This project was contemplated as the twelfth Funarte Marc Ferrez Photography Prize 2012
Brazil’ s “March to the West” Memories of an Indigenous Shaman and other “Moderns” SUZANNE OAKDALE, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The Amazon forest and savanna became central for the realization of Brazilian modernity in the 1940s when aviation networks were created by a government expedition to open up the western territories. Indigenous peoples played a number of roles in this state project. Through a focus on the autobiographical account of an indigenous shaman working as a team member and the memoirs of the expedition leaders, I contrast how indigenous peoples were scripted as the antithesis of the “modern,” how their labor made them the means of the realization of this sort of modernity, and how some came to share, in part, the goals of this“modern” project. The juxtaposition of nonindigenous with indigenous accounts of this project allows for a reevaluation of the terms popular in the“ontological turn”—namely,“Amerindian”and “modern” thought—and calls for moving from these categories to examining the historically specific contexts in which people engage with each other in joint projects. Key words: Brazil, indigenous Amazonians, perspectivism, shamanism, ontological turn, “March to the West” In 1937, during his Estado Novo dictatorship, Gétulio Vargas initiated the Brazilian “March to the West,” a campaign to connect the interior to the “more modern” south of the country where large urban centers such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are located. As part of this effort, the Roncador-Xingu Expedition was established in 1943. At first charged with prospecting for minerals and creating colonies in the supposedly empty spaces of the interior, by 1945 its primary task was clearing landing strips to enable planes to travel from Rio to Miami or Lima in a straight line over the forest and savannah of the interior, thereby facilitating air travel between Brazil and the rest of the world (Menezes 1999:31, 37; Villas Bôas Filho 2006:23). As airstrips were cleared, the team also established relations with so-called uncontacted indigenous peoples, following a well-set pattern of government-initiated “first contacts” established earlier in the century. In the case of hostile groups, air connection allowed the Roncador-Xingu Expedition to jump over their areas and eventually definitively break their hold on terriSubmitted November 11, 2016; accepted June 17, 2017; published online January 26, 2018. Journal of Anthropological Research (Spring 2018). © 2018 by The University of New Mexico. All rights reserved. 0091-7710/2017/7401-0004$10.00 54 tory (Menezes 1999:61). In these ways this expedition was part of unifying and defining the Brazilian nation as well as indicating that it shared the technological advancement in air travel of the developed or modernized world. The propaganda for the Roncador-Xingu Expedition portrayed the success of this endeavor as a result of a distinctive Brazilian style that blended the modern and the traditional and that brought together the technology of the urban south with the triedand-true, even if supposedly backward, technology of the rural, mixed-race caboclo of the Amazonian west. Here I focus on one of the participants in the Roncador-Xingu Expedition, who, from the perspective of those in the urban south, inhabited either the “non-modern” side of this blend or, as an indigenous individual, part of the “wild nature” the expedition set out to conquer and to scientifically document. I focus on excerpts from an autobiographical narrative of a Kawaiwete shaman named Prepori, a man who became one of the guides to this expedition when it came to the Teles Pires River area in 1949. In 1992, he told me that he had met the team by chance when fleeing from a government indigenous post where he had been living, and how he had established a friendship with the expedition leaders. Orlando and Claudio Villas Bôas were middleclass, politically well-connected brothers from São Paulo who joined the mission for adventure. They quickly rose to leadership positions in 1945 and through their wellpublicized roles in this mission, as well as their later advocacy for Brazil’s first multiethnic and large-scale indigenous reservation, became well-known twentieth-century Brazilian heroes (Menezes 1999:33; Villas Bôas Filho 2006:22). In 1949, however, when they first met Prepori, they were still establishing their reputations. Their mission was to build an airstrip in the Teles Pires area that would serve as a jumping off point for the establishment of a military base further to the north. This base, called Cachimbo, later became one of the more important bases in the interior (see Figure 1 in Oakdale and Watson 2018). Prepori, who knew this terrain well, functioned along with other Kawaiwete as ground-truthers, guiding the team from one point to the next on the orthodromic line established by military pilots who rarely left their planes to set foot on the ground (Meirelles 1960:39).1 In keeping with the earth-bound scale of ground-truthing, Prepori also worked as a hunter and, with his wife, cooked for the team. The extension of both aviation and control over the “wild” interior were highly charged symbols of mid-twentieth-century Brazilian modernity (Garfield 2013; Shaw 2006:212). Modernity here is taken to mean an attitude or “mode of experience” deriving from and encompassing both socioeconomic processes, usually referred to by the term “modernization,” as well as the values, ideas, and specific aesthetics encompassed by the term “modernism” (Berman 1988; see also Nugent 2000:233). Although all of mid-twentieth-century Brazil could be considered “modern,” having been linked to the world market for many centuries in some form, but especially through the exploration of rubber, from the perspective of urban Brazilians, the Amazonian interior of the country was still portrayed as outside or as on the frontier of“the modern”(Nugent 2000). The encompassing of this frontier within aviation networks was, in fact, a type of performance of modernity on the part of urban Brazil, a demonstration of its ability to take BRAZIL’ S “MARCH TO THE WEST” | 55 control of and change this“pre-modern”area. This kind of performance by the Brazilian government had been taking place for decades. Earlier in the century, telegraph lines were laid into the interior to link this space with the south (Diacon 2004). By midcentury, however, the airplane became the star in this drama. Getúlio Vargas augmented the airplane’s role in the Brazilian nation, even instituting a national “Week of the Wings” (Shaw 2006:212). Newsreels from the early 1940s favored footage of aircraft being christened by Vargas at official celebrations of the national “Week of the Wings,” and at the inauguration of new aerodromes (Shaw 2006). A decade later, the new capital of Brasília, inaugurated in 1961, located within the savannah of the interior