Energetics modeling in development evaluation


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Energetics modeling in development evaluation the case of the Bakairi Indians of central Brazil
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x, 439 leaves : ill., maps ; 28 cm.
Picchi, Debra S., 1953-
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Subjects / Keywords:
Bakairi Indians   ( lcsh )
Indians of South America -- Brazil   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1982.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 428-438).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Debra S. Picchi.
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This study describes the results of a research project which

took place in central Brazil between October of 1979 and July of 1981.

During the incipient stages of the project as well as during its

realization, many individuals and organizations were extremely sup-

portive and helpful.

The Bakairi Indians of P.I. Bakairi in Mato Grosso made this

project a particularly pleasant and worthwhile piece of work to do.

Their love of life and their incredible optimism about themselves and

their future instilled in the researcher a deep sense of commitment to

these people and their world. Anthropological fieldwork is often

fraught with frustration and discouragement. However, in working with

the Bakairi, these periods were kept to a minimum due to the Indians'

ability to transform any obstacle into a game that would test the
body and the mind. If feelings or intuition had any place in science,

there would be no doubt in the researcher's mind that these Indians will

survive in the face of whatever challenge they must confront.

Dr. Yu Chi Au of the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento

Cientifico e Tecnologico (CNPq) must be gratefully acknowledged for

his patience, support, and understanding of problems foreign researchers

have in Brazil. His ability to make the complex comprehendable to

researchers faced with difficult bureaucratic procedures certainly marks

him as an asset to that organization for which he works. In addition,

the obvious seriousness with which he approaches his work and the just
as obvious commitment he has to those questions which scientists all

over the world ask led to many fruitful exchanges between the researcher
and him. The ideas generated during these discussions were instru-

mental in further refining the research project.
Sydney Possuello, Celio Horst, George Zarur, and Elizabeth

Gameiro were those representatives of the Fundaclo Nacional do Indio

(FUNAI) who facilitated the authorization process which is necessary
for work among Brazilian Indians. They also strove to make the
researcher's stay in Brasilia a pleasant and productive one. For this

they must be acknowledged. In addition, Professor Roque de Barros

Laraia of the University of Brasilia must be thanked for his assistance
and support. Harold Midkiff of the Fulbright Commission in Brasilia

and Pablo Barreyro, the American Consul in Brasilia, were also special
sources of encouragement and practical advice.
In Cuiaba, those personnel of the Fifth District Regional

Headquarters of FUNAI were always anxious to exchange ideas and infor-
mation. Their dedication and professionalism were impressive, and
they must be acknowledged for the help they gave to the researcher.
Also in Cuiaba, Jean and Ed Barkman, Deanne and Dalton Noack, Jean
and Wes Bell, Jacky Jackson, and Sheila Tremaine of the Summer Insti-
tute of Linguistics offered hospitality, assistance, and friendship to
the researcher. Their generosity and kindness were extraordinary.
In the United States, many people assisted in the realization
of this project. The researcher's doctoral committee provided comments,

suggestions, and critiques. Dr. Maxine Margolis, chairperson of the

committee, was especially helpful. The time and concentrated effort

she allocated to both the project in its formative stages and to the

dissertation must be gratefully acknowledged. Dr. John Alexander must

also be thanked for his patience and for the time he gave the

researcher while she worked on the computer simulations. Drs. Daniel

Gross, Leslie Lieberman, and Charles Wagley also provided useful com-

ments and encouragement.

Other individuals who made suggestions and critiques include

Charles Wood of the University of Florida whose understanding of

demography was an enormous help, and Dorris Ragsdale and Greg Steinkraus

of the New Hanover Memorial Hospital in North Carolina whose suggestions

on the parasitology section were of great value. Robert Carneiro of

the Museum of Natural History in New York advised the researcher on

methodology. Alfredo Lopes at the Escola Superior de Agricultura de

Lavras in Minas Gerais, 3razil, and Aimee Picchi at the Virginia Poly-

technic Institute gave insight into soil analysis results. Robin

Smith, Steve Dicks, Bob Wilson, and Marvin Smith at the University of

Florida assisted in Landsat image analysis. Richard Fluck, also at

the University of Florida, made many helpful suggestions on the mechan-

ized agriculture project section of the study. Christ McCarty and

Russell Bernard of the University of Florida patiently contributed time

and support in the data analysis stages of the project.

The field project was funded by grants from the Fulbright-Hays
Organization and from the Inter-American Foundation. Liz Veatch from

the latter organization not only simplified time-consuming bureaucratic
procedures but also provided a great deal of kind support.
It Is clear that from this less than complete list of people
who contributed to this project's realization that both the researcher
and the field project have profited from the open discussion that
has surrounded them during the past six years. Discussing, arguing,
challenging, criticizing, and sharing have resulted in a study that
is more than it would have been without the assistance of those
listed above, and of many more who were not mentioned.



ABSTRACT . . .. .



The Problem . . .
Ecological Anthropology: A Theoretical
Construct . . .
Methodology . . .


The Colonial Period and the Contact of
the Bakairi (1700-1820) . .
Further Contact and Two Migrations (1820-
1920) . . .
The Bakairi on Their New Reservation
(1920-1958) . . .
Development in the West Central States
and Recent Bakairi History (1958-1980) .
The Bakairi Today . . .


Topography, Vegetation, and Climate . .
Energy in the Environment . .
Solar Radiation: An Outside Energy Source .
Producer Subsystems: Gallery Forest, Cerrado,
and Rivers . . .
Nonhuman Consumers: Animals, Cattle, and Fish .


Marriage and Household Composition . .
Bakairi Weights and Heights Compared to
General Statistics . .
Bakari Weights and Heights Compared to
Local Standards . . .



















Parasites . . .. 183
Infectious Disease and Causes of Death .. 188
Demographic Interrelationships . 195
Note . . . 204


A Comparison of the Table and Factorial
Methods of Determining Energy Expenditure 210
Energy Expenditure and the Bakairi
Energetics Model . ... 215
Monthly Variation in Time Allocation . 223
Comparison of South American Indigenous
Time Allocation Patterns . 230


Soil Analysis Results . . 240
Bakairi Garden Site Selection and
Garden Size . . 247
Slash-and-Burn Technology and Planting 249
Harvesting Methodology . 252
Crop Yields . . 255
Gardening Energy Efficiency Ratio . 264
Resistance to Swidden Formula . 268
The Gardens and Energy . 271


Fishing Technology . . 281
Patterns of Fish Exploitation . 284
The Exploitation of the Bakairi
Cattle Herd . . 287
Hunting in the Bakairi Reservation . 292
Energy Efficiency Ratios of Fishing,
Cattle Herding, and Hunting . 296
Animal versus Garden Foods . .. 304
Evaluating Bakairi Protein Consumption .. 310
Protein Acquisition and Energy . 317


The Cash Flow into the Bakairi
Reservation . . 325
The Cash Flow out of the Bakairi
Reservation . . .. 335
A New Source of Cash and Technology ... 343


Factors to Consider in Choosing
a Survival Strategy . . 364
Combining the Components of
the Energy Diagram . . 369
Three Sets of Simulations and Their
Results . . .. 380
The Benefits of Adopting the Industrial
Agricultural System . . 405
The Costs of Adopting the Industrial
Agriculture System . . 412



Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Debra S. Picchi

August 1982

Chairperson: Maxine Margolis
Department: Anthropology

This dissertation evaluates the impact of a mechanized agri-

culture project on the traditional subsistence system and the health

and nutritional status of the Bakairi Indians of Central Brazil. Until

the present, the Bakairi depended upon slash-and-burn horticulture

in the gallery forests along the rivers of their reservation. However,

in 1980 the Brazilian Indian Foundation (Fundacgo Nacional do Indio)

financed a project giving the Indians equipment, chemical fertilizers,

and fuels to initiate industrial agriculture in the prairie areas of
their reservation. Ecological anthropology theory is employed to

describe the implications of this project. The indigenous system of

production is defined within the parameters of the Bakairi reservation

ecosystem. Then, the mechanized agriculture project is imposed on this

system. This new subsistence system is evaluated in terms of the

resulting cultural and ecological stresses and benefits.

These stresses and benefits are modeled using energy flow
diagrams and energy circuit language. Interactions between the
Bakairi and major components of their ecosystem are mathematically
described. Then, the quantitative values of these interactions are
varied over time through computer simulation. The results of these
simulations indicate that reliance on only traditional subsistence
methods or on traditional subsistence and limited industrial agricul-
ture will eventually result in the the population growing exponentially,
peaking, and then rapidly declining. On the other hand, increased
reliance on mechanized agriculture results in exponential population
growth with a higher peak which is supported by the greater amount of
calories from the prairie rice fields. After the population peaks,
rapid decline follows in this scenario.


Indians in Brazil, and indeed all over Latin America, have been

subjected to assimilative pressures since the New World was discovered.
In recent years, the nature of this process in Brazil has changed in

that the national agency, which previously existed only to protect
Indian groups, has concentrated its efforts on internal development of

the individual reservations where the tribes are located. The objective
of these new policies is to integrate the Indians into Brazilian society

by teaching them skills that will allow them to participate in the
national economy. These skills are related to the operation of high

energy, or mechanized, agricultural systems. The national Indian
Foundation (FundavCo Nacional do Indio) argues that the Indians can

utilize all the lands that they have been decreed in the form of reser-

vations, if they are given equipment such as tractors and harvesters, as
well as the know-how to run them. That is, instead of depending upon
low-energy-investment subsistence methods where land is used extensively
in the production process, the Indians will be able to utilize their
lands intensively, producing more crops than they need, the surplus of
which can be sold for cash. Once cash flows into the reservations on a
regular basis, a feedback system will be generated. The Indians will
put more land under intensive production in order to sell more cash
crops outside of the reservation. The cash will give them the means

with which to purchase more equipment for the production process as

well as more consumer goods. The accumulation of consumer goods will,

in turn, eventually allow life in the reservations to approximate life

outside of them as cigarettes, radios, bicycles, guns, tee-shirts, and

other such items become firmly entrenched in the Indians' world.

Assimilative pressures from the "outside" world are not the only
forces which jeopardize the continuity of the traditional culture of

Indians in Brazil today. Many groups, which have been isolated up to

the twentieth century and then recently contacted, are undergoing rapid

depopulation and concomitant cultural and physical deterioration (Davis

1977). These groups struggle to maintain some kind of an approximation

of the only life they know as the world around them shifts. Other

groups confront a different problem. They were contacted earlier, per-

haps in the eighteenth or nineteenth century. Depopulation occurred

prior to the twentieth century so that when the first Brazilian Indian

Protection Service (Servigo Protegio aos Indios) was established during
the 1920s, these groups, if they had survived, were ripe for reorienta-

tion within the new nation of which they were a part. These latter

groups responded to the health and education programs offered to them by
the Protection Agencies. As a result, their populations stabilized and

in the latter part of the twentieth century, their numbers began to

Upon recognition of this demographic trend, most social scien-
tists and Foundation agents felt profound relief. The extinction of at

least part of the aboriginal population of the lowlands had been suc-

cessfully prevented. However, relief quickly gave way to anxiety as

people realized that many of these groups had been placed on tiny

reservations at the beginning to middle of the twentieth century when

their population levels were extremely low. These reservations could

not possibly support more than one or two small villages of Indians

practicing traditional subsistence methods. As the possibility of popu-

lation pressure on available resources in these reservations was defined,

people began to cast about for solutions to the problem. The objective

was, of course, to avoid a situation where the Indians, unable to make

a living from their own lands, would leave their reservations and go to

the cities where they would be forced to live in ghettos and to assume

the most difficult kinds of life that a city has to offer.

Some social scientists and Foundation agents suggested that the

population-land problem which Brazilian Indians confront could be

solved by introducing the Indians to high-energy technology and methods

of production. It was felt that if the small reservations that dot

Brazil could be made to produce intensively, larger populations would

be supported on the limited amounts of land available. Furthermore, a

cash supply would enable them to purchase high-protein foods such as
beans, salted beef, or even cattle herds which would supplement the
reservations' animal food supply. If these production techniques could

be successfully taught to the Indians, concern about indigenous migra-
tions to the cities would be dispelled.

Like any solution to a difficult, if not impossible, problem,
controversy at once surrounded the possibility of introducing non-
traditional subsistence methods to Indians. On one hand, people objected

to the Brazilian government funneling large amounts of money into

Indian reservations. They claimed these reservations make up only a

small part of Brazil, and that indigenous populations compose a dis-

proportionally small amount of the nation's population. Why fund

agricultural projects in Indian reservations when large numbers of

rural Brazilians and urban poor need financial assistance even more?

They also pointed out that these Indians do not know how to operate or

maintain the machinery they are given. Nor do they understand seeding

and fertilizers. In fact, they cannot add and subtract, or even read

and write. How can they successfully participate in the national

economy while they lack the most rudimentary of skills? Furthermore,

why waste money on projects that are certainly doomed to failure?

Instead of giving these Indian minorities special privileges, this

group calls on the government to leave them to cope with the problems of

poverty in the way the Brazilian poor are coping.

A second group of scientists and Indian Foundation representa-

tives object to the government's endangering the traditional culture of

the Indians. They see the initiation of mechanized agriculture on

Indian reservations as the beginning of the final phase of contact

which will end up only in genocide or total integration. They predict

the end of Indian cultures in Brazil and call for the termination of

these projects before it is too late. This group would minimize all

contact between the Indian and non-Indian groups in an effort to both
preserve the Indians' cultures and to prevent a disintegration of the

tribal groups both as cultural units and as biological populations.

Some social scientists clearly recognize the impossibility

of traveling backwards in time to a pre-contact point of history. They

understand the difficulties associated with dealing with Indians who

by and large greatly desire goods such as tractors and radios and who
violently and jealously react when one Indian group receives an item

when they do not. This subgroup also understands the dangers associated

with the perceived underexploitation of Indian lands. As state and
national legislators review the traditional subsistence methods of

Indians, they conclude that Indians do not know how to efficiently use
their lands. As a result, they are less likely to decree new Indian
reservations when the rural and urban poor need the jobs these same

lands could provide. As a result, the subgroup in question would like

to initiate some kind of development project in the indigenous reserva-

tions; however, they advise against the implementation of mechanized
agricultural projects for two main reasons.
In the first place, the world, in general, and Brazil, in

particular, are undergoing an energy crisis. Products such as diesel

fuel and fertilizer are subject to high inflation, and their cost in
Brazil, especially, spirals upward on a weekly basis. Some see these
high costs leading to the end of civilization as we now know it. They
foresee the necessity of our reorienting our economies, indeed our
lives, to a moderate energy, steady state strategy of existence from the
high energy growth strategies that industrial nations now depend upon
and that less developed countries try to emulate (Odum and Odum 1981). As
nations all over the world work to accommodate themselves to this crisis

and to evaluate what it means to their economies and the lives of their

populations, some see the foisting of high-energy agricultural systems

onto Indians as a serious miscalculation. They advise us that we are

the ones that should be examining, and absorbing, lessons from

indigenous, low-energy-investment, subsistence strategies. In addition,

this group foresees serious problems emerging from agricultural projects

on Indian lands. It is not that the implementation of a project is

inimical to the Indians per se. Rather the operationalization of the

projects, as well as their impact on the various aspects of the Indian

culture, are problematic. Questions that are regularly raised concern

the operation and maintenance of equipment, the transport ar.J sale of

crops in the distant cities, the distribution of crop surpluses in the

Indian villages, etc. The list of potential problems is endless, and

people fear the frustration, waste, and disruption that they are certain

will ensue.

