RESCUE OF BELONGING
The Brazilian ethnic group Krahô, live in the state of Tocantins in a threatened and diversity rich environment called the cerrado or ‘Brazilian savanna’. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Krahô were estimated to total about four thousand people. During their two centuries of contact with non-Indigenous peoples, they experienced numerous conflicts, including a huge massacre in 1940 when hundreds of Krahô died during an attack on their villages by local land owners. Today there’s about 2,500 Krahô who live distributed among 13 villages.
During the ten days I spent together with the Krahô, I was hosted by Norinda, an elder of the village. Our neighbors were all daughters, sons and grandsons of Norinda. With a great sense of humor she used to wake me up in my hammok just as the sun was about to rise. The first morning I was shocked with what we had for breakfast; black coffee with a lot of sugar and white rice to eat.
Nowadays the Krahô are no longer self-sufficient. Hunting is not practiced anymore as their lands have been diminished by farmlands: skills are not longer passed on to younger generations. The little farming that still exist is not enough to feed everybody. As years passed, the Krahô have become accostomed to receive “help” from the government. A monthly basic needs box, containing all that ‘white people’ use for survival and to which the Krahô are now addicted.
Taking photographs in the beginning was hard: something was shifting inside me. My camera was put down at times, when I could only absorve the beautiful capacity of the indigenous people, to relate to the present moment. Moments when any thought is taken away by observing the clouds, the wind, the sun, the children or each other. While feeling a strong sense of community, I felt a sadness as I pondered with eyes and heart as I pointed my camera towards my Krahô mother, brothers and sisters.
After a couple sun rises, I felt such empathy for my Krahô family. Drinking black coffee and eating white rice with them taught me to transmute my classic and spontaneous colonialist vision of what indigenous people should ou should not eat, do or be. A sense of humanity, of just being present with them created magical moments of joy and true moments of shared grief.
Not trying to organize the reality of others made possible portraits which represent, acceptance and love generated towards a rescue of belonging.