and designed in the European modernist style, was laid out in the silhouette of an airplane (Holston 1989). That this shape was really only perceivable from the air was also a way of indicating the importance of the perspective on the interior of the modern, urbane air traveler. My interest here is to explore the perspective of someone typecast as a “non-modern” who also participated as a team member within the “modern” Roncador-Xingu Expedition, albeit at one of the lower rungs. Prepori’s account demonstrates how important indigenous labor was for the success of the state project of opening up the interior, a fact often unnoticed in society at large at a time when indigenous peoples were seen as roadblocks rather than facilitators of development (Garfield 2001). Much as Charles Piot has observed with respect to African peoples (1999:2), indigenous Amazonians such as Figure 1. Participants in the March to West. The caption reads, “The impossible, the unusual, were both characteristics of the March to the West, never before had there been such an intense effort on the part of the government with the civil society” (translation by the author). (Courtesy of Museu da Fotografia Documental, http://www.mfd.mus.br). 56 | JO URNA L O F ANTHRO PO LO G ICA L R E S E ARCH S P R IN G 2 0 1 8 Prepori did not “retard the embrace of modernity”; it was rather their labor that produced it. Prepori’s account also shows a consciousness of modernity, not simply an unknowing participation in it. It shows that aspects of this “modern” project were taken on by him, and that many of the aims of the Roncador-Xingu Expedition were just as much his as they were the goals of the expedition’s celebrated leaders and military pilots.2 Prepori’s story is then compared with accounts published by the Villas Bôas brothers about their experiences of working with Prepori on the Roncador-Xingu Expedition as well as on later projects. By juxtaposing these accounts, Prepori’s culturally specific appreciation of the Roncador-Xingu Expedition, informed by the logic of Kawaiwete shamanism, becomes visible, as well as the way he came to share with the Villas Bôases some of the expedition’s modernist aims. His account indicates that he did not see the team’s interactions with the natural world in exactly the same way as the Villas Bôas brothers did. For Prepori, especially when his other accounts of his shamanic experiences are taken into account, the voyage was not about human mastery over the natural world, as it seemed to be initially for the Villas Bôases, but rather a more delicate participation in social relations with the beings of the forest. He does, however, also describe himself as taking on the aims of the Villas Bôases and other members of the team with respect to bringing Western medicine to the interior. Similarly, the Villas Bôas brothers come to assume some of Prepori’s shamanic ideas about animals as their own, moving initially from a strictly “modern” idea of nature to a more hybrid understanding of this domain after their conversations with Prepori. Together these men’s stories suggest a critique of the more radical positions within the “ontological turn” of anthropology, a movement that casts indigenous Amazonian or, more broadly still, “Amerindian” thought as diametrically opposed to that of the West or the “modern”—particularly with respect to the philosophical appreciation of the forest. ONTOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND MODES OF THOUGHT According to Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (2012, 2014, as well as many others), “Amerindian thought” is guided by “multinaturalism,” a type of “perspectival” thought that apprehends humans and animals equally as persons, as united by their common humanity, but understands them to have different perspectives because they possess different types of bodies. “Multiculturalism” and “naturalism,” terms that characterize the thought of the “West,” in contrast, are founded on seeing a shared biological nature between all living things, but a division between nature and culture and a multiplicity of cultures, culture being the force that separates humans from animals and gives rise to particular human differences. As Viveiros de Castro concedes, this formulation of two types of thought is “too symmetrical to be more than a speculative fiction,” though he argues it is a useful one (2012:46). Despite this careful framing as a “fiction,” “multinaturalism” has come to be understood as the indigenous Amazonian ontology or reality lived by indigenous people and, though less of interest, multiculturalism, as that lived by “moderns.”3 Indigenous Amazonians then become valued as spokespeople for this alternative vision BRAZIL’ S “MARCH TO THE WEST” | 57 of the forest that has the potential to reanimate Western, modern understandings.4 As Lucas Bessire and David Bond (2014) have observed, this approach does not address the fact that indigenous realities are entangled with colonial processes and wider networks, making them more complex and, less clearly, simply enactments of an alternative“thought.” When the level of discussion shifts from “Ameridian thought,” myth, or cosmology to the negotiations of actors in particular situations, the clarity of Viveiros de Castro’s formulation can be appreciated for its explanatory potential, but the problem of tying “Amerindian thought” to indigenous peoples and “Western thought” to “moderns” or “Westerners” also becomes very apparent. When particular historical events and practices are discussed, the interest rests in how actors move between logics, regimes of value, or ontologies, at times even simultaneously inhabiting more than one—a possibility recognized by Mario Blaser (2013:553) in his discussion of“political ontology”and, following Blaser, Anders Burman (2016) in his account of the “coloniality of reality” in Bolivia, as well as by Marisol de la Cadena (2015) in her appreciation of how Peruvian Runakuna inhabit“more than one, but less than two worlds.”In the events discussed here, both indigenous “multinaturalism” as well as “modern” or “Western” thought are employed by the same individuals. Giving attention to the accounts of Prepori and the Villas Bôas brothers about the Roncador-Xingu Expedition and other missions to the interior provides a glimpse of how all participants had a more nuanced appreciation of the forest than an attribution of a highly caricatured “multinaturalism” to indigenous Amazonians and “naturalism” to Westerners would lead one to believe. As Stephan Palmié has observed with respect to the Caribbean,“paired oppositions quickly dissolve into puzzling forms of hybridity once subject to the test of concrete historical situations”(2002:19). These men’s accounts also offer a way of looking at “working relations with the natural world” rather than strictly at cosmology or myths about it (see Bessire and Bond 2014:446). Furthermore, as is typical of the twentieth century, these working relations take place in