Deposition of 1979 - Cotinga Island, Paranaguá Bay - Where Guarani lived who worked in the field and sold handicrafts


  • Posted on: 11 June 2019
  • By: claudio

Cotinga Island, Paranaguá Bay

Where they lived, 7 years ago, Hilario and one more family - Guarani who worked in the field and sold handicrafts

Testimony obtained in 1979

Cláudio:  Tell us about the kind of life you lead, and about your house, for the work that we are doing.

Hilário: [On building the house]. You put this log here to hold things in place, and then you put the rafter in held there by two vines (lianas), next the long strip of bamboo, and then I tie everything together with this vine here. Everything is secure. Then three kilometers from here I cut taquara1.  We haul it here, bend one whole bamboo in half and put it over there.  We fill in both sides with small boards. 

After that, we’re almost finished; we go to get jarová to dry it out.  Then we put mud on the outside, over the whole outside like this.  After it’s finished we put a stove right here in the middle, and it’s not cold, not windy, nothing like that.  But you have to take care of yourself too.  There are times, there are days when you shouldn’t go out much, into the wind, into the cold.  That is the matter.  There are folks that say that what is bad for you is the fire. That the Indians die because of the fire, because then they go out into the cold.  But it’s not that. You have to take care of yourself. Everyone does. If you don’t take care of your life no one lives. 

Which is why we are making this little house here, which is a house to be respected, not to just be doing anything inside it.  Really we are building it as a place of respect.  Now if we come around here with boozers, no, no drunks around here.  That I won’t accept. You come around here drunk, uh uh, you just turn right around. I don’t want drunkards around here because we don’t have any.

After driving this into the ground here, well look these were driven in one by one, tied, one by one, all the way down.  We have to try to live naturally, this little house is natural, and once it is done, just listen to me:  outsiders won’t come in here.  No one who is not in my heart will come in here.  You have to be in my heart.  And then, who is going to know my heart, which even you don’t know; I don’t know anyone’s heart either, but I am looking. 

Well then, after I put the little fire in here, I bury it well I leave it very well buried.  I leave it here and warm up the whole house – the chimarrãozinho in its mate gourd. But it’s not just anyone who can drink chimarrão with me. Only someone who is in my heart too, and that way when I sweat from drinking my chimarrão, from my whole body to my heart, that way I can explain anything, the way things will be. Then I explain what my people are like, what the Indian system is like.

Now, if that person is not able to understand, I won’t explain. If the person can understand, then I will explain the whole business. Then I say, nature, that is an Indian’s work.  Many people tell me: Oh, Hilário, build a wooden house! You get so much money, you could make a wooden house, you just don’t want to.

Cláudio:  What’s wrong with a wooden floor?

Hilário:  A wooden floor? That’s something different, we can’t use it, because a lot of people say that chills come from the ground. And that has to do with nature, it’s nature that does that. About that, we Indians, who are from the woods, we should live on the ground, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re from the woods, that’s where you’re from.

[On the use of two local types of local plants, imbira and taquara] - There you go, now we’ve peeled it, this liana, and look, this peel is used to weave, to make arrows, baskets and sieves, and the inner part is also used to make hats and baskets. See, this outer part is split from the stem, and goes all the way to the end of the vine, all the way to the end.  After it has all been split, you get the knife, you peel it; you don’t have to work against it, you pull in the same direction, so as not to pull the whole thing apart.

Cláudio:  And what about the taquaras, how do they work? Explain how they are harvested, at which of the moon’s phases, like you were saying:  you have to harvest when the moon is waning, to avoid trouble.

Hilário:  So have them take the photo now. So that you can explain this there, not here where we can see what I am doing.  Here we are seeing what I am explaining as I do it. This is to make the house just right.  With me explaining this right from inside the new house, it’s easier for me, and for you.

Cláudio:  And what about the taquara, that business about harvesting only when the moon is waning?

Hilário:  Only when the moon is waning, the full moon, after the full moon you can’t harvest.  It ended today. During the new moon, you can’t cut any more vines. So now I will have to wait for the next moon, to be able to harvest cut again.

Cláudio:  What happens during the increasing moon (first quarter)?

Hilário:  During the first quarter, the worms get it, it rots.  That happens to all wood.

[Foods. Crops]

Cláudio:  And what about the Indian foods, the things we were talking about?

Hilário:  What I can say is that some time ago, we Indians had plenty of food right from the wild, but now the forests are gone and so our foods are disappearing.  So now I can’t say that we are living from the foods from the wild; we are living from foods that come from the outside, you know.  There is no more real food.

Cláudio:  And what about salt? 

Hilário:  Salt?  Well yes, that is what I am saying, some time ago we got the real thing from the wild, from hunting, honey, palm heart.  Well, we had corn and sweet potatoes of our own. But all of that is disappearing, no more honey, nor more hunting. Now we Indians are just living on flour. But what cut nature is salt. The old folks told me that salt cuts nature.  You have to eat salt, but also as you salt, you eat.

Cláudio:  Are you planting here now?

Hilário:  Yes, I am. We Indians have a kind of corn, here in Brazil only we Indians have it; you can go wherever you want but I doubt that you’ll find it with anyone else besides Indians.

Cláudio:  The other Indians – how do you see that? – because you left the reservation, took all the trouble to make your own house and everything, and now you live as you like...

Hilário:  Yes, I’m living the way I like, because there in the interior the Indians are all mixed up.  Some of them don’t know anything anymore; they just talk about other people and want to act brave.  I’m not like that; I don’t want to have anything to do with fighting, or trouble.  So let it just be one path, then...

Cláudio:  But the others, are they still Indians or not?

Hilário:  They are still Indians, yes, they are.

Cláudio:  But in some places I’ve been to, the houses are more like white people’s houses, made of wood.

Hilário:  The ones that you see that are like white people’s, are still Indians’. But I don’t want that, I want to keep my true ways, because that way I show I am true. I am an Indian, so let me be one!

Cláudio:  What does the word caraíba mean?

Hilário:  Caraíba? For us, it means a bad man. Caraí, a man who can do whatever he wishes, who has money.

Cláudio:  Caraiporã?

Hilário:  Cariporã, a good man. Porã means good.

1 A variety of bamboo that is native to the region.