Monday, July 9, 2012
June 8, 2012 GOOD NEWS!! ZE DE SANTA (vice-cacique José Barbosa dos Santos) IS FOUND NOT GUILTY FOR ORDERING THE MURDER OF CHICO QUELE (Francisco de Assis Santana, conhecido como Chico Quelé). This is a significant judicial finding for the Xukuru who have undergone a process of legal criminalization for over 10 years by the judicial system in Pernambuco, Brazil. The Xukuru regained their traditional territorial lands in 2001, and since that time have suffered multiple judicial processes against their leaders in an attempt by local non-indigenous farmers, businessmen seeking to institute a cultural tourism site on Xukuru lands in the aldeia (village) of Cimbres, and the conservative judicial faction of the state who seek to dismantle their continued successful political and cultural organization. Prior to the legal criminalization of their leaders, the Xukuru endured six assassinations of past leaders, human rights advocates, and a court appointed lawyer in their 30 year fight to regain their traditional lands. The finding of Ze de Santa as innocent bodes well for Cacique Marcos Xukuru who has been convicted to ten years and 4 months in prison in 2009 by a judge in Caruaru. His conviction has been under appeal in the Supreme Court in Recife, Pernambuco. Currently the Xukuru are waiting for a rescheduled court date regarding his appeal. It is hoped that the 'not guilty' verdict by a jury of Ze de Santa reflects a positive turn in the justice system's treatment of the Xukuru and that Cacique Marcos Xukuru will also be found not guilty for inciting a riot and the destruction of property in the aldeia of Cimbres after an assassination attempt on his life. Cacique Marcos Xukuru was in the hospital after the attempt on his life, and was not involved in the revolt of the Xukuru against his accused assassin. Marcia Mikulak
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 3:20 PM
Friday, June 15, 2012
6/14/12 I’ve been back in the United States for almost a week now and at times it still feels a little surreal. When my plane touched down in Miami, I was so relieved to hear English everywhere I went, but I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed with the lack of Portuguese around me because it just made it that much more evident that I had left Brazil. This really surprised me because one of the biggest things I was excited about was being surrounded by people I could understand again. I decided to acclimate carefully by not immediately rushing home; I’ve been staying with family in Fargo since my arrival in North Dakota. There is lots of activity, noise, people, screaming children, etc. here which I thought would be a good transition for me; that way I wouldn’t be going from so much activity immediately to a quiet, lonely apartment. I like to have my space but I definitely need people around me because I can get lonely far too easily. One of the biggest challenges I faced my first few days back was actually speaking English. For how little Portuguese I actually picked up on during my three weeks in Brazil, my brain sure doesn’t want to get go of it! Everywhere I go I keep wanting to say “licença,” “desculpe,” “obrigada,” “onde esta…?” My first day back I actually bumped into somebody at the store and said “desculpe;” I got a really confused stare in return. Also, I tried asking my two-year-old niece, “Onde esta sua mae?” …Needless to say she did NOT answer me. I’m finding myself missing Brazil in an unspeakable way. I miss the way time seems to stand still while soaking in the sunshine on the veranda of the house. I miss the commotion and the way people would drop by without calling first. I get a taste of that here at my cousin’s house; her sisters pop on in without a word, and it makes me smile thinking about the similarities but also makes that homesick feeling that much stronger. I even miss the food – I thought that would be the one thing I wouldn’t be sad to leave because I missed my familiar foods, but lately my body has NOT been pleased with the things I’ve been eating. I must be subconsciously making up for “lost time” or something; my brain is saying “yes” to all the junk I keep putting in my mouth but my body is screaming “NO!” A funny thing happened today while I was shopping at Bath and Body Works. I smelled some lemon-scented lotion that smelled EXACTLY like Dona Helena’s lemongrass tea… I bought two bottles AND a bottle of body wash. PROBABLY wasn't necessary. The biggest thing I think I miss about Brazil is the incredibly friendly disposition of the Xukuru people. Here, the people are such perfect Midwesterners: there is a practiced and perfected “polite stand-off-ishness.” It’s really hard to explain what I mean; I think one would already have to know what I’m saying to totally understand. Everyone here wears a smile and practices good manners (for the most part), yet there’s something about it that is just so fake. Who knows, maybe I'm just reading too much into it. There is a warm exterior surrounding most people but the warmth is not genuine; I didn’t notice this before – it took a trip across the world to fully realize the façade most people here have perfected. I’m sure by no time at all I’ll get back into the swing of things and re-master my perfected “polite smile,” but it’s definitely going to take longer than a week. -Shayla