highly interethnic spaces in which joint partnerships are forged, new discourses learned, and identities formed. In contrast to the more static account of opposing ontologies, human potential for transformation comes to the fore. THE RONCADOR-XINGU EXPEDITION The Roncador-Xingu Expedition built on and reworked many long-established patterns of engagement with the interior and its inhabitants. For example, government-initiated “first contact” missions had been carried out long before the Roncador-Xingu Expedition undertook its first with respect to the Xavante in 1944 (Garfield 2001). Officially, these had occurred since 1910 when Cândido Rondon founded the government’s Indian Protection Service. Prior to this, however, he had followed the same positivist-inspired pattern when he met indigenous groups while he was laying down the telegraph lines in the interior as part of the Commission for the Construction of the Telegraph Lines (founded in 1889; Diacon 2004). “First contact” was to begin the process of incorporating native peoples within the national society, a process called pacification, to set them on a trajectory that would erode their supposedly retrograde cultural difference 58 | JO URNA L O F ANTHRO PO LO G ICA L R E S E ARCH S P R IN G 2 0 1 8 (Diacon 2004). Therefore, these contact missions had long fit within the master narrative of progress, telling of “the inexorable, if always incomplete advancement of the primitive” (Comaroff and Comaroff 1993:xii). The contact missions of Rondon also featured “modern” technology, much like the Roncador-Xingu Expedition. In addition to the telegraph, they also celebrated “modern” photography and used the latest equipment from Germany to document the activities of bringing progress to native peoples or, later, to scientifically document both native ways of life that were the starting point of the state’s actions and ways of life that would eventually be destroyed (Maciel 1997; Lima 1995:164; Tacca 2002). These photos were sent to newspapers and published widely (Diacon 2004; Tacca 2002), displaying the state’s power to represent the hidden interior. The Roncador-Xingu Expedition also relied upon foreign financial support, much as other previous projects to encompass and exploit the Amazon had done. Seth Garfield (2013) has written on the extensive involvement of the United States in wartime efforts to extract Amazonian rubber, and Susanna Hecht (2013), on the extent of international involvement in the earlier rubber production in the Brazilian Amazon. With respect to the Roncador-Xingu Expedition (Figure 1), the Lend-Lease Agreement between the Allied powers and many Latin American countries during WWII meant the expedition’s airplanes and pilot training were a direct result of foreign aid, especially from the United States (Hagedorn 2008). International companies also provided supplies for the expedition, as Figure 2 shows. Finally, the Roncador-Xingu Expedition built upon earlier discourses about a particular Brazilian style of exploration that was founded on a distinctive cultural and physical mixture. The bandeirantes, celebrated by scholars from São Paulo in the early twentieth century, were, for example, extolled as virile seventeenth-century explorers who entered into the interior of São Paulo state in search of slaves, mated with indigenous women, though all the while maintaining their essential whiteness, and fostered a society that ultimately was responsible for the construction of the Brazilian nation (Weinstein 2015). The Roncador-Xingu Expedition, in fact, had a send-off in 1943 from the city of São Paulo, much in keeping with the idea that team members were modern day bandeirantes. This send-off likely took place in São Paulo because the Central Brazil Foundation, a semi-autonomous federal bureau that directly oversaw the expedition, was also seeking to persuade the city’s industrialists to support development in central Brazil (Garfield 2001:45). Much like the well-known stories of the bandeirantes, the publicity for the RoncadorXingu Expedition celebrated the vitality of mixture, but now, it was more the mixture of the modern with the traditional that was featured. One newspaper story, for example, described the team as a dizzying synergy of force, men and machines, planes and donkeys, radios and hunting dogs, traditional dry fish and synthetic food rations, DDT and mosquito netting, rolls of tobacco and vitamin pills, “Aralen” [anti-malerial medicine] and BRAZIL’ S “MARCH TO THE WEST” | 59 homemade balms, Indian bark canoes and motors, blood plasma and canned beans, manioc flour and penicillin, yokes and small boats, hammocks from the northeast and snakebite kits, diesel oil and homemade liquor, … fishhooks and compasses (Meireles 1960:37; translation from Portuguese by the author). This propaganda was in keeping with the then-still-popular 1933 ideas of Gilberto Freyre on Brazilian national identity (Freyre 1971). For Freyre, the nation’s strength (rather than, as had been argued earlier, its weakness) was based on its mestiço heritage, the coming together of indigenous, European, and African races and traditions. The indigenous element of the Roncador-Xingu Expedition’s “synergy” was, in coverage such as the above, portrayed not as the distinctive contemporary indigenous traditions or people, with perhaps the exception of the “Indian bark canoes,” but as the more generic indigenous elements that had long been absorbed by the national culture, such as tobacco, manioc flour, and hammocks. Media coverage of the team members’ relations with the groups around the Xingu River did begin to focus on distinctive cultural traditions, but these were those of the peoples the team encountered, not the various culFigure 2. Participants in the March to West. The caption reads, “Not only Nestlé, but other international food companies, such as Bordon, Swift, as well as other [producers of ] canned meats, donated to the FBC [Central Brazil Foundation]” (translation by the author). (Courtesy of Museu da Fotografia Documental, http://www.mfd.mus.br/pt/acervo/). 