Canela (Eastern Timbira), I: An Ethnographic Introduction.
By William H.Crocker
Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology,
Number 33, 487 pages, 11 tables, 51 figures, 78 plates, 1990.
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Part I: The Field Situation
The field situation encompasses the state of Maranhão, not just the Canela villages. There were always Canela in Barra do Corda (Plates 2, 3), and news of anything I did in São Luis (Plate 1) was likely to spread to Barra do Corda, especially in the 1950s and 1960s when the Canela traveled more freely. Thus I was never “off duty” until I reached Belém, Rio, or Brasília.
The usual process of getting into the field among the Canela or Apanyekra began with obtaining permissions from the Indian service and from what constituted the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq), which had different names in different decades. (First of all, it was necessary to have a Brazilian ethnological sponsor [Eduardo Galvão] and his institution [Museu Paranese Emílio Goeldi]). The Indian service permission was obtained only twice while I was still in the United States (1971 and 1974). It was necessary on all early trips to wait in Rio de Janeiro and on later trips in Brasília until the general in charge of the Indian service and its granting committee granted permission to work among the Indians. These waiting periods could be quite pleasant when spent visiting colleagues and friends; however, waiting could be exasperating (besides being expensive), especially when I knew I would miss a festival, as occurred in 1970.
After obtaining the permissions, the next step was to return to my sponsoring organization in Belém (the Museu Goeldi), and talk over the research situation with Eduardo Galvão and others. These contacts were as much social as professional.
The following step varied according to the state of transportation existing at that time for traveling to the Indian villages. In the 1950s and 1960s, I flew commercially to São Luis, the capital of Maranhão state to catch the biweekly commercial flight by DC-3 or DC-4 into Barra do Corda. In the earlier years, São Luis was the shopping city for presents and equipment. (In 1957, my equipment went by boat to Barra do Corda [Plate 4b]). All paper, rubber bands, staplers, paper clips, etc., were bought in Brazil, as were the presents for the tribal chiefs and my Canela and Apanyekra families. Little by little the shopping possibilities in Barra do Corda grew as truck routes to the town opened (Maps 2 , 3).
In 1969 and the mid-1970s, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) in Belém was able to provide direct flights to Escalvado (Plate 6a) and Porquinhos through their superbly run system. Thus, the shopping city for paper, beads, etc., became Belém. As we flew over each jungle river in Pará and Maranhão (Map 2), the aviator radioed to his wife at the Belém base to tell her our position. If we had gone down, they would have known more or less where we were, not that they could have helped us much. Paul Marsteller, one of the SIL aviators, used to say that he could put down his light, broad-winged craft (Heliocourier) safely in the jungle canopy but that then the problems would just have begun. How would we get down to the jungle floor and how would we survive once there? In 1971, I reached the Apanyekra Porquinhos landing strip from Washington, D.C., in 26 hours, with stops of about 3 hours each in Belém and Barra do Corda, a trip which must constitute some sort of record for American anthropologists traveling to Brazilian Indian villages.
In 1978 and 1979, when commercial flights into Barra do Corda were sporadic, the SIL flights were banned by the government and their personnel prohibited from entering tribal territories. The regular commercial flights between São Luis and Barra do Corda had also stopped, having given way to more economical travel by bus (Plate 4a), which was available to far more people. This meant, however, that all equipment (e.g., tape recorders, cameras, tapes) left in the Goeldi Museum from trip to trip or brought from the United States for a year’s stay in the field, as well as the usual supplies and presents from the coastal city, had to be fitted into the hot, dusty small bus compartments. These were open to the outside, located below the seats, and baggage was frequently retrieved for passengers entering and leaving at every stop along the way. The amount of space needed for such an expedition could not be given to one passenger.
The trip lasted from 6 in the evening to 3 or 4 in the morning (Map 2), instead of the hour and 20 minutes by air from São Luis or the 3 ½ hours by air from Belém. For the first time since 1957, there was no flight into Barra do Corda to accommodate supplies. The alternative means of transportation were renting a small private plane (smooth and swift, and easy on equipment) from Belém in 1978 or a small open truck (jostling and slow, and hard on equipment) from São Luis in 1979.
Once in Barra do Corda (Plates 2, 3) transportation improved considerably over the years. Almost all equipment except the technical instruments and beads could be bought there inexpensively by the mid-1970s, and the road to Escalvado village became easily passable to jeeps and small trucks by 1971. Thus the grueling horse and mule trains of the late 1950s (although not needed for the trips to Sardinha in the mid-1960s and avoided by the use of SIL ferrying flights between the town and the villages in 1969 and 1970) were no longer required in the mid-1970s.
Transportation and logistics improved dramatically in the field situation from 1957 through 1979, but it is a question whether this was also the case with personal communication. The temptation was to move fast and save professional time which had become more precious. In the late 1950s, I spent
MAP 2.—The 1985 road map of Northeast Brazil to the Araguáia River showing the Canela and Apanyekra villages (in italics and located with crosses), and the principal highways from Bahia, Pemambuco, and Ceará to Goiás, Pará, and Amazônia. (Note that these highways bypass the Canela and Apanyekra areas in Maranhão.)
about a month in Rio de Janeiro, about a week each in Belém and São Luis, and about 10 days in Barra do Corda when entering the field and about half that time in each city when leaving. Finding these personal contacts necessary as well as enjoyable for the successful continuity of the research, I continued carrying out this slow and gratifying procedure of checking in and checking out of the field situation on each visit. Thus, I made many friends in Belém, São Luis, and especially Barra do Corda. Brazil had become my second country. Life became more rushed in the 1970s, however, so personal contacts became more specialized and limited, especially to Sr. Jaldo Pereira Santos and his family in Barra do Corda.
[I.A] GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS
Friends assume that when I was with the Canela those 64 months, I was “up the Amazon.” Contrary to popular images of Brazilian tribes, the Canela live in the center of Maranhão state, about 60 kilometers to the south of Barra do Corda (Map 3). They are 650 kilometers southeast of Belém (Map 2), a city at the mouth of the Amazon River, and out of the Amazon watershed entirely, enjoying grass-covered savanna countryside (Plates 12, 13) rather than dense tropical forests. The climate is moderate, being about 300 meters above sea level and relatively dry.
It is largely assumed that most Brazilian tribes “have just come out of the jungles.” The Canela, however, being so far east, surrendered to a Brazilian military outpost (Pastos Bons, Map 4) in 1814 [II.B.1.a], when their region was being settled by pioneers pushing west from the Brazilian Northeast [II.A.3.(a).(1)]. “Backland” (Glossary) Brazilian cattle ranchers and farmers, however, have surrounded them for over 100 years. They still exist in a tribal state (speaking their own language and managing their internal affairs), because of the relative inaccessibility of their area and undesirability of their lands [II.A.3.c]. Starting in 1971 a small part of their ancestral lands, maybe 5 percent (Nimuendajú, 1946:64), was legally demarcated into a reservation [II.B.2.k.(l)], with an area of 125,212 hectares (CEDI, 1986:235) (Map 3).
During the 18th century, the Canela (Ramkokamekra) ranged freely over a large area between their present lands and the Itapicuru River to the south (Map 4), limited principally by hostile tribes in all directions except to the north where the forest ecology made the terrain undesirable. This large expanse of land consisted of “closed savannas” (cerrado, see Glossary), dry woods, and gallery forests (watercourse-edge jungles) (Figures 3–6). They relied largely on hunting, gathering, and fishing, and only to a small extent (~25%) on slash-and-burn horticulture. Clearing was done with stone axes and fire, and gardens included (Table 3) white corn, sweet potatoes, yams, peanuts, squash, mildly bitter manioc, and cotton. They had to cut a new farm plot out of the wet, stream-edged undergrowth every year because the infertile soils could support only one crop. (The closed savannas support no crops.) These days, with the loss of most of their lands, more than 75 percent of their produce and livelihood is derived from slash-and-burn horticulture [II.C.3.]. Moreover, they have almost forgotten gathering since it is what “wild” Indians did, they say. Instead the Canela have adopted the foods of the backlanders (including rice, yellow corn, and beans), because these foods are more prestigious. Seed for aboriginal white corn, peanuts, and cotton were lost in the 1960s while the Canela were in the dry forests of Sardinha.
In earlier times, the Canela had to move their villages every 5 to 10 years to be close to their farms and to relatively unhunted and ungathered areas. Like other related tribes (the Northern Gê in this case), their villages were, and still are, circular, with all houses facing a central, round plaza, with radial pathways connecting each house to the plaza. Social dancing, ceremonies, and council meetings, as well as great festivals, take place in the plaza. The remains of many of these wagon wheel-shaped villages (Figures 1, 2) still exist in the Canela closed savannas, but studying them is difficult, because these Indians made neither pottery nor projectile points.
The Canela and related tribes are known collectively as the Timbira (Map 4) and speak a language of the Gê family [II.A.1,2], which is also used in various parts of central (south of the Amazon River) and southern Brazil (Map 1).
[l.A.1] Outstanding Ethnology
The Timbira tribes are especially known for their sport of log racing [III.F.2.a] (Plate 51). In the important races, two teams (Figure 13) of men each carry a heavy (about 100 kilos) log over a 3 to 10 kilometer course. When exhausted, the individual runner passes the log from his shoulder to the shoulder of the man directly behind.
The Timbira are also known, like the Australian aborigines, for their complex social and ceremonial organization, including several sets of moieties, which is not usually found in tribes between the food collecting and producing levels.
Timbira choral singing is also outstanding in the frequency with which they practice it, the complexity of its harmonic lines, and the development of most individual voices [II.F.1.c].
The Canela, in particular, are unusual for their strong social cohesion. Very few individuals leave the tribe permanently to live either in other tribes or among backland or urban Brazilians. They love their way of life, which is changing only very slowly [III.D.3.f]. Small groups have gone on trek to the great coastal cities (instead of to hunt and gather locally) almost every year since some time in the last century. Thus they know about the outside world, but their traditions continue to prevail [II.A.3.a.(3)]. Holding tribal council meetings twice a day resolves most problems that could upset the cohesion of the tribe [II.E.8]. They dance three times a day when assembled in the village (Plates 32, 33), which is most of the time, keeping the morale of the young people high [II.F.1.b.(2).(a)].
The Canela kinship pattern is like Crow-type-III (Glossary) of Lounsbury (1964) [III.E.2.a], and is closely related to the wagon wheel plan of the village [III.E.2.e] (Escalvado, 1970, ~300 meters in diameter to rear of houses). The tribe being matrilocal/uxorilocal (or sororilocal for women), women related to each other through all female links live in matrilaterally arranged segments or “longhouses” (Glossary) around the circular edge of the village. Sisters generally live in the same house, parallel-first cousins (Crow “sisters”) generally in adjoining ones, and parallel-second cousins generally in the next houses, etc. In one case, fifth cousins (still Crow “sisters”) are recognized and maintained at the extreme ends of one longhouse, or kinship arc of the village circle, over a dozen houses long (Figures 24, 25) [III.E.2.e.(2)]. Since men marry into other longhouses than the ones of birth, different longhouses relate to each other according to a cross-cousin pattern, which is from a certain point of view patrilateral [III.E.2.e.(3)]. Thus, village (and therefore tribal) cohesion is maintained through kinship both matrilaterally around the village circle of houses (Figure 42) and “patrilaterally” across the village plaza between different longhouses (Figure 43) [III.F.12]. They forget kin ties not expressed in this village patternespecially the ones passing mostly through male linkagesafter two to three generations.
Most of an individual’s life cycle rites are maintained patrilaterally (in the above sense) as well as matrilaterally, though the Canela rely predominately on their matrilateral kin [IV.B]. Matrilineality exists in only a few families in a festival context [III.C.8]. There are no clans or marriage alliances [III.F.1]. Individuals marry whom they believe to be nonrelatives or distant relatives in almost full tribal endogamy, and longhouse exogamy is only rarely violated. The sororate is encouraged to keep a man with his children while the levirate does not occur. An uxorilocal extended family house, the basic economic sharing unit (Figure 22) [III.E.2.e.(1)], seldom accepts more than one husband for its women (sisters, “sisters,” and their mothers) from the same across-the-plaza extended family house. Thus, the brothers-in-law, who work together in their wives’ set of fields under the direction of their father-in-law or fathers-in-law, are seldom kin. Thus, they can bring little collective influence to bear against the members of their affinal house, which is governed by its male kin, who live in their wives’ houses on other sides of the plaza.
The tribe is run by a chief (Figure 18), who is limited by a council of elders (Glossary) made up of the men in their 50s and 60s and, during certain periods, their 40s and 70s [III.D.2]. The chief manages all external relations (with backlanders (Plate 72), the Indian service, and visitors, whether from other tribes or from cities), and is the final voice in the well-developed judicial system [III.D.3]. Unresolved cases (mostly marital) in formal hearings between extended families come before him for unquestioned resolution. The central group (Pró-khãmmã, Glossary, Figure 19) of the council of elders governs the festivals and most other ceremonies that are based on the plaza rather than on the house of a particular extended family. Certain plaza-based rituals are the property of particular extended families, however. When such a family line (often matrilineal) ceases or fails to carry out its duties for the good of the whole tribe, the central group of the council of elders transfers the right to hold the ritual to another extended family.
The Brazilian Indian service maintained a representative in Barra do Corda as early as the 1920s, but placed a service family to live beside a Canela village only in 1938 [II.B.2.b]. From then, Canela acculturation accelerated, but this change of pace occurred only after 100 years of relative stability and gradual adjustment to the demands and requirements of backlanders and Barra do Corda residents. Although “pacified” in 1814, tales of research assistants indicate that the Canela were destablized and migratory due to contact conditions until about 1835 [II.B.1.b], when they were led by their first leader of the modern type, Chief Kawkhre Luis Domingo [In.6]. Such leaders were politically skilled Canela individuals who were designated and recognized as chief by the local backlanders or Barra do Corda political authorities, and later by the Indian service.
By 1960, the Canela saw themselves as being on the lowest rung of the social and political ladders of the Brazilian world. Their chief obeyed the resident Indian service agent (Figure 9), who obeyed the Barra do Corda agent (Figure 7), whose line of authority proceeded up through the Maranhão state service official, through the president of the Indian service in Rio de Janeiro (or later Brasília), to the President of Brazil. The Canela saw the order as being martial, which implied due obedience. As a result of their perceived low status, Indian service agents, backlanders, Barra do Corda residents, and some large-city people simply walked into Canela houses (Plates 6-8) uninvited. They would dominate the conversation and treat Canela house owners as lesser beings (bichos do mato: beasts of-the forest). The outsiders assumed vast superiority over the Canela, who accepted their subservient position unquestioningly. In 1975, an enlightened Indian service representative from Brasília addressed the Canela in their circular plaza, referring to them as gente (people). A perceptive young Canela asked if Indians were really, indeed, gente? Was not the representative mistaken? The man from Brasília, Dr. Ney Land, then calmly presented the Canela with a new concept: that all human beings, including Indians, are people.
Such talk could not have existed in this part of Brazil before the 1970s. Intellectuals could have expressed such ideas to each other in earlier times but not publicly, and certainly not to Indians, who were neither civilizados (civilized people) nor cristãos (Christians). The Canela position in the old Maranhão backlands of Brazil, and their perceived position in relation to the national society, can be understood only in this context. Indian tribes further west who were being drawn into Indian service “posts of attraction” during the 1960s and 1970s might not have had to contend with such entrenched negative attitudes.
MAP 3—Canela and Apanyekra reservations and surrounding backlands, 1986–1987, showing the Canela’s village of Escalvado (1) and its 13 farm communities (2–14) in numbered circles. (Stars in circles = formerly inhabited Canela and Apanyekra villages; circle = Apayekra village of Porquinhos; dots = backland inhabited Canela dn Apanyekra village; circle = Apanyekra village of Porquinhos; dots = backland communities; shaded areas = Canela, Apanyekra, and Guajajara Indian reservations; short dashes = jeep roads; solid lines = substantial dirt roads; heavier solid lines = larger roads; italic words = rivers and streams. The only asphalted highway is BR-226 between Barra do Corda and Grajau, which appears in upper left corner.)
MAP 4.—Eastern Timbira and their neighbors, past and present. (Large shadowed tribal names without dates indicate areas foraged by the tribe in prepacification times. Dates placed under shadowed tribal names indicate the approximate years of occupation. Tribal names underlined by dashes indicate tribes that became extinct in post-pacificaüon times. Triangles indicate the locations of villages of present tribes. Orthography of tribes, cities, and rivers reflect that of the earlier 1930s and of Nimuendajú’s (1946) map 1 upon which this map is based.)
[I.A.2] My Adoption by Canela Families
On my second evening with the Canela in their village of Ponto (August 1957), Chief Kaarà?khre (Figure 18) presented the older Krôôtô to me, who said his wife wanted me as a brother, and that I was to live in their house. I obviously had to say yes or no to this invitation, and since I was standing directly before the council of elders, who were intently watching and listening, I felt great pressure to say “yes” to please everyone. By training my first thought was not to align myself with any faction before I knew the politics of the tribe, but there seemed to be no choice in this case. Thus I said “yes” and was led to my “sister” Te?hôk’s house, where she and her husband Krôôtô gave me a corner in the sand for my equipment and clothing. Although Map 5 portrays the village of Escalvado and its Indian service post in 1975, the village of Ponto in 1957 was similar. Ponto was half the size of Escalvado and had no air strip, and had fewer post buildings and facilities.
Te-?hôk (leg-painted) and her daughters felt some responsibility for keeping me amused, so these nieces joked with me continually, as nieces can do with their uncles. In turn, I provided entertainment through Western games, pictures in books, and singing. The ice-breaker, causing them all to laugh hilariously, was for me to miss my hammock when sitting down, deliberately falling on the ground. My “nieces” loved this.
Within a week matters became more normal, and because the Canela had received Nimuendajú as an ethnologist for 14 months from 1929 to 1936, I was not such a novelty. After several weeks I moved to the smaller Canela village, Baixão Prêto, only 6 kilometers north of Ponto (Map 3). There I acquired a second family where the principal person was my “brother,” Hàwmrõ, with his wife, M««-khwèy (alligator-woman) being my “wife,” and his daughters my “daughters.” (According to Canela extended kinship reckoning these families were only distantly related.) Thus, I experienced in my daily life the two most frequent kinds of kin relationships. Among the Apanyekra, where I was adopted into a family in 1958, my prime house relative was a sister, Pootsen. (See Map 6 for a plan of the Apanyekra village of Porquinhos.) Later, when my wife Roma came to the Canela, I experienced affinal relationships first hand while living in the house of her adoptive family.
My two Canela families, my Apanyekra family, and my Western wife’s Canela family all provided rooms within the space of their own houses. The walls of these rooms were reinforced to protect possessions. In later years, these rooms were larger to accommodate the greater amount of my possessions. I left such matters to my families. In the 1970s, however, I added rooms onto my Western wife’s Canela family’s house for us.
[I.A.3] My Typical Day
While the pattern of my research day and activities changed between 1957 and 1979, the following is a representative example of a usual day within my various house environments during my 10 stays.
The day often began at about 2:30 AM when some youth came to the door of the house to call out the names of my nieces (or daughters, depending on the home), who were supposed to go out to the plaza to sing [II.E.4.a.(1)]. Usually the girls went out, but sometimes a parent made comments about why a daughter could not emerge. (“Te?kurà ?tàm” I heard often, meaning Te?kurà, my niece, is menstruating.) Then, the troop of adolescents moved on to the next house on the village circle, singing, their volume alone being enough to wake anyone in the vicinity. Sometimes I went out at this time to the plaza to dance or socialize, but in later years I seldom did, except to record the morning sing-dance on tape. My rapport had been built, so it was more important to sleep so I could work efficiently with my council of research assistants during the day. The adolescents could nap many times during the day; my schedule allowed only one brief nap. So I stuffed my wax ear plugs further in and tried to sleep some more. In my brother’s house one year, however, my daughter Hômyi-khwèy’s month-old baby resided only 1 ½ meters away through a palm-thatch partition in the arms of its mother, so the ear plugs offered little protection when it cried. Then, I exchanged the ear plugs for earphones and studied Canela sentences on tape.
Studying vocabulary [I.E.2] in this manner was usually my first activity of the day, starting at 5:30. In later years, the tapes were stories or autobiographical accounts [I.F] I had to keep up with to be sure the narrators were giving me needed information. By 5:30 the women of the house were thoroughly active and might involve me in something if I appeared to be awake, so I lay quietly in my hammock, listening to tapes, pretending to be asleep.
An alternative at 5:30 was to go bathing, which was forced on me by one uncle or another in the late 1950s. Chief Kaarà?khre (actually an Informal Friend) also used to summon me, saying I would live longer if I bathed early in the cold air, but nobody bothered me this way in the 1970s. I was older.
