Wednesday, May 23, 2012

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Greetings Everyone, I haven't been very active on the Xukuru Human Rights Blog recently except to post information about the legal proceedings against Cacique Marcos Xukuru and the continued support and involvement of the American Anthropological Association's Committee for Human Rights. I have created a new Brazil Field School that is housed in the Anthropology Department in the University of North Dakota. I brought three anthropology students with me to Pesquiera, Pernambuco Brazil on May 19th and the students will be here until June 8th. The goals are to gain experience in the field about who the Xukuru people are and to learn first hand about the legal criminalization of their leaders, and to learn how to apply social activism using social media to raise awareness and support for indigenous human rights in Brazil. We are now staying with the Xukuru and are actively doing service work in a variety of locations that include Xukuru schools, working in distributing organic foods by loading trucks and meeting students in local schools on Xukuru lands. The students are also receiving special lectures by a variety of leaders and local artisans and they are learning the history of the Xukuru's 30 year fight for the return of their traditional lands, formally homologated in 2001. My students will be posting on this blog daily, talking about their impressions, thoughts, ideas, and questions. We hope you will join in the dialogue, and participate with us as we spend the next three weeks with the Xukuru. They are also making a list-serve of universities across the United States with anthropology departments and anthropology clubs in order to make contact with fellow anthropology students. We hope to include them in our experiences here and to exchange information about human rights and indigenous peoples in Brazil and the United States. My students' names are Erin, Shayla, and Beth. Each entry is dated and signed by the student who wrote it.
5/23/12 - We have been in Pesquiera, since Saturday night. Time seems to work differently here, I feel like we have been here much longer. Before I left for the trip, I did not know what to expect, and now that I'm here its hard to come up with words to explain what I am experiencing. Life is very different here than at home, people speak Portuguese, a language I cannot speak and have never been exposed to before. I have learned that I need to start listening to everything not just words. There is a lot you can pick up from body language, intonation and facial expressions, and emotions. People are so kind here, so sweet and so loving. One thing that I can relate to is the family structure. I see how much the Helena loves everyone around her, and wants to make sure that everyone is comfortable. This reminds me a lot of my own German grandmother, who makes sure nobody ever leaves her house Hungary, and all her grand-children know they are loved and taken care of. The Cacique is a strong, but gentle man. He has lived a hard life, he has lost many, many people close to him, and has had threats on his own life. Although he has had these experiences in his life, he does not seem hard or unapproachable. He seems to have his young life in check, and truly care about his family, the Xukuru people, indigenous people in general, and all those he comes in contact with. It is hard as an American to imagine a leader who is so loving, kind and passionate about humanity and what he believes in. Erin

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