60 | JO URNA L O F ANTHRO PO LO G ICA L R E S E ARCH S P R IN G 2 0 1 8 tural backgrounds of the team members themselves (see Costa and Burgi 2012; Menezes 1999). The unique Brazilian mixture celebrated in this coverage captured “the agitation and turbulence, psychic dizziness and drunkenness,” which has been said to characterize the modern experience more generally (Berman 1988:18). A SHAMANIC APPRECIATION OF THE FOREST I now turn from propaganda about the expedition to the narrative of one of the members of this team who inhabited the non-modern or traditional side of this synergy. Despite its reluctance to deal fully with the complexity of historical and pragmatic action, ontological anthropology’s focus on the distinct, non-Western reality of indigenous Amazonians, in contrast to a Western reality, does illuminate key aspects of his account. Much as this strain of anthropology would predict, the forest was a very different reality for Prepori, who was trained in shamanism, than it was for the non-indigenous members of the team. For him, it was a world of social connections with animals and spirits, whereas for the leaders of the expedition it was a force to be dominated by human agency and harnessed with technology for the good of the Brazilian nation. The Villas Bôases began their retrospective account of their participation in this midcentury expedition by describing the interior as a place of resources to be tapped by the national society. It is a locale filled with fecund “virgin territory,” “incalculable riches” in the soil and subsoil, and strong rivers that will unite the nation (1994:41). All of these, they write, are “indispensable for the complete development of the country” (1994:41). For them, Prepori is an example of an able backwoodsman, a caboclo who knows how to master the confusion of this rich terrain and the threats and wild animals therein. In several places they describe him as “an amazing guide” and recount his expertise at navigating the complexities of waterways (Villas Bôas and Villas Bôas 1989:37). He is also someone who displays impressive dominance and skill in hunting. At one point they write, he “entered into the forest and returned with his hands full of native game” (1989:39). Prepori, in contrast, described himself less in terms of having an agentive mastery over land, rivers, and animals and more in terms of having appropriate social relations with “natural” beings when he spoke about this expedition. His social relationships with these forest beings followed from his role as a shaman. Kawaiwete shamans cure a range of sicknesses as a result of their relations with spirits living in the forest, sky, and rivers. These spirits watch over animals as if they were their pets or children, and they take human souls in retaliation for improper treatment of animals or simply because of the general resentment they feel toward humans as a result of the fact that they are habitual hunters. Prepori, who was a master shaman by the time he passed away in 2001, considered himself to have been shamanically empowered even in his mother’s womb. He said that one of the Mait spirits, ancient beings that live in the sky, had been his father. As a result of this (and the fact that he had been tutored by his human grandfather in the arts of shamanism), he had ongoing relations with the Mait and other spirits over BRAZIL’ S “MARCH TO THE WEST” | 61 the course of his life. He socialized in their villages as he slept and had extensive interactions with their charges, the animals of the forest, during waking life, keeping many as pets in his home (Figure 3). Figure 3. Prepori holding two of his pet birds, 1992. (Photo by the author) 62 | JO URNA L O F ANTHRO PO LO G ICA L R E S E ARCH S P R IN G 2 0 1 8 Consistent with his shamanic identity, he described himself as someone who was able to read the signs left by animals and as someone to whom game was attracted as he traveled with the Villas Bôases. In a much longer account that he told me (in Portuguese) about his first experience of working with these men, he described finding a strategic location for their team to set up camp near where they were to make a landing strip for airplanes close to the future base of Cachimbó. He told about how he and his wife, Carolina, covered this terrain by foot after the Villas Bôases had surveyed it from an airplane. As they walked, he realized that a trail that the Villas Bôas brothers had seen from above was not, as they had supposed from the sky, the trail of a hostile indigenous group, later known as the Panará, of whom the team was very fearful, but rather a trail made by tapirs and thus not a barrier to setting up camp in this strategic area. As a result, the team was able to move their camp from a more distant and poorly provisioned locale. Recounting his conversation with his wife as they walked through this area of forest, Prepori described this moment in the following way: “Let’s go, let’s go this way,” [I said to my wife,] and I entered a path. It was a tapir path. I said to Carolina, “Carolina, it seems like it was this path that Claudio saw from the airplane. It seemed like an Indian trail but it isn’t. It is a tapir’s. Look here.” I marked here that it would be useful for the camp. I discovered good water for the camp. That would last three months. What we had would only last a week and there was hardly any wood. There was forest there. In this passage he describes how the “modern,” areal view of the forest provided by the airplane is revised and corrected by his more intimate, smaller-scale interaction with the forest. He continued, describing how he encountered game to feed the Villas Bôases’ team. In contrast to his tracking down, outsmarting, or dominating these animals, he recounted how many of the monkeys he killed had voluntarily approached him. I found a group of monkeys and I killed a huge one and a guan. I killed the guan, I killed the monkey and grilled them over the fire and we left. We got back to the camp six hours later. Another monkey came. Wa wa wap. [the sound of the monkey coming through the forest.] And, more came, a really small one. I was there waiting and the monkeys came. Piauu Pa Pa. [I shot the monkeys.] Onto the grill! BRAZIL’ S “MARCH TO THE WEST” | 63 The fact that the monkeys came to Prepori was related to his shamanic relationship with the Spirit Master or Wyra Futat of monkeys, the Ka’i Futat. These are the normally invisible beings who give rise to and watch over the monkeys of the forest, according to Kawaiwete cosmology. Shamans who know these spirits, are able to meet with them in a dream or trance. Prepori described for me (in Kayabi, the language of the Kawaiwete) how as a very young man he came to know this spirit when it took his soul and carried it to his village, an event which made him sick. Since this episode he had a lifelong relationship with this spirit, meeting him in his dreams. The monkey [spirit] made me sick. That one that makes me dream. I dream of a village like this [human] village, but one that is a village of animals. The houses are animal spirits’ houses. … The owners of the houses are monkeys. The houses are made of buriti palm. The black monkey’s house is there and the house of the capuchin monkey. … A house of buriti palm and a house of banana leaves. … That is how the spirits’ houses are, the animal spirits’ houses. Although Prepori did not explicitly describe how his hunting for the expedition required a social relationship with the monkey spirit, his description that these animals “came” to him strongly suggests that this logic is at work. The pets or children of this spirit presented themselves to Prepori. Similarly, Prepori had a relationship with the Master of the Tapir, or the Tapira Futat, as well. It was perhaps this relationship that allowed him to read the tapir trail in the forest. After the camp had been set up where Prepori and his wife had scouted, a