In Defense of the Xingu

Kayapó leader Tuira receives Tenotã-Mõ book from women activists
Kayapó leader Tuira receives Tenotã-Mõ book from women activists
The attack on the Eletrobrás official set off a series of recriminations, aimed at discrediting the movement. But, the Kayapó re-oriented their actions towards moving forward in their defense of the Xingu.

Calling the regional Federal Attorney to the table, the Kayapó brought all their chiefs to address him, saying "we are authorities of our people, too. We want to make it very clear how we stand regarding the dams planned for the Xingu."

One chief brought his daughter with him. Embracing her, he said "What I am saying is not for me - it is for her, and for my grandchildren. We want the waters of the Xingu to be clean, and full of fish."

The warrior spirit was put forth as a warning. "We ask you to tell (president) Lula that we will not accept dams on the Xingu. If they try to build dams, there will be war."

Kayapó women are very strong and direct, and do not wait to take their cues from the men. On several occasions, women seized the opportunity of an idle moment to dance to the middle of the floor, and make impassioned statements against the dams. "You have no right to destroy our river. The mothers of the Xingu will not allow it."

On the final day of the meeting, the meeting participants and people of Altamira gathered at the Prainha, on the banks of the Xingu. One by one, the diverse indigenous tribes began arriving, each one entering the circle with a powerful dance and chant, to loud applause. A group of children about eight years old chanted "Viva Rio Xingu." The Kayapó again called their chiefs to stand in front of the gathering. "We want to show you how Kayapó feel about the Xingu." And, a group of Kayapó women carrying their babies entered the clean waters to bathe them. Then, Kayapó youth began an exuberant splash-fest, throwing water on each other.

While Tuira, the prototypical woman warrior held the Brazilian flag, Mokukã sang the national anthem in Kayapó.

There was a sense that, despite all difficulties, something powerful had begun to coalesce.