Another alternative for about 6:00 was to go out to the tribal council meeting. I could understand most of the debating in the 1960s and 1970s. Most often, however, I stayed in my room (a well-made rectangular partition to protect my possessions) until about 7:00, studying tapes or papers in preparation for the day’s work. Then, my sister (Te?hôk) or my brother Hàwmrõ’s wife, Mïï-khwèy would call me for breakfast. In my brother’s
MAP 5.—Escalvado village and Indian service post buildings, 1975. Pepkahàk hut location and related paths are included as of 1970. The open lands are cerrado.
house, we ate together on mats on the earth floor of the main room. We ate with fingers and gourd bowls in 1958, but in my sister’s house they were too prestige-conscious to allow me to eat on the floor, so they provided a table, a spoon, and plates. In the late 1950s and 1960s, between 7:00 and 8:00 AM and often later, long lines including backlanders (Plate 72) formed to receive medicine from me. I will never forget that first injection with no orange to practice on. The first thrust stayed in, but with the second thrust, the needle bounced out. I eventually learned.
FIGURE 1.—Escalvado (a Canela village), 1975, from the air looking north, including Indian service area in foreground with its old farm immediately below, its post building in center, and its school building on far right.
After my first few weeks, Chief Kaarà-?khre (cerrado-deer its-hollow) summoned me to cure a woman with a fever. I diagnosed her illness as pneumonia and did have Terramycin with me, a specific medicine for pneumonia. Her father, however, did not like the yellow capsules and vetoed the treatment. Kaarà?khre stood by me, persuading her father, so I was caught between the chief’s desires and a father’s blame. What if she died? I visited her every six hours for four days, not leaving until I had seen that she had taken the pill each time, and she lived. Later, I learned her father was the most negative kay (curer, or evil spell thrower in this case) in the tribe, a point which was reported by Nimuendajú (1946:238).
Sick call helped build my rapport with the tribe. In the late 1950s, any educated city person in the backlands was expected to know pharmacology and apply it, and the drug packaging had very extensive and complete instructions. My premedical training and the medical tomes I had brought into the field for this purpose facilitated matters considerably. When I could not really help them, I often gave café-aspirina rather than nothing at all. The U.S. Consular Agency in São Luis gave me medicines in great quantities to distribute.
One day in the late 1950s, three migratory backland lepers,
MAP 6.—Porquinhos village and Indian service post buildings, 1975. The open lands are cerrado.
who had been searching for a cure for a long time in many different places, walked into the open part of my sister’s house. I received them courteously, of course, but was inwardly dismayed, never having met lepers and remembering descriptions of them in passages in the Bible. They were only slightly disfigured, however, and just asked for medicines. I searched the tome for leprosy. Fortunately, it was described as being minimally contagious, so I relaxed and gave the usual café-aspirina, recommending that they walk to the dispensary of an Italian monk, a surgeon, in Grajau, about 120 kilometers to the west through the backlands. By the 1970s relief came in the form of better-trained Indian service personnel [II.B.2.i.(4).(a)] and the linguistic missionary [II.B.3.(a)], who knew far more medicine than I, so fortunately most of this
FIGURE 2.—Porquinhos (an Apanyekra village), 1975, from the air looking southeast, with Indian service buildings on right (agent’s dwelling nearest, post building in center, and school farthest) and airstrip beyond.
practice went elsewhere.
This kind of free giving and service (only backlanders brought goods in exchange) helped me considerably with the Canela, who feel shame deeply when they think they are being used, and I was using them by just being present in the tribe. They feared I was getting something free, so that anything I could give them—medicine and attention in this case—made them feel less exploited. Although the tribal council had decreed that I could take any pictures because of my general contributions to festivals, some individuals, nevertheless, wanted payments on the spot when I took pictures of them; for example, in the 1970s a women, sitting in front of a house on the village circle next to the path to the principal bathing place in Escalvado village, demanded a payment for herself and her children. I reminded her of the pills I had given her children some weeks earlier, and she gave up her demand.
Another way I helped my adoptive families in the 1960s and through 1976 was to buy some of the game and fruit brought to the house by other Canela between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning. These selective purchases let me and my families eat better and gave me a chance to treat the sellers in a personal way, speaking to them and doing something for them. I was not just living there on their lands without providing something, individually, and only individual treatment would satisfy them. Te?hôk and Mïï-khwèy helped me enormously in these transactions, selecting what was good and needed in the households. They were kind and gracious to the people we could not help, often giving them something small to go away with [III.D.3.e.(3)]. Feeling and caring for the less fortunate are prime Canela values [III.B.1.b.(2)].
In the late 1950s, Canela individuals often came with a “gift,” saying they expected nothing in return, but they did. This activity constituted forced “gift” exchanging at a level I could not control: if I refused to give something I had and they wanted, they saw me as being “stingy” [III.B.1.a]. To refuse their requests honestly, I lived without goods and money, trusting my families would feed me. They were, however, a needy people, caught in a deficit economy [II.C.3.g] and therefore in moderate endemic hunger. Moreover, this kind of begging, even from non-relatives, was an accepted custom [IV.A.3.c.(5).(c)].
By 8:00 AM my research assistant council, numbering three to six depending on the topic, assembled in my room in Te?hôk’s or Mïï-khwèy’s house (1960s and 1970s). At these early meetings, I asked for personal experiences or dreams to relax them, and as our working relationship matured we worked on the topic of the period, such as checking my basic ethnological study of the late 1950s (in 1964), kinship and ecology (in 1969), kinship and marriage (in 1970), matrilineality in rituals (in 1975), folk Catholicism (in 1976), festivals and ethnobiological concepts (in 1978), and key words and phrases (including dualism, in 1979) [In.4.f]. By 10:00 AM one of the women of the house would call to say coffee and crackers were ready, and we would take a break for about 20 minutes.
At noon the group dispersed to their houses for lunch and rest. At this time, I received visitors, such as a backland merchant. He might have been waiting more than an hour, because my family members prohibited interruptions of the council meetings. Thus, the merchant would impatiently summon me to see his goods, either close by, or in another Canela house where he was staying, or more correctly, in the house assigned to him near the post (Map 5, F), which was the only legal place for him to trade his products. Usually I declined to buy, but sometimes dominant family members demonstrated their needs. Te?hôk and Hàwmrõ were so modest that I almost had to force needed items on them, whereas Te?hôk’s husband, the older Krôôtô (Plate 77d), and the Apanyekra in general were very aggressive in their demands (Maybury-Lewis, 1965:172). For some people, I was obviously there to be exploited, so I had to resist their demands, see through their pretended needs, and walk a narrow line between refusing and pleasing.
In 1957 and 1958 I spent time with my families on their farms and worked with them there to some extent. I even went hunting several times. The Canela did not expect such participation, however, because Nimuendajú had not often done it. Thus I did not have to work as an economic provider to gain their confidence, which is often the case in other field research situations (Seeger, 1981). They did want me, however, to participate in their festivals as Nimuendajú had done. Thus I had to work my way slowly out of such time consuming performances because I could study these pageants better as an observer than a participant [I.B.1].
In the late 1950s, I spent much of the noon period running errands for myself. Money could not be given to anybody to do or buy something for me or the tribe. Money too easily became cachaça (alcohol), so the Indian service forbade me to give money to all but a few alcohol-resistant individuals. Moreover, money was begged off of most men by their classificatory wives, or by individuals truly in need. A messenger with my money—anybody’s money—was a target. Messengers felt compelled to be generous with what they were carrying so as not to be accused of being hõõtsè (stingy)—the greatest evil [III.B.1.a.(3)]. Thus I had to go and do my errands myself, which was usually exhausting but did expose me to many people and to what was going on. Such visits to the post or to individuals in other houses—or in Barra do Corda to the meat market at 4:00 AM—took an incredible amount of time and energy. In the 1950s and 1960s I spent a great deal of time on sick calls, on arranging activities, and on buying goods and foods.
By the 1970s, however, several Canela understood Western values enough to run errands involving money (even to Barra do Corda) and to spend and account for the funds correctly upon their return. Thus, I had more time for my research and did not get so tired, but I was less in contact with many individuals in the tribe, with backlanders, and with people in Barra do Corda.
When I could break away from errands, my sister or brother’s wife gave me lunch, which was the same as breakfast or dinner: manioc flour with beans and grass tea, rice with chicken bits and oranges, or meat pie (manioc and pork) with bananas and brown sugar (rapadura) tea. Then a siesta followed as well as preparation for the afternoon with the research assistant council. In the 1970s, tape cassettes of daily notes and meetings of the research assistant council had to be copied for separate mailing to the United States. Xeroxed materials of earlier festival field notes had to be examined for me to follow up on, and research assistants’ manuscripts [I.F] had to be reviewed to pose valid questions to the writers, keeping them motivated and within the scope of the program.
By 2:00 PM I called out from my door across the village plaza in my best voice—a squeak they teased me about—to summon my helpers for the afternoon session, which usually ended at 5:00 but often went on until 6:00 PM near the end of each stay. The following period of the day was the most relaxed and varied. Its first activity was to take my soap box and towel to go bathing, sometimes alone but often with certain Canela friends. In the late 1950s, soap was often lacking, so I went at noon as well, using fine sand to rub the grit off the ankles. One time when I went down to the stream at dusk against the advice of Te?hôk, who feared a ghost would hurt me, she sent my small nephew, Ku?tàà-tèy, to watch out for me. While in the cool chest-deep water of the Santo Estévão with the boy squatting on the log thrown across the stream just below, I froze with fear from his shout, “palpup-re he” (a-certain-venomous-snake there), but nothing happened. He said it passed just by me, and I never knew whether he was joking or serious.
During the late 1950s, when the likelihood of being allowed to stay was tenuous, I frequently went down to the Ponto post to eat with the Indian service personnel, trying to maintain rapport with them. Seated next to the Indian service agent with male backland travelers around the table and all women in the kitchen, I ate and talked with the men until about 8:00 PM, learning much about the backland communities and way of life. These contacts resulted in several invitations to the fiestas of communities such as Bacabal, Jenipapo do Resplandes, Ribeirão, and Curicaca (Map 3), where I learned to dance in the backland shuffling manner and worried Canela companions by drinking cachaça. They thought a jealous young drunk civilizado would knife me away from my dancing partner and were ready to come to my rescue.
In the early evening, I often went to the plaza to watch the dancing (sometimes dancing myself, in the late 1950s) and then attended the meeting of the council of elders to practice my progress in understanding the language. At this time of day, the air and sands held a pleasant warmth. The rose sunsets, distant blue hills, twisted savanna trees, light dry breezes, along with the singing by the houses and the debating of the elders, made this an interval of great charm.
Sometimes there were purchases to face or avoid when returning to my home in the evening around 7:00 and (later in the 1970s) workers to pay. After dinner with my sister’s or brother’s family another work period followed, which was more varied than the three previous ones. I seldom attended the evening sing-dance.
Sometimes, in pressing periods near the end of a visit, the research assistant council reconvened to help me, but more often special assistants came to carry out specific jobs. In the late 1950s, the Canela would not help me at all during the evenings unless I sat with them in the plaza or in their houses. In those days, I spent most of the evenings socializing with my families, obtaining information in the plaza, or working on my field notes written in speed writing. In the 1970s, however, with most notes being recorded on tape cassettes and copied to other cassettes, I was free to work with assistants during some of the evenings. In 1978 I read much of the evening to plan further research. In 1979, I recorded myths in my room and music where it was being performed. I also recorded singing in my room by special arrangement. Some evenings had to be spent preparing for the council meeting of the next day, copying cassettes, and playing back the taped recordings of their performances to groups of Canela listeners who requested to hear them. They simply had to hear my festival and daily sing-dance recordings, or I would have taken something from them without paying for it.
By 10:00 PM most people were asleep but some were still dancing. This was when I treated the members of my family house, two or three times a year, to their “gifts” for housing and feeding me. They were ashamed to be seen gaining goods from me. Those who knew would spread rumors or come begging, so we did it quietly in the dark. The women liked ceramic beads and high quality cloth, which they used for trading or for adorning their young female kin when the latter were acting in festival roles of high honor [II.D.2.e.(1)]. My presents (or payments) of this sort saved them trips to Barra do Corda (for good cloth) and even to coastal cities (for quality ceramic beads), which they felt compelled to make to carry out certain festival situations with sufficient pride and honor.
When my brother Hàwmrõ, a great hunter, killed a deer, he usually brought it into our house very quietly in the middle of the night and butchered it immediately, sending for certain kin to come and receive their share. He distributed as much as possible as quickly as he could, according to his long-term debt patterns and his desires. Then there would be less for non-kin and perpetual beggars to beg from him the next day, when the news of his kill had spread around the village [III.B.1.a.(2)]. In 1957, they woke me to partake in such feasts, but after our rapport was established, they soon learned that I valued my sleep too much to lose it over venison, which they could save for me to eat the next day.
The last part of the day was routine. After dusting fleas off my ankles and calves, I launched myself up into a hammock strung high next to the thatch wall. There, a kerosene lamp, with a mirror behind it to concentrate and focus the light, stood on a specially-made shelf. Then I read myself to sleep in 30 to 45 minutes. Brazilian novels were my favorites—Erico Veríssimo and early Jorge Amado. The Canela sleep on platforms about 50 to 80 centimeters high (Plate 8a) with their feet exposed to a fire. Because sleeping was always a problem for me, I chose to go the easy way of a sleeping bag in a hammock. Moreover, general maintenance was easier with everything suspended well above the ground.
Sometimes, sleep was facilitated by half-a-dozen young Canela of both sexes walking slowly around the boulevard, softly singing sustained harmony in a minor key [II.E.3.c] [II.F.1.b.(2).(b)].
[I.B] EARLY ACCEPTANCE EXPERIENCES
[I.B.1] From Tribal Member to Ethnologist
When I arrived among the Canela in August 1957, the prestige and good names of Curt Nimuendajú and Olímpio Martins Cruz reinforced my acceptance by the tribe. The Canela wanted me to be Nimuendajú’s “nephew” because then I would, from the point of view of kinship, be in his place (hatsà iyahêl tsà khãm: his-place my-filled place in). I did not want to deceive them, however, and thought that assuming my great predecessor’s roles might lead to expectations I could not carry out. Thus I assured them that I was not Nimuendajú’s nephew but an American ethnologist who had come to learn about them as Nimuendajú had done. Accordingly, Te?hôk’s family adopted me on my second evening in the tribe. (This family was not related in any way to Nimuendajú’s adopted kin.) On about the fourth evening, they presented me with an unmarried woman without children to keep me company. This kind offer had to be declined. I told them that the Indian service would put me in jail if I accepted the woman, and I had a sentence on paper expressing this concern. The sentence had been prepared in Canela on the recommendation of Sr. Olímpio.
To be taken into the tribe, it was helpful for me to participate in the initiation festival. The Pró-khãmmã were very quick to “catch” and put me into the Pepyê festival as a novice [IV.A.3.c.(2)], just as they had done to Nimuendajú. This initial “imprisonment” (na prisão: in prison) (Plate 42e) was quite realistic, but they did not make me stay in confinement like the other novices. They merely expected me to march and be with the Pepyê initiates when this suited my learning about the festival. They let me return to my quarters and equipment in my adopted family’s house whenever necessary.
In 1957 and 1958, I almost always marched and acted with the Pepyê and Pepkahàk festival [IV.A.3.c.(3)] troops (Plate 44c) when any of their performances were taking place, but returned to my Canela sister’s house, or in Baixão Prêto to my brother’s and mother’s house, during periods of inactivity.
In 1959, my role as an ethnographer as well as being a member of the tribe was established. When the Pró-khãmmã were planning the Khêêtúwayê festival and deciding who should carry out the various roles, they asked if I would like to be a Khêêtúwayê novice [IV.A.3.c.(1)]. Because I hesitated, the older Kaapêltùk (Figure 50) answered for me, saying that his Informal Friend [III.E.6] (myself) did not want to be in the festival at all because he really just wanted to take pictures. One of my greatest early fieldwork problems of participating in and observing ceremonies at the same time was thereby solved. From then on I was not assigned any festival roles, although my families still gave me roles in life cycle rites. This recognition of my status as an ethnologist made it possible to record the festivals far more intensively. The older Kaapêltùk, a principal helper of Nimuendajú’s, understood that role.
The older Kaapêltùk had been helpful in this way on two previous occasions. By October of 1957, he was the new chief of Baixão Prêto village in the place of Ikhè. For my first observation of a festival, the Festival of Oranges, I had with me in the plaza only a pad and pencil with which to take notes. That was all I could manage at one time during that early period. Much to my surprise, the older Kaapêltùk came up and scolded me mildly—as was his chiefly way—for not having my camera. (In graduate school we had heard that Indians did not like their pictures taken and that they would charge for any photographs snapped; this was not the case among the Canela, at least for Nimuendajú, myself, and Indian service personnel.) Thus, I ran back to my room in my brother’s house, left the pad and pencil, returned to the plaza with a loaded Camera, and started taking pictures. It was necessary to live up to the older Kaapêltiik’s view of what an ethnologist should be doing during a festival, and at this early time in my fieldwork it was certainly more important to please the chief of the village than to satisfy myself.
A year later, when the older Kaapêltùk’s mother-in-law died, I attended her funeral proceedings without pad and pencil and also without a camera. My particular American sensitivities made me behave in a very respectful manner at a funeral. During the middle of the rite, however, the understanding older Kaapêltùk came over and asked why notes were not being taken and pictures snapped. Stunned, I went to my brother’s house and came back with this equipment.
Years later, in 1970 when my favorite niece Te?kurà died of tuberculosis in my Canela sister’s house, I played the unabashed role of the ethnologist and took some of the most comprehensive pictures I have ever photographed of any rite, including views above and close to the cadaver, while my female kin were wailing. I recorded the rite as the family expected me to, as an ethnologist fulfilling his role.
[I.B.2] Two Most Guarded Types of Behavior
It was relatively easy to begin fieldwork among the Canela with the tradition of Nimuendajú and the prestige of Sr. Olímpio behind me. The transferred love for these two men won me a place in the tribe but not in their full confidence—at least, not on two sensitive issues. Thus, in spite of my easy entry, there were still no really “trained” research assistants. Later such assistants facilitated fieldwork and enabled it to proceed ten times faster and with far greater certainty than it did during the first 15 months.
[I.B.2.a] EXTRAMARITAL RELATIONS SYSTEM
One principal Canela point of secrecy was about their extramarital sexual relations and about the extensiveness and frequency of this behavior network [IV.A.3.f]. They assumed that I, like other outsiders, did not want to hear—for fear of embarrassment—about their extramarital practices. My early refusal of a woman must have contributed to such an assumption. They knew outsiders had cast shame upon the Canela for their traditional extramarital practices, and even Nimuendajú had been unaccepting. Thus, they were not going to embarrass me or themselves through such disclosures. Still, their reticence had to be overcome. After my return to the tribe in 1958, I made a particularly direct attempt to let them realize that I would not think badly of them because of their extramarital sexual practices.
One technique I used was to display a medical dictionary which had a chart of the various parts of the body. I pretended to be learning their words for the different locations of the body and quite openly included a number of questions about the sexual areas. Women and men came in groups to see the printed photographs and diagrams, so there were a number of occasions on which to display openness and approval. Soon research assistants became willing to talk about extramarital affairs and as a result a great deal of new material emerged that was not in Nimuendajú’s published accounts (W. Crocker, 1964, 1974a).
Later, when my research assistant council sessions were established we discussed these practices fully, and they became quite open about sexual matters. In 1975, the marital life history study (first carried out in 1970) was largely redone; it was strikingly clear that they could talk about each other’s, and any other person’s, sex life in a mixed-sex group of some 20 individuals without any hesitations and concerns, as long as the information being given was about the past. Nevertheless, in 1979, when talking about sexual details with several research assistants, I was surprised to note that they were quite embarrassed. This was an acculturation phenomenon. By 1979, it seemed that some of the more acculturated Canela were having difficulties with such subject matter, even though these were some of the same individuals who had talked about sexual matters quite comfortably less than a decade earlier.
[I.B.2.b] OFFICIAL STEALING OF BACKLANDER CATTLE
Another test of acceptance had to do with the stealing of cattle. The Canela of Ponto used to take about half a dozen head of backlander cattle a year (Nimuendajú, 1946:160). Sr. Olímpio had told me about this upon my arrival, and there was no reason to think the situation was different several years later. By my twelfth month with the Canela it was clear that youths who were not under the control of the council of elders every now and then rustled a cow from some backland rancher, but this did not happen very often.
One day in 1958, when I was about to start lunch, my sister gave me a dish of beef and certain staples. This was a surprise, so I commented to her that no head of cattle had been killed recently. She smiled and said it was all right to eat the meat anyway. It seemed best, nevertheless, to make a game out of the new situation, so I stationed one of my nephews by the door on the Indian service post side of the house, telling him to warn me if one of the post agents was about to appear. I even gave the obviously stolen cattle meat a special name, caminhão kahàk-re (truck facsimile-small: a large and dear creature), which amused them.
It happened on the following day, when more caminhão kahàk-re was presented, that the stationed nephew did come running into the house, saying that the post teacher was about to arrive. Quickly, I rushed the plate of beef into my room, hid the meat under some cloth, and returned with the plate still full of other food. The teacher did not discover what had happened, and when he left, amusement was expressed by everybody.