large tapir walked into camp, much like the monkeys who appeared for him earlier. Prepori described how Orlando Villas Bôas tried to kill it, but that he was the one to succeed. After nine days, the plane appeared and brought food for us. After that a tapir appeared. Orlando shot at it and I managed to kill it. Again, according to Kawaiwete shamanic logic, when hunters find and kill game, it is because the spirits who watch these beings allow this to happen. Prepori’s successful killing of the tapir is a sign that he has the correct social relationships with the being that watches over these animals. Much as those who stress the distinct realities of indigenous Amazonians, here Prepori has a type of social relationship with the creatures of the forest rather than a more “Western” mastery and dominance over natural beings. THE FOREST AS AN OUTLIER RELATIVE TO THE TECHNOLOGY OF THE URBAN SOUTH In addition to relating to the forest as a shaman, Prepori also to some extent shared the goals of the Roncador-Xingu Expedition; by so doing, he did not only inhabit a partic64 | JO URNA L O F ANTHRO PO LO G ICA L R E S E ARCH S P R IN G 2 0 1 8 ular “Amazonian” or “Amerindian” reality, as a focus on the ontology or the distinct worlds inhabited by indigenous peoples would suggest. He describes himself as also intent upon connecting his home and relatives with the benefits of the national society, much like other expedition members. As did most Kawaiwete shamans, Prepori, in the 1990s at least, saw no contradiction in appealing to Western medicine as well as shamanic cures. He described how years earlier he had seen the airstrips he was clearing in the jungle as a way to connect his relatives to the skill of Western doctors, to take part in the medical assistance the national society could offer. This stance is most clear in his account of how he and the Villas Bôases “made contact” with a group of his relatives on this expedition. As the team cleared airstrips en route to the future site of Cachimbo, they encountered several groups of indigenous peoples who were considered “uncontacted”—a categorization which meant that they had not entered into relations with members of the Indian Protection Service. Often these “uncontacted” groups were hostile to settlers and drove them out of their territories. A group of Kawaiwete on the Peixes River, to whom Prepori was related, was just such a group. The Villas Bôas brothers were interested in making “first contact” with these people (Villas Bôas and Villas Bôas 1989). Using Prepori as an intermediary, they did so, following Prepori’s advice. They set up a large fire near their settlement and let the visible smoke draw them into a meeting (Villas Bôas and Villas Bôas 1989). For Prepori, the connection he had facilitated with this group of relatives was directly related to providing treatment for their diseases. He recounted, in Portuguese, about the team’s interactions with this group, A doctor too, a doctor from Rio [arrived on the plane that landed]. They took a Kayabi [Kawaiwete] too, back. His name was Paçi. He got the plane there at the Peixes River and went to Rio from the Peixes River. He grew a parasite, called “belly full of water” [S. mansoni]. It was this big. When he arrived in Rio they took the water out, in two days it filled again, they took it out, it filled again, it filled again. He died of exhaustion. “Belly full of water” kills people. Assisting with this was our work. Prepori here signals that the aviation project led by the Villas Bôases is also his own. As he says about providing access to medical doctors in the city, “this was our work.” Although everyone on the expedition was working to connect the interior to the coastal south, all parties did not evaluate the nature of the “interior” in the same way. For the Villas Boas brothers (1989), airlifting Paçi to Rio de Janeiro was described as an instance in which the expedition, and the modern technology at its disposal, was used to study the exotic diseases of the interior. They write that they were charged with making “a quick trip” to the Peixes area both to “contact” an isolated group of “unquiet” Kayabi, as the Kawaiwete were then called, as well as to bring back to Rio one of the members of this population who had a rare fungal skin disorder, Lobo’s blastoBRAZIL’ S “MARCH TO THE WEST” | 65 mycosis (Baruzzi 1973), so this disease could be studied scientifically. Paçi for them was not of interest as a result of his more common parasite, but rather because he had a relatively unknown, exotic skin disorder. The trip as described by them was a combination of scientific exploration and “pacification” mission, a mix common to the RoncadorXingu Expedition more generally (Meireles 1960; Villas Bôas and Villas Bôas 1994:487). At this point, ill Kawaiwete were specimens to collect and analyze, or at least this is how they were featured in their written account. As such they are not typecast exactly as fellow, even if subordinate, members of the national society, but rather as part of an exotic nature to be understood and documented by science. Nevertheless, despite this difference in evaluative stances with respect to ill native individuals, for both Villas Bôas brothers and Prepori a larger goal of this leg of the expedition was to bring Kawaiwete into contact with Western medicine. THE FOREST BECOMES THE DOMAIN OF SPIRITS FOR THE VILLAS BÔAS BROTHERS In the decades after his first encounter with the Roncador-Xingu Expedition in 1949, Prepori became a close associate of the Villas Bôas brothers. In 1952 he accepted their invitation to move to an interethnic reservation they had worked to set up and initially ran, called the Xingu Indigenous Park, an outgrowth of their experience on the Roncador-Xingu Expedition (for a fuller history of the park see Garfield 2004; Menezes 1999; Oakdale 2005). A few years later, in the mid 1950s, Prepori encouraged 300 of his relatives to relocate to this space, leading them on foot from the Teles Pires, where they had been involved in the debt peonage of rubber tapping for decades (Pagliaro 2005). Later, in the 1960s, he brought families from the more remote Peixes River area to the park by airplane, furnished by the Villas Bôases. All of these groups moved to the northern part of the reservation, where they lived with other refugee groups who had also moved from heavily colonized areas. Within the Xingu Park, he became an intermediary for the Villas Bôas brothers, working on their behalf with other park residents. He also joined many of their expeditions to areas outside the park to relocate yet other indigenous groups within the park’s borders. In the 1970s he was part of their mission to “contact” the Panará, the much feared group who lived around Cachimbo base, and to encourage them to move into the park as well.5 After three decades of working closely with Prepori, the Villas Bôas brothers describe taking on some of his ideas about the natural world, and much like Prepori described