This brief outline of an enormously complex problem emphasizes

the difficulties which Indians, as well as those concerned for them, are

facing. The troublesome choices which have to be made coupled with

attempts to minimize their deleterious effects currently plague Brazil.

In order to better understand and evaluate the trends described above,

it is helpful to focus on one group and examine the situation it con-


The Problem
The Bakairi Indians, who number 288 people, live on a small

reservation in the state of Mato Grosso. central Brazil. The reservation

was demarcated in the early part of the twentieth century when the

indigenous population was estimated to be about 150 people or less.

The Bakairi were given about 50,000 haof land on which to subsist. Over

the years, the interior of Mato Grosso, once so sparsely populated, saw

a dramatic increase in its population. In the last thirty years

ranchers have rapidly moved into the area surrounding the Bakairi

reservation. As a result, they have been left with little maneuverabil-

ity. The Indians can neither leave their traditional lands nor expand

outward into the neighboring regions. The land which they now inhabit

is all they have. (See Chapter 2 for further details.)

If the 50,000 ha allocated to the Indians were rich, fertile

land, the situation would be a less problematic one. However, over 85

percent of the Bakairi reservation is composed of parched, unfertile

cerrado. Cerrado does not support the production of crops under the

slash-and-burn methods traditionally employed by the Indians. Rather,

it is used for extensive cattle raising and for some hunting. These

areas can also be utilized for crop production if mechanized agricul-

tural methods are employed. For example, on the nearby ranches, rice

is grown for two or three years on the cerrado, and then cattle are
introduced into the areas which, in time, are transformed into artificial

pasture land. In contrast with the cerrado, gallery forest makes up
under 14 percent of the reservation's land. These forests which line

the rivers in the area are the location of the Indians' gardens. The

soils there are rich and fertile, and the surrounding trees and vegeta-

tion provide shade from the burning sun and moisture for the growing

crops. A great deal of gallery forest can be found in the vicinity
of the Bakairi village. The Indians, with a great deal of foresight,

made their settlement upon the banks of the Paranatinga River, a major
headwater of the Tapajos River. At that particular site, the river

makes a complete "S." In addition, it intersects with two other

important rivers which are called the Azul and the Vermelho Rivers. As
a result, the most concentrated mass of gallery forest is found there
(see Chapter 3). However, the village has been located in this same

site since the 1930s, and the forest around it has been used and reused

several times. The Indians claim it is "tired land," and,consequently,

each year they must travel farther from the village to make their gar-
dens. In these recesses of the reservation, the forests are not so

extensive as they are where the Paranatinga winds around, creating a

huge reservoir of lush forest.
Land for cultivation purposes is only one problem the Indians
face. Animal food supplies which provide complete proteins for the
population represent a second important consideration. The Bakairi
are primarily fishermen; however, they also hunt in the forests, and to

some extent, on the cerrado where armadillos and anteaters are found.
The most important source of fish in the region is clearly the Parana-
tinga River. However, a small but growing town was recently located
upstream from the Bakairi reservation. In this town, the Brazilians
fish with nets, inspite of the fact that they are outlawed in the state.
The Indians now complain that no fish are left for them. In addition,
the game in the vicinity of the village is totally hunted out, and the

men must travel into the headwaters of the Azul and Kayapo Rivers to

find animals. These areas are distantly located from the village,

requiring the men to expend large amounts of time and energy to even

find a place where hunting is viable (see Chapter 7).

Land and animal resource availability must always be discussed

in relative terms. Factors which influence availability include popula-

tion and technology. The Bakairi population stabilized around 1940

and since that time the Indians have been increasing in number.

Although they still practice artificial population control in the form

of abortion and infanticide, the natural rate of increase of the popula-

tion is estimated to be 3.47 percent, and the population doubling time

is 20 years (see Chapter 4). These rates are extremely high. In part,

they are the result of the Indian Foundation's disease-control program

which has been very successful in vaccinating the Indians and in treating

them for such diseases as tuberculosis. As the population increases,

more land is put under production. In addition, larger amounts of land

accumulate in the nonproductive category of succession gardens where

the forest is taking over, and rejuvenating, the old gardens. Popula-

tion levels also affect the intensity of animal food exploitation. The
amount of fish and game secured is, of course, partially dependent upon

the population level.
Technology and subsistence strategies also affect resource

availability. The Bakairi practice low-energy agricultural methods.

They employ slash-and-burn horticulture in which they clear, and plant,

small plots of land that support their households on an annual basis.

After approximately two years, they clear other plots and allow the

original gardens to be taken over by the fast-growing forests. Rudi-

mentary kinds of technology are employed. Although the men use steel

axes and machetes for land clearing, digging sticks are still used for

harvesting. Furthermore, no chemical fertilizers or mechanized equip-

ment such as tractors are utilized in the production process. In hunting

and fishing, some .22 rifles and lines and hooks are used. However, most

men employ bows and arrows in both activities because the other types

of technology are both difficult and expensive to secure (see Chapters

6 and 7).

Low-energy subsistence methods such as those employed by the

Bakairi depend upon the natural ecosystem to perform most of the

recycling of energy and minerals in the environment. All human popula-

tions accelerate this process to some extent; however, some groups

subsidize natural ecological processes with fossil fuels in the form of
pesticides, fertilizers, machinery, and fuels. Others tap into only a

relatively small part of the total energy of the ecosystem and therefore
they can depend upon the system itself to restabilize the components on
which they impact. Yields of the ecosystem differ depending upon energy

investment into the system. If human and solar energies are supple-

mented by machinery and high-quality energy in the agricultural process,

the former are amplified by chese other types of power, and agricultural
yields are increased. However, if human and solar energies interact

by themselves within the subsistence strategy, yields are relatively low

(Odum and Odum 1981).

The Bakairi currently find themselves in a situation which is

in part related to the ethnohistorical, environmental, demographic, and

cultural factors outlined above. The central problem defined by these

parameters is how can the Bakairi continue to survive, and grow, in

their reserve using traditional modes of subsistence to provide them

with adequate nutritional supplies? The traditional solution to this

problem is for the village to fission. Part of the population would

remain where it is now located, and part would migrate to a different

section of the reservation. This would result in two or more settle-

ments which would minimize the impact of the entire population on the

ecological system. Some cultural features which characterize the Bakairi

and which would facilitate this process include the following. There

is an absence of any strong political leadership which could prevent the

village from fissioning. A capitio, or leader who represents the Indian

village to the non-Indians, does exist. However, he has no executive

power and functions only to voice those decisions and questions which

result from meetings of the household heads in the village. Several

shamans, or curers, also live in the village. These men are very power-

ful in generating and channeling anxiety; however, they tend to manipu-
late factions in the village rather than the entire population. Further-
more, disputes over women, sex, and witchcraft accusations also

characterize the functioning of the village and would facilitate

fissioning. Issues that revolve around who is sleeping with whom and

who cast a spell on whom cause serious conflicts which divide the village

and result in a great deal of anger and long-lasting bitterness. The

desire to avoid the contact and confrontations associated with meeting

old enemies on a daily basis often results in a village splitting.
Finally, the Bakairi unit of production and consumption is the house-

hold. An exchange of goods and labor flows between extended families;

however, these small units are generally self-sufficient. Since there
is little or no specialization among the Indians, no real economic need

exists to unify the village.

Fissioning can be considered a traditional resource management
strategy. Bakairi cultural institutions such as those discussed above

make it possible and, indeed, encourage its occurrence. However, is
this a viable solution for the Bakairi who do not live in an isolated

or precontact state? For example, they do not have a limitless amount

of land at their disposal. The location they currently inhabit is the
finest in the entire reservation both in terms of the amount of land,

albeit worn out, that is available to them for horticulture, and in
terms of the fishing grounds in the Paranatinga River. The decision on
the part of one group to leave this area and go inhabit another inferior
part of the reservation would surely be problematic. Another factor
which might influence their decision to fission involves the community
wealth which the Indians have accumulated through their relations with

the Indian Foundation. The Bakairi now have a truck and a cattle herd
of about 400 head at their disposal. The Foundation technically owns
these possessions; however, the Indians do have unlimited use of them.
How will possessions of this kind be divided up equitably in this
egalitarian society? Finally, the Indian Foundation itself actively

discourages the Indians from splitting into two villages. In the

1930s they unified all the Bakairi in the reservation into one commun-

ity in order to facilitate health care, education, and administrative

control. The Foundation has also invested a great deal in the infra-

structure which makes up the Indian post. Wells, a school, a clinic,

a headquarters, and an airstrip comprise time and money spent on

facilities which would be wasted if part, or all, of the Indians left

their present settlement.

The traditional method of fissioning may have been put into

effect if the Foundation had not moved to implement its new integrative

policy in the form of mechanized agricultural projects. However, in

1980, the Foundation sent into the reservation a tractor and seeder

along with fertilizers, rice, seeds, and fuels (see Chapter 8). This

equipment adds to the village capital, in the form of a truck and

cattle herd, which would have to be split up should the village divide.

In addition, the anticipated cash flow from the sale of the rice har-

vests binds each and every household to the village so that it may

enjoy its rightful share. Currently, despite the political conflicts

and the complaints about land, game and fish shortages, few families
discuss the real possibility of making a new settlement. The mechan-
ized agricultural project, along with admonishments from the Foundation,

have effectively squelched that option.

The central problem which the Bakairi confront today must be

redefined. A new economic variable related to contact with non-Indians

transforms the situation. The question already posed may still be asked.

The emphasis placed upon the demographic, technological, and nutritional

aspects of the problem indicates it is an important subject to examine.

However, the newly introduced technology and its impact upon the Bakairi

must also be evaluated. In reference to this consideration, the costs

and benefits of the adoption of the new technology will be examined. In

terms of benefits, the nutritional and demographic aspects of the prob-

lem are given priority. For example, if it is determined that the

traditional mode of subsistence cannot support the growing Bakairi

population as time goes on, then the additional calories that the agri-

cultural project provides both directly (in the form of rice) and

indirectly (in the form of cash) must be evaluated. Will the supple-

mentary energy allow the Indians to survive and to increase in numbers

within the reservation beyond those levels allowed by the traditional

subsistence mode? In terms of costs, the impact of the project on the

economic and political organization of the community is examined. For

example, will political infighting result from differential participa-

tion of the various factions in the project? How will the rice and cash

be distributed in the village? How will the expenditure of time and
energy on the project be allocated? Furthermore, will inflation in

the Brazilian economy affect the project's chances for success? The

Indians are to purchase more fuel, seeds, and fertilizer from the pro-

ceeds of the sale of the rice they harvested the previous year. If
the tractor breaks down, they will be responsible for servicing it.

However, as the price of equipment and high-energy products soars, the
cost of rice rises steadily but does not keep up with the other goods.

Will the Bakairi be able to finance their project as the years pass,

or will it fail due to those economic trends with which most countries

are now trying to cope?

These are only some of the questions we can ask about the

difficult situation in which the Bakairi find themselves. In defining

these questions and in seeking answers to them, we hope to illuminate

the complexity of the processes in operation in many of the indigenous

reservations of Brazil.

Ecological Anthropology:
A Theoretical Construct

A problem can be examined in several different ways. In the

first place, it can be described in general terms. The situation in

question is outlined as accurately as possible giving due attention to

as many factors as affect the central issue. A second way to treat a

problem is to focus upon certain questions and to seek the answers to

them. When this occurs, a theoretical orientation is automatically

implied. The resultant bias does not indicate that other theoretical

constructs are not valid or meaningful. Rather, it signifies that the

researcher has certain predilections or that upon reviewing the problem,

it was determined that a particular theory might provide more valuable

insight into the situation in question.

The problem the Bakairi, and many other indigenous groups,

confront today is an important and controversial one. In order to

examine, evaluate, and anticipate events that are taking place so

rapidly in that area, the theoretical construct of ecological anthro-

pology was chosen. It was selected for two reasons. In the first

place, ecological anthropology assumes a systemic premise. The inter-

relationships between the components of the defined unit's ecological

and cultural systems are stressed. In addition, the functioning of

the entire system is given attention so that the model is both a dynamic,

and explanatory, one. Furthermore, ecological anthropology focuses upon

the relationships between human populations and their subsistence

resources. This relationship is a key one in terms of the reproductive

success of a group. The foci of this theory are such that its use gives

important insight into the specific problem addressed by this thesis.

For example, the Bakairi can be considered part of at least two

different systems. In the first place, they are participants in the

Brazilian cultural system. Although their links with the national

society have been tenuous for many years, the Indians have had access

to Brazilian towns where they have been treated for medical disorders

or where they have made small purchases and sales. It has already been

established that relations between the two societies, Indian and non-

Indian, have been intensified now that a mechanized agricultural project

has been initiated on Bakairi lands. However, the point is not that

the linkages between the two societies are multiplying or that they are

quantitatively different than they were in the past. Rather, the

essential consideration here is that with this high-energy agricultural

project, relations between the two cultural systems have qualitatively

changed. That is, the subsistence base of the Bakairi is undergoing

dramatic reorganization as non-indian technologies, methods of produc-

tion, and systems of labor organization are introduced to the Indians.

Flows of goods between the two systems will now play an indispensable

role in Bakairi subsistence because fuel, fertilizer, and equipment

parts will have to come from outside of the reservation, while rice from
Indian lands must be sold in Brazilian towns in order to obtain the

necessary cash for the purchase of the former items. The economic

bases of the two disparate systems will become inextricably linked as
time goes on.

