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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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