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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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To the west, three springs of the Fanado River come from these mountains and several others that flow into Aracuai; to the east, the tributaries of the Rio Doce are born. The furthest away from these spines was covered with dense virgin forest; the two closest are less thick vegetation, largely covered with low, leafless catinga (semi-arid) at this time of year.

Etching 10 Catinga near Fanado (semi-arid forest)

A winding trail led us, after all, to the top of the mountain, to the valley of a stream bounded by steep, parched pastures, and enclosed by dense groves, where the huts of the Quartel do Alto dos Bois are scattered. A sergeant from the Dragoes de Minas regiment, commander of the small Botocudo outbreak protection detachment, welcomed us to his poor abode, but soon told us that we could not enter the woods away from the huts, because a few days earlier, a soldier had been killed at the door of his house by a Botocudo who, protected by the jungle, had escaped.

We therefore found this barracks at war against those cannibals, and we could not count on any protectors, except the peaceful Macuanis, who have been housed here. This tribe, also called maconi, is one of the weakest that inhabit these mountainous regions, on the border between the provinces of Minas Gerais, Porto Segura and Bahia,

Province of Porto Segura (green)

and, compared to the terror of its powerful enemies, the Botocudos, the Macuanis are so friendly with the Portuguese, so that, perhaps within a few decades, they have entirely lost all their belligerent characteristics. They do not count more than 300 souls; most of them have migrated from the interior to the sea, in the vicinity of Caravelas, where, however, many became ill, victims of the reigning diseases there.

The coexistence with the Brazilian settlers, who use the Macuanis to cut down the virgin forest and to fight against the Botocudos, has already given them a small degree of civilization and here in the Alto dos Bois, where they number 30, these Indians usually till the land and plant corn, beans and cassava, although hunting is their favorite occupation.

Indians hunting

Jaguar hunters

Those we came to talk with were well constituted; the features of the physiognomy were more expressive, thanks to the first glimpses of civilization, and the color no longer red, but more similar to that of the Mongols, brownish-yellow. They inhabit low huts, made of clay, which they build in the midst of their plantations; they do not sleep in hammocks, preferring to lie on the floor or in wooden jiraus; and they cook their stews in bowls made by themselves. They believe in one god and many demons; however, their conception of the Supreme Being, full of kindness, opposed to the devil, is very vague. It also demonstrates the tribes’ indolence in the fact that they do not celebrate any special occasions, except the entrance

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