himself, as having a hybrid appreciation of the forest. In the Villas Bôases’ accounts of their 1971 expedition, they describe Prepori again as an example of the able backwoodsman who controls nature, someone who knows how to navigate the rivers and locate flat terrain for airstrips (1994:504). They also, however, describe themselves as taking on some of his understandings of the natural world. Rather than only a domain to be mastered, in their accounts it also becomes a social world of relationships in which respect and decorum are necessary. They write about an instance, for example, when 66 | JO URNA L O F ANTHRO PO LO G ICA L R E S E ARCH S P R IN G 2 0 1 8 one of their team members disrespectfully yelled at a jaguar while it was eating its prey. They commented that Prepori, reflecting on this event remarked, “These sorts of things one does not say to a jaguar. The animal gets darn mad.” They go on to suggest, in an oblique manner, that as a result of this disrespect, a pit viper was sent to coil under one of the men’s hammocks that night (Villas Bôas and Villas Bôas 1994:509). This viper, following Kawaiwete cosmological ideas, would have been sent by a master of game in retaliation for the group having treated the jaguar rudely, or the jaguar itself could have been one of these masters in disguise and sent the viper as a result of this personal affront. As is usual in these sorts of exchanges of disrespect, the target can be somewhat approximate; those accompanying the offender can suffer equally as the offender him- or herself. All of this is background knowledge that they do not explain, but with which I am certain they would have been familiar. Interestingly, the appearance of the viper is not explained from Prepori’s point of view, but rather from an impersonal, factual perspective, a move that I interpret to indicate they are taking on this more-social view of relations with animals as their own, not simply repeating it as an example of an “other” cultural tradition. As they camped around the area of Cachimbo, they describe the following scene: At night the conversation always turned to the journey that had just recently ended. Copeany told of the details of his encounter with a jaguar, one who “almost ate him.” He was walking along with Prepori, Ipo, and Tapaiê, hunting. At a certain point they decided to separate. Each one went their own way. After walking a good piece, Copeany felt a light footstep behind him. Turning, he met with a jaguar eating a tatu-canastra that he had just finished attacking. Copeany decided to fire at the beast. That one, scared, abandoned his game right away and ran. Copeany, excited, shouted at the jaguar, “Né crie eté cuiamaié ié” (I am not afraid, I am a man.) The skinny jaguar, irritated with the cry and the loss of his lunch, came back and approached the hunter with a disposition to fight. They [someone in the group], now frightened, fired twice without result. The jaguar, more irritated now, advanced on Copeany. He, out of control, threw down his rifle and nimbly climbed a thin tree and from there went about screaming for his friends. Prepori, the first to arrive, saw the furious jaguar slowly leave. Reporting on the event, Prepori, the old hunter, pondered, —These sorts of things one does not say to a jaguar. The animal gets darn mad. The boy is a really stupid animal, himself. He doesn’t know anything. But the really big fright was Ipo’s. The camp in the jungle was silent. The night was high. Almost all were sleeping. Once in a while there was the sound of a palm rat, or of a hammer frog croaking near by. Ipo decided to get down from his hammock, only he knew why, but his keen ear and sensitive nose perceived something strange under his hammock. BRAZIL’ S “MARCH TO THE WEST” | 67 —Claudio, Claudio light the lantern. Light up beneath my hammock. Wow, what a huge snake! In fact there was an enormous caiçara, the terrible sister of the pit viper. A darned snake, sneaky, ill behaving, treacherous and full of art (Villas Bôas and Villas Bôas 1994:509, translation from Portuguese by the author). Much like Prepori, who describes himself as sharing in the goals of the RoncadorXingu Expedition, the Villas Bôas brothers too describe at least partially relating to the forest animals as fellow social beings when they are deep in the interior and in touch with the spaces of modern Brazil’s alterity (Figure 4). The Villas Boas brothers were perhaps motivated to take on aspects of indigenous cosmology as a mark of their own Brazilian authenticity in 1971, much as in 1949 the March to the West used rural technology to this same end. Many other Latin American nations have appealed to indigenous symbols in nation-building projects. Chile has even used the Mapuche shaman to this end (Bacigalupo 2007). As Ana Maria Alonso wrote about the early-twentieth-century indiginismo of Mexico, “[t]he indigenous element in the mestizo grounds the nation’s claim to territory, provides a continuity of blood, and roots the nation’s history in that of ancient precolonial civilizations” (2008:43). Figure 4. Orlando Villas Bôas with parrots. The caption reads, “The strategy of President Getúlio Vargas was to begin the occupation of the lands to the west at the exact moment that the [countries of the] First World, after World War II, would look to their backyard” (translation by the author). (Courtesy of Museu da Fotografia Documental, http://www.mfd.mus.br). 68 | JO URNA L O F ANTHRO PO LO G ICA L R E S E ARCH S P R IN G 2 0 1 8 According to her, the association of the indigenous side of the mestizo with mythology in particular is “linked to an identification of the interiority and timelessness of the nation, its ‘soul,’ with the ‘Indian’” (2008:43). The Villas Boâses likely identified with the Indian point of view, deep in the heart of the nation, much to the same end. Their account could be interpreted, therefore, as a case of moderns selectively assimilating an element of alterity, thereby asserting the hegemony of their worldview (which here includes nation-building) once again, rather than in any way opening a space for an alternate ontology (Burman 2013). Or even more disturbing, their adoption of this cosmology could be a type of smokescreen, a way to cover the fact that they are at the very same moment involved in removing people such as the Kawaiwete from their lands so as to open them to colonization projects. Both the Roncador-Xingu Expedition and the Xingu Park, as well as the Villas Bôases involvement in them, have been roundly critiqued from this angle. Much as Silvia Rivera (2014) observed for Bolivia, just as government multicultural discourse expands and the rights of non-modern beings such as “Mother Earth” have been guaranteed, deforestation and the agricultural frontier also expand (see Burman 2016). I do not doubt that all of these processes were likely at work. However, if this passage is interpreted also at the level of subjectively lived experiences, an alternate, more hopeful reading