I was now on their side, eating stolen cattle meat with them and feeling just as afraid of being discovered as they were. They no longer hid the fact from me in their tribal council meetings that it was both the council of elders and the first chief of the tribe who were authorizing certain youths to go out and steal cattle from certain backland ranchers.
It was from that point on that the Canela accepted me in an almost total manner. There were no more issues they felt they had to hide from me.
[I.C] PROBLEM-SOLVING IN THE FIELD
I have often thought of the Canela in terms of their relative advantages and disadvantages as a tribe for ethnological research. Fieldwork among the Canela and Apanyekra was necessarily quite different than among recently pacified tribes further west.
One advantage of studying the Canela was they were ideal for long term field research. From a search of the “Handbook of South American Indians” bibliography (Steward, 1946–1959) in 1956, I found the Nimuendajú volume. Already published and available, “The Eastern Timbira” presented a great deal of information about the Canela 20 years earlier. Studying this volume made it clear that there was the possibility of following family lines, and thereby finding the same individuals or their children still living in the village. This ability to trace the past into the present was very important for diachronic research. In addition, they are not a migratory hunting and gathering people and, therefore, the Canela have remained in the same general area. Individuals did not move from village to village (such as is done by the Barama River Caribs of British Guiana (Gillen, 1936), so that family lines among the Canela would not be difficult to trace. Moreover, they were not war-like or hostile to outsiders, having been “pacified” about a century and a half earlier. Therefore communication between them and me was not impeded by their fears of outsiders.
Another advantage is the environmental conditions. The Canela live in relatively dry cerrado instead of humid, dense tropical forests. There is almost no winged pest life. Cool and abundant water, which originates in springs only a dozen kilometers away, is available for swimming and also for drinking without purifying. The maximum range of temperature is between 12 and 37 degrees Celsius. No rain occurs for three months (June through August), and little rain for six months of the year (June through November). There are occasional but substantial downpours from mid-December to mid-April. During the whole course of the year, there are only 900 to 1500 millimeters of precipitation. The relative humidity drops to 50 or 40 percent each day at about 3 PM in June and July, and goes below 60 percent for many days at 3 PM in May and from August through November, letting most clothing and equipment dry out [II.C.1]. Breeze-swept but well-closed palm thatch houses with pounded clay floors simplify life. Serious diseases, such as schistosomiasis, chagas, and malaria, are absent. There are many enjoyable backland and tribal foods available, such as rice, oranges, chicken, eggs, beef, partridge. For aerobic exercise, one can walk and jog on cerrado trails. In fact, it should be possible for me to return in my 70s or 80s without having to be too concerned about problems related to old age, especially now that there are roads leading into the villages and highways in the region. My wife and her children were able to come and have a good time in the swimming holes cut out of the gallery forests surrounding the streams.
After my first entry in 1957, I brought in no food for myself, but I did have to bring in preserved foods and powdered beverages for my wife and her children. The local foods were easy to obtain because merchants came by selling pigs, chickens, oranges, brown sugar blocks, sacks of rice and manioc flour. Moreover, the Canela hunted all sorts of wild game. Nothing could be better than roasted partridge, or venison and emu (ema: South American ostrich) meat slowly smoked over very low coals. As far as diseases were concerned, malaria (in the late 1950s) occurred only in places in the dry forests well away from Barra do Corda and not in the cerrado near the Canela. (I caught it while visiting the Guajajara at the São Pedro Indian service post; Map 3.) Schistosomiasis and chagas did not exist in that part of Brazil. House rats and fleas came into the region only in 1974.
A final advantage was that the Canela are a generous, kind people who care about the welfare of others living among them, unlike certain other tribes in the literature (Biocca, 1969). They are humorous and fun-loving. Best of all, they do not hold grudges, relatively speaking, like the Guajajara living nearby in the dry forests; and they do not have taboos that make it difficult to talk about people’s names, their ancestors, or really any topic at all; and they are used to people from other cultures so that they are aware and tolerant of cultural differences, which they allow outsiders to maintain.
A major difficulty for work among the Canela is the number of people involved. A tribe of 50 or 100 individuals is often the case in the Amazon Basin. In the late 1950s, however, the Canela were in two villages, Ponto (population ~265) and Baixão Prêto (~145), and the Apanyekra were in one village, Aguas Claras (~175). These numbers complicated the learning of faces and raised the question of what was a representative sample. As soon as I learned the names and activities of the significant people in one place, I had to move to another village. Therefore, when I returned to the first village, much memorized information had been forgotten or confused. Activities followed in one village could not usually be followed at a distance from another one, because reporting and verbal communication—before the development of the fine communication abilities of the younger Kaapêltùk [I.G.4]—were so unreliable and erroneous that the threads of continuity were largely lost.
A bigger disadvantage by far was the Canela attitude (in the late 1950s) about “begging” (Glossary) and their belief that they had an absolute right to be given what they were asking for. They did not suffer any negative emotional effects from their insistent, forthright, incredibly aggressive begging [III.B.1.f.(4)]. The persistence and aggressiveness of this activity tended to subside during my period of 22 years with the Canela, but it was only necessary to go to the Apanyekra for a short visit in the mid-1970s to become thoroughly reminded of this difficult behavior. What made it more difficult was that they had such a deficit economy between the months of September and December [II.C.3.g] that many of them did suffer from moderate hunger. When they came begging, it was usually because they were very hungry, especially during their years at Sardinha in the dry forests [II.B.2.g]. Hunger was endemic and beyond the aid of an individual outsider. It was not just food, however, that they wanted; anything a backlander would buy they begged for and ran the 10 to 20 kilometers to a backland community to sell, probably the same day.
This generous tradition was reinforced by Nimuendajú, who had sharpened this sense of having the right to demand foods and goods from an ethnologist. He had bought cattle and food for their festivals (Olímpio Cruz, personal communication) in the days when such items were not expensive. There was also the paternalistic tradition of the great Rondon’s Indian Protection Service, when the Canela were given ample free goods. These were terminated only one or two years before my arrival [II.B.2.d]. Large quantities of food, salt, cloth, and farming equipment (such as machetes, axes, and hoes) were freely given. The Canela expected that my generosity should be taking the place of this support from the Indian service. These factors made the demands of the Canela and the Apanyekra difficult to satisfy financially.
Their clever ways of obligating me to buy things for them were best met by living almost all the time with no money at hand, trusting that they would feed me, which my families always did in the late 1950s. If I had available money, I would be seen as being hõõtsê (stingy: evil) if I did not use it immediately for their or my own benefit. Having money and not spending it on the conspicuous needs of relatives was the strongest accusation the Canela had against certain backlanders: “He would let his grandmother die rather than spend a cruzeiro on her for medicine” [III.B.1.a.(1)]. My solution was to live on the small amount of credit backlanders extended to me. This was hampering, but it was possible this way to buy the necessary foods to assist sufficiently in my Canela families’ support.
When I first arrived in Belém in 1957, Galvão warned me about Canela financial demands, saying they were the tribe that traveled and begged the most in large Brazilian cities [II.A.3.a.(3)] and were, consequently, aware of the prices some large-city people paid for their artifacts and would expect the same of me. At first, it was a constant battle between holding the line and pleasing them.
Pia and David Maybury-Lewis (1965:172) experienced almost identical problems among the Shavante and Sherente: “They [Shavante] asked for presents because it was their right, and if they did not get them they glowered or stalked off in a huff.” In this context, Maybury-Lewis refers to the Shavante, who still maintain their pride, as “highwaymen,” while the Sherente were “beggars.” Similarly, the Apanyekra were still highwaymen in the 1970s, while most Canela had become too ashamed to beg and a few begged pathetically.
Another difficulty was managing the medical situation. Both Indians and backlanders expected to be able to get some medicines from me in the late 1950s (as almost the only knowledgeable person in the region, they thought). Some supplies were bought to satisfy their expectations, and this was also a good way to build rapport. The disadvantage was that until the Indian service post personnel’s medical stock and treatment capabilities surpassed mine, as they certainly did in the 1970s, I spent considerable time each morning making sick calls. From the point of view of research gained, this accomplished almost nothing.
Probably the greatest disadvantage of all in my fieldwork situation was the proximity and nature of the Indian service personnel in the late 1950s. Colleagues told me just to go to the Canela for a short visit without permission (since such licenses took so long to obtain), and the Indian service would never know the difference; but with the service personnel stationed and living just alongside the one Apanyekra and two Canela villages and also stationed and watching from the município level in Barra do Corda, an outsider could do nothing without their help and without their knowledge of his presence. Permissions from the federal level of the service were necessary for any non-backlander to spend more than a day at any one of the Canela villages. (If one “friend” employed in the service had made an exception for me, others would have reported on him at higher levels.)
Moreover, since the Canela did not generally like and trust most of the Indian service personnel sent to them in the late 1950s, it would have been better if I had not had to deal directly with service individuals all the time. It became quickly evident, however, that it would be the Indian service personnel who would throw me out, if anyone did, rather than the Canela. Thus, I obviously had to continuously cultivate rapport with the service personnel by spending much time with them, especially in the late 1950s, before the general attitude of the personnel dramatically changed during the 1970s [II.B.2.i.(2),(4)] [II.B.3.e].
My constant contact and fraternizing with service personnel in the late 1950s did not help to build trust with the Canela until they were sure I was really “on their side” and would not tell the Indian service about their secrets, especially their stolen cattle [I.B.2.b]. However, even though I visited the service personnel and discussed matters with them almost every day in Ponto, and even though I fraternized with them to the extent of frequent meals at the post and going to backland festas (weekend parties) with them, the Canela eventually came to trust me.
Trading for artifacts of Canela material culture was an important component of the fieldwork, but again, difficulties did arise. First, both the Canela and Apanyekra felt strongly that each individual was entitled to receive something in exchange for my presence among them and for the research information I was receiving. Since I was clearly “gaining something off their backs” (ganhando nas costas deles), they wanted a “return” (hapan tsà ?nã). Otherwise, they would feel as if they were being taken “bare.” Moreover, if I were not paying for my presence, I would be taking her or him in a “light” manner.
As with “begging,” this expectation of a substantial “return” from me was justified through the “acculturation contract” set up by their culture hero Awkhêê between the Indian and the civilizado [II.B.2.f] [IV.C.1.b.(6)]. In 1975 for example, they actually discontinued festival activities so that the guests of the missionary-linguist, Jack Popjes, could not see the festival in progress and the log racing. The missionaries had not brought in sufficient foods and iron implements to make it dignified for the Canela to continue with the festival in their presence. They were not going to give the outsiders something without gaining enough in return. Something similar happened to me in October 1957 which convinced me that if I wanted to see festivals, I would have to be more “generous.” The older Pù?tô’s words against me to this effect in the plaza concerned me. He was the great sing-dance and festival leader of the council of elders, and he had been significant as a gourd rattle leader even in the time of Nimuendajú (1946:199). Since by my third month I knew I did very much want to study festivals, I sent for more money. The alternative was not filming them, taking any pictures, or watching them extensively—a watershed difference in level of expenses.
In November of 1974, as I was returning to the Canela after having been away for three years, a television team of O Globo, the great newspaper complex of Rio de Janeiro, was negotiating to film the Canela. They asked me in Barra do Corda what the Canela would want in compensation, and when I said at least a head of cattle (for five hundred people) and certain food staples in addition, they said this was out of the question.
This strong need of the Canela to exact high payments from the visitor, or the anthropologist, was a major difficulty in collecting material artifacts. Thus, in the late 1950s I established a reciprocal arrangement for acquiring them. Each person was given something of acceptable value to them in exchange for an artifact of acceptable value to me. Food from the farms and wild game from the cerrado and gallery forests were not accepted as appropriate to this “barter” system.
To institutionalize this system over several visits, I designated a certain day for trading. This was usually a Sunday and occurred not more than one time a stay unless the field trip was over a year in length, as happened in 1959–1960, 1969–1970, and 1978–1979. In the 1960s and 1970s these trading days were connected with census taking. By the 1960s I could keep goods stored in my room for trading without having to redistribute them almost immediately—or be called “stingy.” Thus, I finally gained sufficient control to carry out tribal scale trading.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the day of trading was announced at least a month ahead, a day not long after the completion of a census. For census taking, all members of a family were required to be present in their house, for which a certain morning or afternoon was designated. About three houses were processed each day, two in the morning and one in the afternoon, and each house was taken in sequence around the village circle. Thus, census taking, which included the collecting of a large amount of quantitative data, took about a month or six weeks to complete, and often the period was lengthened by intervening events, such as festivals.
They quite rightfully expected some sort of payment for almost all members of a family to be present on these census days and give their time for as long as a third or half a day. They missed a significant amount of work or play by being at the census; and certain Canela, usually adolescent men up to 20, simply would not appear unless they were satisfactorily compensated. My trade-off with everyone was that if they were present for my questioning and for the picture taking, I would trade with them on the designated trading day. (There were between 400 and 600 Canela in the 1970s.) In this way, a very high percentage of people in the village was actually present in their houses during the few hours when needed. It is noteworthy that if their chief or the Indian service agent had given them a direct order to be present, they would not have obeyed in sufficient numbers, though there was considerably more compliance in such matters in the late 1970s.
During these census visits to each house, either an early or a late morning appointment or an afternoon one was specified so that no one had to wait a whole day. The census visits involved much more than just counting heads. Kinship and demographic questions were asked of most adolescent and adult persons. Their festival society memberships, hàmren (Glossary) and shamanic statuses, Formal and Informal Friendships, and their early festival honor and political positions were sought. I also asked what and how much they had planted in their farms and recorded on tape what they had planted around their village houses. (While the kinship and society membership data were reliable, their farm agricultural data were weak and are reliable only in a very general way.) I recorded the size, shape, and construction materials of their houses by speaking approximate measurements and descriptions onto tape, and I listed all the equipment seen in a house on tape, as well as much of what they had in their baskets and suitcases.
The final act of the census taking was always to take two pictures of the whole family—all the house residents—in front of their house. One person, in the front row of the group, was given a meter-long staff to hold vertically, which served as a relative measure of individual heights without the necessity of measuring each person. Each family received one Polaroid print and the other print was kept for the record. (On my return visits, each family received a larger copy of my print as well as copies of any other pictures taken.)
On the subsequently designated trading day, the larger items were evenly distributed throughout the village, e.g., one axe and two machetes for each large house, depending on its size and the number of such items in stock. Moreover, a standard price, with variations, was developed for pots, machetes, pieces of cloth—every category of item they were to receive—so that fairness, which was very important to them, would be recognized. Standard prices were also developed for all their categories of material artifacts with variations for quality.
Sometimes, during an evening council meeting and well ahead of time, I requested that special items I needed to complete my inventory be made by certain individuals, but most of the selecting of items to be made was left to them. However, their items presented for “sale” on the trading day were not always very well made. If they were too poorly fabricated, the individual had to come back with better-made artifacts on the same or another designated day in order to receive the house-assigned goods.
Through this fieldwork device, I gained (1) the presence of a group of people in their family home for extensive questioning together, (2) a procedure for giving everybody some appropriate item—candy to axe heads—to pay for my presence, and (3) a set of artifacts for the museums. They also gained little items of satisfaction on the census day and implements of significant utility on the trading day, all conducted in a spirit of fairness and good rapport. This reciprocal system was soon accepted and worked well to everyone’s advantage.
Traditional material artifacts of great artistic and sentimental value, as well as of ceremonial honor (Table 8, items 1–8), were bought separately on any day during an announced “open season” for an amount of money that showed respect for the item, which sometimes was 20 to 30 years old. I also recorded the history of any apparently significant material artifact. In 1979, Wakhõõ brought to me a krat-re (Table 8, item 6), an item of honor that she had been awarded in 1958 during a ceremony that I had attended. Thus, the workmanship was fine and its age and provenience was known.
[I.D] FIELD EQUIPMENT
[I.D.1] First Five Field Trips, 1957–1966
The 10 field research trips from the United States to the Canela can be divided into the five earlier ones (1957–1958, 1959–1960, 1963, 1964, and 1966) and the five later ones (1969–1970, 1971, 1974–1975, 1976, and 1978–1979). This division is based on the topics studied and on the field equipment used. By 1969, tape recording had largely supplanted written field notes, and 35 mm color photography with new cameras and lenses was supplanting my 54 mm black and white photography. By 1974, Super-8 filming had replaced the much earlier work with a 16 mm camera. Such changes are not research advances in every case, nor do they necessarily represent technological progress. For instance, it would have been better for the eventual record to have continued with 54 mm black and white photography and 16 mm filming, because of greater film size, but the new techniques provided greater flexibility and increased volume. Moreover, there were very significant subject matter changes between 1966 and 1969. In the later period more emphasis was placed on kinship and quantitative approaches, on particular emic and linguistic orientations, and on cognitive and semantic analysis of key words. Festival description was pursued extensively during both periods, but new techniques were employed in the 1970s.
Before going to Brazil in 1957, I took a course in speedwriting and then further adapted this recording technique to my needs while with the Canela. Almost everywhere I went while in the field from 1957 through 1966, I carried a small metal clipboard, which was about 8 centimeters wide by 20 centimeters long. Pads of paper that had been cut in Brazil to fit the size of the clipboard were attached. Specially cut pieces of carbon paper were slipped between the pages to create two copies of all field notes. Such notes were always taken in pencil because ink might run if exposed to water. My brother in Baixão Prêto wove a large purse-like mõko for me to carry the small clipboard and other elements of my field equipment everywhere I went.
Back in the United States for the winter of 1958–1959, I typed the entire collection of field notes onto 13 by 24 centimeter slips of paper, and cross-referenced them by subject matter by means of additional carbon copies—usually seven. Much material was added to the notes from memory but placed in brackets on the slips of paper.
In 1963, my first wife Mary Jean and I made a two-week visit to the Canela in the dry forest on the Guajajara reservation at the Sardinha post (Map 3). The small clipboard and a 35 mm camera were the only instruments taken on the trip.
In February 1964, we arrived in Sardinha with new equipment that kept up with the technology of the times. Though I still used the same clipboard for certain purposes, such as linguistics, we now had two Gray stenographic recording machines, which engraved the voice onto blue plastic discs. Daily notes and observations were recorded in this manner, though I spent much time keeping these machines functioning during the humid months of February through April, and then again in the windy and dusty dry months of June and July. I carried one engraving machine around on a shoulder strap almost all the time while in the field. The disc engraved on the first machine was copied onto a second disc by the second machine at some later time to make a back-up copy. When recording notes in my field office, I used two microphones in order to make two copies at the same time.
Back at the Smithsonian all of these field notes, as well as the notes of the late 1950s and 1960, were typed by a stenographer onto 13 by 24 centimeter McBee Keysort cards. The 120 bordering holes were cut out for subject matter, roughly following the Human Relations Area Files’ category numbers as codes, which, however, were substantially reworked for easier retrieval. A great deal more could be recorded by using dictation and much time was saved by having someone else do the typing. Having such help, however, meant no additional information from my memory could be added to the field notes away from the field after 1960.
In the summer of 1966,1 returned to Sardinha with a Norelco 11-centimeter (4-inch) reel tape recorder. Certain kinds of notes, however, were still recorded in speedwriting on the clipboard pads and carbons. The transition to modern tape recording was still not complete.
[I.D.1.b] TAPE RECORDING
In the late 1950s and 1960, a spring-wound second-hand Nagra tape recorder with a limited set of 13-centimeter (5-inch) reels of tape was part of the field equipment. This fine recording instrument was used only to tape music—the festival songs and choral chanting of the 1957 Pepyê, the 1958 Pepkahàk, the 1959 Khêêtúwayê, and the 1960 Fish festivals, and the morning and evening casual sing-dancing. This high quality recorder was never taken to the Apanyekra villages, because such visits were limited in duration and number during that period. Thus, it was pointless to risk the possible damage of muleback transportation.
In 1957 a small tape recorder that ran on a battery pack was part of my equipment. The use of this recorder was limited by the unreliable supply of the large, unconventional batteries it required, but some old myths and vocabulary words were collected on it nevertheless.
My photographic equipment during the early period (1957–1966) included a 35 mm Leica, as well as a 54 mm film size Rolliflex. Thus there are a limited number of photographs in color and in black-and-white in both sizes.
In 1963, I took two rolls of 35 mm film of the Canela two days after their forced removal to Sardinha from their native cerrado lands. Only slide copies remain in the national collections, because the originals were sent to the head of the Indian service to fulfill a promise I made to him in the field.
The same photographic equipment was still used in 1964, but I began to take more 35 mm photographs (all color) than 54 mm ones (all black-and-white, this time). My lack of practice with filming equipment before going to the field in 1957 is evident in the early films. There are short, poor quality films of the Pepyê festival in 1957, the Pepkahàk festival in 1958, and the Kêêtúwayê festival in 1959 taken with a second-hand 16 mm Bell and Howell.
In 1964, considerably more use was made of the 16 mm movie camera than in the late 1950s. In 1966, traveling light, I used only the 35 mm camera and relied more on 35 mm colored slides.