The Bakairi are also part of another system. The reservation
with its rivers, forests, and cerrado makes up an ecological system of

which the indigenous population is an integral part. The animal, fish,

and human populations interact together in a community where they all

impact upon each other. In addition, each of these "consumers" inter-
acts with the forests or the rivers or the prairies, or all three, as

they subsist and reproduce within the huge and vital energy web they

inhabit. If the Bakairi are defined as a population within an ecosystem,
the introduction of the high-energy agriculture project represents a

disturbance or perturbation in this system. The energy links between
the living population and the producing subsystems in the overall eco-

system are transformed much in the same way that they were between the
two cultural systems in question. Not only do quantitative differences
immediately emerge in that energy and time expenditures into the

forest-related subsistence activities may decrease, but new links
between the Bakairi population and other parts of the ecological system
are forged. For example, mechanized agriculture takes place in the

cerrado where no crops have ever been grown by the Indians. With the

project, the Bakairi began to set up an important energy relation with

this part of their environment. Labor was expended upon that subsystem

and energy yields in the form of rice were derived.

Ecological anthropology illuminates the Bakairi's problems of

resource exploitation and management in a systemic and functional manner.

In addition, it calls for the collection of data that can be quantified,

analyzed, and presented to such organizations as the Indian Foundation

for use in planning and evaluation. In the past, the complaints of this

Foundation about anthropological research have centered on its esoteric

nature. The Foundation personnel accuse anthropologists of providing

them with information on kinship, mythology, and cognition which is

interesting and useful for only those field representatives who have

direct contact with Indians on a daily basis. However, few facts, as

the Foundation defines them, are made available to those who work in

the regional and national headquarters where policy originates. This

is unfortunate because headquarters' policy formation, and not field

representative feedback, initiates important changes, such as agricul-

tural projects, in the indigenous reservations. The ecological anthro-

pology approach provides data that Foundation personnel can examine and
employ in developing their culture.change programs and in evaluating these

programs at a later date.

Ecological anthropology, as opposed to cultural ecology, was
first defined by Vayda and Rappaport in 1968. In their seminal article,

they called for a more unified approach in the study of the interrela-

tions between living organisms and their environment. They criticized

cultural ecology for isolating itself from general ecology and for

restricting its studies to the examination of cultural factors. Vayda

and Rappaport do not advise us to omit cultural institutions from

consideration. However, they do establish the necessity for the analy-

sis of the relationship between cultural traits and the balance between

human populations and their subsistence resources. In their methodo-

logical statement, a tripartite operation is outlined. First, a unit

of study is chosen. This unit can be a group of organisms sharing the

same area, a community or a group of populations, or an entire ecosystem.

If an ecosystem is defined as the unit under investigation, the relations

between the living and the nonliving environment are examined. Those

plants, animals, minerals, and nutrients which compose a food web, and

which affect each other's chances for survival, are studied (Hardesty


Once a unit of study is defined, the capture of energy from, and

the exchange of material with, the diverse components of the units are

described in quantitative terms. The emphasis placed on energy exchange

by Vayda and Rappaport is now considered problematic. For example,

Hardesty agrees that many ecological problems can be understood by
reducing the exchange of energy and matter between systemic components

to a common denominator, such as calories. However, at the same time,

other kinds of problems can be obfuscated by this same method (Hardesty

1977:65, 74). For example, living organisms tend to require energy in

particular forms. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates, as well as certain

kinds of minerals and vitamins can occur in limited amounts, thus

restricting the exchange of energy within the ecosystem. Little and

Morren add that a misconception has evolved from the adoption of this

method due to the fact that much research has assumed that the task of

subsistence systems is to cope with the problem of limited availability
of nutritional energy (Little and Morren 1976:20). They contend that

work by researchers such as Carneiro (1968) and Sahlins (1972) indicates

that nutrition is not necessarily a limiting factor. Rather, utilization
of available energy is controlled by a population's resource management

strategies which act to maintain the flow of energy necessary for life

support within that system (Little and Morren 1976:23).

Hardesty's point concerning the kinds of energy needed to
maintain life is an important one. In addition, it is eminently

applicable to studies in the lowland areas of South American where
research has determined that calorie acquisition is not a serious prob-

lem but where adequate amounts of protein are thought to be more

difficult to obtain (Gross 1975; Lathrap 1968; Deniivan 1966). On the
other hand, Little and Morren's contention that systemic strategies
exist to prevent nutritional limiting factors from ever emerging makes
the a priori assumption that a system actually controls those limiting
factors which have an impact upon it. That is, they state that any
natural system through which energy flows tends to change until a
stable adjustment, with self-regulating mechanisms, is achieved (Little
and Morren 1976:15). They put forth a hierarchy of responses available

to living organisms subject to ecological stresses. These responses,
originally outlined by Slobodkin (1968), assume that populations

respond to limiting factors in the least costly way. Initially,

behavioral reactions are employed. However, if these are not effective,

in terms of enhancing or even maintaining reproductive success, then

physiological adjustments are developed to cope with the perturbation.

Finally, the most costly response, in energetic terms, is relied upon.

Genetic adaptation, the slowest of the mechanisms available to organisms,

comes into play. Recent research indicates that all three types of

responses to a perturbation can occur simultaneously in a population.

Little and Morren are addressing two completely different prob-
lems here: that of the homeostatic responses of a system to a pertur-

bation and that of a population's adjustment to stress in its

environment. Their conceptualization of the latter is most certainly

accurate as demonstrated by Baker and Little's (1976) study of the

Andean Quechua and their behavioral and physiological adjustments as

well as their geneticadaptations to high-altitude stress. However, with

regard to the former topic, an ecosystem is not a population, nor even

a community of populations. Nor can the responses of a population to

a disturbance be assumed to apply to a system. Although Odum (1969)

put forth a controversial model of ecosystems as characterized by
"perturbation-resistant" features, little empirical data exist to

support this contention (Richerson 1977:11).

Little and Morren's statement that an ecosystem adjusts to those
flows of energy within it until they are regulated, thus negating the

impact of any type of limiting factor on the overall system implies

what Richerson calls the "fallacy of misplaced teleology" (Richerson

1977:4). Richerson posits that researchers such as Vayda and Rappaport

(and Little and Morren we might add) assume teleological explanations

for processes at inappropriate levels. That is, goal-oriented processes
do not necessarily operate at all levels of biological organization.

Natural selection, a particularly creative but costly form of adjust-

ment, occurs at the base of the biological hierarchy. It operates at
the individual level and, in turn, impacts on the population level as
organisms maximize their genetic contribution to the population's gene

pool. Teleological causation may clearly be assumed to exist here.

However, those complex processes which occur in the higher levels of
biological organization, such as in the population or ecosystem, are
not necessarily related to any kind of goal-oriented behavior on the

part of the population or system. Richerson suggests that such phenom-

ena may be the result of the interaction between individuals in a

population or between diverse populations in a community.

The complaint that some ecological researchers tend to
erroneously assume the occurrence of teleological processes at the
population, community, or ecosystem levels illustrates the point that
both the social and biological sciences are currently confronting the
same problem. How can one link the study of individual organisms, and
the problem of natural selection, with the study of ecosystems?

Richerson suggests that the study of ecological systems can be accom-
plished through the documentation of the complex phenomena which
characterize them as well as through the functional analysis of the
components which make up the system. Cultures, within an ecological

context, can be subjected to a similar kind of investigation. At a

later date, as theory improves at lower levels in the biological hier-

archy, a linkup between the two areas may occur (Richerson 1977:21).
To return to Vayda and Rappaport's tripartite method of accom-

plishing an ecological anthropology study, the final phase of a piece

of research consists of examining the cultural traits of a population

in terms of their role in maintaining that group, or its flora-fauna

resources, within an adaptive range. Due to the fact that anthropolo-

gists specialize in the study of culture, most of the critiques leveled

against Vayda and Rappaport pertain to this statement. Three major

criticisms can be discussed. The first one regards the concept of

homeostasis, which in fact pertains to some of the systemic character-

istics already discussed above. For instance, Brush (1975) contends

that the ecological anthropology paradigm assumes that cultural insti-

tutions can be understood in terms of their homeostatic functions.

That is, certain cultural features regulate population levels so that

the carrying capacity of the ecosystem is not overreached, and land

degradation is avoided (Brush 1975:804). Brush asks how culture change

and cultural evolution can possibly be incorporated into this model
since homeostasis is obviously favored. He claims that an a priori

assumption is made by the paradigm. This assumption is that change is
"maladaptive" while equilibrium is "adaptive." If this is true, then

the model is reduced to a functional description which may be interest-

ing, but not very important as an explanatory device (Brush 1975:804).

On the other hand, Holling (1973) works from Odum's (1969) problematic

premise that systems exhibit their own teleological behavior. He

proposes a refinement for the ecological paradigm suggesting that two

types of processes regulate the functioning of any system. The first

is of a homeostatic nature. The system is kept in equilibrium so that

uneven fluctuations of energy do not occur. The second kind of process

concerns those that prevent the system from self-destructing and ensure

its survival through time. These operations provide resilience for the

system, and are characterized by a type of "fine-tuning" in response

to the discordant factors which enter, and disturb, the system.

Although Holling's refinement does answer Brush's criticism in that it

provides for the incorporation of change, and evolution, it is best

reserved for application to cultural systems rather than to ecological

ones. The former are more responsive to behavioral adjustments which

may take place in comparatively short spans of time, while the latter

are so complex and so interrelated on a planetary basis that they are

still poorly understood.

A second major criticism directed at the ecological paradigm
concerns its emphasis upon rising population levels. Hardesty (1977)
and Cowgill (1975) take issue with the assumption, originally put forth

by Boserup (1965) that population growth is an inherent tendency in

human populations. Boserup and the advocates of her theory posit that

population growth is not a dependent variable controlled by agricultural

productivity. Rather, increases in population are seen as a constant
or an independent variable which in turn is a major factor in stimulat-

ing technological innovation (1965:11). Hardesty and Cowgill argue

that the definition of population growth as an independent variable

dangerously simplifies a complex issue. They advise us to consider

this factor as part of a set of variables which may include technology,

environment, politics, economics, and other cultural institutions.

According to Cowgill, all of these factors interact with each other

in the definition of a cultural situation.

This theoretical question will be dealt with in more detail

in Chapter 4. However, it should be established as a premise of this

thesis that the Bakairi population is growing in size. This factor in

combination with the technology employed by the indigenous group as

well as the nature of the environment they inhabit has created a prob-

lematic situation. If Cowgill and Hardesty are correct, it is not use-

ful to define one of these three variables as being more important than

the other two. Indeed, they would have us include even more factors as

critical considerations in the problem. However, if their advice is

followed, we are left with an amorphous set of circumstances where

everything, and nothing, is important to the problem we address. Rather

than weighting each variable equally, emphasis will be placed on the

economic base of the Bakairi in order to illuminate the technological
and economic features which interact most closely with the ecological

system (Harris 1979a). In doing so, a refined version of Boserup's
theory is adopted. The premise of this version states that potential

growth in human populations creates a continuing tension between popu-

lations and their food resources (Roosevelt 1980:73). Where environmen-

tal conditions allow, technological innovations, or adoptions as in the

case of the Bakairi, will result from population pressure on strategic

resources. A correlate is that when technoenvironmental conditions

discourage the intensification of subsistence strategies, a variety of

artificial population control mechanisms will restrict population

growth. We shall see that these two processes can operate simultane-


The issue of population growth leads directly to the third and
final area of contention surrounding the Vayda and Rappaport methodology,

that of the concept of carrying capacity. Carrying capacity is defined

as the theoretical limit to which a population can grow and still be

supported by the environment. This theoretical construct is a very

controversial one. It involves not only the assumption that population

growth is an inherent human tendency but that environmental degradation,

as well as technological exploitation of the environment in question,

is absolute. Street (1969), Johnson (1974), and Sahlins (1972) argue

that environmental degradation is difficult to define because it is

a gradual and subtle process. They contend that anthropologists can
rarely collect those sequences of data which would allow for the long-
term assessment of the impact of a population on its environment.

Johnson adds that it is possible that no such limit of threshold even

exists but that the costs of subsistence gradually increase over time.

Morren (1974) and Nietschman (1972) also consciously avoid the use of

the concept of carrying capacity. They claim it does not take into

consideration the importance of other scarce resources such as protein

and is, thus, an inaccurate means for evaluating the presence of limiting


The technology factor is also problematic. Street (1969)
claims that the means of production employed by a population are not

always readily identifiable. Groups are able to rapidly adopt new crops,

tools, and techniques, thus automatically changing the definition of

their carrying capacity. Furthermore, the subsistence data which are

necessary for the definition of an area's carrying capacity are infre-

quently forthcoming in the field situation. Defining precisely how a

people makes its living in terms of exploiting the huge variety of parts

of its environment is extremely difficult. Brush (1975) adds that

researchers are automatically forced to define a partial system selecting

key components with which the population interacts most frequently. A

researcher may approximate reality; however, the necessary selectivity

skews the results of the study.

In 1976 and 1975, Vayda and Vayda and McCay provided some
responses to those questions posed by their critics. However, in the

process it is clear that their position on ecological anthropology has

been redefined over the years. Their focus on the balance between

populations and resources has shifted over to an examination of ecologi-

cal perturbations or hazards and how they affect a group's survival.

Equilibrium is no longer the issue. Rather the concept of change, and

a system's response to it, have been incorporated into the study of

homeostasis. Resilience and flexibility are key words applied to the

adjustments a system makes in order to persist through time. Further-

more, the flow of energy is only one of the many possible problems

which may affect a group's survival. Flooding, predation, water

shortages, etc., are other hazards or stresses. Finally, Vayda (1976)

goes so far as to disagree that carrying capacity is central to ecologi-

cal anthropology. He contends that the analysis of how people respond

to specific environmental problems can be accomplished without the

calculations of carrying capacity.

Vayda's (1976) arguments clearly indicate that he has moved

closer to a general ecological position. Although he continues to assume

that societies, and populations, are involved in goal-oriented behavior

and thus may still be accused of misapplying this biological model,

those ecological factors which influence behavior are more numerous.
Furthermore, the possible responses to these variables are conceptual-

ized as being more labile and situational. Ecological anthropology no

longer relies on the concept of carrying capacity. Rather the definition

of a system, its components, the links between them, and the limiting

factors or perturbations are more broadly and realistically interpreted.

The new ecological anthropology paradigm is eminently suitable
for application to the Bakairi problem. The adoption of new technology

and the opening of an entirely different part of their ecosystem for

exploitation would call for a dramatic redefinition of their carrying

capacity if this concept were going to be employed. Rather than focus

upon that aspect of the construct, it would be more fruitful to view the

high energy agriculture methods as a perturbation to which the Indian

population will respond within a set of technological, ecological, and
demographic parameters.


