The Manifesto

    The Manifesto

    By Brazzil Magazine

    In April, 1998, I gave a seminar at the International Holistic
    University, located in the City of Peace, Brasília. During that same week, the National
    Encounter of Pajés was being held at the City of Peace. Pajés, or shamans,
    from some 40 tribal nations in Brazil, had assembled to combat "ecopiratism,"
    the theft by the biotechnology industry of their resources and tribal knowledge.

    This encounter was sponsored by the Fundação Nacional dos Índios,
    the National Foundation for the Indians. I was able to interact with many of the pajés
    during meal times, as we all ate at the same restaurant at the City of Peace. I also
    was allowed to visit the encampment of the pajés, which was located near a
    beautiful waterfall. Some of the pajés were also chiefs, as these functions are
    sometimes combined in small tribes.

    The pajé with whom I had the most frequent contact was Itambé
    Pataxo, representative of the Pataxo Nation, a wellknown activist who has protested the
    inattention given to indigenous cultures in the anniversary plans surrounding Portugal’s
    arrival in Brazil in 1500 (Hasse, 1999). With him, I rang the Peace Bell, a gift to the
    City of Peace from a private Japanese Foundation in honor of the university’s work in the
    area of conflict resolution. A few years earlier, I had represented the United States when
    the Peace Bell was dedicated, to the accompaniment of Japanese dancers and musicians.

    Itambé told me that in 1996, an American company, Coriel Cell
    Repositories, and a Brazilian physician had teamed up for a clandestine commercial
    operation in a village inhabited by the Karitiana tribe in northwestern Brazil. They had
    obtained permission from the National Foundation for the Indians to study a regional
    animal, but instead drew blood samples from members of the Karitiana Nation who naively
    trusted the outsiders. A similar procedure was followed to obtain blood samples from the
    Surui tribe. Both tribes are located in the state of Rondônia near Porto Velho, the state
    capital.

    Veloso (1998), a Brazilian journalist, reported that through its
    Website, Coriel Cell Repositories has been selling the decodification of the Indians’ DNA
    as well as their blood samples. Veloso described the Karitiana village as a small enclave
    of some 200 Indians who live a poor but peaceful life as subsistence farmers, growing
    rice, beans, and corn on their 800 acres. When the scam was uncovered, a special
    commission from Brazil’s House of Deputies denounced the scheme, but no action was taken.

    According to the shamanchief Cizino Karitiana, the most outrageous
    aspect of the incident was that the researchers were accompanied by a representative of
    the National Foundation for the Indians who did nothing to stop the abuse. On the fateful
    day, the shamanchief was invited to be the guide for eight "researchers" as they
    traveled to a cave. In the meantime, two "researchers" stayed in the Karitiana
    village and drew blood from everyone, including elders and babies. The
    "researchers" told the Indians that they were sick and that their blood needed
    to be examined in order for them to be healed. When Cizino returned from the cave, he was
    also told to donate blood, or he would contaminate the entire village.

    The information gleaned from these incursions is in demand from
    "researchers" in various parts of the world who ask why these Indians appear to
    be immune to tropical illnesses, and how they can function in extreme weather conditions.
    With this information, these "researchers" produce medicines that increase
    soldiers’ resistance during combat in parts of the world with similar illnesses or weather
    conditions.

    A representative for the National Foundation for the Indians, Zilene
    Kaingangue, was interviewed by Veloso and commented, "It is not enough to have
    rigorous laws. The important commitment is among ourselves, the Indians, not to give away
    our own medicines."

    She told Veloso that her father, Domingos Kaingangue, a wellknown pajé
    in the state of Paraná who was present at the encounter, received some
    "researchers" in 1995. He gave them a number of prescriptions for various
    illnesses ranging from cancer to the common cold. A short time later, these prescriptions
    were published in a book without the village’s authorization or any kind of financial
    compensation. Zilene claimed that the biotechnology industry "makes millions of
    dollars in profits from our knowledge."

