next arrow
previous

Remember the Rainforest 1

 

Home

Expedition Index

Itinerary

Etchings

Maps

Plants

Animals

People / Scenes

Lessons

Green Girl's Eco Club

Eco SuperHeroes RTR2

Free Posters

Authors / Artists

Contact us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was trusted that the directors counter-balanced with their energy and efficiency, the immorality of their subordinates, to eliminate, above all, the deeply rooted indolence, the addiction to drunkenness and other excesses. No one seems to consider that these directors, in the loneliness of the villages, absolute lords of the Indians, are much less likely to urge for exemplary behavior than the missionaries, who, by the obligations of their vows were contained by self control and also by obedience to their highest chiefs against such lying and intolerance. The directors accepted the prejudice that opposed the marriage between whites and red skins, except when the precepts of Christianity demanded it in a formal way. They were not so prejudiced when predominantly white individuals lived together out of wedlock. This prejudice against the Indians again confirms that the authorities believed the inferior race of men are unable to think for themselves.

It was expected that the good example of fatherly relations between the director and his subordinates would soon attract many Indians to leave the jungles, to live in the villages, while the Lisbon government was wrongly informed with altered reports, or even lied to about the welfare of the Indians in the missions and the actual number of inhabitants. Therefore, although it seemed at first view to be philanthropic, the entire organization of the directory existed in the background of hate, opposed to the religious orders, jealous of their relations with the forest tribes, and furthermore, also heavily involved in financial speculation. The religious orders had no taxes to pay, except for the export tax of those articles of commerce which, by their own account, supported their Indian or black slaves. According to the plan of the directory, however, they would be the most heavily taxed Indians, because they earned more.

We said that the priests belonged, since long ago, to the Hermitage, which paid the clergy (in general, close to 80 $000). The income from agriculture, cattle ranching, etc., should, however, be credited to the Indians. Not only do I say this to the Treasury, but also a sixth part to the directory. The same discount seems to be made of the sale of the fat turtle eggs and the fish, in the fisheries, for when the Indians of a village undertook an expedition to harvest the forest products, their proper share was taken from them. At the end of such an expedition, once the advance was paid for canoes, munitions, and supplies, etc., which were to be provided by the Chamber of the village, what was left of the profit was distributed among the Indians participants. As, however, the Indians were too naïve to negotiate for profit, they then depended on the Director to guide them, at the occasion of the exchange, or the Director himself negotiates the deal for the Indians.

It was also the Director who assigned work to the Indian, renting him also to private individuals, for such jobs as news carrier, boat paddler, Cacador, fisherman, etc., and taking a cut of his pay. On the other hand, it was up to the Director to prepare tables on the state of the population in his village, and to keep accounts for the state. Everything seems very well disposed in this plan, designed in Lisbon with the imperfect knowledge of conditions, not having the slightest idea of the realities. Also there was no assurance that the director would faithfully fulfill his duties to the Indian and to the state. The religious orders are encouraged, and particularly the Jesuits, to occupy their followers with the farming and the collection of articles of commerce from the forest. They pointed out that consent of the Indians was obtained with the instrument of self interest and blamed the ambiguities on those agreements. It was forgotten that the missions, without the assistance from the Government or of godly citizens, would not still exist. Here, the Indians needed such means for their subsistence. With the new system, the directors delivered the redskins to the greed of anyone with self interest who were not ashamed to act with the greatest ignorance. Above all it was, in this sense, the circumstance of trusting the governors in this position as director, instead of the experienced farmers or the opulent and distinguished ranchers, but elevating the people who did not still possess land and considered the new post as a means of getting rich quickly. There were also so many advantages to being Director, that the poor members of the best families aspire to this position, sometimes granted as a lifetime, sometimes for a certain number of years. Moreover, in the early years of the installation the director was favored with many incentives.

40