Monday, May 28, 2012

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Dona Zenilda’s grandmother taught her how to use plants and herbs for medicinal purposes, but before that the people were taught by nature itself. Not only do the Xukuru have an understanding of what the plants do for the human body and for other animals, but how animals are an integral part of the life of plants. Whether it be that the animals have caused deforestation, like with the cattle overgrazing that occurred when the Fazendero’s lived on the land, or the relationship between the birds and the plants- in which the birds eat the fruit and, in turn, spread the seeds by natural processes. Our group was honored to have Zenilda and another Xukuru leader give us a tour of their garden. On this tour they pointed out all of the plants that were used for medicinal purposes, the one that were used for food, and the ones used solely for animal feed. Many of the foods grown in these gardens are used to feed the students at the schools that we visited on Day 3 and 4. By using these fresh, locally grown foods, the children are receiving great amounts of nutrients from their school food. The foods grown here look, smell, and taste amazing! The tea made from these herb are also wonderful!
Although the Xukuru had forgotten their knowledge of the earth and the food and medicine that it can provide, they seem to have gotten a large amount of that knowledge back and are executing it in ingenious ways that make a person yearn to start a garden of their own. Not only do their gardens provide fresh food and medicine, but a way to connect with the earth that fosters their relationship with the land and the spirits. A great example of this relationship is the way in which Zenilda acts toward the plants. When she was showing us a plant, she would hold it delicately and show it off as if it were an infant. The way that her hands moved around the plants and her body positions showed just how close she was to the earth. Even her face changed when she held them. I’m not saying that she gets a cheesy tinsel town smile whenever she holds her plants (or that anyone would even be able to see if difference unless it was pointed to them), but her face lights up in a certain way that makes her look younger, and she seems to be content. This relationship that Zenilda shares with her plants, and subsequently the earth, is a reminder of the Xukuru’s goals involving the treatment of the earth. Overall it was a great experience and I would love to incorporate what she taught me into my life when I’m at home! (Beth 5-24-2012)

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WDAZ TV Xukuru Research Synopsis