[I.D.1.d] RORSCHACH TESTS
In the late 1950s, I used my Rorschach training and wrote the protocols as projected by a dozen Canela who sat with me for this purpose for an hour to two at a time. The work was disappointing. In my opinion these protocols were almost useless because of our inability to transmit details of description and shades of meaning into each other’s languages. Consequently, the administering of these tests was not continued in the 1960s and 1970s.
Some other psychological perception tests were also administered in the late 1950s. They were given to me by a psychologist for experimentation in the tribe, and were oriented to test for various aspects of subject-perceived closure and non-closure. The results were not reliable due to unsatisfactory communication.
[I.D.2] Last Five Field Trips, 1969 And The 1970s
State-of-the-art technology plays a significant role in fieldwork methods, especially in long term ethnology. In the 1980s—well after my last entry to the field in 1978—it has become possible for ethnologists to take small video cameras and portable personal computers with them as annotation equipment. Sometime in the future, presumably, we will take portable machines to the field that will transform speech to typed notes and enter them into personal computers at our field study locations or even send the information out by radio.
In 1969, a 4-speed Uher tape recorder was part of the equipment. Field notes were taken on a 13 centimeter open reel at the slowest speed, linguistic phenomena were recorded at an intermediate one, and chanting was taped at a higher speed. This proved to be a clumsy procedure, which resulted either in sections at different speeds being recorded on the same reel or in the need to change reels frequently. For writing, large Brazilian folded pages (25.1 cm folded by 31 cm) with a carbon between the folds replaced the clipboard. These pages were placed on a smooth wide board as a writing surface, supported on a table made of tied sapling poles. This became the local state-of-the-art fieldwork desk, which was first used by the linguistic missionary. “Space” pens took the place of pencils. These ordinary looking pens, which had been developed for the NASA space program, used ink that would not become blurred in water, could write through a small amount of natural skin oil and perspiration on the paper, and could even function upside down (while I worked in a hammock) because the flow of ink was forced up against gravity by air pressurized cartridges.
In 1970, advances in technology had made it possible to change from open tape reels to the kind of cassettes and conventional battery-run small recording machines still in general use today (though still smaller “micro-” equipment exists). Cassettes could be changed quickly and easily with a major shift in topic or activity‑such as from singing to note taking.
For my last three field trips I relied fully on the use of high quality, 120-minute tape cassettes, two copies of which were made at the same time. If only one copy was made, another one was dubbed later so that there were always two separate copies. These separate sets of cassettes were sent back to the Smithsonian on different shipments, and during a long field stay, the products of the earlier months were sent ahead separately.
There was a “daily record” series of cassettes used for moment-to-moment observations and thoughts, and a “research assistant council” series, which shifted month-to-month with the topics under study by my council, such as festivals, kinship, Nimuendajú restudied, and key words and concepts. At my research assistant council meetings, I followed digressions in our discussions by shifting cassettes rapidly to pre-sort the subject matter into major categories. The long-term research assistants were not disturbed by such activities. This proved to be a useful procedure because it was easy to slip the daily record cassette into the machine for miscellaneous information, replacing the principal cassette for the main topic of the day, or one of the other three or four side-topic cassettes.The final annotation development during the 1978–1979 trip was to take notes in modified speedwriting on the large folded pages, with carbons in between the folds, at the research assistant council meetings. Not too long after, I put these notes onto tape with elaborations, while the notes were red penciled for additional questioning at the next appropriate research assistant council meeting. This procedure became necessary because the meetings were producing so much significant and difficult material. It was necessary to think carefully about these data between meetings. During the study on key words and concepts, it proved best to work only in the mornings with research assistants and to spend the afternoons considering and taping the morning's work and preparing for the next day. During that period I spent evenings on recording, translating, and studying myths and on the song conservation program.
[I.D.2.b] STUDY OF COLORS
In 1971, I took Munsell color chips to both the Apanyekra and the Canela. These rectangular slips of paper represent dozens of color gradations throughout the visible color spectrum. Although the sample of individuals tested was probably not sufficient for a quantitative study, I nevertheless collected a considerable amount of material on how both tribes make their color distinctions and intermediary judgments. These data are in my office at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.
[I.D.2.c] PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILMING
By 1970, only 35 mm cameras (Nikon and Nikkormat) with several lenses and color film were being used, except during the census when I used black-and-white Polaroid film to photograph family groups before each house.
A new kind of equipment entered my fieldwork array in 1974–1975. A Super-8 soundless camera was used principally to film festival activities, life cycle rites, and log racing or track events. I considered this footage “field notes,” and never intended editing the films. The village houses and the post buildings were also filmed in this manner during every return visit during the 1970s, and still photographs of all houses were taken in every village. (The photographic record of village houses and their activities began in 1964.)
With a Super-8 camera, my procedures for “covering” a festival were most fully developed. First, I studied and memorized what was going to take place. I did this by rereading Nimuendajú (1946), by reviewing my notes of previous performances of the same festival, and by asking my research assistant council to reconstruct the coming day's festival activity. Then, while the festival was in progress, I spoke quietly into the tape recorder, giving a description of what was taking place. I also filmed some of the action and took 35 mm photographs of certain occurrences. During important singing, it was occasionally necessary to return to the carefully positioned recorder to make certain the music was being recorded at the right level. Later, during the middle of the day, if no festival act was in progress, I invited the principal actors to my research assistant council meeting and asked them to tell me their thoughts about what had been going on and why they were doing certain things one way or another. Of course, the objective was to determine as nearly as possible what they had been doing, because neither my eyes, nor the Super-8 filming, nor the 35 mm camera photographs could cover all of the details and purposes of the activities. (During 1978–1979, a Super-8 sound camera was used, a Chinon 506 SM XL/Direct Sound.)
In future fieldwork a portable sound video camera would be helpful, but such equipment was not readily available in 1978. The video tape could be played back to the principal actors and the research assistant council for their assistance in answering any significant questions.
[I.D.2.d] RECORDING CHORAL CHANTING AND INDIVIDUAL SINGING
The techniques and equipment used to record chanting and individual singing were the same during the 1978–1979 trip, except that the silent Super-8 movie camera was exchanged for one that recorded sound so that some of the films on festivals are accompanied by singing. The National Human Studies Film Center of the Smithsonian lent me a superior Nagra tape recorder. With that instrument I spent a considerable amount of time recording on-going festivals and sets of songs performed in the evenings specifically for my recording.
I spent many evenings recording the singing of individuals—both festival chants and individual songs people sing during work. It seemed easier to extract the words later from recordings of one person singing rather than when a group was chanting. This record of individual singing was called the “song saving series.” The purpose was to record a large number of songs for later Canela use and retention. A junior sing-dance leader, the younger Tep‑hot, volunteered to help this song conservation program. He used one of my cassette recorders to tape his own singing and that of certain senior sing-dance masters. He did this to save the songs from both sources for posterity, and so that he could learn and remember the songs himself.
Some day these recordings and most of the Super-8 film footage (which will have to be put on video tape) may go back to the Canela. These materials may help them conserve their festivals and life cycle rites.
My complete fieldwork attire consisted of tennis shoes, swimming shorts, and a men's shoulder-strap carrying bag (mõko) shaped like a modern Western woman's purse. Outside of the village, however, a cloth or straw hat was advisable for protection from the sun. In the 1970s I could wear Japanese-style open sandals made in Brazil of some very durable plastic material instead of tennis shoes, because with the arrival of outhouses, Westerners did not need protection against scratches, punctures, and infections inflicted by the scrub country bushes outside the village. Nylon swimming shorts (boxer style) were preferable because they could be washed while bathing so much more easily than most other materials. I did not wear a shirt except while walking between villages, or when going out to the farms, and then only as protection from the sun. In the late 1970s, when some of the diary writers wore short sleeve shirts—a self-selected mark of their self-imposed rank—I still went around the village without a shirt like most of the Canela, except for occasions that called for a more formal outfit, such as visiting the Indian service post.
[I.E] LEARNING THE CANELA LANGUAGE
In 1957, there were no sources from which to learn the Canela language before arriving in the tribe. Nimuendajú lists seven published vocabularies but only four of these were somewhat helpful: Nimuendajú, 1913 (55 words); Snethlage, 1924:187 (399 words); Abreu, 1931:201 (200 words), and Pompeu Sobrinho, 1930:17 (798 words). The orthography, the phonetic spelling, and the meaning attributed to words in these vocabularies are very confusing, except for Nimuendajú's. His samples, however, are too few to be of much assistance. Olive Shell (1952) reconstructed a posthumous grammar left by Buell Quain, but it contains a considerable number of unresolved fieldwork alternatives, which make it difficult to study. In addition, the level of its presentation is elementary.
When I arrived in Barra do Corda, the former Canela Indian service agent, Olímpio Cruz, gave me his notes on Canela words and phrases, which were quite extensive (~500). However, the orthography and phonetic spelling were often misleading (Cruz, 1972). Only Nimuendajú had a good enough ear and training to transform a significant part of his phonetic materials into phonemic representations.
Thus, it was necessary to learn the language directly from the Canela, though they could neither analyze nor explain it. Becoming conversant in the language, however, was not absolutely necessary for carrying out reasonably good fieldwork, since many men spoke Portuguese at least to some extent (cf. Melatti, 1967:10). None of the more modern Timbira ethnologists (e.g., Arnaud, Chiara, Da Cunha, Da Matta, Lave, Melatti, Newton, Schultz), except for Nimuendajú and Quain, have attempted seriously to learn the languages of their tribes. I came to enjoy studying the Canela language during periods of relaxation. When trying to take a siesta in my hammock, I studied Canela words in the context of phrases. Learning the language gave me much satisfaction.
Another reason I felt compelled to learn Canela was that the likelihood of misunderstanding a research assistant speaking in Portuguese was very high—in fact, certain to occur—to an extent not realized at first. Efficient and reliable communication that did not require cross-examination and double-checking was assured only when the younger Kaapêltùk became a well-trained translator-interpreter.
[I.E.1] Phonemic Contrasts
I first discovered a phoneme not identified by Nimuendajú when I was staying in Barra do Corda in 1957 before going to the tribal village of Ponto for the first time. While working with the first chief, Kaarà?khre (Figure 18), who had come to meet me, it became obvious that the words kô (water) and khô (digging stick) were in contrast. While an aspirated palatal/velar stop does not exist in German or Portuguese, it does occur in English, so it is easy for a speaker of English, knowing Portuguese, to hear this distinction.
A significant breakthrough came in 1960 while visiting Rio de Janeiro. The rhythm and phonemic writing of certain words were elusive, so I explained the circumstances to the veteran SIL specialist Sarah C. Gudschinsky. She suggested the investigation of a potential phonemic relationship between long vowels and short consonants or between short vowels and long consonants. Subsequently, I found that long vowels were in phonemic contrast with short ones.
It is important to mention this phenomenon of phonemic contrast in vowel length because it has not appeared in the writings of any Timbira ethnological specialist. Jack Popjes of the SIL, who arrived among the Canela in 1968, confirms the existence of this phonemic contrast and uses it in his publications (Popjes, 1974). Many Canela words cannot be heard, written, or pronounced accurately without the use of this contrast between single and double vowel length.
[I.E.2] Time Spent on Language
While learning the Canela language was not necessary for good field research in the late 1950s, I nevertheless made efforts to learn Canela better and practiced it as a pastime during my various stays. I could not put a priority on learning the language because of the urgency of developing the ethnological materials. In the late 1950s, my sense of urgency was exacerbated by political uncertainties [I.C]. Nevertheless, I worked at building up lists of sentences with one unknown expression or construction in each and then memorizing them. This work was the main focus of my field studies during the fall of 1959 and in the winter of 1960. I spent a long period on the morphology—maybe two months—in the summer of 1964. During the fall of 1969 I practiced grammatical forms (frames) using learning tapes, and during the summer of 1970 this technique was continued with examples supplied by Jack Popjes.
By this time, studying the manuscript translations [I.F.1] of the younger Kaapêltùk gave me greater fluency in reading and therefore in speaking and understanding. Diary tapes (cassettes) made regularly by Kaapêl and Kaprêêprêk (Plate 69a) relating the news of the tribe after 1970, when I received them in Washington, D.C., further helped my proficiency.
The 1974–1975 trip was to have been my last field stay, so little work was done on the language during that period. It was not until the winter and summer months of 1979, therefore, when certain fieldwork “requirements” had been completed, that a priority could be given once more to linguistics. At that time I was focusing on cognitive studies which supplemented the current work on dualism. It had become obvious that the semantic fields of many words did not have the same referents as in English or Portuguese, but rather had areas of overlap and areas of non-correspondence. After studying a considerable number of such words with the younger Kaapêltùk, it became clear that certain misunderstandings and faulty translations were regularly taking place. Hearing the Canela usage of Portuguese for many years furnished clues to the semantic areas of noncorrespondence between presumed equivalent Canela and local Portuguese terms. Furthermore, my learning Canela provided the opportunity to develop a research assistant as sensitive and trained in translation as the younger Kaapêltùk, an unestimable aid to my understanding the Canela, as well as their language.
An example of these noncorresponding terms is the use of the Portuguese word culpa (blame, fault). When the Indian service agent said that he had put the blame on Kupaa (Kupaa tem culpa), the Canela thought that Kupaa, specifically, was excluded from being blamed by the agent—the opposite of the agent's intent. The expression ku ?te ?pro is believed by the Canela to mean ele tem culpa (he is to blame). But it actually means in Canela, “he is covered up.” In this case, it is understood that Kupaa is not to blame, implying that someone else is guilty; he is “covered up” (shielded, protected) by the agent's words, whether or not he is believed by any party to have actually committed the specified fault.
My words and concepts study became a source of greater satisfaction than any other materials collected during my 64 months in the field. This study, and the related analysis of dualism, seemed to be the final and principal research product of learning some of the Language—I will never say “having learned the language.”
[I.F] DIARIES AND TAPES
During a period of 16 years (1964–1979), some 78,400 pages of manuscripts were written by Canela research assistants [Ap.2.e] [Ap.3.a]. Over a span of ten years (1970–1979) two Canela “spoke” their diaries onto 120-minute tape cassettes, which amounted to one to two cassettes a month. The manuscript activity began in 1960 when I suggested to several research assistants that they write some daily diaries. I did not expect them to continue after my departure in September 1960. However, Hàwpùù, about age 32 in 1960 (Plate 70f)[I.G.6], was writing an account of his life and the tribal occurrences in 1963, during the Canela messianic movement. His manuscripts were burned as a result of the July 10 attack on the Aldeia Velha village, during which three Canela were killed. These writings would have been invaluable as records of the movement. This loss was a factor in my motivating Hàwpùù and others to write manuscripts on a regular basis.
In 1964 when I returned to live with the Canela for five months, Hàwpùù and two others, the younger Pù?tô [I.G.5] and the younger Kaapêltùk [I.G.4], began writing manuscripts for me according to a precise plan. They wrote three pages a day in Portuguese. The younger Kaapêl, however, wrote two pages in Canela and then translated them into Portuguese on the following day.
[I.F.1] First Three Writers
Hàwpùù, the younger Pù?tô (Plate 68a), and the younger Kaapêltùk (plate 69c) [I.G.4] had been taught to write in Portuguese between 1944 and 1948, at the Ponto village Indian service school by their teacher, Dona Nazaré. They did not write very well in 1964, but daily practice soon made them accomplished and fast writers. This was never really the case for Pù?tô, however, who to the last days of the project in 1979, wrote so conscientiously and with such concern about the beauty of his handwriting and thoughts that he could never become more efficient. He was a natural poet.
The diarists were free to choose their own subjects. The diary writing was an informal projective test; it was most important not to tell the writers what to do other than to give them the required number of pages to fill with their personal thoughts and major tribal events. These were the two subjects of concern to me and therefore the only points of instruction to them.
Because all three had worked as research assistants in 1959 and 1960, they knew what interested me. Thus, they were somewhat directed by the nature of our earlier contacts. After 1960, when my research interests required older persons with memories of the first and second decades of the 20th century, Hàwpùù and Pù?tô no longer worked for me as research assistants. They were too young to know the materials I was seeking. The younger Kaapêl, the youngest of the three, became more of an interpreter for older Canela than a research assistant.
While I was there from 1958 through 1960, Kaapêl worked for me daily as an interpreter, teacher, and research assistant. Hàwpùù and Pù?tô worked with me considerably less, and only intensely in the winter of 1959–1960 as research assistants. Pù?tô, however, was an “uncle” so we had a personal relationship. Whether working with me or not, he often used to accompany me down to the stream to swim and bathe at the end of the day, where we discussed all sorts of matters as uncle to nephew. In 1969 when my second wife Roma visited the tribe and was adopted by the family of the first chief's wife's mother, Hàwpùù became my in-brother-in-law (being the chief's wife's brother) and I was consequently his out-brother-in-law [III.E.3.a.(1)]. Thus, the relationship with all three of them became close.
Special work was necessary to improve Kaapêl's writing abilities, because he had no conception about writing phonemically in his own language. By the 1960s, I was writing Canela almost phonemically in a script provided by Kenneth L. Pike (1947). Kaapêl, about 28 in 1960, learned this system with some difficulty because it was hard for him initially to conceive that letters are arbitrary symbols expressing a range of sounds. When he internalized this idea, he became an excellent and very precise phonemic writer and was able on several occasions to quickly use new sets of symbols to agree with the changes in the orthography of the SIL linguist in 1968, 1971, and 1974 [II.B.2.b.(3)] .
Kaapêl was very concerned about making mistakes. What would his people say later when Pèp's (Crocker's) book appeared if his teacher taught him erroneously? So he was very careful. At first he tried to translate Canela words into Portuguese quite literally, word for word, using the same word order and sometimes even translating individual syllables. Little by little he learned to translate whole phrases and sentences freely into what he considered to be good Portuguese (i.e., good Maranhão backland Brazilian). He did not achieve this writing skill until the early 1970s. Later, he became very capable at working with aural material that required the translation of a general idea, paragraph by paragraph, such as translating myths and war stories. For this process, he would listen to one tape in Canela and translate it onto another in Portuguese [Ap.3.b]. In 1975 through 1979, this more general verbal approach was necessary in order to cover a great deal of mythical material in a limited amount of time.
Kaapêl's written translations of the late 1960s almost always made sense, but his word order was close to the Canela sequence so that he provided an excellent Rosetta Stone for individuals learning Canela. A dedicated linguist could learn a great deal by studying Kaapêl's manuscripts written over many years.
[I.F.2] The Manuscript-writing Program
The three writers, the younger Kaapêltùk, the younger Pù?tô, and Hàwpùù, were paid for their work, and consequently, the activity of writing, which was already held in great respect among the Canela, became even more prestigious [II.B.3.b]. The writers wrote persistently, with an almost unbroken record of production from 1964 through October 1979—a remarkable achievement. While the pay was never enough to relieve the writers from having to put in annual farm plots to support their families, it did enable them to buy certain items from backlanders or Barra do Corda residents and to employ other Canela to occasionally do simple services for them. It was clear that the wives liked this extra money. The motivating factors for the program were regular extra money, personal interest in the activity, and a desire to do this job for me. I obviously had to receive, comment on, and be appreciative of their products, which required great conscientiousness and patience on their part.
In addition, the personalities of Hàwpùù and Pù?tô were ideal for this sort of work. Hàwpùù was a natural ethnologist, interested in almost everything that was going on, in the reasons why people were doing one thing or another, and why certain events were occurring. In the 1970s, I added a third instruction and suggested that the writers insert an ampoo nã? (what in: why?) as often as possible into their manuscripts. Hàwpùù was the most consistent of the five writing in the 1970s, and later of the 12 writing in 1878–1979, in putting this request into practice. Pù?tô, about 36 in 1960, had similar personal characteristics and inclinations, but differed from Hàwpùù in his focus. Pù?tô was less concerned about observations of other people and why things occurred and more interested in reporting his own feelings about events. He did this in a dramatic and even magnificent way. I will never forget the experience of sitting in my Smithsonian office one evening and reading about how my Canela uncle, Pù?tô, was out hunting one day when he saw a game animal slip out of sight into a deep hole in a stream. He wrote how he dove after it only to find himself becoming tangled in the coils of a large sucuruju (anaconda: a large water‑living constrictor). The snake bit Pù?tô's right wrist so that he had to reach for his machete on his belt at his left side with his left hand to pull it out of its sheath, an awkward feat at best. But he succeeded in cutting the snake's head, which was clinging to his right wrist, using his machete in his left hand (he is right handed). The serpent let go of his hand and also relaxed its coils around Pù?tô's legs. He then described the blood in the water and how he went home to take care of his wound.
In contrast, Kaapêl, though he was loyal to the work in the 1960s, became impatient with it in the mid-to late 1970s. It was no longer a challenge. As a translator and cassette recorder, he received more pay than the rest, but sometimes he did his work too rapidly, and therefore without depth. As the leader of the younger Lower moiety age-set, however, he knew more about what was going on in the tribe than any of the other writers and included such information in his writings; therefore, his accounts (and translations) of tribal activities were by far the most complete and reliable. He liked to narrate his semipolitical antagonisms against other Canela individuals onto tape so that recording often must have been quite therapeutic.