    At the end of the weeklong encounter, the pajés produced a
    Charter of the Principles of Indigenous Knowledge which was publicized throughout the
    country. I was given a copy of this Charter and promised Citambe Pataxo that I would
    distribute it once I returned to the United States. What follows is a translation of this
    document from the original Portuguese.

    The Manifesto
    The invaders, like animals of the night, have been coming to our
    land to steal our most precious possession. This precious possession is the knowledge that
    is stored inside the head of each pajé and in our tribal traditions. They steal
    this knowledge in the name of peace, in the name of humanity, and in the name of science.
    After they plunder this knowledge, they sell it to the one who offers the best price for
    it.

    We would like to have this document, in which our concerns are recorded,
    sent all over the world, because we still hope to teach the invaders that we all
    participate in the great cycle of life. We are children of the Great Mother Earth, and we
    are here to live in peace, which is the daughter of respect. As long as there is no
    respect for our people, there will be no real peace among us.

    Many years ago, at the beginning of time, we Brazilian Indians were
    already here, and there were millions of us. In those times, our ancestors were already
    teaching that all that exists is linked to the great cycle of life. In nature, each detail
    is important. The waters of the rivers and the tributaries, the forests, both large and
    small animals, all have their own purpose. They were placed here in order to maintain the
    cycle of life and to share their knowledge with human beings.

    Through thousands of years, we have participated respectfully in this
    cycle of life, learning from nature every day. The Earth was the Great Mother to our
    people, and still is. Nature gives us nourishment for our children. Nature teaches us how
    to use plants to heal the illnesses of our people.

    The invaders arrived five hundred years ago, and everything changed in
    this place where we used to live. Many of our tribes were decimated by illness and by war.
    In the beginning, we were six million in number. Today we are a mere three hundred
    thousand. The invaders have taken the precious minerals, the wood, and even the land. Our
    Great Mother cries sadly, and we cry with her. When we go to the river, it is polluted.
    Many of us can not hunt in the forest because it no longer exists. When we want to talk to
    the spirits, they do not answer us because tractors have trampled their homes.

    We are certain that the way of life that was imposed upon us was a
    "civilization" that did not even work out for the invaders. As Indians, we still
    resist this "civilization." We maintain our traditions and our respect for Great
    Mother Earth. But these activities cause us to be labeled "lazy savages" by the
    invaders.

    We do not comprehend their teachings. We do not understand teachings
    that destroys the forest, that pollutes the rivers, and that kills the fish. We do not
    comprehend teachings that abandons the elderly, mistreats their children, and abuses their
    women. We do not comprehend the invaders’ anxiety to dominate not only nature and the
    forces of the universe, but other people as well. All of their power and all of their
    weapons have not made them happy. We know the medicines that would cure many of their
    illnesses and pains, sicknesses for which their wise men have no remedies. Our knowledge
    could even help them deal with the various plagues that are affecting their farms.

    At this National Encounter of Pajés, we were able to talk about
    our traditional knowledge with our relatives from all over Brazil for the first time. We
    found that once more the invaders, like animals of the night, have been coming to our land
    to steal our most precious possession. This precious possession is the knowledge that is
    stored inside the head of each pajé and in our tribal traditions. They steal this
    knowledge in the name of peace, in the name of humanity, and in the name of science. After
    they plunder this knowledge, they sell it to the one who offers the best price for it.

    At the National Encounter of Pajés, we spent a great deal of
    time talking about these issues, and we decided to close our hearts and protect our
    knowledge. We issued a command:

    Stop stealing from us. Stop treating us as objects of research. Stop
    the destruction of the forests, rivers, and animals.
    We demand respect for our past
    and for our culture. We also demand that not only the Brazilian government, but other
    world authorities as well, respond to the following proposals:

    1. A pile of laws has been established by Brazil and many other
    governments throughout the world. There are laws that protect our people and our
    traditional knowledge, and that protect the forests, rivers, and air. But in Brazil and
    all over the world there are too many laws and not enough action. For us, these laws have
    no value because governments do not follow the laws they make. We demand that
    governments enforce their own laws that were made to protect indigenous people.

