Anambé - History and Cultural Relations



From time immemorial the Anambé had lived at the headwaters of the Rio Pacajá Grande de Portel; in 1842 they moved to the district of Baião on the left bank of the Tocantins. They were led by a chief and appeared willing to settle. The Anambé were already pacified, having had contact with Whites for the previous twenty years. The leader of the group told the naturalist Ferreira Pena, who visited them in 1864, the following story about the origin of the tribe: "For many years they had been living on the Pacajá Grande led by a single chief—a wise warrior who came from the west. Many years later the Europeans arrived and began hostilities against the tribe. After that the Jesuit missionaries arrived and initially showered them with friendship. However, soon after they began to separate wives from their husbands, taking many of them to where the present city of Portel is located: the men to work clearing land and making canoes and the women as domestic servants. This displeased the members of the tribe who no longer obeyed a single chief and began to form separate groups. Later the Jauodité-Tapuíra Indians, reputed to be cannibals, appeared on Pacajá Grande. After attacking the Anambé they left the area. For their part, the Anambé from Tocantins, dissatisfied with the behavior of the Indian leader Manoel Luiz, separated from the group and went to found another village on the headwaters of the Rio Caraipé, taking the Indian José Pacheco as their chief (Magalhães 1864, 40-41). After having crossed the Tocantins to the right bank, they clashed with the Western Gaviões (Parkateyé) who pushed them out of the headwater region of the Rio Moju. They crossed the dividing waters between the Moju and the Cairari rivers and settled in Sipoteua. There they were encountered by the businessman Bernardino Inácio dos Santos who also acted in the capacity of a Protestant cleric and established friendly relations with them.

Between 1948 and 1968 the contacts between the Anambé and the local Brazilians took on a definitive pattern. Until then, the Brazilian penetration and settlement of the Rio Cairari had reached from the mouth of the Rio Moju to the town of Repartimiento, where a population of Pentecostals of the Assembly of God from Mocajuba were establishing themselves. South of that settlement, the Anambé were the only permanent and settled inhabitants. Nonetheless, from 1950 on, the extraction of wood and macaranduba latex attracted new settlers. Besides a number of families that lived between Repartimento and Alto Cairari, it was usually entrepreneurs and around 200 workers, coming from two municipalities of Mocajuba, Baião, and Cametá, who dispersed themselves over the area each year. The Anambé rarely took on those jobs. Under the paternalistic influence of the businessman who managed them and who felt they were too weak to work in heavy lumbering, they were employed as suppliers of skins, game, flour, copal, jutaicica resins, and auxiliary services. Even though this was disadvantageous to the Anambé in terms of income, it enabled them to maintain group cohesion in a single village and to survive as a tribal unit apart from the Brazilians. In 1973 some Indians joined the woodcutting crews as salaried workers and were employed by two contractors who used to carry on business dealings with a sawmill in Moju. Other Indians, however, preferred to negotiate on their own with a middleman who traveled throughout the area.

In 1982, in view of the already increasing invasion of the general Cairari region, FUNAI was able to convince the Anambé to move to the Indian reserve in Alto Guamá, which was occupied by the Tembé Indians, with whom the Anambé had cultural affinty. Meanwhile, having clashed with settlers who had invaded the Guamá reserve and finding themselves unable to adapt to the area (which was deficient in fish and wildlife), the Anambé decided to return to Cairari. They did this despite the fact that FUNAI had removed twenty-two settlers and their families from the reserve territory, leaving more than 100 tarefas (25 hectares) planted with manioc, bananas, and peppers. In 1983, when the Anambé returned to the Cairari region, they seized about 1,700 logs of wood and a number of trees felled by the invaders who by then had occupied the area for about ten years. The Anambé gave them a time limit of two years in which to leave the area. By the 1990s the dispersion of the Anambé had ceased, probably partly because of assistance received from FUNAI and partly because the Anambé are demonstrating the ability to integrate recent arrivals into their group.


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