Tribal Chiefs of Xingu reservation in the Amazon respond to Hakani Documentary

Imagine the famous tribal chief, Aritana, leader of the tribal chiefs from the 14 Xinguan ethnicities, making an emotional promise.

Imagine the health workers, the indigenous teachers, and even a Kamaiuran woman chief was making the same promise. Imagine each tribal chief going forward, presenting themselves and saying, in their own language, “I also promise…” It was this that happened at the Leonardo health station, in the Xingu Indigenous Reservation, between the 10th and 13th of November 2008. After having watched the Hakani documentary, the indigenous people who were most deeply touched made a commitment, in front of their partners, to do whatever is possible to prevent children being buried within the reserve due to being twins or born to a single mother. There were more than 250 indigenous people, from 7 different ethnicities, discussing the issue and searching for alternatives so that the rejection of children within the reserve would be overcome.

We know that this is only the beginning – our responsibility now is even bigger. The health workers and indigenous teachers made it very clear that a promise isn’t enough. For the women to fulfil this promise, they will need accompaniment, help and orientation. The general agreement between those present, was the willingness to do whatever is possible so that twins and children born of a single mother will be saved. The situation with children who has deficiencies is more difficult and we need to keep searching for alternatives and solutions so that these children would be saved and have the right to life and dignity.

The most important thing is that this meeting was thought up and organised by the Indians themselves. This shows that they are assuming the leadership of this fight and this fills us with hope. The meeting also went against the arguments of those who believe that the Hakani documentary should be banned because it offends indigenous people. This even leaves it clear that the indigenous people of Brazil don’t feel offended, that they understand the message better than many white people. On the contrary, they feel deeply moved; they can identify themselves with Hakani’s story. After watching the film, they were able to open their hearts and talk about what they really feel in respect to infanticide.

The immediate results of this reflection in the tribal villages of the Xingu Reserve were much more than we could have hoped for – the public promise that they made opens the way that concreted actions may be taken in defense of these children.

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