quinta-feira, 18 de novembro de 2010

Archaeology, part III Anne Merrie Pesis

The strategies employed by the Christianconquerors to cleanse the territories of the aboriginal presence had the same Barbarous characteristics attributed by them to the Indigenous Americans. It was only during the course of 20th century that Ethnographers working in Brazil with Indigenous groups, who had managed to survive the implantation of our Western Civilization, provided preliminary information that would eventually extinguish the stigma of Barbarism. The first Ethnographic film images produced in a Bororo village of a material and ceremonial culture that was removed from the false images that had been spread abroad for centuries.
The traumatizing and prejudicial nature of the History of the contact between European and Indigenous peoples made it impossible to gain any knowledge of Indigenous Prehistory. It was only in the 20th century that the first Archaeological investigations were carried out in Brazil. These opened up the possibility of finding answers to a set of questions about the origins, diversity and lifestyle of the human groups inhabiting the lands that are today Brazil. In the Northeast Region, an area was found that had only recently been colonized by cattle ranchers and where Archaeological finds thousands of years old, testifying to prehistoric human occupation, remained intact.
The region in question is Southeast of Piauí, today occupied by the Serra da Capivara National Park, was temporarily excluded from the colonization process because it had been a disputed area. These were lands that had been bequeathed to the Jesuits under provisions in the will of Domingos Afonso Sertão, pillar of the Casa da Torre and sadly a notorious of Indigenous Peoples during his life, he was a great benefactor of the Jesuits and, before he died in 1711, he left his best possessions to the novitiate of the society, to the end of obtaining the indulgence of the Church. The productive yields of his farms were to have been used in perpetuity to pay for saying masses for his salvation of his soul. When the Jesuits were expelled from Brazil in 1759, the ownership of these lands came into Portuguese crown, and later on the Empire, until the Republic was proclaimed in 1889. After that, colonization of the region began, and with it began the extermination of the Indigenous peoples in the area that was to become the National Park.
In the National Park of Serra da Capivara there is a dense concentration of Archaeological sites with vestiges of the material and spiritual culture of human groups who inhabited the region for thousands of years. In 1972, investigations were begun which led to the discovery of cultural vestiges that were thousands of years old, which provided the means for answering a large number of questions. It is one of the most important clusters of sites containing prehistoric paintings that have been discovered to date. Because of its cultural value, UNESCO registered the National Park in its Human Cultural Heritage list in 1991;
Three decades of research in the region, carried out as a binational scientific collaboration by the Piauí Franco-Brazilian Archaeological mission, have borne fruit: Prehistory has been reconstructed and the Archaeological evidence has been set against five centuries. The facts and the discovered and related to each other have sustained a reality that is very far away from of information clearly indicate a human and self-integration as a whole being that stand in balanced and harmonious relationship with the environment.
The recovering of a true likeness portrait of the ethnic groups who lived in the Northeast of Brazil is a challenge that can only be responded to gradually over time, as each datum and reach relation between data is fitted into a multi-millennial puzzle. Above all, this process honors people’s history, the foundation of Brazilian culture.
To know about the prehistory of the Northeast of Brazil is also essential firstly, to awaken the National conscience to the plight of Indigenous people; secondly, to end the physical and cultural genocide that continues in disguised from today by means of policies that exclude the indigenous peoples; and finally, to restore to the Indigenous component of Brazilian identity its ancestral worth.

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