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 8:00 PM
Friday, June 8th , 2012 Friday, June 8th, was the beginning of my journey home, to Minnewaukan, ND. A few hiccups along the way, including a giant thunderstorm over Miami, caused me to have my flight home delayed slightly in Miami. But the airline was nice enough to put me up in a nice hotel for the night. The real story though, is not my night in Sin City (which involved me watching the Mummy II on cable and re-packing my suitcase… definitely a night for the books), the real story is the way that people treated me along every point in my destination. Getting on the plane in Recife, everyone was quick to the point, probably due to a language barrier and the size of the airport. In Miami, everything was rushed and I found myself asking multiple different people the same questions because the first person had barely had time to properly explain directions to me. Other than the waiter at the hotel restaurant, people did not seem very nice at all. In Chicago everyone seemed a little nicer than they had in Miami and Recife, but they were all still pretty quick to the point. But when I arrived in Minneapolis, I had felt a little more at home. There were a couple of people who looked like I could have known them (a first in weeks) and people seemed to actually take a little bit of time to talk to me. And here’s where the real change in people’s attitudes came in, my flight from Minneapolis to Devils Lake (my last flight). These were the North Dakota nice people that I have known my entire life. The man in the seat in front of me joked with me about the flight and offered me a snack which I gladly accepted since I had my card stolen in Miami and couldn’t afford snacks. At the mention of this tragedy, everyone in my section of our small plane turned to console me and make sure that I had gone through all of the necessary precautions to having the card canceled. The people on that plane easily reminded me of people I knew back home and I could have sworn the woman in front of me was twin of step-grandmother. As much as I have learned from my travels abroad, and all of the criticisms that we all had at one point in time or another for our homes, there is something amazing about home when you get there. For me it was that feeling of belonging and of kindness. It was that small joke that you can share with a stranger. It’s when you get off of that tiny Beechcraft in little Devil Lake ND and have your little sisters hug you so hard that you think they might have broken a rib. Or getting your favorite Knoephla soup at the Old Main Café immediately. As much as I love the feeling of flying to a new destination, of new cultures and cuisines, of new people and new friends, I love coming home to my family and my little state of North Dakota. Beth
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 7:57 PM
Thursday, June 7th , 2012 On Thursday, June 7th, our prayers/hopes were answered. We awoke bright and early to the sun brightly showing over our little beach town. We all quickly got breakfast and headed out to the place where “Nedo” (our kind taxi driver) had shown us where to spend our beach day. We arrived on the beach and immediately had three or four people vying for our attention. One was the man who was gonna to boat us over to the “good” beach and another was the woman who got us water as quickly as possible and made her sales pitch to us that we should come back to her side of the bay to eat at her restaurant . She claimed that her food was the best and attempted to prove it to us by showing us how fresh the fish she had actually were by bring out a large tray for us to examine. Other random people attempted to sell us stuff and point us in the right direction, as we were the only tourists on the beach at this early hour. The man who boated us over to the “good” beach talked us into going snorkeling at the nearby reefs was the tide was down, and after getting some sun and relaxing on the beach, we took him up on his offer. And wow! I was so happy that I had! It wasn’t a very large reef but the fish were so colorful and all the other marine life was so interesting. The man was nice enough to actually use our camera and take multiple pictures of us with sea slugs, urchins, and star fish. After our snorkeling adventure, we went back to the restaurant that we were talked into and enjoyed a great lunch there and sampled Brazil’s national drink “Caipirinha”, which we gave mixed reviews. We finished the day in Olinda sampling the Tapioca and meeting up with Lulu, a man who was going to the Xukuru territory to help as well.