The problem the Bakairi Indians confront has been defined. In

addition, the theoretical construct employed to frame questions and to

searchfor answers has also been discussed. In order to organize and

analyze collected data and to draw pertinent conclusions about them, a

computer simulation model will be employed. Upon cursory examination,

it may appear that the use of computer simulation in anthropology is

inappropriate. A reliance on equations, computer languages, and models

which graphically represent a specific cultural reality seems to conflict

with the anthropological position where the individual or society as a

culture-carrying entity is stressed. It can be argued that this

particular methodology represents reductionism to the extreme. However,

if the problem is more closely examined, the apparent dichotomy between

the two orientations disappears. For example, Dyke (1981) argues that

all human perceptions of the world are selective. Cognitive processes

create an abstract and simplified version of reality which is formalized

into models used in the scientific method. This method devises repro-

ductions of the real world which are unambiguous and replicable, and

which have as few assumptions as possible. Computer simulation. models

are only one kind of scientific model which reduce the world to a set of

specific attributes. In the necessary process of reductionism which

accompanies the formation of any model certain limitations are built

into the system from its inception. However, at the same time, the

model is tailored to fit the problem in question, and the data used in

the formation process are empirical. Thus, the simulations which

result are considered approximations of the particular reality under


In addition, each energy flow diagram is culture specific.

That is, the components, and the links between them, are defined by

the relationships between the particular culture in question and its

environment. In the case of the Bakairi, who are horticulturalists, a

close relationship between the gardens and the population exists. They

are both represented in the diagram. Since the Indians employ slash-

and-burn technology, gallery forest and succession gardens are also

represented and connected directly or indirectly to each other in the

model. The Indians also rely on both hunting and fishing for protein

and calories so that the population energy tank is connected to the

fish and game variables in the diagram. However, if the Bakairi were

hunters and gatherers, the energetic diagram devised to represent

their system would be completely different. For example, no garden or

succession garden variable would be modeled. The Indian population

would be linked directly to the forest, and those flows of energy

between the two state variables would represent only hunting and col-

lecting. If the Bakairi were horticultural fishermen and did not

exploit game, then the hunting link between them and the forest would

be eliminated.

The energetic diagram also reflects the social organization of

the Indians to a certain extent. For example, the Bakairi are egali-
tarian. They do not have social classes as do state societies where a

clear distinction exists between people on the basis of access to the

means of production or an unequal distribution of wealth. Nor do they

have moieties, age grades, or defined ritual groups as do certain Ge

Indian societies. Due to the relative simplicity of Bakairi social

organization, the Indians can be lumped into one state variable which

is designated as the population. However, if social classes or moieties

did exist in their culture, the population tank would be divided into

subtanks representing the various social groupings. If class differen-

ces existed, unequal amounts of energy would flow into the subtanks. If

ritual groups characterized their society, the nature of the relation

between these subtanks would be diagrammed. For example, Wagley (1978)

states that if the number of Tapirape Indians in a village falls below

approximately 200 individuals, ritual activities cease to be held. The

functioning of rituals is related to the representation of various

ritual groups. Complete representation is, of course, culturally

defined and would have to be diagrammed if a model of the Tapirape

system were to be constructed.

The outlines of an energetic diagram are not only determined by

the subsistence activities and social organization of a particular

society. They also reflect the nature of the ecosystem which the

society inhabits. For example, the Bakairi live in a reservation which

is composed of mostly cerrado, or prairie. A small part of the land

area is covered by gallery forest and rivers. Relative proportions of

vegetation and the distinct fauna which are endemic to these vegetation

types are determined and then incorporated into the model. Other

Indian groups do not live on legally demarcated reservations. In these

cases, the researcher employing the computer simulation method will have

to determine the size of the territory within which the Indian groups

subsist. Vegetation and fauna biomass will also surely differ. For

example, some groups inhabit areas which are covered by tropical rain-

forest. Others will inhabit desert regions and still others will

occupy tundra. The actual composition of the ecosystem will differ,

just as the subsistence methods and social organization will distinguish

one model from another.

Finally, the perturbation introduced into the system will

differ cross-culturally. The Bakairi are currently confronting the

implementation of a mechanized agriculture project. However, other

groups are coping with land invasions, epidemics, flooding, and reduced

game and/or fish resources. The specific stress with which the

indigenous population contends is modeled and then incorporated into

the model at the appropriate position. In that way, the impact of the

perturbation on the entire system can be evaluated.

We have established that computer simulation models are not

inimical to anthropology. They reflect the specific culture under

study as well as the interactions which exist between it and its

environment. However, energetic diagramming is not only compatible

with anthropology. Rather it can make a significant contribution to

the field on a number of different levels. In general terms, modeling

as an analytical tool clarifies such key processes as cultural adjust-

ment in the face of change. Both the structures of the cultural and

ecological systems, as well as their functions, are considered in the

construction of the model. The dynamic variable, or change in the

generic sense, is introduced and its impact, over time, is evaluated.

Structure, function, cultural adjustment and change have been important

issues in anthropology for many decades. Energetics diagramming allows

for a more precise definition and a clear, graphic representation of

these terms for the particular culture in question. It forces the

researcher to focus on components of a system, their functions, and

their interactions. Furthermore, this tool facilitates the incorpora-

tion of the diachronic aspect. In simulating the effects of a distur-

bance on a cultural and ecological system, the researcher is able to

make certain predictions about the nature of this disturbance's impact

on the various components of the system. Computer simulation cannot

foresee cultural innovations and/or natural disasters unless they are

initially modeled into the diagram. However, it can alert the

researcher to certain dangers which the population will confront unless

steps are taken to alleviate particular stresses. In the case of

the indigenous groups which inhabit Brazil, the researcher can call the

attention of the Indian Foundation to these potential problems so that

they can be dealt with prior to their actual occurrence. In doing so,

not only will structure, function, and change be better understood on a
theoretical level, but human suffering may well be prevented.

Computer simulation and energetic diagramming do not only have

general applicability in anthropology. They also have specific rele-

vance to ecological anthropology. The thrust of their contribution

lies in the emphasis placed by both constructs on subsistence resources
and their relation to the human population which depends upon them.

Not only do they focus on the composition of ecosystems and the interac-

tions which define their functioning, but they both consider disturbances

of these systems. The dynamic and the diachronic perspectives are thus

central to ecological anthropology and to energetic diagramming. How-

ever, computer simulation provides the means whereby these two factors

can be better understood. While ecological anthropology may suggest

that certain changes will take place in the future as the result of a

particular perturbation, computer simulations, based on mathematical

descriptions of components and interactions between them, can more

precisely demonstrate how and why they occur, and when they might take

place. Furthermore, during simulation, equations for each component

in the diagram are simultaneously solved. This allows for the impact
of any one perturbation on each of the componential units to be evalu-

ated. While the researcher may be investigating one particular problem,

computer simulation results will call his or her attention to other

aspects of the system which are unexpectedly affected by the dis-

turbance. This is a significant contribution in that simulations pro-

vide an objective and holistic framework that the researcher can refer

to and then compare to reality.

Since the early 1960s, modeling has become increasingly popular
so that two types of computer simulation models can now be defined.

The first type is referred to as a theoretical model. It provides

insight into the organization and operation of a system (Wiegert 1975:

313). The second type of model is called an empirical model. It does

not attempt to explain the functioning of a system. Rather, it

reproduces the behavior of the system under a variety of conditions.

The original model is formulated upon the basis of data collected

directly from the system. Parameters are set by the data, and a series

of simulations is run according to the occurrence of specified pertur-

bations which may affect the components of the model. These models

are designed with the sole purpose of providing information on the

possible behavior of the variables within defined parameters (Weigert

1975:313, 329). For example, the Bakairi's place in the ecosystem

can be modeled. Those interactions which characterize the population's

relations to its environment are described and quantified. The mechan-

ized agriculture project is then diagrammed and overlaid upon this

traditional subsistence pattern. The impact of the high-energy project

is evaluated as its functioning is simulated for five, or twenty, years.

However, if a small factory is built on Bakairi lands in the year 2000,

this new perturbation must be modeled because the existent parameters do

not automatically anticipate its occurrence.

The construction of any computer simulation model consists of

several steps (Wiegert 1975:315-330). The first step is to perform an

ecological survey in which the biotic and abiotic units of the ecosys-
tem are described. Then, state variables, which are symbols that repre-

sent these components of the ecosystem, are chosen. The presence or

absence of a variable in the model will reflect the importance of it to

the problem. This process of survey and description is necessarily

selective. In the second step, the model is condensed. Again, the

issue under investigation will determine which parts of the model are

developed with greater detail and which sections are streamlined. For

example, in order to understand the effects of mechanized agriculture,

it is not necessary to model in detail the termite population of the


The mathematical description of the componential interactions
then follows. This is the most controversial step in the construction

of a model mainly because of the paucity of data which exist on any one

aspect of an ecosystem. In the case of the Bakairi, the researcher

relied upon two different kinds of data. Primary data were collected

over a 15-month period at P.I. Bakairi. The research documented the

amount of energy expended by the population over a year's period as well

as that energy produced and consumed by the group. The types of energy

expenditures on which the researcher focused included gardening, fishing,

hunting, and cattle raising, as well as that energy expended working

on the agricultural project. The types of energy produced and consumed

included game, fish, slaughtered cattle, garden products, purchased

foodstuff, and rice from the project. Those specific methodologies
associated with each kind of data collection are discussed in the

appropriate chapters of this study. In addition to the primary data

relied upon, the researcher also depended upon the literature in order

to document those flows of energy through the various subecosystems

which are described in Chapter 3.

The core of this study documents these three methodological
steps. Each chapter addressed a different part of the Bakairi's eco-
system as well as their interaction with it. The areas are surveyed and

described. Then state variables are chosen to represent the units in

the system. Finally, the variables and the interactions between them

are mathematically described.

Following the actual composition and evaluation of the model,
equations which characterize the interactions between the components

are written. Either linear or nonlinear equations can be used. In

this case, nonlinear equations are relied upon because they more closely

approximate the dynamic and continuous processes which characterize an

ecosystem. A computer is then chosen. The choice between an analog or

digital computer is usually made on the basis of availability. Although

analog computers allow for rapid operator-machine interactions, digital

computers with interactive terminals are increasingly available to the

public. Furthermore, unit costs of using them are decreasing rapidly.

For these two reasons, a digital computer was used in this project. A

simulation language must also be selected. Mathematical statements

describing the interactions between the components of the ecosystem are

written in appropriate computer language. Many computer languages are

available to researchers. FORTRAN and BASIC are two popular ones.

However, DYNAMO was chosen over them. This language is able to trans-
late and run models which are described in nonlinear or differential
equations. It can be used by those who are "problem" rather than

"computer" oriented (Pugh 1976:1). Furthermore, it has the added

advantage of marking errors for the researcher. The above three steps

are included in Appendix 1 where the interactional equations are

rewritten in DYNAMO. Other interested parties can thus manipulate these

equations to run their own scenarios if they desire.

The last step in constructing a model consists of validation.
In empirical models, the simulation results are reviewed and compared

to what is considered an accurate range. Validation may also be accom-

plished by returning to the field at a later date and collecting data

which will indicate whether the predictions made in the simulations

are indeed accurate. Many possible problems may emerge here. For

example, the researcher may have inaccurately described the interaction

between the Bakairi population and a part of the ecosystem. Exploita-

tion of an area may have been under or overestimated. Furthermore,

unforeseen developments which may interfere with the processes described
by the model may evolve. For example, there is the possibility of inva-

sion of Indian lands by the non-Indians. This is a frequent occurrence

in Brazilian indigenous lands, and it would, of course, affect the

mechanics of the model. Land available for exploitation would be

effectively reduced.

In this chapter, the problem confronting the Bakairi Indians of

Mato Grosso is outlined and explained, and the theoretical construct
is discussed. Ecological anthropology was chosen because it concen-

trates, in a systemic manner, upon the relations between a population

and its strategic resources. However, other cultural institutions may

also be important. Rappaport's (1968) study of the Tsembaga of New

Guinea demonstrates the importance of religion in the adaptation of a

population to its environment. Finally, the methodology used in the
research project is explained. The Bakairi are modeled within their
ecosystem, and computer simulations allow for the introduction of


mechanized agriculture as a perturbation as well as for the assessment
of its impact on both the indigenous population and the ecosystem.


The Bakairi Indians are a Carib-speaking group who are currently

located in central Brazil (see Figure 2-1). They inhabit two reservations

which lie approximately 300 km from each other. These reservations are

called P.I. Santana and P.I. Bakairi. The latter was previously referred

to as P.I. SimBes Lopes; however, it has recently been renamed. The

Indians in these reservations share a common language, although certain

dialectical differences exist. They also share a common subsistence

base; however,those Bakairi in P.I. Santana are oriented toward cattle

raising and an extractive economy, and those in P.I. Bakairi depend

more upon subsistence horticulture. Furthermore, they share a common

history up to a point. However, as in the case of language and sub-

sistence, differences emerge upon closer examination. In this chapter,

the ethnohistory of the Bakairi who live at P.I. Bakairi will be inves-

tigated. To a certain extent, their history is, in fact, the history

of Mato Grosso, the state in which they live. However, long periods of

isolation coupled with at least two major migrations set them off from

both the Indians at P.I. Santana and from their compatriots in Mato


The Colonial Period and the Contact
of the Bakairi (1700-1820)

The region now known as Mato Grosso was initially part of the

Spanish empire. Jesuits moving north and west from Paraguay created

Figure 2-1. Bakairi settlements in central Brazil

the first settlements during the seventeenth century. From these

areas, bandeirantes paulistas, or Portuguese explorers, radiated outward

into the hinterlands in search of slaves, gold, and precious stones. In

1718, Antonio Pires de Campos and Pascoal Moreira Cabral penetrated the

Coxipo-Mirim area where Cuiaba, the capital of Mato Grosso, is now

located. Near Coxipo, gold was discovered. This news stimulated a

gold rush of such magnitude that by 1728, the Portuguese governor of

Slo Paulo established jurisdiction over the area in both an attempt to

counter Spanish influence and to control the flow of gold.

The occupation of the territory proceeded rapidly. It was
discovered that Mato Grosso could be reached from the Amazon River

through the interior river systems which added to the ease with which

the population grew. By 1748, only 30 years after the discovery of

gold in Coxipo, the first Portuguese governor, Antonio Rolim de Moura,

had arrived and established a seat on the banks of the Guapore River.

