The Kalabaça

Fábio Barbosa dos Santos, a leader of the Kalabaça de Crateús

My name is Fábio Barbosa dos Santos, I am 29 years old. I am of the Kalabaça de Crateús ethnicity, from Ceará state. My village had some Covid-19 cases.  I live in the city.  We are not living in a village because the Kalabaça de Crateús ethnicity does not have a village. Many members of our people are split up among other villages, both in the city and in the countryside.

We rely upon the support of the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai), which helps us fight the pandemic and its impacts. For those of us living through this situation, it is difficult, because there is little help, little gel alcohol distribution; the bureaucracy was a little slow in terms of receipt and distribution.  The financial situation is not very good. Many people lost jobs.  I was already unemployed and the situation only got worse with the pandemic.

I have a family, I am a leader of the Kalabaça people, and I am in the movement since childhood. I am unemployed and had to give up studying physical education at college. In part because I have a health problem (hydrocephalus and hypertension), and there is a lot of fear…fear of going out to find work to put food on the table. I lost some close friends to this disease. It is something so rapid, that, when you least expect it, it’s already over, there isn’t enough time to visit or anything. We who are more vulnerable are afraid, we who are in a risk group (Fábio Barbosa dos Santos, September 7, 2020)

Edmilson Barbosa da Silva, Cacique [Chief] Edmilson of the Kalabaça de Crateús people

My name is Edmilson Barbosa da Silva, known in the Indigenous movement as Cacique Edmilson. I was born in 1977. I am 43. I belong to the Kalabaça ethnicity, in the municipality of Crateus in Ceará.  Yes, there were some cases of Covid-19 among the Kalabaça, but, thank God, they recovered. The safety protocols are to stay home, use a mask and disinfect hands using gel alcohol; and always travel with gel alcohol on hand, in your pockets or in anything you can take with you. The orientation given is to just take care of the basics, go home and stay there – the main thing is to stay home. Regarding those who are sick, they should remain isolated in place for 15 to 17 days, and not have contact with anyone.  Whenever you deliver something to someone, communicate via cell phone, so that the person uses gloves, mask and gel alcohol. Place the food, and then close the door and ring for the person to get it.

This has been a time of great affliction and of anguish, of fear of losing a relative of our own ethnicity, from our people. We didn’t expect this kind of plague in our midst, but, thanks to God, we are trying to overcome the situation. The pandemic affected me in relation to the Acampamento Terra Livre [Free Land Encampment] (ATL, which this year was held only virtually) in Brasília [Federal District]; where, every year, I demonstrate in the middle of the Indigenous movement. I was also affected regarding the making of handicrafts, because of raw materials, since we often need to find them in nature, where we collect seeds. At the same time, I was affected psychologically, not knowing how to react in such a difficult moment.  However, as the saying goes, when we have Father Tupã, we have everything and will gradually sort things out.  I was also affected in relation to other types of work that I do – I am unemployed and haven’t had work.

We lost some Indigenous relatives because of this accursed disease, but, among my people, no one died, we were only affected. I’ve been practicing my spirituality online and, at the same time, by myself. At six am, I get my maracá and I concentrate. I say my prayer, with a great deal of strength and faith, asking Father Tupã to send this disease far away, asking for us to be able to return to our normal activities. Because, if we don’t do this, we will lose strength, especially those of us who are leaders, chiefs or shamans. We need to be fortified in our spirit, body, mind, soul and everything and ask our relatives on social networks to do the same, so that we perform a large prayer in the form of a chain, to protect our people and our struggle, because we can’t falter in the face of this dangerous enemy, Covid-19.  Recently, I’ve been going to the river’s edge to ask Father Tupã, Mother Tamaí and Caipora (with whom I have a strong connection) for protection, protection for our relatives and for everyone who is infected with this disease.  I ask Father Tupã to quickly expel this disease. (Edmilson Barbosa da Silva, September 9, 2020)

Iuri Alves Gomes

Iuri Alves Gomes, nascido em 19 de outubro de 1998, é indígena do povo Jenipapo-Kanindé, da aldeia Lagoa Encantada, localizada em Aquiraz (Ceará). É graduando no bacharelado em Biologia na Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia (UFRB), estagiário no Laboratório de Ecologia Vegetal e Restauração Ecológica (Levre/UFRB), membro do Grupo de Pesquisa Restauração Ecológica, Conservação e Conectividade da Universidade Federal do Vale do São Francisco (Reconecta/Univasf), integrante do Coletivo de Estudantes Indígenas na UFRB e bolsista do Projeto Mapeamento das Violações aos Direitos Indígenas no Nordeste do Brasil. Atua como monitor do Museu Indígena Jenipapo-Kanindé e guia das Trilhas Ecológicas da Etnia Jenipapo-Kanindé.