“I’ve already seen many children being buried in the Xingu tribes. I’ve seen this happen many times. I think that it’s wrong because I like children. I, for example, need more children, because I only have two. Instead of burying them, they could give them to me. Sometimes I try to take them out of the hole, but it is difficult. Sometimes the mother wants to keep the child, but the family won’t let her. It’s very difficult.

Up until today, I’ve only been able to dig up one child that was still alive, Amalé. His mother was a single-mother, she cried a lot, but her father buried him. He was crying from within the hole, then my family called me. I entered the house, asked where he was buried and took him out of the hole. Blood was coming out of his mouth and nose, but he lived. He isn’t well, but I’ve decided to raise him as my own. Now, he’s my son. He’s a beautiful boy, he’s not a dog. It’s wrong to bury. There were children that I have tried to save, but I was too late. One was born in the night and I didn’t see him. My aunt also wanted this child, she liked him, but when she got there, the baby’s mother had already broken his neck. They broke his neck and then buried him. The other child that I tried to take out of the hole, I didn’t get to in time, because I was on the other side of the village, harvesting cassava. I was working and I didn’t see it happening. They told me that he too was crying inside the hole. My other cousin, Mahuri’s mother, buried the five children that were born before he was. She was single, and because of this, she had to bury them. One of the workers saved Mahuri because he felt so sad for him, now, Mahuri is a very beautiful boy, and he’s already quite big. His mother saw him in December and she thinks he’s beautiful.

I, myself, don’t like the fact that we bury children, I think it’s wrong. Children aren’t dogs. We are afraid of twins or triplets being born. They say that when a witchdoctor makes a spell, up to seven children can be born. Because of this, the mothers are afraid. But I think that it’s wrong to kill. I’ve already said this to the women there. The baby’s cry inside the hole, young babies take a long time to die. If I see babies in the hole, I take them out of it.”

Kamiru Kamayurá
Brasilia, August 2007.

Kamiru Kamayurá, the adoptive mother of Amalé, who was buried alive by his biological mother soon after birth, is fighting to convince other women from her tribal village to abandon this practice.

by Paltu Kamayura

“My son was a twin, there were two of them. They buried the other one. The nurse didn’t inform me that she had twins. Only at the time of birth, at two o’clock in the morning. I was at home and my wife was at her mother’s house. Then, after the birth, the person came to tell me that there were two children. I was very shocked. They informed me that they were going to bury both of them. Then, I said no, that I needed to get at least one of them. But the family didn’t want me to get either of the children.

I insisted and then my father went there to get one of the children. They took one, and buried the other. Today, the child is here with me, he’s already seven months old, he’s quite chubby. When they bury children, the mother and father feel a great emptiness, as it is with my own situation. Until today, I can forget it. Because I am seeing the boy, his growth, and then I think about the other one too, why?!

If I had had somebody to help me, I could have raised both the children… I say this. The mother told me the other day “Why?! They buried our child, now we only have one”. It’s very sad, we can never forget it. People who study indigenous culture, like anthropologists and indigenous experts, they think that the native Indians will live like this forever, like it was before. But today, it is already changing. More and more, the thoughts of the young people of this generation are changing.

My own thoughts aren’t as they used to be. They’re not like the thoughts of anthropologists who study culture and say “let them live like this, this is their culture”. No, because culture doesn’t stop, it keeps going. Thoughts keep going as well, just like culture does. It is because of this that we want to keep these children, even those who have disabilities. They are people, they are not animals, they are not children of pigs or armadillos. They are real people; they came out of a person. This is my thought. We are the ones who will decide this. We are the ones seeking help to raise these children. We are looking for support, we have to talk amongst ourselves, then, through these talks, the government will have to assist us.

A lot of people are already seeking help in order to solve this problem. My own nephew, Marcelo, is working in the area of healthcare. He’s an assistant nurse and is going from village to village, talking to the chiefs. He is saying not to bury children anymore, children who are born with a deficiency, twins, children who don’t have a father. It’s not right to bury children anymore. Twins are to be taken and raised, because if we keep on burying children, our population will never increase. This is our concern today.”

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