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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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accepted the beads, knives and other gifts we offered them. Also the browns and the blacks were not happy with our presence, so much were the savage instincts of the place. We were therefore unsafe in the midst of this, and we slept all night for fear of aggression in a barn of corn that barely protected us, and we were burdened by a pelting rain. Thick fogs still frayed on the tops of the tall trees of the woods as we set off to reach the goal of our trip, the presidio of Sao Joao Batista, where we arrived at noon. This village consists of about thirty houses; it was surrounded by thick virgin forests, or, in the place where they were thinned, surrounded by prosperous farms.


Sao Joao Batista

This was Marliere's headquarters, then the general director of the Indians. There we found two soldiers, who already had instructions to accompany us and defend against the Indians, in the walk through the bush. Under the director are several other directors, esteemed farmers, each of whom presides over the nearest established village watch. The rules by which these directors and their subordinates are to transmit civilization to the Indians and to honor the government. They were tutors for the directors of the village Indians.

Their principal work is nurturing the Indians who are subordinate to them, and initiating them into the art of farming, in order to cultivate the land given to them, and above all to advise and direct them in the new social relations. In order to tame these new vassals, to overcome their nomadic instinct, and to accustom them to sedentary life, the government determined that the new village Indians not only be exempt from all taxes, but also that in the early years they should be provided by the director with a certain supply of corn, tillage tools such as knife, hoe, ax. By the decree given by King D. Sebastiao, confirmed by D. Jose I and now generally in force in Brazil, all the indigenous are exempt from slavery and declared free citizenship; and the director-general, as well as each of the deputy directors, charged with protecting the Indians against the odious usurpations of neighboring settlers, and, above all, ensuring that they are protected by the citizens. On the other hand, however, they should be admonished and punished by the authorities when committing wrongdoing. Although certain laws assure the directors some part of the profits of the villages, nevertheless in Minas Gerais the directors gain nothing, because, like those here, after many years it was not possible to cultivate only what is strictly necessary in maize and cassava. Therefore, the director's performance consists solely in obtaining the

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