An additional motivation for Kaapêl was certainly the position of leadership that managing my manuscript system gave him. During one period of several years he collected the manuscripts and cassettes from the other writers and recorders and distributed the pay. My relationship with Kaapêl was surely the closest. We had a number of personal talks, and there was a lot of joking between us—sometimes about his love life.
[I.F.2.a] ADDITIONAL WRITERS OF THE 1970s
In 1970, two new writers were included in the manuscript-writing program, Kaprêêprêk and the younger Tep-hot, ages 22 and 31, respectively. Kaprêêprêk (Plate 69a) had not been taught by Dona Nazaré in the mid-1940s. He was one of the sons of chief Kaarà?khre—a middle son. Later, in about 1981, he became the chief of the tribe in place of his father but was soon deposed [Ep.2]. Kaprêêprêk had had special training [II.B.3.d] while he was growing up, having spent two years studying in a Catholic convent in Barra do Corda and some other years living in a similar convent in Montes Altos, about 220 kilometers to the west and close to the Gê-speaking Kr«katí Indians (Maps 1, 2). Later, Kaprêêprêk spent a year with the Brazilian Army in São Luis, the state capitol. Given all this training as a young man, by 1979 Kaprêêprêk spoke the best Portuguese of any person in the tribe, except for those several young Canela males who left to live permanently in large cities during the Canela hardships in the dry forests at the Sardinha post [II.B.2.g.(9)]. While the younger Kaapêl could communicate superbly, his Portuguese usually was ungrammatical; his tenses, persons and word orders were often wrong. Kaprêêprêk not only spoke correctly, but also had an extensive command of urban Portuguese, as well as the backland variety.
The second newcomer to the writing team, the younger Tep-hot (Plate 70g)[I.G.1] had been taught to write by Dona Nazaré. He was also a uterine brother to my adopted sister, Te?hôk [I.A.2], and therefore a brother to me. He was one of the sing-dance leaders of the younger generation and, therefore, quite prestigious in his own right [II.D.3.i.(4)] [II.F.1.a].
It was for Kaapêl and Kaprêêprêk in 1970 that the diary tape technique was introduced. As well as manuscript writing, they began to make diary tape cassette recordings. Each of them was given a tape recorder to use and an appropriate number of cassettes. At first, four hours of recording (that is, two 120-minute cassettes) were required each month. Their assignment on tape was the same as on paper, namely, to speak about their personal lives and about the activities of the tribe, giving reasons wherever possible. Both had worked with me so they knew my vocabulary in Canela and tried to adapt their usage to mine—a practice I had not asked them to adopt. I did, however, ask them to speak slowly, and we did practice this together several times. The results were that I can understand a high percentage (~90%) of what they are saying on the tapes.
In 1970, pursuant to my request, the amount that all these writers were writing was reduced so that if they wrote in just one language, they were writing only every other day. Kaapêl, still the only translator, wrote two pages one day in Canela and two translated pages in Portuguese the next day. Kaprêêprêk and Tep‑hot wrote three pages every other day in Portuguese.
In 1975, two more writers were added to the program, Yaako (Plate 71d) and Krôôpey (Plates 69b, 70g), ages 21 and 37, respectively. At this same time, Hàwpùù and Tep-hot were assigned to writing in Canela and translating, as Kaapêl had been doing. The two new authors wrote only in Portuguese, like Kaprêêprêk. Yôk (age 28; Plate 70d)) and Hõõkô (age 21; 71b) joined the program in 1976, the former writing just in Portuguese and the latter just in Canela. Pù?tô and Yaako [Ep.5.d] began writing in Canela and translating, and Krôôpey [Ep.2] began writing just in Canela.
In 1978 and 1979 three more writers entered the program—Kôyapàà, age 20 (Plage 70a), son of the younger Kaapêltùk, Yiirot, age 17, and the younger Krôôtô, age 43. Yiirot was a young married woman, who had been taught recently in the post school by Risalva. (Yiirot carried on an extramarital romance by letter with another manuscript writer, and these romantic contributions have been archived.) Thus, in 1979, when 12 writers had joined the program, 5 were translating, 4 were writing just in Canela (including Kôyapàà and Yiirot) and 3 were writing just in Portuguese (including Krôôtô).
[I.F.2.b] POLICIES AND PAYMENT PRINCIPLES
The writers were paid according to certain defined principles mutually agreed upon. The base pay was calculated to be double what a regional backlander would pay another backlander to work as unskilled labor on his farm, but the time employed was set at two hours a day for the writer (more than needed) instead of the usual eight spent by the hired hand. Translators received twice the base rate because of their greater skill, as did tape-speakers due to their greater responsibility. The organizer of the writers group received an additional sum because of his responsibility and additional time spent on the job. In 1978–1979, we held writers' meetings to review these principles that had been instituted in 1970. At the first of these meetings, Kaprêêprêk was elected to be the group organizer, replacing the younger Kaapêltùk who had had this role from the beginning. Some of the money was used by writers to hire others to do work that the individual writer would have done if he had not been writing. In this way the money was more widely distributed.
[I.F.3] 1979 and the Future
These manuscripts may some day become biographies or autobiographies, or parts of them may be published as accounts of what it is like to live in such a tribe. In any case, they are important records on acculturation and personal psychology. At a meeting on salvage anthropology at the Smithsonian in 1966, Professor Claude Levi-Strauss said that extensive personal accounts written by natives of various parts of the world would be of considerable value some day in more effectively reconstructing the cultural fabric of the writer's society. His statement was a significant factor in motivating me to continue and expand this program of manuscript writing. (For a study on Interpreting Life Histories, see Watson and Watson-Franke, 1985.)
[I.G] SPECIAL RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
If any section of this book arouses treasured memories, it is this one, because of the fascinating and rewarding relationships with long-term research assistants. This section describes their relationships with me as research assistants and them as individuals representative of their tribe. Ages of individuals are accurate to the nearest three years above the age of 60, to the nearest two years above the age of 30, and to the nearest year and a half below 30 as of 1970. Estimates were developed while taking censuses during three or four different years. Determining ages was accomplished largely by correlating births, or periods such as childhood or adolescence, with dates of earlier village occupations and known events such as the massacre of the Kenkateye (1913), the great drought (1915), the first arrival (1929) and last visit (1936) of the ethnologist Curt Nimuendajú, the deaths of chiefs, and the presence of a series of Indian agents.
[I.G.1] The Younger Tep-hot
My first special research assistant was the younger Tep-hot (Plate 70g), a brother in the family into which I was adopted two days after arriving in the larger Canela village of Ponto (population 265). He was about 18 in 1957 and a member of the younger Kaapêltùk's Lower moiety age‑set, which graduated in 1951 [III.C.3.a]. Tep-hot was also a kô-?tũm-re (water-old-dim.: a disciplining “corporal”) for the Pepyê novices (an Upper moiety age‑set) of that year. Since he could write to some extent, my “sister” (also his sister) Te?hôk called upon him to keep me company and teach me things in the first few days after my arrival. I remember writing down word lists with him and checking some of the published vocabularies, photo copies of which I had brought with me. He was especially clean‑cut in appearance, and later, when his hair was cut short, he could have passed for an American college fraternity stereotype, if he had been wearing the right clothing.
I remember Tep-hot as being very spontaneous. When I tried to write down a phrase of what he was saying, he could not slow his speech, so it was necessary to let him repeat the sentence rapidly many times while I took down a little of the sentence each time [II.B.3.b.(1)].
Tep-hot had been one of the six students who learned to read and write to some extent from the Indian service school teacher, Nazaré, in the mid-1940s [II.B.2.b.(2)]. As such, he was somewhat sought after by other Canela to write notes to backlanders to obtain goods or services. He became a maraca sing-dance leader [II.F.1.a] and belt-rattle handler (Plate 53a), and later the honorary sing-dancing chief of the current novices [II.D.3.i.(2).(b)], the Upper moiety age-set of Kôham which graduated in 1962.
In 1959, outside the village of Baixão Prêto, I was summoned in the middle of the afternoon to come with my antivenin kit to give Tep-hot injections. He had been bitten in the right hand by a rattlesnake. Most of the Canela in the immediate area (Pombo stream farms; Maps 3, 7) had assembled—several dozen‑to see what was going to happen. One or two individuals a year were usually bitten by poisonous snakes, and they sometimes died or were maimed. Khrúwa-tsù (arrow honor-belt), the snake shaman (Plate 25 1,m, the ear piercer), who was in his mid-60s, was there before me, treating Tep-hot. Khrúwatsù and I were on good terms, and thus he welcomed me, so I just sat there, watching. After finishing his curing procedures, he stood up and walked over to a small tree and put something into a cleft in the bark. I later retrieved the object, which was merely a small piece of folded paper—my note paper.
It was then my turn to be the curer, and by this time I had boiled my equipment and was ready to inject the serum. A tourniquet had been placed above the wound earlier. I made the injection into his upper right arm and stayed to watch the symptoms, should it be necessary to give additional injections, which were not necessary as the victim recovered. Tep-hot was always a good friend as well as a brother.
Although Tep-hot was my first research assistant in the village, he was never a regular one. His comings and goings were too uncertain and he was not as clear and knowledgeable in his explanations as most of the other research assistants. In 1970, however, I did accept him as a daily manuscript writer [I.F.2.a], and so had much contact with him during the 1970s.
A special memory of Tep-hot is the image of him sitting on the edge of the plaza writing his manuscripts in full view of everybody else. Kaapêl did this sometimes as well, but none of the other writers chose to write so consistently in such conspicuous places. I used to wonder why Tep-hot needed to proclaim his status and abilities so obviously because everybody knew which people were writing for me.
During the winter of 1979, he initiated an interesting process. He asked me to lend him a tape recorder so that he could approach the older sing-dance leaders. He wanted them to sing for him in the evenings so that he could record and then learn their songs. In this way he could increase the number of songs he could sing for the tribe to sing-dance to during the coming years. I lent him a recorder with the proviso that he let me make copies of his tapes [Ap.3.e.(2)]. In fact, I left a tape recorder with him with extra cassettes at the time of my last departure. I hope Tep-hot did a good job.
An outstanding item in the 1984 communication from the tribe was that it was Tep-hot who denounced Chief Kaarà?khre in 1981 or 1982 and thereby forced him to resign as chief [Ep.2]. By this time the Lower moiety age-set of the younger Kaapêltùk had taken over the role of the Pró-khãmmã [III.D.2.b.(1)], replacing the age-set of the older Kaapêltùk. Thus, Tep-hot's role as a member of the opposition moiety was quite appropriate, since Chief Kaarà?khre was the head of the Upper age-set moiety.
In 1987 he became the chief of the tribe for a few months, but lost his position while away in Belém to the younger Kaapêltùk [Ep.3.b]. Except for the younger Kaapêltùk, Tep-hot was the best counter in the tribe, whether counting the number of people due to receive portions of meat, estimating how many individuals were away from the plaza life working in their farms, or calculating how many blocks of brown sugar each recipient was to receive. In the 1970s he demonstrated this ability to count the recipients of retirement benefits in the plaza before the elders, so I suspected that he was already running to become the chief some day.
[I.G.2] The Older Kaapêltùk
In the summer of 1957, not long after my arrival in the village of Baixão Prêto, the older Kaapêl-tùk (bacaba-black: a fruit), who was about 47 at that time (Plate 70b, Figure 50), became the next research assistant. He was the deputy commandant (Glossary) of the Lower moiety age-set that graduated in 1933 and the head of the whole of this moiety for Baixão Prêto.
He had been the keeper of Nimuendajú's (Kô-?kaypo: water-across) horses and, therefore, was confident of his ability to relate to ethnologists. He was also the outstanding commandant (më-?kaapõn-katê) of the novice age-set of 1933 that Nimuendajú depicts so vividly in his description of the Pepyê festival (Nimuendajú, 1946:182) of that year. Moreover, his Portuguese was quite good (among the top half dozen), and he could explain things clearly.
In those early days I gathered much information from the older Kaapêltùk about what roles my predecessor had played in tribal life. This information helped me find my own proper role among the Canela. It was unfortunate that Kaapêltùk could not spend more time helping me, but he was employed by the Indian service and had to work around the post and its farm during the daytime.
Kaapêltùk insisted I have lunch with his family instead of my own, and, since he was the very imposing chief of Baixão Prêto, there was no resisting him. It was good for me to have this daily access to another family and especially to Kaapêltùk himself, even though their food was unhealthy. Almost everything that could be fried was fried in babaçu nut oil—one of the few flavors that I found undesirable, even sickening. Whereas my two principal families in Ponto and Baixão Prêto were clean in their handling of food and what there were of dishes and spoons, the older Kaapêltùk's wife's (Irom-krêê's: forest-three) household was not. (In 1976–1977 this was Madeleine Ritter's (1980) family.)
One noontime period while resting in a hammock after lunch in Kaapêltùk's house, I overheard a classic situation. The Canela were hungry for meat: më hatêê (they meat [specifically]-hungry), the special term for such hunger. A-?prol (generalizer in-parallel), Kaapêltùk's son-in-law, had bought a calf. He bought it with his salary from the Indian service. I heard the older Kuwrè (slippery), A?prol's wife, begging him to kill the animal so that everyone could eat, but he would not give in. She then went to her mother's father, Yõ?hê, and complained bitterly against her husband. The old man called A?prol hõõtsè (stingy, evil) several times. This condemnation was too much for the young out-son-in-law [III.E.3.a.(1)] of the house to resist. The calf was killed that afternoon. This hunger made it difficult for the Canela to raise cattle.
Members of this family are mentioned many times by Nimuendajú (1946:118, 124, 127, 132, 148, 236, 239). Iromkrêê was the ubiquitous Khen-taapi's (hill to-climb) sister, Kaapêltùk was her out-brother-in-law, and Yõ?hê was her father.
Chief Kaapêltùk enjoyed playing a role for me similar to that which he had carried out for Nimuendajú. In the 1950s he used to come for me in Barra do Corda with horses and mules to take me and my equipment back to his village of Baixão Prêto some 57 kilometers to the south (by map measurement: Map 3). There were usually about a dozen self-chosen Canela who would accompany such a trip to gain something, if only food.
On 21 May 1959, when we stopped at noon on the second day of the trip in the cerrado not far from a family settlement, we heard chickens cackling and pigs squealing excitedly. To my amazement, the group knew just what was happening and raced, not to the settlement's houses but down along the stream's jungle-shrubbery edge, to intercept the anaconda carrying away a pig to the relative safety of the stream's waters. I followed to find that the snake had reached the stream and was submerged with its prey. Seeing it below the surface in the water, the Canela waited for it to emerge to breathe, at which time one person shot it in the head with a shotgun. The anaconda (Plate 15a) was killed instantly. When its coils loosened in death, its dead prey was released and washed downstream. The snake's coils did not relax completely but remained caught in the underwater branches. With considerable effort we were able to haul the 4-meter constrictor out of the water, centimeter by centimeter, all pulling on it one behind the other. The progress was slow, but the catch was a great coup for hungry Indians. They butchered it there in the grass, carrying home only the intact tail and the meat for lengthy boiling. It was tough and tasted like lobster.
After the killing of such a snake, the killer sings a special song during most of the night, with the anaconda's tail hung behind him from a staff held level across one shoulder, to impart the anaconda's strength to the villagers. He trots and walks across the village plaza again and again at varying angles (kàà-kookhyê: plaza-splitting) each time, going down and back different radial pathways [II.F.1.c.(4)].
I had little contact with the older Kaapêltùk during the 1960s. When the tribe was forced from the cerrado onto the dry forest reservation of the Guajajara (Tenetehara) Indians in 1963, he took a much smaller group of his followers and moved away from the tribe, living in the village of Sardinha (sardine). He founded the settlement at Baixão dos Peixes (land-basin of-the fishes) about 11 kilometers to the south (Map 3) continuing the tribal schism between Ponto and his Baixão Prêto. Our contact with each other resumed more intensely than before during my 1978–1979 stay, after he had retired from his long-held full-salaried job (about 40 years) with the Indian service. He was the first Canela employee of the Indian service. The older Kaapêltùk did not work well in groups. He was too used to being an unchallenged leader, as the commandant of his age-set, the opposing Baixão Prêto chief of the 13-year tribal schism, and the nominal leader (më-?kaapõn-katê: their-sweep-master) of the Pró-khãmmã in the Escalvado village. In fact, I wondered if he would work at all with his named-nephew, the younger Kaapêltùk, my exceptional translator-interpreter. Fortunately he did, much to the credit of the younger Kaapêltùk, who treated him with unusual respect and consideration, catering to his substantial ego. These two research assistants formed the basis for my Saturday research assistant council meetings, which often included Tel-khwèy (jussara-woman: a palm tree) (Plate 73a), one of the informal leaders of the women. Under this arrangement, we met in the mornings and afternoons on most of the Saturdays during the course of a whole year and became very good friends.
The older Kaapêltùk was very precise and rather inflexible once he had taken a stand on an issue. Thus, it became quite a challenge for me to somehow prevent him from taking hard positions. Much of the work we did required careful consideration and reconstruction of the past on his part, so his first thoughts were not necessarily very accurate.
The role he liked most was checking the research assistant council work of the previous five-day week, which we did the first thing in the morning. Anything even slightly doubtful I brought to the attention of the older Kaapêltùk and Tel-khwèy for comparison, letting him think he was resolving the matter. My reconstruction of the Regeneration season moiety activities comes mostly from the older Kaapêltùk. He also remembered, better than any others, the rite that the slayer of an enemy alien goes through upon his return to the tribe.
This fine natural leader's greatest contribution to my research, however, took place in the summer of 1979. As a result of pressure from the Indian service in Barra do Corda, the younger Kaapêltùk had said he would not work for me any more. This was at a time when only he could handle the materials I was studying, the cognitive data of the words and concepts study. His resignation would have been a great loss. However, at the urging of the Pró-khãmmã in a formal evening session which the older Kaapêltùk led, the younger Kaapêltùk continued to work for me for the rest of my stay.
[I.G.3] The Older Mïïkhrôïï
My next research assistant might have been the most important one of all, if I had been more aware of what was going on in his life. I have referred to him, the older Mïïkhrô, as the old Ramkokamekra-Canela “library.” If anyone was my “grandfather” in the early days of my fieldwork, it was the older Mïïkhrô. He was my naming-uncle's naming-uncle. He was about 77 in 1957 and had been the age-set file leader (Glossary) (mam-khyê-?ti: in-the-lead-[ahead] pull aug.) of the Lower moiety age-set which graduated in about 1913 (Nimuendajú, 1946:91).
When I first arrived at Ponto in 1957, I was told to go and learn things with old Mïïkhrô; but he lived in Baixão Prêto, a second and smaller Canela village about 6 kilometers to the north. I waited until I could stay for a long visit during the fall. Then I spent many hours with this kindly old man who, with the exception of the younger Kaapêltùk, spoke the best Portuguese in the tribe.
Mïïkhrô was probably the first Canela to really appreciate what I intended to do as an ethnologist, and he was very encouraging. He saw, unlike the older Kaapêltùk, that I was going to “dig” more deeply into Canela life than had Nimuendajú, so he wanted me to come around to his house for instruction at any time and was not really concerned about being paid, which amazed me. He simply felt the responsibility to pass on the knowledge of his Canela heritage and ancient materials to a serious student of his culture. I never encountered these characteristics again in either Canela tribe—the sense of responsibility and the lack of concern about pay. These personality traits may have been vestiges of earlier times.
Mïïkhrô was insistent that I tape his traditional stories, especially those about Awkhêê, Brazil's Emperor Dom Pedro II (1831 to 1889). In those days small tape recorders were not very advanced. I had only an elementary cartridge tape recorder that ran on scarce and unconventional batteries [I.D.1.b]. Mïïkhrô insisted on recording in Canela, saying that I would understand it eventually. Doubtfully, I complied and now have 10 small reels of very precious materials, which I do now mostly understand. Unfortunately, he died before much could be learned from him, but I treasure his memory. Only rarely is a research assistant so kind and so supportive almost immediately to a novice ethnologist.
I went to him frequently for special pieces of information, particularly confirmations. He seldom served as a principal research assistant, because I was expecting to take advantage of his great knowledge after I had learned enough general ethnography. In the meantime, I was working with younger, less knowledgeable research assistants. In the early spring of 1960, he actually asked several times to work regularly with me as others were doing, but this plan, unfortunately, kept being put off. When his wife died, only then did I turn to working every day all day with him to enlarge my understanding of Canela general ethnography. But it was too late. He was too devastated by the loss of his wife, and within six weeks he too was gone. (Both had tuberculosis.)