From this administrative center, he tried to stabilize the region which

by then had a population of about 40,000 people. During the next 70

years, the general area was characterized by demographic fluctuations,

mineral exploitation, and open armed conflict between the Spanish and

the Portuguese. However, by 1819, Mato Grosso entered into a period of

decline. A mineral company created by the governor to develop the best

possible mining techniques did not have the desired effects. Further-

more, military, civil, and ecclesiastic expenses rose. As a result,

the government went into debt, and the population ceased to grow. In

fact, by 1819, the population was estimated to be only 29,801 with

10,948 slaves.

During the initial occupation of the Mato Grosso region, the

Bakairi are thought to have inhabited the general area between the

Arinos River on the west, the Kuliseu River on the east, the Paranatinga

on the south, and the elevated areas of the headwaters of the Verde

River in the north (see Figure 2-1). It is difficult to pinpoint when

contact between the Bakairi and the non-Indians occurred. However, the

first recorded contact took place in 1723, when Antonio Pires de Campos

met with the Indians on his way to gold mines located in the general

vicinity (Campos 1862). In his report to the governor, he described

the "Bacayris" as being located in the headwaters of the Amazon River,

which was then referred to as the Maranhao. He also discusses their

condition to some extent, explaining that the Indians were being abused

by the bandeirantes who were in search of slaves. Campos's report was

substantiated by the findings of Manoel Rodrigues Torres (1738) who

mentions the Bakairi along with other Indian groups such as the Kayabi

and Parecis, as being a possible threat to the governor's power.

Apparently, by 1738, the Indians were still numerous enough to pose a

danger to the still fragile Portuguese infrastructure. In addition,

the treatment they had received in the hands of the non-Indian had not

motivated them to establish an alliance with the Portuguese.

When further exploration of the region demonstrated the link

between Mato Grosso, the Amazon River, and the Atlantic Ocean, the

Bakairi became increasingly vulnerable to the influx of people who

traveled up and down the Arinos and Paranatinga Rivers near which the

Indians.were located. These explorers and miners in search of slaves

and minerals appeared in ever greater numbers.

Von den Steinen (1940) hypothesizes that an early as the
eighteenth century, the Bakairi were living in two different locations.

One group, the western Bakairi, occupied the headwaters of the Arinos

River around which P.I. Santana is now located. This group was

permanently contacted before the eastern Bakairi as the result of the

radiation of miners from Diamantino, a village which was settled south-

west of the already designated Bakairi territory in about 1745. However,

contact with the eastern Bakairi on the Paranatinga River, on which

P.I. Bakairi is now located, soon followed. In the mid-nineteenth

century, a village for the eastern Bakairi was founded by a Portuguese

man named Correia. This Indian settlement was made further downstream

on the river than it is today. Correia used force or enticement to

settle the Indians in this strategic area, which was located between the

legendary gold mines of Martirios and the more heavily populated south.

As a result, expeditions traveling through the area were able to use

Bakairi canoes to cross the Paranatinga River.

During the Colonial Period, from the late seventeenth century to
the early nineteenth century, the Bakairi were located in what is now

the central part of Mato Grosso. They were initially contacted by miners

and explorers who settled in the area as a result of the gold rush which

began around 1718. Von den Steinen (1940) hypothesized that even then

the Bakairi were divided into an eastern and a western group. The

eastern group, settled on the Paranatinga River, were permanently
contacted later than the western group. However, both were forced to

come to terms with the non-Indians who penetrated the region. It is

possible they were abused and/or used as slaves in the gold mines

located in the area. It is certain that the non-Indians used them to

serve their purposes as the Correia case demonstrates. Population

figures for the Bakairi during the Colonial period are impossible to

establish. We can only guess that initially they were more numerous than

they are now. However, disease and assimilation probably decimated

their population prior to the mid-nineteenth century.

Further Contact and Two Migrations (1820-1920)

Between 1820 and 1920, the economic base of Mato Grosso underwent

a transformation. Gold mining declined in importance until, in 1844,

even Diamantino's mines were exhausted. However, a new enterprise,

cattle raising, replaced mining. Huge ranches emerged, and pasture

lands reached even the headwaters of the Paranatinga River. At that

time, the cattle were slaughtered in Diamantino and Rosario Oeste. This

economic activity declined in importance toward the end of the nine-

teenth century. When von den Steinen (1940) passed through the area

around 1885, he commented on the number of abandoned ranches.

At the same time, the Bakairi were being converted, after a
fashion, to Christianity. In 1820, the famous Padre Lopes left

Diamantino and traveled up the Arinos River. He was in search of gold,

but along the way, he catechized as many Indians as he could. The

Bakairi were only one of the groups subjected to Padre Lopes, and as a

result, they went to war. During the violent confrontations that

followed, many Bakairi were killed. However, after this period, during

which the Indians were defeated, the Bakairi were considered Christian.

In fact, the first Bakairi baptism took place in Diamantino, and by

1849, the western Bakairi, at least, were selling artifacts in the town

(von den Steinen 1940; Castelnau 1949).

Up to this point in our discussion, we have been able to lump the
Bakairi into one group, commenting on only some of the superficial

differences that distinguish their histories. However, now their

development diverged in dramatically different ways. The western Bakairi

on the Arinos River were absorbed into the cattle-raising economy as it

spread east from the Diamantino-Rosario Oeste-Cuiaba triangle of settle-

ments. They were considered Christians, worked on the ranches, and made

and sold artifacts for cash in the cities. At least some of these

Bakairi spoke Portuguese and used Brazilian names. When von den Steinen

passed through Culaba in 1887, he met some western Bakairi in town
selling rubber that they had extracted in their territory. They were

from a settlement on the Arinos River. Six houses, two of the traditional

elliptical style and four of the new wattle-and-daub style, made up

the village. There were only 55 Indians living there, and 20 of them

were children. During the twentieth century, the western Bakairi con-
tinued their participation in the Mato Grosso economy. They worked on

ranches until they were expulsed in 1973 after conflicts between the
Ranch management and the Indians occurred. In addition, they extensively

exploited the rubber in their territory, traveling frequently to nearby

towns to sell it. Finally, they cultivated subsistence plots where

they grew such staples as manioc and corn. They also hunted and fished.

Today, the western Bakairi live at P.I. Santana. Their popu-
lation is estimated to be approximately 120. They have a school, and an

Indian Foundation agent lives with them on their lands which were

officially demarcated in 1905. They were awarded a reservation made up

of only 9,000 ha. Currently, they share this land with a rubber

collecting firm, based in Cuiaba. The Indian Foundation is negotiating

to have the firm removed; however, the various claims involved are

complex, and the issue is not expected to be resolved in the near


The history of the so-called eastern Bakairi contrasts with that

of the western Bakairi. In the first place, the two groups divided some

time in the late eighteenth century, and perhaps even earlier. A group

of Bakairi traveled northeast, up into the headwaters of the Xingu

River, where they settled on the banks of the Batovi and Kuliseu Rivers.

The reasons for this migration, as well as the way in which it took

place, have now entered the realm of mythology for the Indians. We

will probably never know for certain when or why they moved; however, a

combination of non-Indian and other Indian population pressures, along

with political infighting among the eastern Bakairi themselves probably

lay at the root of the problem. The story that the eastern Bakairi tell

is as follows. At one time, they lived at the Salto, or waterfall,
where the Paranatinga and Verde Rivers flow close together. They lived

there before the non-Indian penetrated the area. However, then the

people began to plot against one another. As a result, one group

decided to go on a long hunting trip. But what they actually did was

travel to the headwater of the Xingu River where they cleared a large

garden. After it was burned, they returned to the Salto where they kept

their plans a secret going about their garden clearing, burning, and

planting in that location in the usual fashion. After a few months

had elapsed, they traveled once more to the Xingu where they planted

corn and manioc in their new garden. Then they returned to the Salto

to harvest the crops they had planted in their old village. When the

harvests were completed, they packed up all of their belongings, which

included only hammocks, fishing gear, and bows and arrows, and they

traveled for the third and last time to the Xingu headwaters. There

they remained. It was only after several years had passed that the

other Bakairi who had remained at the Salto realized how they had been

tricked (Barros 1977).

This legend raises a number of questions. For example, were the

Bakairi in the Salto the same as those Indians known as the eastern

Bakairi who later inhabited the Paranatinga River area? This interpre-

tation would presuppose that the eastern and western Bakairi divided

prior to the split between the former group and the Xingo-bound group.

Or were the Indians at the Salto the eastern and western Bakairi com-

bined? This would indicate that the remaining Indians split again

after the Xinguano Bakairi departed. One group would have gone to the

Arinos, where they were later contacted first by the non-Indians, while

the second group went to the Paranatinga River. Von den Steinen (1940)

suspects that the division of the eastern and western Bakairi preceded

the splintering of the Xinguano Bakairi off from the eastern Bakairi.

He posits that the eastern Bakairi had actually begun to move up the

Paranatinga River before the fissioning process began. He supplies

linguistic data to support this supposition. The eastern and western

Bakairi speak the same language with little dialectical variation.

The dialectical similarities indicate that the two groups separated

fairly recently. Furthermore, von den Steinen (1940) was certain that
the Xinguano Bakairi had had absolutely no contact with non-Indians prior

to his visit to the area in 1884. His contention was supported by the

fact that all their tools were of stone, rather than metal. This indi-

cates that the Xinguano Bakairi split off from the eastern Bakairi

before the non-Indians had penetrated as far as the Paranatinga River.

This probably occurred after 1723, when Campos wrote of the Indians on

his way to the gold mines, and before 1850, when Correia relocated the

eastern Bakairi village. One could presuppose a pre-1723 migration to
the Xingu, except for the linguistic factor.

Although the time sequence of the division of the Bakairi into

three geographically distinct groups continues to present problems, it

is known that by 1884, they were established in a west-east arc across

Mato Grosso. [For pre-1884 information on the Bakairi, see Casal (1945),

Coudreau (n.d.), and Leverger (1862).] The three clusters of Indians
had contact with each other, and continue to have contact up to this
day. However, in spite of the linguistic similarities and the communica-

tion between them, striking differences evolved. Of the three groups,

the western Bakairi were the most acculturated. We have already dis-

cussed their participation in the extractive economy as well as their

frequent journeys to such towns as Diamantino and Cuiaba where they sold

rubber and artifacts. The eastern Bakairi were also quite acculturated

by 1884. When von den Steinen (1940) passed through, only 22 people

(10 men, 8 women, and 4 children) lived in a small village made up of

seven houses. The gardens were located at a distance from the village,

where such crops as manioc, beans, and sweet potatoes were cultivated.

In addition to the subsistence plots, the eastern Bakairi also worked

on some of the cattle ranches in the area.

The Xinguano Bakairi, on the other hand, were living on the
Batovi and Kuliseu Rivers, which are headwaters of the Xingu River. Of

the three groups of Bakairi, they were the least acculturated. In fact,

as already mentioned, von den Steinen (1940) contends that they had not

been contacted by non-Indians prior to his visits in 1884 and 1887.

From data provided by von den Steinen, seven Bakairi villages were

located in the Xingu. Four of them inhabited by 165 people were situ-

ated on the banks of the Batovi River. One village was referred to as

Tapakuya. Von den Steinen did not supply the names of the other three

villages. Three other villages were settled on the Kuliseu River. They

were called Maigeri, Igueti, and Kuyaqualieti. A total of 326 Bakairi

lived in the Xingu headwaters in 1887. They were not only closely bound

to the eastern Bakairi who represented their only link to the outside

world, but they also had close ties with the Nafuqua, Kalapalo, and

Waura, other tribes who occupied the same region as they did. These

connections continue up to this day. Kalapalo and Nafuqua fleeing from

witchcraft accusations feel free to travel to P.I. Bakairi, the current

location of the eastern Bakairi. In addition, the Bakairi refer to

Nafuqua as their kinsmen and one of their ritual songs is composed of

Nafuqua lyrics. Not even the elders know what the words mean; however,

the Indians continue to sing it.
In 1884 and 1887, the Bakairi in the Xingu still used only

stone tools for gardening and bows and arrows for fishing. They relied
on ceramics made by theflehinaku, stone instruments manufactured by the
Trumai, and clay dolls made by the Aweti. They lived in the traditional

elliptical houses which are usually 10 meters by 20 meters in size

(Levi-Strauss 1948:327). Several families shared each of these houses.
In addition, the village also had a guest house in which von den Steinen

and later Petrullo stayed. These guest houses were described as badly

constructed and poorly kept. The guest house is also called the flute

house or the men's house. One is still found in P.I. Bakairi.
The Xinguano Bakairi were fishermen and used canoes extensively

both in fishing and traveling. Von den Steinen (1940) mentions that

fish was offered to him so rarely and in such small portions that he
assumed it was a very precious food. The Indians also consumed ants,

manioc, maize, yams, squash, peanuts, peppers, and sweet potatoes. Both
Levi-Strauss (1948) and von den Steinen (1940) wrote that the Indians
hunted with bows and arrows and that food taboos seemed to be rare.
However, fishing, which was practiced throughout the year, predominated.
After von den Steinen's visit to the headwaters of the Xingu

River, other explorers and scientists also visited the area. For
example, in 1895 Coudreau (n.d.) explored the Tapajos River for the
governor of Para. He mentioned two groups of Bakairi in his report:
the "mansos" or pacified Indians who inhabited the region around the

Paranatinga, and the "bravos" or wild Indians who had settled between

the Kuluene and the Paranatinga Rivers. Ribeiro (1967) also discusses

the Bakairi situation as it stood around the turn of the century. He

claims that in 1900 the Bakairi on the Kuliseu were isolated, those on

the Batovi River were in intermittent contact, and those on the Parana-

tinga River were in permanent contact. Interestingly enough, Ribeiro

goes on to state that by 1957 the Batovi and Kuliseu River Bakairi were

extinct while the Paranatinga River Indians were integrated. We shall

see that he was mistaken in making his first statement and premature in

making his second.

Between 1890 and 1920, the Xinguano Bakairi left the Xingu for
the Paranatinga River settlement. They left the area gradually as

the result of a combination of push and pull factors. On one hand, the

Xingu headwater area was hit by a number of serious epidemics at the

turn of the century. Many died, and those that lived began to flee the

area for even more isolated recesses of the jungle, or in the case of

the Bakairi, for more populated regions. On the other hand, an eastern

Bakairi leader by the name of Antoninho attempted to build up a
political power base among his own people by attracting the Xinguano

Bakairi out of their settlements and into his own political orbit on

the Paranatinga River. He was assisted in realizing this objective by

mntonio Correa Dias, the then president of the Mato Grosso Province.

Dias supplied Antoninho with guns and metal tools with which to entice

the Bakairi. According to legend, Antoninho also threatened them saying
that non-Indian soldiers were approaching the Xingu to kill them all.

