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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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the Europeans, their neighbors, they prefer to spend the whole day communing with their with long reed arrows, their cavia (1) and other animals, or contemplating how to steal or kill the farmers' cattle with impunity. They are very united against the Europeans. They unwillingly obey the order of the municipal steward to plant corn and bananas, and, in the time of general famine, they turn to the government, of which they still think they are creditors. They practice the skills common to the Indians, weaving hammocks and stretchers with the threads of the tucum palm tree, and make crazy clay, freely by hand. They know how to prepare, with cassava root, a pleasant fermented drink, the cauim.

We had been busy for hours obtaining from these children of nature from the “vocabulary jungles” of their languages, which has given us occasion to ascertain their extreme variability and inaccuracy. Abstract concepts, they only meant them in an obscure way, and continually came out differently, giving the Portuguese words indigenous endings. Like most indigenous languages, the languages of the Cariri and the Sabujas do not have a term for "friend", which is why they can only use the word "comrade"; and how well this particularity characterizes the nature of these people! These deficiencies of the language itself and the need to use the Portuguese in abundance indicate how much these small tribes have already lost their independence. Were they equal, as it were, related to, or equally incorporated with, the rest of the population, their treatment should be regarded as one of the highest priorities of politics. It has done nothing but make them as harmless as possible to other inhabitants; The authorities broke the beast's teeth without taming it. The still half-independent Indians constitute a state within the state; they do not interfere with the existence of the state, nor do they influence the community.

Jesuits

It was the Jesuits who first had the merit of gathering the scattered Indians of the province of Bahia into villages and towns, and as a consequence of their paternal administration would have gradually produced for the State profitable farmers and workers.

Plan of a Jesuit mission

Unfortunately, after the expulsion of these priests, the meek Indians were employed mainly as the guerrillas against their own brothers. Thus, there was also here, in Vila da Pedra Branca, for defense against the Indians, a barracks, which is currently camped in Conquista. The state of savagery and moral degeneration in which they find themselves is no more than the natural consequence of that occupation. Some governors thought they noticed

(I) Mocos (cavia rupestris). (Rev. note, Ed. Melh.).

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