One special experience I shared with old Mïïkhrô, on 3 September 1959, was a slow walk of 6 kilometers between the villages of Baixão Prêto and Ponto (Maps 3, 7). The objective was to pass by whatever old village sites there were in that area, and to talk about life as it existed in those days while looking at specific house locations. I thought this would improve his memory, and it certainly did. We stopped at six old village sites (Krôô-re-?khre (boar-dim.-hollow/house); Khwèk-hù-re-?te; A?khrã-?khà-?tèy (it's-masses surface hard [two of this name]: Escalvado); Kupaa-khíya (edible-vine's oven); and Pyê-ntsôm-ti (earth-granular-aug.: greatly sandy). He identified almost every house spot in succession in one of the villages, telling me who lived there and what they used to do. He was particularly able in telling me about the two Escalvado villages that had been occupied in the 1890s and up until about 1903. It was during this period I believe the Canela had an interesting cultural climax [II.B.1.c]. The older Mïïkhrô was between the ages of about 10 to 24 during that era, the best period for clear memory for most Canela according to my observations. The remains of both of these villages have been defaced and dispersed by the two modern villages in the Escalvado area, but it was still possible to see, measure, and take notes on the remains of the second old village site in 1969, as well as on that walk with Mïïkhrô in 1959.
On another occasion (16 May 1960), Mïïkhrô took me on a walk to Chicken House hill (Hô-tsä?tsä-?khre: feather-chicken-house) to obtain azimuths with my compass on various other old village sites throughout the region, and of course, we talked about village activities in each of those areas. Mïïkhrô is the source for most of the early tribal history recorded in this book [II.B.1].
[I.G.4] The Younger Kaapêltùk
During my four to five months with the Canela in 1957 I did not have any “empregados” (employees); as they say; that is, any research assistants with whom I met on a regular basis. My first research assistant of this kind was the younger Kaapêltùk [‘ Kaapêl] (Frontispiece, Figure 51, Plate 69c,f), who had been away—out in the world (no mundo)—during my stay in 1957 [II.D.3.i.(1)]. In 1958, this younger Kaapêltùk came to me a number of times, asking to become my empregado, but I could not see just how I could use him on a regular basis. He was about 28 in 1958 and was the commandant of the entire Lower age-set moiety in Ponto. He had been the deputy commandant (Glossary) of the Lower moiety age-set that graduated in 1951.
There were six regular Canela Indian service employees3 who received salaries at the level paid in Barra do Corda, which was very high for the backlands. “Kaapêl” (nickname of the younger Kaapêltùk) felt that he should be one of these employees because of his ability to use Portuguese with backlanders and urban Brazilians and because of his responsibility as the leader of the Lower age‑set moiety in the village of Ponto. Kaapêl had had some sort of employment, which had been cut off by the Indian service agent, because of his inconsistency in appearing for work at the post. This happened during the time of Kaapêl's last Pepyê internment, when he was the full commandant of the novices. He was trying to reinstate himself in the eyes of the Canela through obtaining employment from me. He also needed funds because his position of leadership required that he be generous with his followers and provide them with lunches when they carried out group work under his direction.
I did employ him (but at a considerably lower rate than the Indian service paid [I.F.2.b]) to spend the mornings helping the Indian service teacher instruct the young students at the post and to help me in the afternoons. This worked out well for some time, and the Indian service teacher, Doca (Raimundo Ferreira Sobrinho) was pleased. Eventually Kaapêl helped me all day except for two hours for lunch, study, and resting. This employment continued to the end of my 10 field stays. Beyond 1959, Kaapêl was employed as a research assistant for linguistics and as a translator‑interpreter when I was interviewing other much older research assistants.
Kaapêl is an unusual person, besides being the key to my long-term research, so it is important that his complete history be presented. He was born about 1930 and is a direct descendant of one of the two great chiefs, Major Delfino Kô?kaypo (Nimuendajú's namesake), of the cultural climax period around the turn of the century. I became aware very early in my relationship with him that he was aware and proud of his chiefly descent. As a boy he was made a Ceremonial-chief-of-the-whole-tribe (Glossary) (one of two) for a Pepkahàk act, the Apikrawkraw‑re, which automatically made him the highest hàmren (Glossary) in the tribe [III.C.7] [IV.A.3.c.(3).(e)]. This honor, including its responsibilities, continued when he became the father of the Ceremonial-chief-of-the-whole-tribe. His son, Kô-yapàà (water-bridge), followed him according to the ceremony's traditional patriline succession. These honors required that he not be stingy. For instance, in business, which involved managing a store, he had to be generous with credit and not press for payments due him.
As a ceremonial leader, he had to back away from the issue if individuals refused to cooperate. This role suited the younger Kaapêltùk, rather than taking a strong stand as a political chief would be likely to do. His life patterns were considerably modified by his role of honor, the obligations of which he took very seriously.
When I arrived, Kaapêl was the best speaker and writer of Portuguese in the tribe. One of his children had just been named Kupë-?khïn (civilizado-likes: he likes backlanders). Kaapêltùk was a principal spokesman in favor of things Brazilian [Ep.4.b.(2).(e)] as was his naming-uncle, the older Kaapêltùk, to a lesser extent.
Kaapêl had attended the classes of the Indian service's school teacher, Dona Nazaré, at the post in the mid-1940s [II.B.2.b.(2)]. He received his start in reading and writing and his general knowledge about Brazil from her. Kaapêl, nevertheless, spoke Portuguese following the Gê manner of thinking, not having learned it as a child. But he had learned to use gender, number, and certain tenses in the Portuguese manner—sometimes—which most Canela could not do at all. Outsiders have to guess at the sex and number of persons a Canela like Kaapêl was referring to in Portuguese, since in Canela, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs do not have forms that reflect gender or number. These are expressed through the addition of separate indicators.
In 1949, at the age of 19, Kaapêl was sent with one other student, Hakhà (age 20) to live in São Luis, the state capital with the Indian service personnel [II.B.2.b.(3)]. He went to school in the big city and worked on a farm, where he first learned about fertilization and irrigation, which were not used in the interior. Kaapêl loved the experience and claims he would have stayed there much longer, but after a year and a half, Hakhà had to go home; so they both were sent back to the Canela lands.
This experience encouraged Kaapêl to travel to large coastal cities [II.A.3.a.(3)] [II.D.3.i.(1)]. On one of these trips, however, he was in the back of a truck that turned over and was almost killed. He believes his life was saved by the powers of the santo (a picture of a saint on a card) that he had with him in his pocket at the time [II.B.1.c.(3)]. This experience may have been one of the contributing factors in his becoming a sort of folk Catholic priest to the Canela in the 1970s [Ep.4.b.(2).(e)].
In the mid-1950s, in what was probably one of the last arranged marriages among the Canela [III.F.4.c], Kaapêl married Atsuu-khwèy (age 24), who was a member of the largest longhouse (Figure 24) [III.E.2.e.(2)]. They have a number of children and grandchildren. Following the tribal custom, however, Kaapêl is known as a great lover because of his extensive and numerous affairs, a reputation of which he is proud.
In working with me, Kaapêl has been outstanding in his endurance, conscientiousness, loyalty, and reliability, as well as in his intelligence and his great sensitivity to shades of meaning when clarifying words, concepts, and points of view. He did not have these abilities at the beginning of his work for me. I remember well how he used to want to tell me things, going on for hours on his own experiences or on topics that were of little interest to me. He also jumped from one topic to another when I wanted him to expand or deepen his information on the topic of my choice. He got tired and bored easily and wanted to leave for long breaks. It was almost impossible to lose him, however, and little by little I managed to train him into an excellent research assistant, able to respond to the particular needs of the study in progress.
The realization that he should tell the truth for his own good came about in this manner. When I was checking Nimuendajú's (1946) monograph, “The Eastern Timbira” and found that some items were inconsistent with what Kaapêl knew, he assumed that Nimuendajú's helpers had “lied” to the author. This was a point I had worked hard to establish—that they must not lie—because it is a Canela custom to tell outsiders lies. This way of giving information (“lying”) was more fun for them; and outsiders, they thought, could not really understand Canela matters anyway. Kaapêl did not want to be in this shameful position himself later on when someone else came to the Canela with my book. Thus, he decided that he had to tell me the whole truth and began to insist that other Canela research assistants do the same. One of my great delights was when I heard him telling other research assistants in the group in Canela not to lie but to tell me the whole truth [III.B.1.b.(3)]. (This is obviously the origin of the epigraph of this monograph.) As my principal helper, he would receive the blame eventually, even if they did not, because everyone would know who had taught me. In fact, jealous individuals already were accusing him of lying to me.
Thus, after the initial period when I used to let Kaapêl and others talk about almost anything they wanted to tell me, I slowly developed a procedure so that we could study specific topics. Then, Kaapêl became very effective in bringing research assistants who had digressed back to the main point. I asked the questions in Portuguese, and he repeated them in Canela. Then, I listened to them debating the question in Canela, and finally Kaapêl told me their conclusions in Portuguese. In this way, the reliability of communication was considerably enhanced [Pr.2].
In 1958, the Canela made me a sort of ceremonial chief, the category of which has never been clear. In this capacity, they wanted me to intervene in Kaapêl's marital life to convince his wife to let him return even though he had been paying a great deal of attention, even publicly, to a very young unmarried virgin. After one attempt at this kind of diplomacy, which failed, it seemed best not to “intervene” again even if I were asked to do so. It was better to observe, and thereby learn, than to participate and thereby introduce my initiatives into the Canela cultural equation.
Working as my master research assistant/manager was not the only way in which Kaapêl helped me. When we were in Barra do Corda, he ran errands and facilitated my relations with the group of Canela who inevitably came to town to obligate food and goods from me during the earlier stays, arrivals, and departures. The Canela had little control over their possessions in those days or, more correctly, over their desire to be generous [II.B.4]. Their fear of being considered stingy was too strong to resist the firmly expressed demands of others. Therefore, I always had to do the buying myself, which meant getting up at dawn to buy fresh meat before it all had been sold.
By 1960, however, Kaapêl became strong enough, or convinced enough about the Brazilian ways of doing things, so that he could resist the “begging” of his friends and relatives [III.B.1.a.(3)]. Subsequently, I could send him with a long shopping list of items and the money necessary to purchase them. After such a foray into the market place, he used to return to me very proudly with all the purchases for his people, with the list of the items added up by the vendor, and with the exact change. Carrying out such a task with precision‑to the centavo‑became a new experience for the Canela which a few others emulated (Kaprêêprêk [II.B.3.d]), but Kaapêl received the prestige that goes with a first performance.
During part of October 1960, I lived in Barra do Corda in a small rented house where all my purchased artifacts of the past years were stored. Kaapêl and Atsuu-khwèy (his wife) came to stay with me during this period to work on the artifacts—repainting certain ones with urucu and mending others—before they were shipped to Rio de Janeiro, Belém, and the United States. In the Canela kinship system, Atsuu and I were not related, though I was a distant relative to Kaapêl. Thus, Atsuu was permitted to call me by my name, Pèp, and joke with me as a classificatory husband. This joking relationship continued all during that stay, as it did with other unrelated women trying to copy her joking style. Consequently, these last days among the Canela as a doctoral candidate were when most of my data on sex-joking were recorded [III.E.3.a.(6).(c)].
During the year before the messianic movement of 1963, Kaapêl had led a number of Canela families in planting large farms in the Aldeia Velha (village old) region. For a while he had become a kind of chief, almost supplanting the leading political chief, Kaarà?khre. During this time the Canela enjoyed an economic surplus, which they had not experienced since about 1947 [II.B.2.b.(1)], and it was Kaapêl's strong leadership that made this return to temporary self-sufficiency possible. However, when the prophetess, Khêê-khwèy, achieved her ascendancy, commanding everybody to dance in order to bring about the millennium she had predicted, all the political chiefs gave way to her authority. Later, she ordered men to search for and kill backland ranchers' cattle to keep the dancing cult going. When her principal prediction proved to be erroneous, Kaapêl came to her rescue and helped her reformulate her messianic prediction [II.B.2.f.(2)]. Thus, the movement received new strength and enough support to carry it over two more months. Kaapêl had again assumed a position of ascendancy.
When 40 to 50 of their cattle had been slaughtered, the ranchers attacked the Canela to stop the attrition of their livelihood. By July 10, their intentions were clear and the younger Kaapêltùk had posted sentries far out from their principal village of that period (Aldeia Velha) (Map 3, 7). He obtained a supply of arrows from the ravines of the low chain of mesas about 9 kilometers to the south. Thus, when the main force of about 200 ranchers and paid gunmen attacked, the Canela were well prepared.
Once they saw the approaching enemy, Kaapêl ordered the women and children to move rapidly along a narrow passage over a stream and through a dense thicket, which led them into a forest (Map 7), while five Canela, including Kaapêl, held off the attackers at the mouth of the passage (passagem). Thus, it was the younger Kaapêltùk who masterminded and led this very successful defense of his people [Ep.4.b.(2).(c)] and who thereby incurred the unmitigated wrath of the ranchers and the suspicion of Barra do Corda residents and Indian service personnel.
When I arrived a few days later to find the Canela already relocated by the Indian service on the Guajajara Indian reservation at the Sardinha post (Map 3), everybody I had spoken to in Barra do Corda was verbally hostile to Kaapêl. They were unaware of Khêê-khwèy's role in the messianic movement as the prophetess, except for Olímpio Cruz who was in charge of the Indian service in São Luis at this time. This old friend of the Canela had heard about Khêê-khwèy through his dependable Canela contacts and had warned me about her role in the matter when I was passing through São Luis.
After a two-week stay with the Canela, I was able to convince the Indian service personnel in Barra do Corda that a messianic movement had indeed occurred. I also emphasized that Khêê-khwèy rather than Kaapêl was the charismatic leader of the movement and therefore the more responsible of the two individuals for the situation. My arguments eventually exonerated Kaapêl in the eyes of the Indian service personnel, and they invited Khêê-khwèy to spend a long period in Barra do Corda at their expense to keep her from predicting new millennia.
The principal anger of the ranchers, however, still fell on Kaapêl, and I believed that his life would be in danger if he were to move around in the backland ranching communities or even the farming ones, as had been his practice. Certain Barra do Corda residents had believed that the Canela, in their defense, had wounded one backlander with an arrow so that he eventually died. They also believed that the backlanders were holding Kaapêl responsible for this death. To alleviate this situation for Kaapêl, I wrote letters to the leading ranchers in Jenipapo and Leandro (Map 3), both of whom I knew personally from my 1960 studies of their communities, to try to explain the nature of a messianic movement and that it was now discredited. That it was Khêê-khwèy rather than Kaapêl who had been the principal instigator and leader was, however, the main point of my communications—attempts to make Kaapêl's life a little safer.
During my long stay in 1964, I also warned Kaapêl not to visit the rancher communities and even the local backland farming communities near Sardinha like Oriente (Map 3). He was not in danger in the town of Barra do Corda. Because Kaapêl was a close friend and key research assistant, I knowingly stepped out of the role of a pure field researcher and into the guise of a concerned person and applied anthropologist to help assure his safety.
In 1970, two years after the Canela had returned to their cerrado homelands, I was traveling back from the Apanyekra and stayed with Kaapêl at the Sítio dos Arrudas (Map 3), the most prestigious and feared ranching community in the region to the west of the Canela village of Escalvado. Kaapêl still felt very uncomfortable there and stayed close to me. This was not very different, however, from 1960 before the attack on the Canela, when I had traveled to the Sítio to carry out my mapping of the region and to continue a socioeconomic census study of backland communities. On that trip Kaapêl and another Canela were most fearful of the Arrudas; they had never been there and they constantly talked about their anxiety during the trip. Although the Canela lived almost continually in backland communities in simple family groupings during their lean economic months (September through December), they seldom if ever bothered the feared [II.B.1.d.(2)] Sítio dos Arrudas people.
While Kaapêl, like the older Kaapêltùk, managed some trips for me, most of my traveling with horses and mules in the backlands during the mid-1960s and the 1970s was managed by Yõõ-khên (garden-food a-little-bad) (Plate 73b), the vaqueiro (cowboy) for the Indian service post, and others. By the mid-1960s Kaapêl, consequently, distanced himself from me except when he was carrying out his principal job as translator-interpreter. For instance, it was difficult to get him to help me on the spot during festivals and council meetings, even though he was the best at these roles. As soon as a new activity was made available to him to perform during festivals, however, such as independently tape recording an activity (Plate 69f ), he was the first to want to do it. I think he did not want to be seen as my “shadow.” He was definitely his own man. Thus, his contact with me became limited to his roles of translator-interpreter of my research assistant council, writer of manuscripts, and speaker of diary tapes. The role he liked the best and carried out superbly, however, was the first of the three. In this role he often managed individuals who were members of the Pró‑khãmmã, 20 years his senior.
By the mid-1970s, it was very clear that Kaapêl had developed a deep faith in folk Catholicism (Glossary), a faith that had been growing through the years. It first manifested itself in his treasuring of his Santos in 1958, certain cards with colored pictures of the saints or of the Virgin Mary. By 1975, he, in the guise of an incipient priest, was holding what might actually be called a religious service for his people on Good Friday evening until midnight. I was not aware of his doing this in Sardinha or in Escalvado at an earlier date, though he must have started in Escalvado some time in the early 1970s. I had not been among the Canela for a Good Friday since 1964, and furthermore Kaapêl was not open about his participation in this event [Ep.4.b.(2).(e)].
In 1975 on Good Friday night, he opened the front part of his house for the Canela to come into as if it were a chapel. They could kneel there while he was singing over and over Ave Maria Cheia de Graça, and other chants of the Catholic Church. He was officiating as a priest before an altar—not trying to say or celebrate the mass, but acting out the role of a priest in many other respects. This commenced at about 8:00 PM and continued until midnight, while the Pepkahàk songs were being sung in the plaza, presenting a strange mixture of the new and the old. According to the folk Catholic tradition of the backlanders, the Canela believe that Christ is dying on the cross at this time and that their performance at this service and their prayers are needed to save Him from His death. By midnight this danger has passed and the Canela rejoice in the plaza by firing off many shotguns.
The intensity of the evening is brought back to me when I remember my brother Hawmrõ's (hearth) wife, Mïïïï-khwèy (alligator-woman), almost dragging me to Kaapêl's service. I would have gone later anyway after completing some work, but she wanted to be sure I attended the service for the safety of my soul. She showed such signs of distress at my resistance that I realized I had to go then.
While Kaapêl would work on Sundays in the 1960s if I considered this necessary—such as when I was about to depart—he would not even consider working for me on Sundays in the 1970s. He believed that working on such a day (Sunday: amkro-?khên: day a-little-bad) was wrong in that it was against God's commandments. Moreover, God was not always watching out for his people on Sundays so that the Devil just might catch a person and harm him, and Kaapêl was not going to be that person. It was touching that he cared for me enough so that he tried to influence me not to work even by myself on Sundays. As a result I tried to limit my work on such days to reading, and I attempted to convince him that reading was not work and could be a pleasure.
During both my 1974–1975 and 1978–1979 stays, I occasionally collected dreams from my research assistant council members. This was often done as a diversion when they seemed to be bored with the material we were covering. Kaapêl related a dream in 1979 in which my house in Barra do Corda was being washed away by a rising flood, but the Indian service house, which stood on higher ground, was not being reached by the high waters. (I had had a small house in Barra do Corda in 1959–1960, and in the winter of 1960 the Corda River had flooded into the town to some extent, not affecting my house, however.) In any case, Kaapêl interpreted his dream to mean that my influence in the tribe and over him was being washed away while that of the Indian service was remaining firm.
They all knew I was leaving for the final time before the end of the year (though I would return for a visit 10 years later). Kaapêl, however, may have felt my imminent departure more keenly than others because of his long, close association and employment with me. Although his writing of manuscripts and speaking onto tapes was supposed to continue in my absence, he knew he would miss the greater income and prestige that was based on my intermittent presence. He hoped that the Indian service would finally give him employment and a far larger salary, so that the Indian service agent would become his patrão in my place. This would be a more permanent and continuous supporting relationship, and in fact this is what happened during the year following my departure. (For Kaapêl's experiences in 1987, see [Ep.4.b.(1),7].)
[I.G.5] The Younger Pù?tô
The next regular research assistant, employed in early April of 1960, was the younger Pù-?tô (urucu-sticky), who was about 34 years old in 1958 (Plate 68a). He is a member of the Upper age‑set moiety and Chief Kaarà?khre's age-set. (The older Pù?tô, in contrast to this younger one, is noted many times by Nimuendajú (1946:199) as a sing-dance leader [“precentor”], and he continued to be one of the best (Plate 41c, foreground) until his death at about 80 in 1972. He was also my narrator of myths in 1970 and 1971.)
The younger Pù?tô was my special ket-ti, a self-appointed advising uncle, not a name-transmission one [In.4.i], related to me through my Baixão Prêto mother, Kroy-tsen (quandu likes-to-eat: a cerrado animal). He took his role very seriously in the late 1950s and used to walk down with me to the bathing place most afternoons after work to chat about things. I enjoyed his company immensely.
Often when I was just returning to the tribe after having been away for some time, he was the one who would act out the hààprãl(war leader) role for me, as I was first presenting myself to the Pró-khãmmã (Glossary) in the late afternoon. He would precede me as we walked up a radial pathway to the plaza, shouting and stamping his feet in the warrior fashion (Plate 37d). Then when a Pró-khãmmã came to receive me, Pù?tô stepped aside and let the Pró-khãmmã take my present, usually a machete. I then proceeded into the plaza to be received warmly by the Pró-khãmmã and the council of elders, shaking hands. Then they asked me to speak to the entire council of elders about what I had been doing while away from the tribe. Questions invariably followed until they were satisfied.