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 7:56 PM
Wednesday, June 6th , 2012 Today (Wednesday the 6th) is a sad day for us. We woke up early and rolled our luggage out to Paulo’s van. We said our goodbye’s to Dona Helena and at that moment I wished that I knew more Portuguese than I did. But knowing more Portuguese probably wouldn’t have helped, because I couldn’t have described how much that I would miss her and how thankful of her that I was in English. All I could do was hug her and say “obrigada” (thank you) over and over again. She had probably thought that I had gone crazy when my first few tears started to fall, but I knew that this woman was special in her own simple, grandmotherly way. She was the one who attempted to teach me the most Portuguese, pointing out food and saying the name in Portuguese , and she stayed patient with me after I had forgotten the word for rice a million times. She was always there in the morning, helping me put fresh milk in my coffee because I always messed it up. And then there’s Paulo. Quiet Paulo, whom I had barely spoken to the whole trip, gave us all big hugs at the bus station as if we were all his grandchildren. After we said our goodbyes and got on the bus, we arrived in the little beach town where we were planning to relax on the beach for a day and a half, only to find that rain that was much needed on Xukuru territory, was all pouring down at once here… hours away. Me and Erin made the most of our rainy afternoon by watching American movies in Portuguese and attempting to understand them. We sampled the local cuisine (which was very similar to the food we were served at Dona Helena’s) and attempted to converse with the couple who owned the Pousada. And before we all fell asleep, we all prayed to whatever force was out there, that it would be sunny the next day. Beth
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 7:55 PM
Tuesday, June 5th , 2012 Today (June 5th) is our last full day on Xukuru land. We woke up early and went down to the Cultural Center to meet up with Dona Zenilda for the last time. We helped load the trucks to take to the schools and distributed food to many of the schools in the Cimbres area. This time distributing food to the schools was very interesting because schools were in session (one of the times before it had been a holiday) and we visited many more than we had last time. At one of the schools, people from the community came to help us unload the heavy crates, for which I was very thankful. One of the community members made it their responsibility to help me carry the crates in. Carrying one on his shoulders, and carrying the burden of the second one with me because I could not obviously carry one on my own. This is the type of community that these people live in. They will take on an extra load just to help another person with their burdens. While driving through Cimbres, Alicia, one of the little girls that our group has become fond of , rode with us to distribute food to the other schools. She attempted to ask us our favorite colors and foods and we attempted to answer (with the help of Lee). Before Alicia left, and we said our goodbyes, knowing that we might not ever see this little girl again, I realized that I have actually been able to understand just a little bit of Portuguese while I have being here. Speaking of Portuguese and English language barriers, we met a woman from the Sao Paulo university who spoke broken English. It was so wonderful to hear our own language spoken by someone other than in our trip and we were all delighted to communicate with her. Turns out she was working on similar work with the Xukuru people. So it’s not just Americans on a field school who are working to help these people, but the people of Brazil as well. Signing our petition is just one way that everyone can help the Xukuru people, so if you’re reading this blog and you haven’t signed the petition yet, I urge you to do so!
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 7:55 PM
Monday, June 4th , 2012 Today (June 4th) we stayed inside and worked on the video that we would use to raise awareness for the Xukuru’s plight. It was really interesting to look over all of the pictures and videos that we have taken throughout the trip and to see all that we have done and learned about. We learned about herbal medicine and plants with Dona Zenilda, we participated in a march for the Xukuru’s rights, and learned about the school distribution systems. We learned about their closeness with nature and the strong community bonds that they feel for each other. As we sifted through all of our pictures and videos, we couldn’t quite find what we were looking for that what convey the feeling that we had about these people and their struggles. No pictures, videos, or words could ever completely describe how connected we will feel to these people who are a whole hemisphere away. I will miss them all dearly and will forever be changed by them. They have enhanced the way that I believe that self-sustainability is important and they have given me a reason to fight for what I believe in, because I don’t usually “try to make trouble”. I only hope that I can help them as much as they have helped me. Beth
Posted by Marcia Mikulak - Associate Professor, University of North Dakota Dept. of Anthropology at 7:48 PM