    2. There are patent laws that register under the names of outsiders what, in truth,
    belongs to us. These laws are neither good nor just for indigenous people. These laws
    permit the theft of our knowledge. We demand a new law, one that gives voice to the pajés
    as representatives of indigenous people, one that guarantees that we have the
    rights to what is ours. We want to be heard and we want our wishes to be respected
    whenever laws are made concerning this matter.

    3. The blood of some of our tribal relatives, the Karitiana and the
    Surui, was taken away from their bodies and away from Brazil, and is now being sold as
    genetic merchandise. We demand that the Brazilian government speak with the other
    governments of the world in order to stop this practice.

    4. The blood of the Karitiana and the Surui was taken far away and is
    now worth money. These tribes were left with the promise that they would receive some help
    from those who took their blood away. We demand a just indemnity be paid to the
    Karitiana and the Surui people for the damage this theft caused them.

    5. Many outsiders go to our land, are welcomed, conduct research, talk
    to us, and carry away many living things from the forests and rivers, then do not return.
    Instead, they go to the cities, write books, make movies, print postcards, then sell all
    of these items for profit while our people remain poor, without care, and without support.
    The National Foundation for the Indians proclaims that it controls these entryways yet we
    never saw this control handled in the right way. We demand that the Brazilian
    government begin working with the National Foundation for the Indians to control the entry
    of outsiders in indigenous lands.

    6. The National Foundation for the Indians has existed for a long time,
    and through its services, many outsiders have visited our land. What has been done with
    the results of these visits? How has this work helped our people? When will this
    assistance arrive? The National Foundation for the Indians must answer. The National
    Foundation for the Indians should produce a report about this matter and present it to the
    pajés.

    7. We know that various plants, animals, insects, and even our own
    blood samples are exported from Brazil to other countries. Our land is like an open
    market, where anyone can enter and carry away whatever they like. We demand that the
    Brazilian government monitor its own gateways in order to establish a better protection of
    its own patrimony.

    8. We know that there are many universities in the big cities, and that
    there are many Brazilian researchers. Why do they have to remove items in order to study
    them? Why do we have to buy expensive medicines, many of which resulted from applications
    of our own knowledge? For example, the Macuxi tribe has used an herbal medicine for years
    that is now being studied at a university, and will probably be sold back to us in the
    future. The Brazilian government needs to acknowledge and support the research already
    done by indigenous people.

    9. The future of our traditional knowledge, a rare and precious
    resource for all humankind, might not be secure. Our pajés and our elders are
    dying with illnesses that did not exist in the old days. Many of our children and our
    young people are dying of illness and starvation. Therefore, we demand that the
    authorities assist us in maintaining our health and guaranteeing the survival of our
    people.

    10. The Earth is our Great Mother. Nature is the largest pharmacy that
    exists in the world. Without nature, our traditional knowledge will not be useful to our
    people or to the rest of humanity. The invaders’ greed has resulted in the transformation
    of our natural resources into money. This greed has brought sickness, starvation, and
    death to our people. During the fires in the northern state of Roraima, many animals,
    herbs, and vines that we used in our medicines perished, and no longer exist. Our Great
    Mother Earth is mortally wounded, and if she dies, we will die as well. If she dies, the
    invaders will have no future. Therefore, we demand protection of our lands. We demand
    the guarantee, through demarcation, of the space that is necessary for our physical and
    cultural survival.

    11. We know that the Brazilian government is not the only government
    responsible for the indigenous people’s lives and environment. Everything that is exported
    from our lands, such as wood, minerals, animals, and our blood, go to distant countries.
    Therefore, these countries are also responsible for our suffering, and the suffering of
    our relatives throughout the world. There is an International Charter of Indigenous
    Peoples. We demand that a firm position be taken by the United Nations and by the
    European Parliament in order to guarantee this Charter and to require that the governments
    of the world treat environmental issues and the indigenous people with the respect and
    seriousness they deserve.

    Our final words are not those of happiness. We ended this encounter
    very distressed with what we saw and what we heard about our relatives. In addition, there
    is a great sadness in our hearts after observing the violent "civilized" world
    in action. Now we are going to close our hearts, and keep in our heads the knowledge of
    our ancestors. This is not because we are selfish. We are doing this because we must
    protect our indigenous knowledge to guarantee a better future not only for our people, but
    for the entire world.