By 1900-1901, when Schmidt visited the Xingu, only two of the three

Kuliseu villages still existed (Schmidt 1947). Approximately 34 of the

Bakairi had already moved to the Paranatinga River, and more were on

the way. In 1927, Schmidt returned to the eastern Bakairi to find that

180 Xinguano Bakairi had left their villages on the Batovi and Kuliseu,

and resettled on the Paranatinga River. The additional 140 which von

den Steinen (1940) counted in 1884 and 1887 had either died in the

epidemics or had been absorbed into other tribal groups which remained

in the Xingu area.

The eastern Bakairi numbered 22 individuals when the Xinguano

Bakairi began their migration. The former were inundated and finally

absorbed by the large number of the latter who came from the Batovi and

Kuliseu Rivers (Barros 1977). Initially, all of the Bakairi lived

together peacefully but political infighting soon began. Antoninho

quarreled with a rival named Jose Coroado. They established different

villages in the same vicinity. Jose settled upstream on the Azul River

while Antoninho settled on the Paranatinga River (see Figure 2-2). Later,

groups of the Xinguano Bakairi argued with the eastern Bakairi. Kauto

took a group of the former downstream on the Paranatinga where they

settled some 8 km from the Antoninho village, and Pires, another Xinguano

leader, took another group to settle on the Vermelho River. In 1918,

a reservation of about 50,000 ha was decreed for the Bakairi by Resolu-

tion Number 761. In 1920, an Indian post named Simdes Lopes was estab-

lished between the villages of Jose Coroado and Pires. The Indian

Protection Service (Servico de Protecao aos Indios) soon sent a


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representative to live at P.I. Sim-es Lopes from where the various

groups of Bakairi could be administered.

As Mato Grosso changed its political status from province to

state, and its economic base from mining to cattle raising, far-reaching

political control and long-term economic infrastructure evolved and

replaced those structures which had previously existed. The non-Indian

in the nineteenth century was there to build a life. Unlike the miners

in the eighteenth century who came to get rich quickly and then to leave,

the ranchers of the nineteenth century came to stay. The Bakairi were

both directly and indirectly affected by this trend. As the headwaters

of the important rivers in the areas were penetrated by cattle-raisers

trying to secure pasture land, important links between Indians and non-

Indians were established. In addition, it became desirable from the

point of view of the non-Indian to pacify and control as many Indians

as possible. With them out of the way, concentrated and carefully

controlled in such small reservations as P.I. Santana and P.I. SimBes

Lopes, vast areas previously occupied by the Indians could then be

exploited by the non-Indian. This was one reason Dias supported

Antoninho in his attempts to attract the Xinguano Bakairi to the Para-

natinga River. After von den Steinen's visit to the Xingu, the govern-

ment in Cuiaba was aware that a large number of Indians inhabited that

area. It was highly desirable from a political and economic standpoint

that the region be neutralized. By 1920, the Xinguano Bakairi were

living on the Paranatinga River in a tiny reservation along with the

eastern Bakairi. Their lands were officially demarcated, and an official

stayed on their lands with them to prevent them from leaving the general


The Bakairi on Their New Reservation (1920-1958)

From 1920 to 1958, cattle raising continued to dominate the
economy of the northern part of Mato Grosso. Although the northwest

railroad system was completed by 1910, the area in which the Bakairi

lived remained sparsely populated. The lack of roads and developed com-

munication networks, which present difficulties even today, plagued the

region. In addition, the habitation of the area by the war-like Xavantes

discouraged people from settling in the vicinity. Large numbers of

these Ge-speaking peoples roamed the area attacking Indian and non-Indian

alike. The Bakairi deny that the Xavantes cver frightened them. In

fact, they demand credit for pacifying the Xavantes. The Bakairi did in

fact participate in the expedition which attracted this Ge group. The

expedition, organized in the mid-1950s by the famous Francisco Meirelles,

resulted in the settlement of a large group of Xavante Indians in the
northern part of the Bakairi reservation approximately 15 km from the

Bakairi village. The Xavantes remained there until about 1974 when they

were resettled on their own reservations further east of P.I. Bakairi.

If the Bakairi are casual about their relationship with the Xavantes,

they continue to be extraordinarily afraid of the Kayabi Indians. The

elders in the Bakairi village still remember how the Kayabi would ambush

and kill men from the village on their way to and from the gardens. They

were also known to kidnap women and children, and to this day, the

women discipline the children by threatening them with the Kayabi.

During this time, the Bakairi were living in four different

villages in their reservation. In 1927, Schmidt (1947) visited P.I.

Simdes Lopes to find them all, Xinguano Bakairi included, dressed in

European fashion. This was one of the first policy decisions imple-

mented by the Indian Protection Service then in existence. Furthermore,

traditional elliptical houses had been forbidden and the Indians were

living in wattle-and-daub houses. By 1930, when Petrullo (1932)

visited the area, the post had been moved to where it is currently

located, on the banks of the Paranatinga River, between the Vermelho

and Azul Rivers (see Figure 2-2). A small cattle herd had also been

established, but the Indians did not participate in caring for it at that

time. Petrullo added that malaria and syphilis had decimated a great

deal of the population. Syphilis was probably the result of contact

between the Indians and the non-Indians who lived in the area. However,

malaria, which is not endemic in that particular part of the Paranatinga

River, was probably brought from the Xingu region where it continues to

be a serious problem. Currently, malaria does not pose a health danger

at P.I. Bakairi.

In the 1930s, the Indian Protection Service made a concerted

effort to draw the Indians out of their distinct settlements and to

concentrate them in one organized group around the post (Barros 1977).

This policy was the direct result of a decree which necessitated that
indigenous posts become self-sufficient. Indian labor was needed in the

production of rice, beans, corn, sugar cane, etc. The cattle herd was
also increased in size until 5,000 heads grazed on the cerrado or prairie

in the reservation. The Indian men were organized In groups and sent

to the fields at the beginning of the week and brought back to their
families at the end of the work week. A list was kept of the work done

by each individual, and payment was made with cloth, tools, and other

items not produced in the reservation. In addition, the Indians were

required to maintain their own subsistence plots because those goods

produced in the Post fields were harvested and sold outside the reserva-

tion to support the Post itself. Time to work these plots were scarce

because even the women were busy at the Post headquarters processing

manioc into flour and hulling rice as well as making hammocks for sale.

Women also provided domestic services for the non-Indians living at the


In a relatively short period, the Xinguano Bakairi passed from an
isolated state into permanent contact. They were forced to adjust to

Innumerable changes which were foisted upon them In the new reservation.

The net result was a decline in population, which became such a problem

that, in 1943, the Indian Protection Service took steps to remedy the
situation. They donated a heifer to every family which gave birth to a

child. In addition, for every birthday up to five years of age, another

heifer was awarded to the parents of the child. This policy was also

implemented at the Bororo and Umutina reservations. The Bakairi

responded to the Indian Protection Service's stimulation. As we will

see in greater detail in Chapter 4, the long trend of depopulation among

the Bakairi at P.I. Simoes Lopes was broken in the mid-1940s. After that,

their population steadily increased.

Between 1920 and 1958, Mato Grosso's economic base depended

upon extensive cattle raising. This type of economic activity did

not require intensive human labor. Thus, no need for Indian workers

presented itself during that time. Furthermore, the cattle-raising

industry was not as well developed as it is now. Part of this was the

result of the underdeveloped road and communication network in Mato

Grosso. Another factor was the large number of unpacified Indians, such

as the still notorious Xavantes, who roamed the northern reaches of the

state, discouraging new settlers from entering the area. During this

time, the Bakairi Indians, fresh from their isolated state in the head-

waters of the Xingu River, were subjected to new cultural pressures

stemming from their relationship with the Indian Protection Service. They

were encouraged to wear clothes and to use a new kind of housing. Later,

when the Service tried to make its posts self-sufficient, the Indians

were forced to work on Post lands producing crops which would be sold in

the city. When their populations declined to a dangerous level, the

Service encouraged them to reproduce by offering a heifer to each family

that gave birth to a child. This policy was successful in that it

reversed the long trend of depopulation of the Bakairi which had begun
even prior to their migration to the Paranatinga River.

This phase of Bakairi history is remembered by many of the
Indians who currently reside in P.I. Bakairi. Their impressions differ

in many ways. For example, one group is incredibly bitter when they
speak about the past. They remember, with shame and anger, how they

worked on the land like slaves while the products of their labor were
sold in the cities. One man said the history of the Bakairi is a history

of robbery by the karaiwa or non-Indian. He claimed that never again
would the non-Bakairi be trusted to have anything to do with Bakairi
land, cattle, or women. As a result of this attitude, any non-Indian

is regarded with deep and angry suspicion by these Indians. Another
group remembers that time with pride. They describe how all the admin-

istrative buildings at the Post were filled with rice and corn and cane

that they, the Bakairi, had produced. This group says that the Bakairi

who now live in the village are lazy and weak, and that only the old
timers knew how to take care of themselves. For them, the early to

middle part of the twentieth century was a kind of golden period when much

food as well as cloth and tools were available for the Indians. Life in

contemporary times strikes them as being much poorer.

Development in the West Central States
and Recent Bakairi History (1958-1980)
With the pacification of the Xavante Indians in the mid 1950s,
the area surrounding the Bakairi reservation began to open up to settlers.
More ranches were organized, and labor became a valuable commodity.
Indians on nearby reserves were viewed as a perfect source of cheap

labor, and as a result Indian men, such as the Bakairi, stopped working
for the Indian Protection Service and began to leave the reservations
for extended periods of time. Wives and families remained behind as the
men traveled to ranches where they built fences, corrals, and other

structures. They were paid little for their work; however, the Indians
retained subsistence plots in the reservation where they raised rice,

manioc, and corn for their own consumption. The ranch pay they received

was used to purchase cloth, soap, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages

which rapidly became a problem once the Indians left the reservation.

At the same time, the Indian Protection Service withdrew its
representative from the reservation and replaced him with a female

schoolteacher who remained in the Bakairi reservation until 1968. She

acted as unofficial agent as well as teacher and was much respected by

the Indians. In fact, she is probably the only non-Indian who has lived

at P.I. Bakairi and never been accused of corrupt behavior by the

Indians. When the Service withdrew its male representative, it also

removed all but about 500 head of cattle, which were transferred to other

indigenous reservations. Furthermore, organized labor in Post fields

was abolished and the Indians were allowed to concentrate their efforts

on their own subsistence plots and on work outside of the reservation.

Violeta, the teacher, taught the Indians to speak, read, and write

Portuguese as well as to do simple arithmetic. She also outlawed

alcoholic beverages in the reservation and was strict in her application

of this rule. Records of her letters of complaint about various

"troublemakers" in the reservation are still on file at the Post. They

were without exception people who were inebriated in public on a regular
basis. Today, alcohol consumption is not a serious problem, although
some Indian men occasionally drink when they go to the city. Those who
drink in the reservation are the object of gossip, and one of the cri-

terion parents use to chose husbands for their daughters is whether the
man has the reputation of a drinker. Thus, social pressure and Indian

Protection Service rules act together, in this case, to control a poten-

tially serious problem. When the former fails to have effect, the

Service has been known to take steps. For example, as late as 1981,

the son of a nearby rancher was found to be selling liquor to the

youths in the Bakairi village. The Service representative spoke to

the young man and then to his father. When that did not have the

desired effect, the representative contacted Cuiaba headquarters, which

wrote a letter to the rancher threatening him with two years in prison

and a fine. It is now against the law to sell liquor to an Indian in

Mato Grosso.

In about 1970, an official representative of the Indian Founda-

tion was assigned to the Bakairi reservation. His name was Brauvin,

and he remained there until 1975. Brauvin was the first of the Fundacao

Nacional do Indio (FUNAI) agents. FUNAI was the organization which

replaced the former Indian Protection Service (SPI) in 1968 after allega-

tions of corruption and abuse of Indians brought an end to it. Violeta

and Brauvin worked together for a short time in the reservation. How-

ever, their interests conflicted. Violeta was in favor of rapidly

integrating the Indians into national Brazilian society. She encouraged
them to work outside the reservation, to discontinue their rituals, and

to speak Portuguese. Brauvin, and the Indian Foundation, were suspicious

of the assimilationist position. Their policy was to cut short the

period of intense contact that the Indians had had with the non-Indians

on the ranches surrounding the reservation since 1958. They continued

Portuguese classes for the children; however, they began a decade-long
fight to convince the Indians that they must remain in the reservations.

Their goal was to prevent the Indians from moving to the cities where

the women tended to become prostitutes and the men became involved with

criminals or became alcoholics.

Not all of those people who work for the Indian Foundation hold

this particular philosophy. Some still maintain that the Indian needs

to be integrated into Brazilian society as rapidly as possible and that

linguistic and religious differences only serve to perpetuate the

alienation of the Indians. For example, in 1980 when a medical team

arrived at the Bakairi reservation to innoculate and vaccinate the

Indians, the driver of the Foundation's truck ridiculed the Indians'

language and mask dance. The Indians were so furious that they complained

to the doctor and nurse, and that particular driver was not allowed

back in the reserve again.
This suggests another point. Since at least 1968, the Indians

have been interacting with people who have stressed the value of their

culture. Due to the support of the mass media in Brazil, this particular

viewpoint is even spreading to the ranchers in the area. A great deal

of idealism about the "noble savages" who live on indigenous reservations

has been generated by the popular Brazilian soap opera, "Aritana," which

was about the contact of a more isolated group of Indians, and by other
movies and articles now popular in the cities of Brazil. In addition,
the Xavantes and the Txukarramge, tribes who also inhabit Mato Grosso,

have recently been given a great deal of publicity. A certain amount of

respect for Indian power now exists, and the Bakairi have sensed this

growing sentiment. As a result, the Bakairi self-image is changing. In

1975, they revived the annual mask dance again which had been discon-

tinued during the Indian Protection Service's administration. Also, the

Indians are more aggressive about their demands. They have been known

to go to Brasilia to forcefully lobby for projects they want realized.

But most important, the way in which they interact with the non-Indian

has changed. Two incidents illustrate this point.

In 1980, the researcher and about 20 Indians traveled by truck

to a small town located a day's journey away. As supplies were being

purchased, an older non-Indian man, slightly drunk, came over to one of

the Indians who was loading the truck. He was obviously in an

antagonistic mood, and he told the Indian he had heard that Bakairi eat

the penis of animals. This is an incredible insult to a Bakairi, and

to a rural Brazilian for that matter. However, the Indian calmly

approached the non-Indian and said slowly in Portuguse, "No, we eat

only the penises of white men." The non-Indian backed off quickly

without exchanging another word. A second example concerns the use of

the formal versus the informal term for you in the Portuguese language.