is simultaneously plausible, one that does not completely cancel the more cynical, but lives alongside them. By 1971, the Villas Bôases had a very close friendship and working relationship with Prepori, and his shamanic ideas about showing respect to animals had become very well known to them. They had, by this time, established a decades-long relationship with him as well as with other shamans in the Xingu. Their adoption of this indigenous appreciation of animals and spirits may not have been simply a calculated propaganda move or a way of grounding the authenticity of the modern nation, but also a taking on of aspects of Brazilian indigeneity born out of sincere appreciation and long-term communication, much like that which Glenn Penny (2014), going against the grain of the usual negative scholarly evaluations, describes for German hobbyists with respect to their imitation of North American Native traditions or that which E. E. Evans-Pritchard (1976) describes with respect to his own entering into the logic of Azande witchcraft. While the paternalistic administration of the Villas Bôasian Xingu Park has been heavily critiqued (e.g., Bastos 2011; Garfield 2004), it was also a long-term collaborative project with indigenous residents, in many respects. It likely began and was administered through moments in which all participants entered into radically unfamiliar modes of thought. CONCLUSION The interesting aspect of these narratives about the Roncador-Xingu Expedition and establishing the military base at Cachimbo is the extent to which the individuals involved moved between and reflected upon alternative ways of understanding the forest and its inhabitants. When historically specific projects such as the March to the West are the focus of analysis, rather than free-floating, decontextualized shamanic cosmolBRAZIL’ S “MARCH TO THE WEST” | 69 ogies or myths, the pragmatic deployment of knowledge of and ideas about the forest come into view, and this in turn brings more nuanced, hybrid accounts of nature to the forefront. Ontological anthropology, in contrast, at least in the versions which focus on decontextualized cosmology or belief, treat indigenous Amazonian (or all Amerindian) and “Western” ideas as artificially homogeneous and sharply contrasting philosophical systems (Turner 2009:39; Bessire and Bond 2014:445). One danger of this is that the value of indigenous spokespeople such as shamans is gauged solely in terms of the extent to which they stand apart from the West and Western ideas. People, however, are “disruptive beings” (Bessire and Bond 2014) who move between such systems and strategically draw from more than one logic to maneuver in concrete historical situations (see also Ramos 2012).6 Prepori was both a part of Brazilian modernity as well as stood apart from it. He related to animals and their spirit masters in a way that was distinctly non-modern. Like Amazonia itself, he provided the raw material or labor for modernity’s manifestation, was a representation of its inverse, alter image, as well as an anchor for its construction as authentically Brazilian, but he also shared some of its goals—namely to bring Western medicine to the interior. Attention to the way intermediaries such as Prepori or even the Villas Bôases moved between ways of understanding the forest gives a sense of how those who lived in the Amazon experienced its cosmopolitan interpersonal connections rather than strictly living in alternate realities. NOTES Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 2014 meeting of the American Anthropological Association and at the February 4, 2016, Legacy Lecture in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico. I would like to thank participants at these two events for their comments as well as the co-organizer of the American Anthropological Association session, Marnie Watson, and the organizer of the Legacy Lecture, Marygold Walsh-Dilley. The article also benefited greatly from the perceptive comments of the anonymous reviewers and Lawrence Straus, editor of theJournal of Anthropological Research. I am grateful to Robert Castello, the president of the Museu da Fotografia Documental (MFD), for granting me permission to reproduce photos from the museum’s archives. Part of the analysis of the historical material included in this article was carried out during a sabbatical funded by an Award for Faculty granted from the National Endowment for the Humanities during 2012–2013. The field research on which this essay is based was carried out between 1991 and 1993, funded by grants from the Fulbright Institute of International Education, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and a University of Chicago Travel Grant. I am grateful to all Kawaiwete (Kayabi) residents of Tujarare, but especially to Aturi Kayabi and Mairata Kayabi for their work with me on the Kayabi language and their translation into Portuguese of a part of Prepori’s narrative. Finally, I wish to thank Prepori for sharing his account with me and his family for their hospitality. 1. The “orthodromic line” was the shortest distance on the sphere of the earth and had to be established from above, using technology taught by the US Air Force. 70 | JO URNA L O F ANTHRO PO LO G ICA L R E S E ARCH S P R IN G 2 0 1 8 2. When this consciousness of modernity occurred is an open question. He narrated his story to me about this expedition in 1992, many decades after his actual participation in the project. As one reviewer pointed out, his appreciation of modernity may have come about later. The actual moment of consciousness, between 1949 and 1992, is less important for my argument, than the fact that it occurred at some point and is present in his narrative. Participation in this joint project was, I maintain, at least one experience that helped to shape this consciousness. By the same logic, his shamanic perspective was also likely further developed after 1949, when Prepori moved the Xingu Park reservation, because shamanism was encouraged by the administration as an authentic indigenous practice whereas it was discouraged by missions operating in frontier areas and with which Kawaiwete individuals had intermittent contact. 3. This formulation leaves the mixed Amazonian peoples, often called caboclos, once again invisible (see Nugent 1993). 4. With respect to an Amerindian appreciation of the forest that fits with the “ontological turn” see Kopenawa and Albert (2013). 5. Since the Panará proved to be reluctant to enter into contact with government teams, this event only took place much later. 6. Bessire and Bond (2014) describe pollutants such as mercury, pesticides, and radioactive isotopes as “disruptive things” that travel between ontologies. They observe, “ontological anthropology avoids recognizing such confrontations in part by pressing all analysis of materiality even further into sacred materials (Holbraad 2012).” REFERENCES CITED Alonso, Ana María. 