    We will discuss these issues with our relatives who did not attend this
    encounter. We will tell them the stories we heard at this meeting. We will warn everybody
    who will listen to us.

    We would like to have this document, in which our concerns are
    recorded, sent all over the world, because we still hope to teach the invaders that we all
    participate in the great cycle of life. We are children of the Great Mother Earth, and we
    are here to live in peace, which is the daughter of respect. As long as there is no
    respect for our people, there will be no real peace among us.

    We have been coexisting with the invaders for 500 years. These 500
    years are full of sadness and conflict. Nevertheless, we are still alive. Our women bear
    fruit every day, as does the Earth. We are from the Earth and we will stay here. We can
    help all humanity, and we want to help them. But we need help as well. At the same time,
    we can not condone the theft and the devastation. It is time for this to stop. This is our
    word.

    Francisco Apurina, from the Apurina Nation

    Waixa Javae, from the Javae Nation

    Domingos Kaingangue, from the Kaingang Nation

    Maluare Karaja, from the Karaja Nation

    Cizino Karatiana, from the Karatiana Nation

    Maria Diva Maxacali from the Maxacali Nation

    Citambe Pataxo, from the Pataxo Nation

    Joãozinho Xavante, from the Xavante Nation

    João Xerente, from the Xerente Nation

    Representatives from the Kraho Nation, the Terena Nation, and 30 other
    indigenous tribal nations.

    City of Peace, Brasilia, 17 April 1998.

    In October, 1998 a similar conference was held in the United States.
    The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Montana/Wyoming Health Board hosted a
    conference on North American Genetic Research and Native People in Polson, Montana. This
    conference brought together tribal leaders, scientists, bioethicists, tribal attorneys,
    and educators to discuss issues relating to human genetic research and indigenous peoples.

    Notably absent from the conference were representatives from the North
    American Committee of the Human Genome Diversity Project, despite repeated invitations by
    conference organizers. A tribal attorney at the conference criticized the Project’s
    protocol, noting that "It doesn’t demand anything but informed consent. Who will
    judge if the consent is informed?" Another lawyer observed, "No research [on
    humans] should be done unless there’s a benefit to the population to be studied….If
    there were no patents, my guess is that most of these issues would be gone" (Harry,
    1999). In other words, many similar concerns were voiced at the two conferences.

    Finally, the "etic" approach to the study of human diversity
    has been seriously questioned (e.g., Winant, 1994). In contrast, the "emic"
    approach entails the use of people’s selfcategorizations and others to establish racial
    identities and meanings. This approach sees race not as a "natural" attribute,
    but one that is socially constructed and specific to a given society. In Brazil, for
    example, the perception of skin color, hair texture, and facial features outweigh heritage
    to establish a racial identity (Harris, Consorte, Lang, & Byrne, 1993). When
    indigenous people protest against giving blood samples for genetic testing, they are also
    making a legitimate objection to the reification of racial stereotypes that have left a
    legacy of disempowerment and discrimination in their wake.

    Grateful acknowledgement is expressed to Joaquim Posé for his
    assistance in translating this document.

    Stanley Krippner is a Professor of Psychology at the
    Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, San Francisco. California
    .

    References:

    Harris, M., Consorte, J., Lang, J., & Byrne, B. (1993). Who are the
    whites? Imposed census categories and the racial demography of Brazil. Social Forces, 72,
    451462.

    Hasse, G. (1999, April 19). Pajé não quer festa pare Cabral [Shaman
    does not want a festival for Cabral]. Época, pp. 4647.

    Harry, D. (1999, February). Tribes meet to discuss genetic
    colonization. Anthropology Newsletter, p. 15.

    Veloso, B. (1998, April 21). Pajés se unem contra biopirataria
    [Shamans unite against biopiratism]. Correio Braziliense, p. 16.

    Winant, H. (1994). Racial conditions: Politics, theory, comparisons.
    Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

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