The application of the formal you in the rural areas is much more rigid

than in the cities where people are becoming more and more casual about

using it. In the past, non-Indians used the informal you, voce, when

they addressed an Indian. This signified that the Indian was a social

inferior. However, recently, the Bakairi demand the use of the formal

you, o senhor or a senhora. The researcher heard one Bakairi male of

about 40 years of age explain to a non-Indian that he too demanded "a

little respect." The non-Indian complied and addressed him with the
formal term.

When Violeta left the reservation in about 1971 after arguments
with Brauvin about the direction in which the Bakairi were to go, she

left a passive and well-behaved group of Indians for him to administer.

It is, of course, possible that this demeanor was only superficial, as

we will note when we discuss how Brauvin was run off of the reservation

by the Indians in 1975. Suppressed rage may have existed below the

passivity and the perfect manners which characterized the Bakairi during

that period. However, by 1980, the Bakairi had ceased to represent the

model Mato Grosso Indian group by anyone's standards. Although not as

aggressive as the Xavantes, nor as violent as the Txukarramle, they are

better educated and more experienced in dealing with the non-Indian than

the other two groups.

Violeta was partially responsible for this metamorphasis in that

she taught the Bakairi Portuguese and arithmetic. Also, the experiences

with the non-Indians that took place under her administration are

currently being drawn upon. Brauvin was also partly responsible for

their fledgling independence and new self-image. He began the process

whereby the Indians were discouraged from working on the ranches in the

area. Policy had determined that intensive contact between Indian and

non-Indian was no longer in the best interests of the former. As a

result he encouraged the Indians to remain in the reservation all year

round. Furthermore, he blocked non-Indians from entering the reserva-

tion and trading with the Indians. Brauvin's actions in response to the

new policy confused and initially displeased the Indians. They per-

ceived him as trying to frustrate their attempts to earn money, with

which they needed to buy soap and clothes. The Indians, accustomed to

having certain consumer goods, were suddenly forbidden access to the

means whereby they could secure those goods. Anger and hostility

resulted, and the Indians attacked and pillaged the Post. Certain parts

of the buildings were burned, but Brauvin managed to escape in the

dark with his life.

In 1975, Idevar Jose Sardinha and his wife replaced Brauvin

as official representatives of the Foundation. They entered the reser-

vation with two goals. The first was to increase the value with which

the Indians perceived their cultural heritage. The second objective was

to provide them with the means whereby they could develop their resources

in the reservation. This latter objective, first conceived of in general

terms, would provide a cash income for the Bakairi village. In addition,

it would teach them agricultural skills which are highly valued in the

national society. Finally, it would raise the standard of living in

the reservation so that, ultimately, life there would approximate life

in the rural areas. In order to realize these objectives, Sardinha and

the Bakairi men developed a proposal which concerned the funding of a

mechanized agricultural project for the reservation. It called for the

financing of a tractor, seeder, harvester, and diesel fuel to run the

equipment. In addition, the proposal also requested fertilizer and

seeds. The project was approved in late 1980, and in time the first

Bakairi tractor arrived in the reservation. It was run by a Bakairi

man who had been trained on a nearby ranch. About 50 ha of land in

the cerrado were cleared and planted with rice. This crop, when har-

vested, would be sold outside the reservation for cash which in turn

would be used to buy more seed, fertilizer, and oil from the next year.

Each year the Indians were to increase the amount of land under culti-

vation as well as the cash flow from it. In the process, they would

learn about mechanized agriculture.

Sardinha, the principal author of the project, was not in the

reservation to see the initiation of the project. In August of 1980, he

was disciplined for spending too much time outside the reservation.

The Cuiaban administrators suggested that he resign, reminding him that

getting an agricultural project off of the ground in an Indian reserva-

tion was a full-time job. Sardinha complied and was replaced by another

man from Rio Grande do Sul. He and his family moved to the reservation

to oversee the realization of the project. In Chapter 5, we will see

that his administration did not go very smoothly in its initial stages.

The final historical phase of the Bakairi examined in this

chapter has two parts. The first part, beginning in 1958 with the

pacification of the Xavantes, saw rapid growth of population in the area

around the Bakairi reservation. Cattle ranchers moved into the region

from the south and northeast of Brazil. As a result, the Bakairi

entered a period of intense contact with these non-Indians as they pro-

vided cheap labor for the latter. At first the Indian Protection Service
encouraged the Bakairi to interact with the non-Indians because rapid

integration of the Indian was their goal at that time. Cultural tradi-
tions were neglected during this phase as the men spent the majority of

the time outside of the reservation.

In about 1974, the economic profile of Mato Grosso shifted some-
what. Extensive cattle raising was replaced by a combination of

rice production and more intensive cattle raising than previously seen.
This refocusing was the result of the polar development strategy

adopted by Brazil during the 1970s. The method observed during that

time was to designate regional poles (Mato Grosso was part of the central

pole) into which huge amounts of cash would be funneled through inter-

national and national banks in the form of low interest loans. These

loans would he absorbed into the underdeveloped regions around the pole

where they would finance the kinds of projects the central agency had

designated as appropriate for that area. The money, and ultimately that

infrastructure which would qualify the area to be called developed,

would ripple outward in waves away from the pole until the entire area

would be ripe for economic growth, a by-product of development.

Mechanized rice production and more specialized cattle raising
was financed by such major banks as Banco Bradesco and Banco do Brasil.

Corporate land holders moved into the area, buying up land owned by

small farmers and controlling these large estates from Cuiaba and Sao

Paulo. The dispossessed clustered in tiny villages along the dirt roads

which crisscross the interior of Mato Grosso. Around the reservation,

such towns as Paranatinga, Rancharia, Nova Brasilandia, and Peresopolis

are filled with people who, at one time, had a small plot of land some-

where, but who currently work when and where they can. As land became

concentrated in the hands of corporate landowners, the landless replaced

the Indians as a source of cheap labor. The latter no longer provided a

valuable commodity. Nor did the Indian Foundation encourage them to

work outside of the reservation. The new policy was to reduce contact

between the Indians and non-Indians in order to slow the process of

integration. Foundation representatives during the 1970s attempted to

prevent the Indians from leaving the reservation. However, in order

to effect a gradual integration of the Indians as well as to raise the

perceived low standard of living in the reservation, some new policy

had to be developed to replace the older abandoned one.

The most logical solution to this problem was to replicate the

national polar development strategy on a micro-level in the indigenous

reservations. That is, mechanized agricultural and intensive cattle

raising projects would be implemented in these reservations in order to

stimulate development there. In addition, the Indians would be gradually

assimilated into Brazilian society through the process. However, they

would not be integrated as migrant workers, prostitutes, or criminals.

Rather, in ideal terms, they would own their own agricultural coopera-

tive with vested interests in land and equipment. The Bakairi agricul-

tural project was part of this overall strategy. It was initiated in

1980, and in 1981 its first rice harvest was completed. Further discus-

sion of the project is included in both Chapter 8 and Chapter 9.

The Bakairi Today

The Bakairi are currently being subjected to increasingly strong
assimilative pressures. The extent to which they will incorporate those

changes forced upon them is clearly an open question. In 1981, they

still retained a great deal of their indigenous culture. They can be

called Bakairi, rather than rural Brazilian, on the basis of the presence

of a number of characteristics.

All of the Bakairi speak Bakairi, a Carib language. Most of the

men speak at least some Portuguese, and approximately half of the women

speak a little Portuguese. The children are taught Portuguese in the

Indian Foundation school in the reservation. Later on, these young

people will develop their bilingual skills in interactions with Brazilians

either in nearby towns or on ranches. Men, of course, have more oppor-

tunity to learn the second language because they tend to travel outside

the reserve more frequently than the women do. However, in the village

Bakairi is spoken, and few people will initiate a conversation in

Portuguese unless the presence of a non-Indian calls for it.

Bakairi social organization also distinguishes the Indians from

their rural counterparts. For example, the kinship terminology system

applied by an individual to those people in the first ascending genera-

tion is referred to as the bifurcate merging system. People lump their

mothers and mothers' sisters into one category and refer to them as

seko. Fathers and fathers' brothers are referred to as shogo. However,

mothers' brothers and fathers' sisters are split off from this nucleus.

The former are called kugu, and the latter are called yupuri. All

grandparents are referred to as tako, if they are male, and ningo, if

they are female. In the individual's generation, the Iroquois system

is employed in the classification of kin. An individual's siblings are

called ko, if they are female, and paigo or kono, if they are male.

Paigo is a term reserved for older brothers and kono is used for younger

brothers. The offspring of fathers' brothers and mothers' sisters are

referred to by the same terns which are applied to the individual's

siblings. However, offspring of fathers' sisters and mothers' brothers

require the use of different terms which set them off from the other

relations. Pama is the term used for the male offspring and iwigpo is

used for the femaleoffspring of father's sister and mother's brother.

The Bakairi can be considered village endogamous. That is,

they prefer to marry someone from P.I. Bakairi. However, two other

alternatives exist. The Indians can marry a non-Indian or they can marry

a Bakairi from P.I. Santana. The Indian Foundation actively discourages

the Bakairi from choosing the first alternative. The Indians were told

that if they allowed marriages between their children and ranchers, for

example, they would eventually lose their lands. Theoretically, upon

marriage, the kin of the non-Indian spouse would have legal grounds for

moving into the reservation and living with the Indian-Brazilian couple.

The Indian Foundation claims that in time the reservation will be filled

with non-Indians rather than with Indians. Two Bakairi women are

married to non-Indian men. These men are both Brazilian orphans who

were raised in the area and who live no differently than their indigenous

counterparts. Both speak at least some Bakairi. The Bakairi at P.I.

Bakairi can also marry other Bakairi from P.I. Santana. Several of
these kinds of marriages have taken place; however, they are difficult

unions to maintain because the couple, especially in their early years

together, are forced to commute back and forth between reservations to

visit their families.

The Bakairi are also exogamous in terms of the extended family.

That is, one can marry one's cross-cousins, or those offspring of

mothers' brothers or fathers' sisters. However, one cannot marry one's

parallel cousins or siblings because they are part of one's extended

family and lumped with one's siblings. Parents are normally respons4'.1

for the selection of a spouse for a child although the individual chooses

those with whom he or she will have sexual relations.

Following marriage, the couple tends to reside with the woman's

family for at least the first year unless the man is an only child.

While observing matrilocal residence, the husband will go to great

lengths to help his father-in-law in the fields. After the birth of

the first child, the couple will build their own house and live there

alone or with siblings of one of the spouses. Later, parents or aunts

and uncles may join them when age or sickness prevent them from making

a living on their own. The Bakairi do not have descent groups or

lineages. Their geneologies are very shallow and many do not even

remember who their grandparents were.

Several non-kinship based social groupings exist for males

only. For example, one of the male rites of passage is the ear-piercing

ceremony which takes place when the boys are between approximately 14

and 19 years of age. Those who pass through the ear-piercing ceremony

together comprise an age-set. These men have few concrete responsibili-

ties toward each other. However, the village recognizes them as a

unit, and they tend to fraternize and hunt together. A second group

consists of the mask dancers. About 25 masks exist in the village today.

During the dry season, a number of specially selected men dance inside

of these masks on a daily basis. These men spend a great deal of time

in the men's house, which is a centrally located structure where the

masks are hidden from the women and children. The men's house is not

a square building made of wattle-and-daub as are the houses in the

village. Rather it is elliptically shaped and covered with palm thatch.

It resembles those long houses found in the Xingu culture area. In

addition, it is said that if a woman enters the men's house, she will

be gang raped by the youths in the village. This rule is also found in

the Xingu culture area. Although all men have the right and the oppor-

tunity to frequent the men's house, those who dance with the masks have

a special status in the village and are closely associated with this

structure. Although these individuals are not necessarily related by

blood, nor are they the same age, they are recognized as a ritual group

which shares important responsibilities and privileges. The last non-

kinship based group consists of soccer players. About 20 men of all

ages are fond of playing soccer in a field nearby the village. These

men play almost every day during the dry season and then go and bathe

together in the river where they gossip and discuss important events.

They represent a group of men who tend to take similar positions in the

village political arena. Although their solidarity is sometimes
temporarily affected by village disputes and rivalries, relationships

between them continue to be strong and enduring over the long run. No

secret societies or classes exist among the Bakairi.

In addition to their linguistic affiliation and the nature of

their social organization, the presence of certain rites of passage also

set the Bakairi off from their Brazilian compatriots. Upon the birth of

a child, which is attended by the woman's family as well as some of

the older women in the village, both of the parents observe certain food

taboos. These taboos are rigorously adhered to the first month until

the mother has completely discharged the lochia and until the remainder

of the umbilical cord has fallen from the infant's navel. During this

time, neither the woman nor the child leave the house because not only

are they themselves in danger, but they represent a danger to the village.

Foods avoided by both parents include fish and meat, sweet manioc,

sweet potatoes, rice, squash, banana, and beans. Beans, squash, banana,

and sweet manioc are considered very dangerous to the health of the

mother and child. Foods eaten include bitter manioc pancakes and manioc

soup. After the first month, the parents gradually begin to incorporate
more and more foods into their diet. However, up to seven months after

birth, certain meat avoidances may still be in effect.

After several months have passed the child is named. It is

given two Indian names and may be given a Portuguese name as well. The

Indian names are chosen by the wife's and the husband's parents. Both

sets of parents normally choose names of dead relatives. If one of the
child's grandparents is dead, that name will most likely be given to the

child. The mother and father address and refer to the child by
different names in order to avoid pronouncing the name of one of their

in-laws. An avoidance of in-law names exists. Names may be changed

several times during a person's life time. Depending upon the individual,

they may choose new names as they pass through key life crises. For

example, when a woman goes through menopause, she will select a new name.

As the child grows and approaches maturity, he or she will pass

through a kind of puberty rite. When a female begins to menstruate,

the entire village is informed by the mother who runs to all the houses

shouting the news. She will also stop a short distance from the men's

house, and without directly addressing the gathered men, she will call

out so that they can hear. The adolescent is confined to her hammock

for three to four days until the bleeding stops. A palm thatch partition

is erected in the house to separate her from the rest of the family.

She is not allowed to speak or to eat. A root drink is provided to

quench her thirst, but she cannot drink water by itself. After the

bleeding ceases, an old woman appears at the house before sunrise. The

girl's entire body is scraped with fish teeth. The scraping is painful

in that it draws blood. However, no scars are left. The girl can then

go to the river to bathe and also go into the village and circulate

once again. The individual female, rather than a group of girls, passes

through this ritual.