On Easter morning of 1964, my wife Mary Jean and I did not have anything very special to eat. It would have been like any other day except that ket-ti Pù?tô passed by with a jacu (Penelope sp.) in each hand that he had just killed. These were the best eating birds in the dry forest area. He left one with us and did not ask me to buy it. That made our day. The Canela with their strong sense of needing to receive a payment for everything, rarely gave anything freely. When they did give things de graça (for free), they would invariably come around the next day expecting a “gift.” This amounted to forcing an exchange, which to please them had to be in their favor. Of course, as an ethnologist, I almost always had to try to please them. But ket-ti Pù?tô did not come around for any “return” the next day or any later day, and that in itself was a rare pleasure for me.
The younger Pù?tô's role as a regular research assistant was not continued beyond the spring of 1960 because it became clear that in spite of his honesty, he was too “imaginative.” Some of my most vivid materials come from him. He did, however, become one of my first three diary writers in 1964 [I.F.1] and continued faithfully in this role for 15 years. It seemed best to spread the advantages of working with me to as many individuals as possible, so my manuscript writers were not employed as regular research assistants.
Writing down his thoughts was an activity that Pù?tô very obviously enjoyed, probably more than any of the other writers. He spent a great deal more time on his manuscripts with his beautiful handwriting. I well remember seeing him in 1979 sitting on a racing log outside the post where he had been employed all day, writing as the sun set. He was intensely absorbed in what he was doing, carefully forming each letter. My second wife Roma often said that he had the nature of a poet, and I think she was right. His eventual autobiography, or biography, may one day be the most interesting of all.
This poet also has a great memory for stories, which he loves to tell his children, and for the old formal language of the plaza. Apparently, some generations ago the language spoken in the plaza during a formal council meeting was distinct from what was used in daily life. Pù?tô still remembers a few of these expressions. He can be requested to chant them while singing around the boulevard when he is in a certain mood.
Pù?tô is married to a woman who is half Caucasian. We all knew her father, the late Sinduco Maciel of Bacabal, a small backland ranch community about 20 kilometers to the west (Map 3). Sinduco, and especially his brother Alderico, were the leaders of Bacabal (but were under the authority of the Arruda family) and entertained me at their festas several times before the attack in 1963. Such fraternization, however, could occur only very casually in the 1970s after the attack. For example, when I happened to be passing through Bacabal on the way to visiting the Apanyekra further to the west, the Canela were afraid I would be poisoned (there was a history of this), and thus, did not want me to eat, drink, or sleep in Bacabal. Memories of the attack were still too vivid. Pù?tô, nevertheless, took his family there periodically, and Sinduco continued to treat him, his own daughter (Pù?tô's wife), and his grandchildren very well. The connection was never denied. The grandchildren were distinctly lighter in complexion and more Caucasian in appearance (Plate 76d) than other Canela.
The Maciels said they had migrated from the state of Ceará several generations earlier, so it was possible they were related to the Maciel family portrayed in the great Brazilian classic, Os Sertões (the backlands), by Euclides da Cunha (1973).
In 1970 when it became time to choose a family for my new wife Roma, and her three pre-adolescent children, I finally decided on the family of old Ropkhà (Plate 17b) and his wife. It is not the custom in such matters to ask the old Ropkhà directly, so I requested ket-ti Pù?tô to do this for me. He came back several days later with a positive response. Pù?tô was good at such intermediary missions. Nobody could doubt his good will.
When I needed someone on short notice to run to Barra do Corda alone in the night to deliver an important message or to obtain something essential, the choice went first to Pù?tô, not because he was my ket-ti but because he was not afraid of jogging alone through the dark and because he was reliable. Many Canela were afraid of running in the dark low forests alone on the way to Barra do Corda at night. Ghosts (karõ) might get them, they thought. But Pù?tô was strong-minded and courageous. He simply did not care about danger and was not afraid of anything. It might be said that he was slightly “mad.” In any case, he was a most admirable and lovable person. I could not ask him to carry money, however, because it might be exchanged for cachaça, and then the mission would be lost.
Hàwpùù became a research assistant at the same time as Pù?tô, in April 1960. He was also a member of the Upper age‑set moiety and in Chief Kaarà?khre's age-set. Hàwpùù, age 32 in 1960 (Plates 41d, 70f), was outstanding because he was the most involved manuscript writer after Pù?tô. He was a careful observer and ethnographer, the one who could be trusted to remember to write down information on certain events in my absence. Even though his vision was growing dim, and I had to bring him new magnification glasses every now and then, he still wrote on and on with great concern and reliability. His wife, Wakhèè (age 24 in 1960), used to pressure him into continuing because she liked the small amount of extra money they gained through this work. But in my daily research assistant council meetings, he was too young to remember the old times and did not express himself as well as many others. He was employed only as a diary writer, which after 1970 consisted of writing only three pages every other day.
With the old Ropkhà adopting my wife as a daughter, Hàwpùù became an in-brother-in-law [III.E.3.a.(1)] to me and a full brother to my wife. As such, he was a frequent intermediary between myself and other members of her family. He was also often a member of the group that did sporadic jobs for me such as reconstructing my wife's house before her arrival. Later in the 1970s, however, other individuals such as Yõõkhên (the post's vaqueiro) and Kôham [I.G.15], rather than my manuscript writers were called in to form these work groups in order to spread the benefits.
Khà-?po (body-wide), about 82 years old in 1960 (Plate 70e), was slightly older than the older Mïïkhrô, but not nearly as well-informed. After Mïïkhrô died, it was necessary to ask his assistance to complete my work. Khà?po was a younger member of an Upper moiety age-set while the older Mïïkhrô was an older member of the following Lower moiety age-set. Khà?po could not speak Portuguese as well as most of the other research assistants, so it was at this time, during June, July, and August of 1960, that it became necessary to use the younger Kaapêltùk as a translator-interpreter in a principal way. Kaapêl was not old enough to cover the materials from a traditional point of view, but he was by far the best in explaining in Portuguese and Canela exactly what the answer was with all of its hair-splitting ramifications.
With Khà?po, my research council members and I went over Murdock et al. (1961) Outline of Cultural Materials again and proceeded to check Nimuendajú's (1946) volume. Besides Khà?po, several other research assistants were involved for the first time, such as the younger Mïïkhrô. Thus, with this project, several research assistants began working as sources, with the younger Kaapêltùk serving as a translator-interpreter.
Khà?po, himself, was gray-haired, very stooped, and walked with a staff all the time. He spoke in a frail, high pitched voice with very kindly tones. I well remember that he walked the entire 80 kilometers (as the road winds) to Barra do Corda in 1960 to see me off at the airport—remarkable undertaking for someone his age. Khà?po died before I returned to the Canela in 1963.
The most remarkable and memorable person of my 1964 research assistant council was an old woman named Pyê?khàl, who had an excellent memory of earlier times. It was she who took the place of the older Mïïkhrô and Khà?po. One of the intriguing events of the very early part of these meetings was that the younger Kaapêltùk persisted in addressing her as a potential sexual partner—using her name, instead of referring to her as a mother-in-law. She was indeed his wife's mother's mother. This was the first clue to one of the affinal relationship system's most crucial points: traditionally, only one woman in a matriline is an “avoidance woman” (i.e., hàtswèyyê) to her daughter's husband so that this avoidance woman's mother can be free even to have sexual relations with her granddaughter's husband [III.E.3.a.(5)].
Unfortunately, Pyê?khàl died before my return in 1966, so my access to her memory was limited.
With the death of the older people, Rop-khà (jaguar-or-dog its-skin), about age 63 in 1964 (Plates 17b, 71e), became a valuable research assistant, even though he was a generation behind the older Mïïkhrô and Khà?po. The question of what really happened during the age‑set group marriage ceremony referred to by Nimuendajú (1946:122) had to be resolved. Ropkhà was just the one to do it because he actually was the leader of the Upper moiety age-set mentioned in “The Eastern Timbira.” He was also the one who was already married so that the age-set marriage ceremony could not be performed in 1923 (W. Crocker, 1984a:69). His information, added to the reports of Pyê?khàl, made it possible to reconstruct the lost age-set marriage ceremony [III.F.10]. While not as insightful as the older Mïïkhrô and Pyê?khàl, he was very helpful in 1964 and 1966. By the 1970s, his memory was beginning to fade so that he could no longer participate in my research assistant councils. Since so many of the older members of these groups had died not long after their work with me, the possibility that some Canela shaman (kay) might think I was killing them had to be considered. It was therefore important for me to stop working with at least one of the old people who had been in my council a number of years before his death.
Ropkhà had first been a member of the preceding Lower moiety age-set, the older Mïïkhrô’s age-set, which graduated in about 1913 (Nimuendajú,1946:91). Ropkhà was re-initiated as a novice in the following Upper moiety age-set to be their age-set leader (mamkhyê‑?ti). Thus, he must have been one of the oldest in his age-set. According to my October 1984 report he was still alive at about 85, but by 1987 he was dead.
Ropkhà was the old man that kêt-ti Pù?tô approached on my behalf in May 1970 to take my wife Roma as his “daughter.” As it turned out, he became devoted to us. For her arrival, he prepared a path from the back of his house's area through the closed savanna (cerrado) to the new swimming hole. The new bathing spot had been part of the second old Escalvado village site, occupied by the Canela in the 1890s and past the turn of the century [II.B.1.c]. As in the Pepkahàk ceremony [IV.A.3.c.(3)] and in true Canela fashion [III.B.1.f.(l)], he cut it absolutely straight through the cerrado trees and bushes, except for one major turn. This took great effort and precision. The trail, if it were to be straight between the two desired points, had to pass through the old Escalvado village site itself, with its much taller and thicker trees. This would have been a difficult job to carry out, especially for a man of his age, so he gave the pathway one curved turn, skirting the heavy timber and staying in the far lighter cerrado growth.
Not only did he cut us a pathway (freely done), eliminating the grass as well as the small trees and shrubbery, he made this small road two persons wide so that my wife and I could walk side-by-side as we went to our new bathing hole, which was not the Canela custom for spouses. A wife walked behind her husband. However, the Canela respected intercultural differences far more than did the backlanders and even most urban Brazilians.
In the kinship work in the 1970s, Ropkhà became a key research assistant with respect to one special point, even though he did not meet with the research assistant council regularly. He was able to talk about what he called his father's father's sister's descendants living across the plaza. They all were his “grandparents” (më-nkêtyê) in every generation, but nevertheless, he was an advisor to the younger ones even though they called him “nephew” or “grandson” [III.E.2.e.(3)]. We confirmed this kinship pattern by tests several times, months apart and years later.
[I.G.10] The Younger Mïïkhrô
Another research assistant who came into the group in 1964 was my naming-uncle, the younger Mïïkhrô (Plate 70c), who was about age 47 at that time and a member of the older Kaapêltùk's Lower moiety age-set. I was a member of the name-set [III.E.4] of the older Mïïkhrô, as well as of the younger Mïïkhrô, which may have accounted to some extent for the older uncle's supportiveness.
The younger Mïïkhrô was a parallel cousin (“brother”) of my “sister” Te?hôk rather than her uncle, but she had no “uncle” at the time of my arrival in 1957, so the younger Mïïkhrô was asked to fill the very necessary role of naming-uncle.
He performed it in a truly devoted manner, usually calling me when festival duties had to be carried out. He served in my research assistant councils through 1976 and died of an infected eye before my return in 1978. As a research assistant in the 1970s, he was willing to discuss shamanism most openly and had the most knowledge of the traditional ways of the shaman. This was crucial because most other research assistant council members had been exposed to the Catholicism of the backlands and the cities, which gave them a more fearful attitude toward the supernatural. Talking alone with me, Mïïkhrô taped a number of hours of conversation about shamanism (Glossary) in Canela.
The younger Mïïkhrô also knew more about names and name-set transmission than anyone else. Each research assistant had her or his strong points, though all knew about every other subject to a considerable extent as well. Mïïkhrô had ten names in his name-set, including his Mïïkhrô and my Pèp (electric eel, the name of a mythical warrior), and he remembered almost all the ramifications of the Canela corporate name-set transmission system [III.E.4.c].
There was something sad about Mïïkhrô because he had been born into what had been the chiefly line [III.D.1.h] before the assumption of leadership by Chief Kaarà?khre in 1952. He was somewhat noble in his behavior, being hàmren as well as being chiefly, but cachaça (alcohol) had undermined his character in his younger years and even in the late 1950s. His older brother was ineligible to be chief because he was a transvestite [III.A.2.j.(5).(a)]. Therefore, the younger Mïïkhrô most probably would have succeeded Chief Hàk-too-kot (falcon-chick-green) (Nimuendajú, 1946:161) if alcohol had not weakened him. Moreover, his shamanism would have helped him as a chief [III.D.1.d].
Upon my return in 1978, I was sorry to hear about the details of my naming-uncle's death through what the Canela believed was witchcraft retaliation. It was generally believed that he had become a somewhat antisocial shaman [IV.D.1.d.(2)].
The last new research assistant in 1964 was the son of the older Mïïkhrô , Rõõ-re-?hô (tucum-little-leaves: a palm tree). He was about 52 years old in 1964 and a member of the older Kaapêltùk's Lower moiety age-set. Rõõ-re-?hô (Plate 68d) was keenly aware that he was the son of an important Canela and seemed to be trying to live up to his father's position, but his lack of assurance did not permit it. In Baixão Prêto in 1960 he became an assistant chief to the older Kaapêltùk, and in the mid-1970s he held the same position for Chief Kaarà?khre in Escalvado, but his performance in these roles left something to be desired. He lacked the understanding and forcefulness to make people cooperative when necessary, so he was not taken seriously. His wife's longhouse consisted of only one house (Figure 24, house OO), so she had no female kin to rally their husbands to his support.
He was much better at being the town crier (më-hààpôl-katê: them urge-on master) [II.D.3.i.(4)] than assuming positions of political authority. This role required a big ego, a good voice, and a certain conscientiousness. Most Canela males simply cannot make the personal sacrifices necessary to carry out the job, which requires the news of the tribal council meetings to be sung out so that all the village can hear about the decision directly after the meetings have ended, morning and evening. There are also rare times during the day when the chief, or somebody else, needs to have something crucial announced. Several men (e.g., Hôy, Plate 77c,h, and the younger Krôôtô, Plate 68e) have been painted red and feathered, and honored in the plaza, to place them in this position. All except Rõõ-re-?hô have failed to continue with the role after several months. The only two Canela who have been able to maintain the role over a long period of time have been Kawkhre through 1964 and Rõõ-re-?hô since then.
Rõõ-re-?hô had an excellent mind for telling long and complicated stories and myths, which he recorded on my tape recorder during many of the evenings of 1975 and 1979 [Ap.3.b]. His mind was definitely single-tracked. In recalling the past, he could follow the life of one person, but if he had to relate this life account to other lives or events that were concurrent he had great trouble making the cross-connections. Other research assistants, and especially Kaapêl, were much better at such cognitive tasks.
Because of the particular kinship ramifications between us, Rõõ-re-?hô called me “father” though he was much older. The role of being my son seemed to suit him because he liked to address me in a very dependent way. He was indispensable during my last trip because by that time few others had his background in traditional matters. Rõõ-re-?hô continued to be one of my steady research assistant council helpers in 1978–1979 and is still alive today.
During the days when I was puzzling out the more extensive ramifications of the affinal relationship patterns in 1966 and 1970 (the less extensive patterns had been resolved in the late 1950s), Kôykhray, age 56 in 1970 (Plate 71k), was the first (other than Kaapêl) to learn to write a simple form of kinship notation on the sandy hard ground during research assistant council meetings. I was amazed and delighted when she quickly picked up what I was doing and started to draw notations like mine on the ground for all of us to see. Through her, I quickly learned most of what I know about the ideal patterns. Kaapêl did not know the ancient patterns. I empirically checked and quantified the variations in the early and mid-1970s and ascertained the reasons for most of the unusual and exceptional variations.
It is not surprising that it was an older woman who was most capable in visualizing such patterns. Among the Canela, it is definitely the women who are interested in maintaining kinship practices. (Among the Suyá, it is the men, Seeger, 1981:127.) It is the women who teach their children what to call their farther-away kin and affines, thus perpetuating the system. Kôykhray was not as helpful as others except in kinship, so she was a regular member of the research assistant council only when we studied kinship, which happened often in 1974–1975 and rarely in 1978–1979.
With Kôykhray there was an added aspect of amusement and delight. She was, by chance, my particular across-the-plaza aunt or grandmother [III.E.2.e.(3)], my Canela father's sister's daughter (my “sister,” Te?hôk's aunt, that is). I had been calling her tùy-ti for years, not really remembering why, but when she said I must call her sons (Palkhre and Mããyààpil) and her daughter's son (Kaaràmpey) “father,” it revealed the existence of an extended kinship I had not been aware of up to that moment. I knew to call her brother “father” but the younger male kin of her family had not been calling me “son,” although they commenced to do so from that time on [III.E.2.a].
As my important patrilateral relative, she liked to invite me out to her farm for the day. There she and her daughters fed me very well, with the daughters (all tùy-re) joking all the time. Reciprocation was expected for such hospitality and beads were most highly prized. It was only the members of the families with which I actually lived who did not expect relatively immediate returns (hapan-tsà), but criticism and rumors (tswa-?nã) of others limited their requests for excessive reciprocation.
Some of my finest memories are of Mulwa, age 53 in 1970 (Plate 71a), a daughter of the old Pyê?khàl. As old Pyê?khàl had been a valuable resource of information to me during the 1960s, Mulwa was during the 1970s. Mulwa was Kaapêl's immediate mother-in-law, the mother of Atsuu-khwèy, his wife. With total avoidance between son-in-law and mother-in-law being the rule [III.E.3.a.(4)], I had wondered if having her in the research assistant council could work. She was also my mother-in-law, in the sense that she was my wife Roma's Canela mother's sister. Thus, I too had to obey only slightly less stringent avoidance practices. We both avoided looking at her and speaking directly to her. Questions could be asked to people in general, and she would answer them. She could never stay alone in the room with us, but there was always one more and sometimes as many as four more individuals in the research assistant council, depending on what we were doing and on who could come to join us on any particular day. There is no doubt that having her as a research assistant did work, and she raised the tone of the group with her dignity, seriousness, and conscientiousness. Her presence also forced Kaapêl to perform better.
The Canela had told me in the late 1950s that only a man became a shaman (kay); however, it seems a woman can be a shaman too, providing she maintains the same high level of restrictions [IV.D.1.e.3]. In fact, there are at least two female shamans in Canela mythology (W. Crocker, 1984b:354–356). The men had always said women did not have the willpower to maintain the restrictions. By the 1970s, however, Mulwa had become a shaman and could cure people.
Although a shaman, Mulwa was also more thoroughly Catholicized than any of my other research assistants, except Kaapêl. Her father had been one of the five Canela youths interned for study in the convent at Barra do Corda at the time of the Guajajara uprising in Alto Alegre (Map 4) in 1901 [II.B.1.c.(3)]. Thus she had heard and learned much about Christianity from him. It was especially interesting that in 1975 and 1976 when we were studying the backlands folk‑Catholicized version of creation and the various steps leading to current times, Mulwa always took the most folk‑Catholic point of view even though she was a Canela kay. The only other kay in our research assistant group, the younger Mïïkhrô, invariably took the most traditional Canela approach. The other research assistants fell some place in between the two shamans. Thus, two points of view were usually expressed, but they thought there should be only one correct traditional answer.
Mïïkhrô insisted that a real kay carries out curing or witchcraft under his own authority and by his own power, and that it has always been this way [IV.D.1.a]. Ghosts were always available to consult, but gave powers only when a kay was learning his craft. After the shaman had acquired his abilities, he carried out his practice completely on his own (amyiá-?khôt: self-following). Mulwa, in contrast, insisted that nothing could be done without God's will (Pa?päm-khôt: God-following). Ambiguity made them uncomfortable, but we had an interesting time during these debates.
I had no contact with Mulwa outside of the research assistant council meetings, because she was an “avoidance woman” to me. My final memory of her, however, is a vivid one. There she was—radiant and pleasing—as I was leaving by jeep. Her face said: “you have done well.” This mother-in-law actually broke into streams of tears (not wailing) and said good-bye to me in a few really spoken words, even though I was one of her sons-in-law and a full avoidance man.
[I.G.14] The Older Tsùùkhè
I will not comment on several occasional research assistant council members, such as the older Pààtsêt (Plate 69e) and the older Rãrãk (Plate 71c), because I did not know them well enough. There was, however, one very special person who attended our meetings only in 1979 and only when the subjects of shamanism (Glossary) and hàmren (ceremonial high honor) [III.C.7] were being discussed: the older Tsùùkhè (Plate 68c). He was a fine living example of both a hàmren and a shaman. Moreover, he was the traditional ear piercer (Plate 25a). He was about 58 years old in 1979 and a member of Chief Kaarà?khre's Upper moiety age-set.