2008. “Territorializing the nation and ‘integrating the Indian’: ‘Mestizaje’ in Mexican official discourse and public culture,” in Foreign bodies. Edited by F. Hansen and T. Blom, pp. 39–55. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bacigalupo, Ana Mariella. 2007. Shamans of the foye tree: Gender, power, and healing among Chilean Mapuche. Austin: University of Texas Press. Baruzzi, R. G., et al. 1973. Occurrence of Lobo’s blastomycosis among ‘Caiabi’ Brazilian Indians. International Journal of Dermatology 12:356–62. Bastos, Rafael. 2011 “‘Leonardo, the flute’: On the sexual life of sacred flutes among the Xinguano Indians” in Burst of breath. Edited by J. Hill and J.-P. Chaumeil, pp. 69–92. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Berman, Marshall. 1988. All that is solid melts into air: The experience of modernity. New York: Penguin Books. Bessire, Lucas, and David Bond. 2014. Ontological anthropology and the deferral of critique. American Ethnologist 41(3):440–56. Blaser, Mario. 2013. Ontological conflicts and the stories of peoples in spite of Europe: Toward a conversation on political ontology. Current Anthropology 54(5):547–68. Burman, Anders. 2013. Comments on “Ontological conflicts and the stories of peoples in spite of Europe: Toward a conversation on political ontology.” Current Anthropology 54(5):560–61. ———. 2016. Indigeneity and decolonization in the Bolivian Andes. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. BRAZIL’ S “MARCH TO THE WEST” | 71 Costa, Helouise and Sergio Burgi. 2012. “A grande reportagem” in As origens do fotojornalismo no Brasil. Edited by H. Costa and S. Burgi, pp. 41–77. São Paulo: Instituto Moreira Sales. Comaroff, John, and Jean Comaroff, eds. 1993. Modernity and its malcontents: Ritual and power in postcolonial Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. De la Cadena, Marisol. 2015. Earth Beings: Ecologies of practice across Andean worlds. Durham: Duke University Press. Diacon, Todd. 2004. Stringing together a nation: Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon and the construction of a modern Brazil, 1906–1930. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1976. Witchcraft, oracles and magic among the Azande. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Freyre, Gilberto. 1971. The masters and the slaves: A study in the development of Brazilian civilization. New York: Alfred A Knopf. (Originally published in 1933) Garfield, Seth. 2001. Indigenous struggle at the heart of Brazil: State policy, frontier expansion, and the Xavante Indians, 1937–1988. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. ———. 2004. A nationalist environment: Indians, nature and the construction of the Xingu Park in Brazil. Luso-Brazilian Review 41(1):139–67. ———. 2013. In search of the Amazon: Brazil, the United States and the nature of a region. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Hagedorn, Dan. 2008. Conquistadors of the sky: A history of aviation in Latin America. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Hecht, Susanna B. 2013. The scramble for the Amazon and the “Lost Paradise” of Euclides da Cunha. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Holbraad, Martin. 2012. Truth in motion: The recursive anthropology of Cuban divination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Holston, James. 1989. The modernist city: An anthropological critique of Brasília. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Kopenawa, Davi, and Bruce Albert. 2013. The falling sky: Words of a Yanomami shaman. Translated by N. Elliott and A. Dundy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Lima, Antonio Carlos de Souza. 1995. Um grande cerco de paz: Poder tutelar, indianidade e formação do estado no Brasil. Petrópolis, Brazil: Vozes. Maciel, Laura Antunes. 1997. A nação por um fio. São Paulo: Editora da PUC-Sp. Meireles, Silo. 1960. Brasil central: Notas e impressões. Rio de Janeiro: Biblioteca do Exército. Menezes, Maria Lúcia Pires de. 1999. Parque Indígena do Xingu: A construção de um território estatal. São Paulo: Imsep-Unicamp. Nugent, Stephen. 1993. Amazon caboclo society: An essay on invisibility and peasant economy. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ———. 2000. “Good risk, bad risk: Reflexive modernism and Amazonia,” in Risk revisited. Edited by P. Caplan, pp. 226–48. London: Pluto Press. Oakdale, Suzanne. 2005. I foresee my life: The ritual performance of autobiography in an Amazonian community. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Oakdale, Suzanne, and Marnie Watson. 2018. The diversity of the modern in Amazonia. Journal of Anthropological Research 74(1):00–00. Pagliaro, Heloisa. 2005. “A mudança dos Kaiabi para o Parque Indígena do Xingu: Uma história de sucesso demográfico,” in Parque Indigena do Xingu: Saúde, cultura, e história. Edited by R. Baruzzi and C. Junqueira, pp. 125–40. São Paulo: Terra Virgem. 72 | JO URNA L O F ANTHRO PO LO G ICA L R E S E ARCH S P R IN G 2 0 1 8 Palmié, Stephan. 2002. Wizards and scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban modernity and tradition. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Penny, H. Glenn. 2014. “Not playing Indian,” in Performing Indigeneity: Global histories and contemporary experiences. Edited by L. Graham and H. G. Penny, pp. 169–205. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Piot, Charles. 1999. Remotely global: Village modernity in West Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rivera Cusicanqui, Silvia. 2014. Mito y desarrollo en Bolivia: El giro colonial del gobierno del MAS. La Paz: Piedra Rota, Plural Editores. Ramos, Alcida. 2012. The politics of perspectivism. Annual Review of Anthropology 41:481–94. Shaw, Lisa. 2006. “Vargas on film: From the newsreel to the Chanchada,” in Vargas and Brazil: New perspectives. Edited by J. R. Hentschke, pp. 207–26. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Tacca, Fernando de. 2002. Rituaes e festas Bororo. A construção da imagem do índio como ‘selvagem’ na Comissão Rondon. Revista de Antropologia 45(1):187–219. http://www.scielo .br/scielo.php?scriptpsci_arttext&pidpS0034-77012002000100006 accessed on March 23, 2015. Turner, Terence. 2009. The crisis of late structuralism, perspectivism and animism: Rethinking culture, nature, and bodiliness. Tipití 7(1):3–43. Villas Bôas, Orlando, and Cláudio Villas Bôas. 1989. Os Kayabi do Rio São Manoel. Porto Alegre: Editora Kuarup. ———. 1994. A Marcha para o Oeste. São Paulo: Editora Globo. Villas Bôas Filho, Orlando, ed. 2006. Orlando Villas Bôas: Expedições, reflexões e registros. São Paulo: Metalivros. Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2012. Cosmological perspectivism in Amazonia and elsewhere. Manchester: HAU Network of Ethnographic Theory. ———. 2014. Cannibal metaphysics. Edited and translated by P. Skafish. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Weinstein, Barbara. 2015. The color of modernity: São Paulo and the making of race and nation in Brazil. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.