I like to think about the meanings of words and, above all, how indigenous words have a complexity of not only naming something, but of agglutinating in a term all the complexity of an experience. In Guarani, tekoá (or tekohá) is used to designate their territories, but it has a much broader meaning. Prefix teko represents the customs of a people, of a community. The suffix há represents the material place of a community and encompasses the land, the forest, the waterways, the vegetation, the healing herbs. Tekoá is a place, but also a way of being.
I met the village Tekoá Yvy Porã in July 2021, when we started the approaches to some territories in the city of São Paulo for the curatorship of 13ª BIA. Jurandir, a resident of the aldeia, kindly responded to various concerns we had and taught us about the complexity of his territory, tekoá. At the time of this visit, he was building, manually, his house.
Here follows three stories of Jurandir Karai Jekupe from the aldeia Tekoá Yvy Porã.
What of your culture do you think the juruás should value most?
Our way of living and the language, respect that. But there are many factors that cannot be specified, as in the first question, about what we must demonstrate to the juruá and that they value.
For example, as they talk about the issue of territory demarcation. When they talk about the demarcation of the territory it is not being said that territory has to be demarcated to belong to indigenous people, because, in fact, there are several aspects, for example, without the demarcation of the territory there is no way you can perpetuate, put into practice aspects of the Guarani culture, right? As, for example, planting, the very way you walk on the land it is different. We don’t see the land, the territory as a form of exploitation, of having to sell it so you can make a profit, right?
There are many things like this that are different from juruá. The juruá he sees the land as a business, right? Because, for example, several farms and small ranches were already here about fifty years ago and the owners have passed away and many have left and the heirs allot these farms because of real estate speculation. So this is very incomprehensible to us. Of course, we know that the intention is profit, right? But not for us. The land is not profit, it is a way of valuing culture, there is no other way
What changes have you had to adapt to new times? Both in relation to the way of building and to the way of living.
Certainly, our people were forced to change. To change the way we deal with the land. For example, we have many problems of solid waste and the food issue itself, as I said, right? Because, for example, here in Jaraguá we have a territory of 532 hectares, there is forest, except you cannot hunt, for example. You can’t get that kind of food, meat from animals in a forest that’s reduced, so that hunter issue… you have to change, you have to learn to create. Here we have a program of the (city hall) called Programa Aldeias that we use for a bee breeding project, native bees, this is good, but it was something that we had a relationship with native bees, but did not have this breeding technique, so it was a technique that we learned from the juruá, right? In order to make the divisions of the hive, to attract so we can capture swarms of bees to be able to put in the boxes. It’s all new things and that about bees. And the issue of building too, right? Because building in an area of small (proportions) in size. You had a vast territory, but now you are obliged to live on hectares that are demarcated, right? So you must have a new technique of building, because the indigenous people of the past used to build temporary houses, right? You had no need to make lasting houses, so it was almost a shelter, not now, now we have to learn techniques of making more durable houses, but this has also brought problems because as you can not take material from the forest to make the (house), in some villages, some territories, you can not simply take the trees to build, so you have to adapt. So many aldeias, especially here in Jaraguá, have greatly mischaracterized the way of building. So a lot of people have houses made of wood, houses made of zinc, of wood scraps, of material scraps, so it mischaracterized the houses a lot, right? (the indigenous houses, the Guarani houses). And then, we depend a lot on editais, right? We participate in edital de fomento “Periferia” and we’re making home with permaculture techniques and that’s good, too. And these are the new adaptations that the people are suffering from, are influenced by, these adaptations: there must have! There is no other way to live by but with these adaptations.
How do you see the new changes in the relationship with the land? Especially the real estate market pressure and how did this pressure affect the fixation of its people in the territory?
Certainly the real estate issue together with agribusiness are one of the obstacles and gigantic problems for the indigenous people in general. Because think about a people who had free pass in the environment, where everything you needed was in the woods, such as medicinal herbs, hunting, materials to make the constructions of houses or shelter and, suddenly, they are surrounded. With fences. This has a huge impact, because you take away mobility, you take away the freedom to have the fundamental things to live. And you have it no more. And this (is) getting worse and worse, even more because of the question of enterprises, farms, agribusiness, so this is a huge impact, it affects not only freedom, the way of living, but also the psychological, the spiritual, these are gigantic impacts that no type of burden could make it less of an impact. It is gigantic, it involves everything, you can name it: spiritual, freedom, economic, social, that is, there is no way for us to put this impact down in words.