Tsùùkhè's appearance was unusual. He was gentle, soft-spoken, dignified, quiet, and fully aware of what was going on. He appeared to have great presence of mind at all times. There were never any negative witchcraft comments about him as there had been about my ket-ti Mïïkhrô. When he talked, we listened intently. He commanded automatic respect. Tsùùkhè was tall, long faced, beautifully proportioned, and athletic looking. His fingers were long, delicate and relaxed. His face was deeply pock-marked and usually sad. When he smiled, although always with restraint, inner satisfaction shone through—some would say “love.”
Besides being kay, Tsùùkhè was the head Tàm-hàk (raw-falcon), that is, the lead man of the King Vulture (urubu reis: Gypagus papa) society (Nimuendajú, 1946:98–99) [III.C.7.a]. Next to Kaapêl's son's role of Ceremonial-chief-of-the-whole-tribe, Tsùùkhè, as chief of the Tàm-hàk society, was the second ranking member of the tribe in ceremonial honor Some individuals said he was the first. His appearance and comportment served to remind me, convincingly, that ceremonial positions do affect daily behavior.
It was a great pleasure to have Tsùùkhè working with us during the several weeks that he did, and I am looking forward very much to studying his materials in depth when the time comes to write a monograph on Canela shamanism, magic, restrictions, and other aspects of religion.
Kô-ham (water it-stands), age about 36 in 1979 (Plate 68f), was the age-set file leader, or guide (mamkhyê‑?ti), and therefore a low hàmren of his own Upper moiety age-set which was graduated in 1961. My association with Kôham spans my whole period of 22 years among the Canela.
When I arrived in 1957, a Pepyê festival was in full progress [IV.A.3.c.(2)]. I was ceremonially “caught” and interned as a Pepyê novice [I.B.1] and, during the closing phase, Kôham, then a boy of 14, and I bathed together one morning in order to make Informal and Formal Friendships (Plate 39). We agreed to become Formal Friends and thus emerged from the water side by side and not looking at each other, a ritual symbolizing respect. In a similar way, a younger Tsùùkhè (not the one discussed above) became one of my Informal Friends [III.E.6] when we intentionally emerged facing each other. Being respectful of everything or anybody was an integral part of Kôham's nature, and this may be why he had chosen to be my Formal Friend (Glossary) rather than another Informal one. Most of the boys preferred to make Informal Friendships.
During those early days of some culture shock on my part, Kôham was very considerate. He was the youth who marched at the head of our Pepyê file wherever we went, and sat with the girl associates and the deputy commandant to eat and rest apart from the rest of the group—a ceremonial elite set. When I obviously needed help, he came over and quietly gave it without my asking for it, unlike the deputy commandant and the commandant who were more severe and aloof. It was easy to ask my hààpin (i.e., Formal Friend) questions about what was going on, and in this sense he was my principal research assistant while the 1957 Pepyê festival was in progress. As the age-set file leader (not its commandant), he really knew the procedures better than many of the others and was patient in answering my questions. Most of the other Pepyê (novices) were still boys and oriented to amusing themselves, but Kôham was somewhat older than the average and had to act more mature because of his role. This relationship of mutual respect, trust, and aid continued throughout my period of 22 years with the Canela. It used to surprise me that he took the role so seriously.
But Kôham was no ordinary Canela. His father, Rõ?kahàk, was Ponto's greatest hunter in the late 1950s. His mother was Hôrarak, a handsome daughter of the late Chief Hàktookot, so he was a member of the former chiefly family which had led the tribe both before and after the visit of Nimuendajú. He was too young in 1952 to be considered as a candidate for succeeding his grandfather, although Chief Kaarà?khre, who did succeed him, came from an entirely different family line and longhouse [III.D.1.g.(l)] .
Being a reliable hunter and, therefore, a good supplier of meat makes a man very respected among men and opens access to most women. I was told that many pregnant mothers wanted some of Rõ?kahàk's semen to ensure that their fetuses, if they were male, would grow up to be a great hunter too [IV.B.2.a]. He could not refuse; to do so might have caused a miscarriage and would not have been generous or manly. Thus, Kôham's choice by the Pró-khãmmã as an age-set file leader and, therefore, a hàmren-to-be-they could have chosen any boy of the right age—may have reflected his family background and/or his already respectful and responsible nature.
In 1978, Kôham was the commandant (mẽ‑?kaapõn‑katê) of the novices in the Khêêtúwayê festival of that year. After the performance each morning, we invited him to our research assistant council meetings to discuss the details of what had taken place. He was so good at reporting—so calm, expressive, and accurate—that I was surprised and kept asking myself why I had not asked him earlier to be a regular research assistant. In 1979, Kôham was the file leader (mamkhyê-?ti) of the Pepkahàk (Plate 44c).
In 1979, when I was having some problems with certain helpers, Kôham simply appeared one day and offered to help me “cover” the termination of the Pepkahàk festival of that year. He was available to move some of my equipment from event to event and to answer immediate questions about what was taking place, and thus came into my employment. He was the one who helped me put the papers in order that others had been writing and compiling, and pack my many books and other kinds of equipment upon forced and sudden departure. He was around my office most of the time and well into the nights of the last two days of my final stay.
Because a friend in Brasília had recently warned me by letter to guard my research materials against confiscation, particularly while traveling on deserted backland roads (i.e., on the way from Escalvado to Barra do Corda), I put copies of my most important materials (e.g., tape cassettes, carbons of notes) in a small suitcase and asked Kôham to take it off the reservation to Bacabal 20 kilometers to the west (Map 3), where there was a friend. Kôham left with my suitcase on this secret mission at midnight without hesitation. He was protecting his Formal Friend—my work in this case‑in a time of danger, and that is the epitome of the Formal Friendship role [III.E.5].
I left for Barra do Corda by jeep the next day. Soon after my arrival there, my Barra do Corda friend sent a jeep to Bacabal to retrieve the suitcase, which arrived the following day. That night at eleven, sooner than could be expected, I left in a truck for Belém, with all my equipment and research materials, and arrived there safely the following evening.
The memory of Kôham's friendship will remain with me for the rest of my life, especially his final act as a Formal Friend.
[I.H] SPECIAL FRIENDS IN THE STATE OF MARANHÃO
Once permissions were obtained in Rio de Janeiro on my first trip to Brazil in 1957, I flew to the coastal city of São Luis, the capital of the State of Maranhão. In 1957, the Indian service official in São Luis, Moacyr Xerex, received me very well and was helpful in a number of discussions. He was one of the few Indian service personnel with whom it was possible to talk anthropology. Dr. Xerex had known Nimuendajú and told a number of stories about this accomplished anthropologist.
Dr. Xerex sent me on to Barra do Corda with an introduction to Sr. Olímpio Martins Cruz (Figure 7) [II.B.2.b.(1)], who was in charge of the Indian service there. Sr. Olímpio had also known Nimuendajú and helped more than almost anyone else by orienting me directly to the Canela with whom he had served for seven to eight years as their village Indian agent at an earlier time (1940–1947). His long service to the Canela was obviously the intellectual and emotional high time of his life. The only possible higher points have been his poetry and publications on the Indians of Barra do Corda (1978, 1982), the Canela and Guajajara.
Even though Sr. Olímpio did not remain the head of the Indian service in Barra do Corda for long after my arrival (about two months), he continued to live in a house diagonally opposite the Indian service agency building. (In Plate 2b, the building on the immediate left is Sr. Olímpio's, and the building across the street on the right, up four levels of steps, is the agency of the Indian service.) The Canela often approached him for advice, encouragement, and, of course, a small gift.
I first went into the Canela village of Ponto with the support and backing of Sr. Olímpio, thereby starting my fieldwork career under his kindly auspices. Every time I left or came back to Barra do Corda (though sometimes our meeting was in São Luis or Brasília), I renewed my relationship with Sr. Olímpio and his family. He had great intellectual and moral strength, as well as personal depth and understanding, so these visits were immensely helpful. Not only was he an expert on life in the interior, but he was a published poet (Banco do Nordeste do Brasil, 1985:50). Sr. Olímpio was solely responsible for obtaining more than once my crucial Indian service permissions to work among the Canela in 1978 and 1979. I am most grateful for this help, and wish to stress this acknowledgment, because these were the most productive and satisfying research years of my career. He has become a close friend with whom I still correspond.
Sr. Antônio Cordeiro, a friend of Sr. Olímpio, helped immensely with the history of Barra do Corda [II.B.4], with the Canela orthography for local Brazilians, and with meteorological data. My many thanks go to him for the data of Table 1 and for his friendship.
First Canela chief, Kaarà?khre, age 36 in 1957 (Figure 18), declared us to be Informal Friends almost immediately upon my arrival and spent two weeks with me in the town of Barra do Corda while final preparations were being made to go into the tribe with him. He always acted as a friend and supporter in his village (Ponto). He was easy-going and helpful. (For more on Chief Kaarà?khre, see [II.B.2.i.(5)] [III.D.1.i.(2)] [Ep.3.a].)
The next acknowledgment, and most certainly the greatest of all, must go to the younger Kaapêltùk (Frontispiece, Figure 51), age 27 in 1957 [I.G.4] [Ep.4.b]. He had spent considerable time out of the tribe learning the ways of the city dwellers and he saw himself as the principal protagonist in the tribe for urban Brazilian ways. His Portuguese was much better than the Portuguese of any other Canela at that time, and he understood the thinking of the urban Brazilian better. This book is dedicated to him as a true friend and as the key individual in my field research.
I employed Kaapêl part time in 1958 and full time in 1959. By the 1970s, I found that no really reliable work could be done without him—my guarantor of accurate communication—and in 1979, sometimes, I even sent my research assistant council away for the day if Kaapêl could not be with us, because our work without him would not be sufficiently reliable.
During the 1960s and 1970s Kaapêl kept improving in his abilities as a trained research assistant, translator, and interpreter [I.G.4]. He was able to stay on the subject I wanted to investigate and kept the other research assistants on it. We often digressed out of interest, for amusement, or so as not to miss important related items. Kaapêl's endurance was incredible. He could work well during long hours, and far into the night, as he often did for Jack Popjes (Figure 11) when Jack was about to leave and when certain linguistic problems had to be solved. In kinship studies, Kaapêl occasionally used to run from where our research assistant group was sitting to some other house to find out what a certain person called some other person when such an ego‑alter example was a critical point of the meeting. Then he would run back, very pleased with his findings and their contribution to our research. I never asked him to run on these occasions, but he invariably did.
Among the Apanyekra, Kaapêl worked for me on special research assignments rather than as interpreter-manager as he had done among the Canela. On one of these missions, he collected extensive kinship materials by questioning people himself. These protocols were among my most prized and proud products of the field. Unfortunately, no field copies were made of this special research, and his originals disappeared with the one and only suitcase that was ever lost in transit. Almost all other materials in that lost suitcase were saved because their copies had been placed in another suitcase that was sent and delivered later.
My deepest gratitude must go to Olímpio Martins Cruz, the younger Kaapêltùk, and Jaldo Pereira Santos of Barra do Corda. Sr. Jaldo was a fine gentleman and Barra do Corda resident, who lived on the central square of the town (Plate 3b). He first became involved in my field activities in 1964 when I had to take my ailing wife, Mary Jean, out of the field. We were catching the pinga pinga (dropping in at every stop) airplane (a DC4) for Brasília the next day, so Sr. Jaldo and his wife, Dona Antônia, most graciously lent us their bedroom for the night so that Mary Jean could be more comfortable. He became my financial representative in the town after Sr. Olímpio had moved to São Luis to take charge of the Indian service office there, so I stayed with Sr. Jaldo and his family whenever in town. Thus, they had my “expeditions” marching through their house, and my equipment and supplies used to pile high in the guest room. On two unannounced arrivals by bus at four in the morning in 1979, I preferred to stay in a pensão rather than to disturb them at that hour, but they scolded me for not knocking on their locked door.
This very gracious hospitality was also extended to my second wife Roma in the 1970s. We came to know Sr. Jaldo's children as well, scattered as they were with their spouses in Brasília, Recife, and Fortaleza. We visited them once each, when we passed through these cities.
Sr. Jaldo saw me as the visiting scientist whom he was helping because of his great sense of civic service. He managed my finances between 1964 and 1979 with skill and great imagination. Even when the situation became more complicated during my 1978–1979 trip, he managed to find individuals who would repair my ten tape-recorders, used for my various programs. When I was with the Canela, I communicated with him through letters carried by foot messengers. He also had his assistant pay the various Canela individuals and families I sent into town to receive compensation in cash or goods. Think of the relief from care that comes to a researcher in the backlands when he knows his financial base in town is safe. It was only because of Sr. Jaldo's authority in the town and concern for my project that the manuscript and tape program functioned so well over a period of almost 16 years, whether I was in Brazil or the United States.
The friendship and assistance of Sr. Jaldo can never be repaid because it was so vast, generous, and open. His family's warm hospitality, his competence in handling my finances, and his clearing the way for a safe passage through the politics of the town, were so helpful over such a long period of time that his assistance must be among the most helpful advantages any ethnologist has received in the field.
Sr. Jaldo could easily have become the mayor of Barra do Corda, but he neither needed nor wanted to become a politician. He was the power behind several mayors in succession. And during one long period when there was no official judge in the town, he volunteered to take the role unofficially, and in this capacity he met over a dozen ordinary people's cases each day in his house and resolved them in common sense ways with his profound wisdom, judgment, and immanent good will; and through their trust in him and their knowledge of his good name.
Other members of the Indian service to whom I am deeply indebted are Srs. Júlio Tavares, Virgílio Galvão, and Sebastião Pereira. I remember Júlio best for his companionship and intellectual orientation during my 1978–1979 field trip. He owned several jeeps and a truck and was usually the person to drive me, my equipment, and my supplies between the town of Barra do Corda and the Canela village of Escalvado. During the 2½ to 3 hour trip, we used to talk without stopping—world affairs, politics, economics. He was a natural intellectual.
In 1969, Júlio flew into the tribal area from Barra do Corda with the emergency plane summoned by Sr. Sidney Milhomem (the local Varig airline agent) from São Luis in order to rescue my step-daughter Tara. She had developed an internal infection that was not responding at all to my medicine, and Indian service personnel were not yet present in the still new village of Escalvado. The single-propeller plane needed a person on board who could guide it for 25 minutes to the village of Escalvado because there was no road to follow. However, the village did have a small air strip due to the presence of the linguistic-missionary, Jack Popjes, and his SIL team. Júlio came in from Barra do Corda with the plane but had to walk back half the distance (35 trail kilometers to Ourives, Map 3) because there was room for the plane to take only the ll-year-old Tara, her two younger brothers, and her mother. I will be forever grateful to Júlio, for without his help the urban pilot of the small plane could not have located the village.
Sr. Virgílio I well remember for his warmth and friendship at the Guajajara post of Sardinha (Map 3), where the Canela spent five years in exile after having been removed from their cerrado home in 1963. The Canela called him Poo-vey-re (cerrado-deer old dim.), a term of great affection. He had walked with them in July 1963 during their dangerous march out of the cerrado [II.B.2.f.(5)]. He demonstrated his care for the Canela in his treatment of the Indians through his use of medicine and kind words. I used to enjoy visiting him and his family at the post very much.
Sebastião Pereira (Figure 9) is Sr. Virgílio's son-in-law and is married to the little girl (Figure 10) I had seen growing up by the Sardinha post. While I did know “Bastião” (his Canela nickname) as a dedicated male nurse of the Indian service in Escalvado during 1970 and 1971, I knew him much better as the post agent during my 1974–1975 visit and then again in 1978–1979. Like Sr. Olímpio, Bastião really knew the Canela and understood a great deal of their language, though he did not attempt to speak it. He and his wife often invited me for meals at his post house (Map 5, E) and showered their hospitality and friendship upon me.
When I hear criticism of the Brazilian Indian service, which is often the case in Brazil and the United States, I think first of Sr. Sebastião Pereira and his wife Dona Fátima and their great service in the cause of helping the Canela Indians. Then I think of Sebastião's father-in-law who risked his life to save many Canela lives in 1963. They are rare idealists but also hard realists and politicians.
Jack and Josephine Popjes of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) were great company in the field. I immensely enjoyed going over to their Escalvado house across the plaza to spend an evening conversing in English on our favorite topic, the Canela. Their opinions were a useful check on mine. Moreover, we have carried out research for each other when one of us could not be in the tribe. In 1979, I spent two weeks with the younger Kaapêltùk working on linguistic problems for Jack, and between 1984 and 1989 Jack has provided an extensive amount of ethnographic and historical information for me (most of the Epilogue). Sometimes we worked on medical cases together, as when Tel-khwèy (Plate 68b) had convulsions in 1970. More than any other aspect, however, I remember their good company and genuine friendship. When I hear general criticism of the Wycliffe Bible Translators (SIL), I think of the excellence of Jack and Jo.
In Barra do Corda, other missionaries ran the Maranata School [II.B.4.h] just out of town, known as the Sítio dos Ingleses. It was especially helpful to spend evenings there in my early research years of the late 1950s (sometimes playing Monopoly). I particularly remember the kindnesses of Orville Yontz in the late 1950s and of Jim Vance and his family in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1964, they heard over the public radio information service from São Luis (no telegraph service yet) that back in Milwaukee my wife had cancer (a false report) and that I was called home by the Smithsonian to attend her, so they drove their truck out to Sardinha, gave me one hour to pack, and put me on the bi-weekly plane to São Luis on which they had reserved the last space for me.
As for my Canela families, I am grateful to them and admire them in many ways. My “sister” Te?hôk was an ideal Canela sister, always living up to her supportive role. She never let me go without adequate meals in the late 1950s, though I relied entirely on her ability to buy, trade, borrow, or beg food for me. And she did, unknown to me at the time, beg around the village for meat for me occasionally. She was calm, serious, thoughtful, loyal, and quiet, and always looked out for her children and the household. She was a very responsible person. On certain rare occasions, she could become somewhat angry but still remain completely controlled. I found it especially admirable that more than once there were marital adjustment hearings [III.D.3.c.(1)] at which she aired her resentments against her husband in a responsible and yet compassionate way. At these well-attended, interfamily official assemblies, she was clearly articulate and spoke in a well-modulated calm voice.
Life in her house was particularly amusing because of her daughters, my nieces. The joking relationship between uncle (mother's brother category) and niece was the warm side of my lonely research months in the late 1950s. I will never forget the day, however, that I threw a peeled orange back at one of these nieces and hit my sister instead. Having internalized Canela roles and feelings myself by that time, I was mortified at having hit my sister. Opposite-sex siblings must maintain a serious attitude toward each other, this is one of the most important roles in the tribe. After this accident, there was total silence and shame, but everybody knew it had not been done on purpose.
My other Canela adopted family, which I had to have because there were two villages when I arrived among the Canela in 1957 due to the schism, was structured differently, so that my relationships with both my adopted brother Hàwmrõ and his mother Kroytsen—my “mother”—had to be serious. I will never forget my mother's concern when I was eating fish. She would sit by me on an adjacent mat, afraid that I might choke on a bone, as I almost did in her presence in 1958. She would then be the first to slap me on the back and get water or bread. In the house of my brother and his mother I enjoyed the joking role with my brother's wife, my “wife.” Though a Canela does not joke with the woman who is the mother of his children, he always jokes with his “other wives” (më ?prõ ?nõ: pl. his-wife other: his classificatory wives) [III.E.3.a.(6)].
The relationship with my brother's children, my “children,” was necessarily serious, and I will never forget the care with which my oldest daughter, Hômyï-khwèy (Figure 22), used to heat my silica gel canisters in a cast iron pot to drive the water out of the salts and thereby turn their color from pink back to blue. For all their care and concern, I thank them.
My wife Roma's adopted family was related to the wife of the first chief, Kaarà?khre. They thus took themselves very seriously as role models. There were no joking relationships among them for me, because I was an out-of-house affine. The only joking relationship I could enjoy was with the chief's wife, my wife's sister, thereby my “wife” (because her husband was my Informal Friend [III.E.6]); but they lived in another house and so were not immediately available. My strongest memories of Roma's adopted family were how well they helped us in cooking. It was easily the best place to eat in the whole village. Also, my wife's mother used to have to tell Roma certain things but could not do this well enough in Portuguese, so she used to speak Canela to my wife, her “daughter,” in words that were meant for me to overhear. She could not address me because I was her son-in-law—a full avoidance relationship. Then I used to speak her message to my wife in English so that she could comply with her mother's wishes.
My Apanyekra family was structured in the same way as my first Canela family since the principal person in it was my adopted sister, Pootsen. Here again I had a wonderful set of nieces with whom to joke. One had a pet emu (a South American ostrich) and another (an unusually beautiful woman) had a Krahó husband. My sister was clearly the strongest female personality in the tribe, and I was impressed with what she said she called her kin, as she worked with me around the village circle list of names. What she called them was more in line with how she felt about the particular individual than consistent with consanguinal principles of proximity or distance: kinship behavior (i.e., fictitious). This kinship phenomenon could not be found to a significant extent among the Canela.
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