Gerú Tukunã Pataxó Ethnoturistic Project

The project aims to acquire resources for infrastructure to receive tourism from the Gerú Tucunã Pataxó indigenous community.  

 

Before the pandemic, the community received many visitors who came to learn about the Pataxó culture and sustainable projects carried out by the indigenous people.  

 

Visitors can learn about the culture and history of our people, learn about agricultural products produced in a sustainable way, such as the large production of cassava, pineapple, annatto, passion fruit, among others, and at the same time have contact with Mother Nature.  

The project aims to strengthen the Pataxó culture and the income of families in the community.  It intends to strengthen the sustainability of families, promoting and preserving the Pataxó culture.  

We need resources for the infrastructure of the Gerú Tucunã Indigenous community in order to host tourists on weekends. The resources will be used in the construction of accommodation, restaurant, cultural center for the exhibition of history and presentation of culture.  

Our story

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Natalia Braz

I am Natalia Braz da Conceição, born in Carmésia-MG, I belong to the Pataxó ethnic group, I am 32 years old and I live in the Gerú Tucunã Pataxó Indigenous Community. I have a degree in Languages, Arts and Literature from the Federal University of Minas Gerais. I have worked for 11 years in literacy at the Uará Pataxó Indigenous State School.

One of my dreams is for our territory to be demarcated as an indigenous territory, so that my people can have access to public policies. And for this to happen, we are in constant dialogue with the National Indian Foundation - FUNAI, the Parliamentary Front for the Defense of Indigenous Peoples, Quilombola and other Traditional Communities to change the category from the Integral Protection Park to a Sustainable Reserve or State Indigenous Reserve. .

The name of my community is Gerú Tucunã Pataxó which means “Parrot in the Palm of Tucum”. It is located in the Rio Corrente State Park, in the municipality of Açucena, in the state of Minas Gerais. The area is in the process of territorial regularization with the State. The territory was initially created by state decree in 1988 as an Integral Protection Area, because it was so devastated by logging, cattle ranching, buffalo and illegal hunting. The territory was never regularized as an indigenous territory.

The Gerú Tucunã indigenous community is from the Pataxó ethnic group, speaking the Pataxó language, known as Patxôhã (Guerreiro language), belonging to the Macro-Jê trunk,  Maxakali family. The Pataxó come from the state of Bahia, but in the 70s, we migrated to other regions in search of better conditions for survival. We migrated because our territories were being reduced for the creation of the Monte Pascoal Park and because of a great massacre that became known as “Fire of 51” that dispersed the Pataxó people.  

The Gerú Tucunã community was founded in 2010 with the objective of better identification with Mother Earth and preservation of the Pataxó culture that was being threatened due to the distance of young people from cultural moments. Culture is still maintained, such as dance, songs, stories, Pataxó language, cuisine, traditional medicine, rituals and others. Gerú Tucunã is recognized regionally and statually for holding indigenous parties that brought together more than 2 thousand people before the pandemic. It was important to open the doors of the community to the surrounding society as a way of disseminating culture and respect. As it is not a region unfamiliar with indigenous people, we suffer discrimination and violation of our rights.  

The community, together with the school, has been carrying out a work to rescue the Pataxó language and culture that was dormant for a period. We had the achievement of including the Pataxó language as a subject in the school curriculum. Patxôhã classes are held at the school twice a week. On weekends, we perform spiritual rituals in the central hut where everyone can participate.

Today the Gerú Tucunã community survives through the sale of handicrafts, agricultural production of corn, beans, pineapple, passion fruit, annatto, honey, other fruits and production of flour.

A major problem has affected the community is the non-regulation of the territory, as it is in the hands of the responsible authorities. Without regularization, the community cannot access public policies, which affects the sustainability of families. In all, we are 18 families and approximately 65 indigenous people living in a very small area.

 

Another problem we face is land conflicts. Around our territory, squatters have surrounded most of the area and claiming to own the territories. And buffalo farming by squatters has attacked our plantations. In addition, there is a neighboring MST community. Thus, we are in the center of the conflict zone, which prevents us from expanding the plantation areas, not being able to walk peacefully in the woods or fish due to the threats of the squatters.

Sinaré Braz

My name is Sinaré Pataxó, born in Carmésia-MG, I'm 34 years old and I live in the Gerú Tucunã Pataxó indigenous community. I am a warrior, supportive, hardworking and happy, always fighting for rights with the community. I work as a teacher at Escola Estadual Uará Pataxó with the initial years, 4th and 5th year. My biggest dream is the regularization of the territory, this would greatly favor the community to have access to public policies and sustainability project. For this to happen, we are fighting together with  partners to make this dream come true.

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The name of the community is Gerú Tucunã Pataxó which means “Parrot in the Palm of Tucum”, a tribute to my grandfather. His dream was to find a place where his family would feel good. The community is located in the municipality of Açucena-MG. The community is made up of 18 families and approximately 65 indigenous people, including children, youth, adults and the elderly. We have the leader cacique Bayara and the vice cacique Ciripóia. The community has maintained the tradition since our  ancestors, traditional food such as fish on patioba leaf, cassava beiju, flour, kawi and fish moqueca. On April 19th, we celebrate the day of the Indian, in which we share this space for visitors to get to know the reality of the community. On October 5th, we celebrate the feast of the waters, a ritual that takes place on the São Félix River near the community, where the passage of a new cycle is marked with plenty of abundance. And spiritual purification with  clay, water and traditional Awê dance. For the preservation of our culture, the Pataxó language called Patxohã (language of warriors) belonging to the Macro-Jê linguistic branch and the Maxakali Family, music, games, games and songs is taught at school. But, we also face the difficulty with the lack of interest of young people to be participating in cultural activities, due to the use of technology expanded in the community. 

The community's main problem is the non-regulation of the territory that we have been fighting since we arrived. The main culprit for this problem is the government for not regularizing the territory created as an integral conservation unit since 1998. We have not had any success as part of the Rio Corrente State Park.  The total area of the park  is 5065 ha and we are fighting for the regularization of 2300 ha for the sustainability of the community. There are many squatters benefiting from the irregular exploitation of the Rio Corrente Park for common cattle, buffalo, deforestation of the area for planting braquiara, deforestation of native trees, and illegal hunting of animals around the community. At the moment, we are suffering threats from land grabbers who claim that the territory is theirs and we cannot touch anything other than the area we are in. 

Another problem that we are facing is the scarcity of drinking water in the last six years, not only in the community but also around it, due to deforestation and the rupture of the dam in Mariana, a crime known as the “sea of mud” that affected the Rio Doce River. which passes close to the community. This crime killed all the fish that went up the São Félix River to spawn, which the indigenous warriors of the community fished. On the banks of the river we do the water ritual and we are facing the unevenness of the river, which is very low and we have to fill the river to be having our water party. We caught a lot of fish and currently, we don't catch any fish anymore. We feel very sad for all these problems, seeing nature asking for help. We do our part to protect it, but we don't do miracles.

We are looking for partnerships