After a woman begins to menstruate, she can begin to take

lovers. As a result, a dramatic metamorphosis of her personality is

evident. Whereas before the menses, she was a quiet, obedient, and even

demure child, after it appears she becomes a loud, attention-attracting

flirt. Due to the fact that this transformation occurs almost overnight,

it is always somewhat startling to see. Her laugh, her shouting, and

her obvious teasing of the men elicit a tremendous response from the

males in the community. Her first sexual experience will most likely

take place at dusk in her hammock. Her lover, a single or married man,

will creep into the house while everyone pretends they do not notice.

Afterwards, he will quickly leave with little delay. The missionary

position is the preferred sexual position. Both male and female

orgasms are recognized and expected. Little foreplay is relied upon,

and after the male ejaculates, the female reaches for a cloth carefully

left on the ground by the hammock with which she cleans herself and the

male so that the hammock is not soiled. Affectionate behavior before

and after intercourse is acceptable though lovers often have to leave

the woman's house quickly and secretly.

Men also pass through a puberty rite. However, they do so in
a group rather than individually. The ear piercing ceremony takes place
inside of the men's house away from the women and children. Boys

between the ages of 14 and 19 years are stretched out on a wooden plat-

form. Amid chanting and singing, their ears are pierced with an animal

bone. The process is supposedly very painful and some of the boys

faint. Crying is not an acceptable reaction. After the ritual, the
boys are confined to their hammocks for three to four days. It is a

dangerous time for both them and for the community. In addition, since

their necks and faces swell up as a result of the infection which

invariably sets in, the period is also an uncomfortable one for the boys.

Men and women are allowed to mate as they please for a number of
years before they marry. However, when the time comes for marriage, their

parents choose their mates for them and negotiate with the in-laws. The
marriage ceremony is brief. The old women of the village go to the

house of the boy, take his hammock and secure him by the arms, and then

herd him down to the house of his wife. There his hammock is slung

over the hammock of his wife. The couple lie down while the two sets

of parents announce to each other and to the crowd of visitors what

the children's responsibilities to each other and to their families will

be. The husband and wife are obviously embarrassed by the entire event.

The following week the new couple may move back to the husband's house

if his mother is a widow or if he is the only child. However, the

couple usually remains in the wife's home until the birth of the first


The pregnancy of thi woman generates a great deal of interest

and excitement in the village. The woman will act embarrassed and deny

until the last possible moment that she is actually pregnant. She has

three choices once she has actually confirmed her state. She can abort

with herbs from the forest, have the child and kill it, or have the child

and raise it. This subject will be discussed in detail in Chapter 4.

Divorce is acceptable to the Bakairi. Reasons for divorce do

not usually include adultery. Most husbands and wives will take lovers

during their marriages. However, a woman does have the option of

divorcing, or leaving her husband if his lover becomes pregnant. She

can also leave him if he is unnecessarily brutal and violent. Wife

beating is common among the Bakairi and although most families feel

that a woman must tolerate this kind of male behavior, everyone is very

sympathetic to a woman if she feels she can no longer remain with an

abusive husband. A man does not usually leave his wife. However, if

he does it is because she will not cook for him or wash his clothes.

Females apply these two types of punishment in jealousy and anger, and

the men are afraid of these weapons because it forces them to go into

the village for food. When they have to do this, they lose face in

front of their kinsmen and the rest of the village. If the woman

resorts to this kind of behavior too frequently, the man can move back

to his family's house.

Upon death, the individual is wrapped in his or her hammock

and buried a short distance from the village. The body is not buried

in the village plaza or inside the house. The grave is not marked, and

it is not revisited after the actual burial occurs. In some households,

a type of wake occurs where everyone visits the house of the dead person

and wails and cries. Sometimes the wife or the mother of the dead will

faint, and the men will blow into her hands in order to revive her. The

Bakairi feel the death of even a child very deeply. Years after the

demise of a loved one, they will cry when they talk about the person.

However, at the time of the actual event, they force themselves to bury

the person quickly and assume a normal routine as fast as possible. In

this way, they hope to "forget the sadness."

One other aspect of Bakairi culture separates them from Bra-
zilian society. This aspect concerns their world view or their sense

of identity. Barros (1977) charts the cognitive map of the Bakairi.

She posits that these Indians make a number of distinctions when they

relate to other people. Three kinds of distinctions are of special

interest. In tne most general terms, the Bakairi distinguish between

the Bakairi and the non-Indians. The Bakairi category includes the

Indians who live at P.I. Santana and those who live at P.I. Bakairl.

The non-Indian category, the karaiwa, includes all non-Indian peoples,

Brazilian and otherwise. Within the Bakairi category, the Bakairi of

P.I. Bakairi distinguish between themselves, whom they call Xinguanos,

and the Indians at P.I. Santana, whom they call Santaneiros. The

Xinguanos claim that the Santaneiros are not really Bakairi any more.

The latter are ashamed to speak the Bakairi language and only want to

speak Portuguese. They prefer not to marry Indians but think that the

rancher is their friend and want to live outside their reservation with

Brazilians. Furthermore, Santaneiros do not like to walk but prefer to

use cars. Nor do they help their fathers-in-law or share things like

true Bakairi do.

On the other hand, the Santaneiros claim the Xinguanos at P.I.

Baikairi are primitive. The Xinguanos supposedly do not like the non-

Indian or want to live as he does. They only like the bakururu, or

traditional Bakairi rituals. Moreover, they do not know Portuguese or

even want to learn the language. The Santaneiros say that when the

Xinguanos came from the Xingu culture area, they did not even have pots

or clothing. They were a "hard-headed" people with whom the Santaneiros
tried to work but failed. The Xinguanos say, with regret, that the

Santaneiros are no longer Bakairi, while the Santaneiros bitterly accuse

the Xinguanos of being wild or bravo.

The Baikari also distinguish two kinds of non-Indians, or

karaiwa. Brazilians are generally referred to as Cuiabanos, or natives

of Cuiaba, the capital of Mato Grosso. No matter where a Brazilian comes

from or lives, the Indians will call him a Cuiabano. Non-Brazilians are
called alemao, or German. French, American, Chinese, or otherwise are
all lumped together into the alemlo category.
The Bakairi are set apart from other Brazilians on the basis of

their linguistic affiliation, their social organization, the rites of
passage they recognize, and the nature of their sense of identity.

Although they are more acculturated than those groups of Indians who
currently inhabit the Xingu culture area, from where the Bakairi migrated
some 60 years ago, they continue to perceive themselves as being differ-
ent not only from the Brazilians but from the other Baikairi who live
at P.I. Santana.


The Bakairi reservation is located in the municipality of

Paranatinga in Mato Grosso, one of Brazil's west central states. The

capital of Paranatinga is also called Paranatinga and is a small village

founded in 1964. It was only in 1979 that Paranatinga became a separate

municipality. Prior to that the Bakairi reservation was located in the

municipality of Chapadas dos Guimarles, a large, sprawling area that has

since been reduced by 50 percent. Mato Grosso's population is increasing;

however, parts of the state are growing at different rates. The

highest population densities are found in Mato Grosso do Sul (Mato Grosso

was divided into two states, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul in 1978).

There are 5 persons/km2 around Campo Grande, 10 persons/km2 around
Corumba, and 25 persons/km around Dourados, the major cities of this

state. These relatively denselyconcentrated areas can be contrasted with

the northern part of Mato Grosso where the Bakairi are found. In the

latter area there are still vast stretches of land which are scarcely

inhabited. Population density has been estimated at .5 person/km2 in

this region. However, these low population densities will not remain

low indefinitely. Small as well as corporate landholders are moving

rapidly into northern Mato Grosso. Two major ranchers, and several minor

ones, now surround the reservation. Currently, fairly good relations

exist between the reservation and ranchers and their workers.

Communication with the world outside of the reservation grows

easier every year. There are currently four ways to leave or enter the

reservation (see Figure 3-1). The first method is by way of the

Paranatinga River. In an extreme emergency, one can canoe up the

Paranatinga to the capital of the municipality or down the river to a

ranch. This option is not used frequently because of the time and effort

it would require. The second option is by air; a small plane can be

used to carry the sick from the reservation to medical facilities in

Cuiaba, the capital of the state of Mato Grosso (unfortunately no medical

facilities yet exist in Paranatinga). The Bakairi reservation has a

grassy landing strip on which planes can land, and although its poor

condition presents certain dangers, it is a viable alternative.

The third and fourth options are by land. During the dry season,

one can travel by truck or jeep to the reservation over dirt roads. One

can travel from Cuiaba to the southern bank of the Paranatinga River and

then leave one's vehicle and canoe across the river to the village. Or

one can travel from Cuiaba via Paranatinga to the village itself. The

former method is generally superior to the latter except for the neces-

sity of fording the river. It is a much shorter route, and the roads

are somewhat better. Leaving the reservation from the south, one passes

through several ranches. Then there is a section of wilderness where a

range of hills is crossed. On the other side, a plain stretches out

where the small village of Peresopolis is located. A little further on

is the new town of Brazilandia which boasts a bar that serves chilled

Coca-Cola, refrigerated in a generator-run ice box. Brazilandia as yet

Figure 3-1. P.I. Bakairi located in Mato Grosso, Brazil

has no electricity or phones. After Brazilandia the roads improve and

it is only 128 km to Chapadas dos Guimarles. In Chapadas, an hour from

Cuiaba, one can pick up an asphalt road. Departing from the south of

the reservation, the village lies 300 man or seven hours from Cuiaba.

Average speed for the trip is 43 km/hour; however, on the stretch

between the village and Brazilandia one can only travel 30 kmn/hour

while from Brazilandia to Cuiaba one can accelerate to 55 km/hour. It

should be reiterated that this applies only to the dry season. The

rains either complicate the situation or make it an impossible journey.

Most people in the area avoid traveling during the rainy season.

The last option is to leave the reservation from the north and

travel to Paranatinga which lies 120 kmn away. The roads between the

reservation and the town are quite poor, allowing for a maximum speed

of 20 km/hour. Even traveling at this low speed, car repairs are

invariably necessary and one normally is required to spend the night on

the road. During the rainy season, it is realistic to allow two days

for the journey, and some Indians even prefer to walk. From Paranatinga
the road cuts south to Primaveira and then across the River of Death.

The River of Death presents problems because the bridge that spans the

river is constantly being washed out by the white water which charac-

terizes this affluent. Often one is diverted upstream where the river

can be crossed over a narrow gorge. After the River of Death one moves

on to Chapadas dos Guimaraes, and then to Cuiaba. Departing from the

northern border of the reservation, the village lies 530 km from Cuiaba
by this route. It can take from 18 hours to two days to make the

journey during the dry season. It is not advisable to travel this

route during the rains.

Topography, Vegetation, and Climate

In traveling between the reservation and the outside either by

air or by land, certain features of the physical environment of the

region are impressed upon the mind. The topography of the reservation

and the surrounding area is characterized by undulating plateau forma-

tions. These plateaus are broken by ranges of hills to the north and

the south of the reservation. Many rivers and streams which disappear

during the dry season provide the reservation with an adequate water

supply. These rivers actually constitute some of the natural boundaries

of the reservation. For example, major rivers such as the Kayapo and

the Paranatinga compose the southern and southeastern frontiers of the

reservation (see Figure 2-2). Minor rivers which are greatly affected

by the dry season serve as border points in the reserve. At the Bananal

River, which lies in the southwestern corner of the reservation, the

frontier of the reservation cuts north up to the Vermelho River and then

northwest to the headwaters of the Tuiuiu River. From the Tuiuiu, the

reservation border arcs to the east until it intersects with the Kayapo

River once again.

The rivers as well as the hill ranges in the north and the south

serve to isolate and protect the Bakairi from rapid encroachment by

outsiders. The demographic characteristics of Mato Grosso also con-

tribute to this isolation. Up until the early 1970s, the Bakairi reser-

vation was relatively free from direct and regular contact with

non-Indians, contact which has proven so difficult for other indigenous

groups. Aerial photographs taken in 1972 reveal that no ranches existed

anywhere near the reservation at that time. The closest ones were

located south of the southern hill range. As a result of this isola-

tion, the acculturation process, which is well underway in the reserva-

tion, has occurred more gradually than in other areas and has allowed

the Bakairi the illusion of decision making in terms of how much and

how frequently they interact with the non-Indian world (see Chapter 2).

In 1980, a number of Bakairi had still never been outside of the

reservation, and the Indian Foundation was encouraging the Bakairi chief

to make arrangements for these people to visit Paranatinga where they

could at least be exposed to some of the differences that exist between

themselves and their non-Indian compatriots. In other Indian areas

isolation and gradual acculturation have not been possible, and the

results have been extremely detrimental to both the physical and cultural

well-being of the indigenous groups in question.

Vegetation in the reservation and the surrounding region is
composed of cerrado and gallery forest (Bezzera dos Santos 1977:62,72).

The area in which the reservation is located lies on the natural border

between Amazon Forest and cerrado vegetation types. However, the

cerrado type of vegetation clearly dominates in the reservation. The

cerrado consists of two distinct layers of vegetation. The first layer

is made up of grasses that reach approximately one meter in height.

The second layer consists of relatively short twisted trees that can

reach up to 10 meters (1977:70). The grasses on the cerrado are continu-

ous and are interrupted only sporadically by the trees and shrubs. They

burn annually during the dry season (Murphy 1975:228). This adaptation

to fire is beneficial to the renewal of the grasses. Thus fire repre-

sents a selective pressure which favors the growth of the grasses at

the expense of the shrubs. It also decomposes organic matter and

releases mineral nutrients from litter that has accumulated on the

ground. Odum argues that fire increases the productivity of these areas

by accelerating the recycling process (1975:117). The question of

whether the cerrado is a natural vegetation type or a variation of the

savannah vegetation type continues to be debated (Bezzara dos Santos

1977:69). Savannah vegetation is man-made. It is an artificial

clearing of land that is the result of burning and degradation of the

land. At one time the cerrado was classified as a type of savannah due

to the wide open spaces, the grasses, and the stretches of gallery

forest near the rivers that characterize it. However, Waibel (1948)

and Beard (1949) introduced the idea that this vegetation type is

totally distinct from both the savannah and gallery forest types.

Waibel bases his conclusions on the nature of the leaves on the trees

in the cerrado. They are unusually large and are not found anywhere

in the intermingled forests. Beard supports Waibel's hypothesis, but

criticizes him for not considering soil factors. He suggests that soil

types are at the root of the kinds of vegetation found in the cerrado.

He observes that natural drainage is the most important characteristic

of tropical soils affecting the distribution of vegetation. The soils

of the cerrado lack relief; that is, they are not well drained. There-

fore, they are subject to unfavorable drainage conditions in the form

of droughts during the dry season and water-logging during the rainy