been reduced.
The difference between the Xavante of Marãiwatsédé and other Xavante is that the Xavante of Marãiwatsédé are always preserving the forest. Not only the cerrado. The (Amazon) forest used to be the most important thing for our grandparents who lived here.
It's the mysterious forest and only the Xavante of Marãiwatsédé know their secrets. Therefore, our ancestors have always preserved the forest, because it is part of our culture.
This land is our origin. The Xingus also protected our land, the ancestors of the Kalapapos were friends of the ancestors of the Xavantes of Marãiwatsédé.
The animals should not have to suffer anymore with so much destruction of the nature. When the land is given back to our people, the forest will be alive once again, and the animals and plants will return to it. Our mother will become very strong and very beautiful, as always. That's how it has to be.