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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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It was only on the seventh day after our departure from Ega that we reached Santo Antonio de Maripi (Imaribi), the first settlement in Japura, founded 15 years earlier,

Maripi on Japura, Tefe and Maranon rivers

but later increased by individuals from several tribes. We found there only six houses and a small church, which had long been empty.

Also the judge of the village, the only white resident there, a citizen of Fonte Boa, was not present at the time. We were, therefore, exclusively surrounded by Indians, belonging to the tribes of the

Passes,

Juris,

Coerunas,

and Jumanas.

Most of them do not live in their own village, but live in the neighborhood. In each of the houses, we found more than one family. The Coerunas, Passes, and Jumanas have their main chiefs here, and the chiefs, or "Tuxauas" of the first two tribes command at most 107 individuals. These village chiefs, going back to the time of the Board of Directors (1), constitute a kind of magistracy. They are chosen by the Indians of their tribe, confirmed by the government, and become the intermediaries, by which the judge directs the population. Gregory had nothing more urgent to do than to introduce us to all the tribes with him related and present, and so they came that evening to offer us small gifts (potaba) of fruit, ornaments of feathers and weapons, which we exchanged, with the maximum gratitude for tools and beads.

The Coerunas are currently a minor tribe in the Miriti-parana; they call the tributary where they live Caritaja. In the past they used to pierce the lower lip, as a badge of the tribe (Note II), with a copal cylinder or a shell disc; but the Indians here were not adorned. In general, they were of small stature, robust, dark complexioned, with an unpleasant expression on their physiognomy. They spoke very quickly, and their tongues, full of many nasal sounds, sounded bad to my ear. It seems that among them the intonation, when strengthened or attenuated, serves as in many other tribes to designate different times and persons. I could not make them resolve to perform one of their national dancers; for this, they told me, they lacked the fruits of the bush. Gregorio, a kindly Indian friend of the whites, soon left, persuading us to accompany him to his own house. He had often given me good service, and I had occasion to acquaint myself with the

(I) It was the brother of Pombal, Francisco Xavier de Mendonca Furtado, who

Furtado

ruled the State of Maranhao and the Grao-Para State from 1751 to 1759, who, on May 3, 1757, issued the Direction Regiment, to regulate the administration of the Indians of Brazil, declared free and without the influence of the clergy (of the Jesuits, in particular) by the law of June 7, 1755, confirmed by the declaration of the I7 of August of 1758. The measures, taken for the benefit of the indigenous population, no longer existed; they lacked good executors. (Rev. Note, Inst. Hist. And Geogr. Bras.).

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