the more you learn about colonisation the worse it gets 

things I knew:

- my home area was taken from Guarani and Jê folk (Kaingang and Laklãnõ)
- forest folk had sophisticated agroforestry technology that the coloniser failed to even see, let alone understand
- many "agricultural" staples where domesticated by Amazonian folk that the coloniser called "hunter-gatherers" "without agriculture", including potato, yam, cocoa, manioc, chilli, peanut, tobacco, and a whole lot of fruit and nut trees
- that technology supported large, federated populations with roads and river "cities", that early colonisers reported on, later Christian historians dismissed as myth, and archeologists up until recently failed to spot. LIDAR technology, new evidence gathered after rampant deforestation, and a small softening of colonial prejudices has now proved the old stories right.
- we only ever got any reasonable documentation of indigenous folk after they were deep into postapocalyptic conditions, after 1500. most ethnobotanical knowledge is lost.
- my native biome, the Atlantic forest, was a product of human engineering, like the Amazon forest; from the soil to the selection of trees, everything was stewearded by human residents
- in the long night of 500 years, the native population has been genocided upwards of 97%
- in the long night of 500 years, the distinctive araucaria pine, along with the Araucaria Atlantic forest it supports, has been ecocided upwards of 97%.

things I didn't know:
- human-useful trees like açaí, cocoa and Brazil nut are "hyperdominant" in the Amazon, several orders of magnitude more frequent than what they'd be without human management (227 tree species, or 1.7% of total known, make up more than half of it; açaí is the single most frequent tree.)
- Amazonian people hunted little, and their agroforestry focused on tree crops more than grain or tubers. They fished often.
- by contrast with coloniser agriculture, indigenous cultures seemed to have a knack for diversity and experimentation within the ecosystem. the Caiapó developed 56 varieties of sweet potato; the famously polyamorous Canela, 52 broadbeans; the Baniwa 78 chili cultivars, etc. etc.
- in the Atlantic area, the Jê were nomadic and cycled through food sources through the year
- for the autumn period when the araucaria produces that staple of my childhood, the pinhão nut, they would hang around araucaria sources as their primary source
- the onset of Kaingang-style underground houses happened circa 1000 years ago
- the araucaria pine population starts exploding in the fossil record ca. 1000 years ago
- the conflicts between Kaingang, Laklãnõ and colonisers were about araucaria trees.

so if I'm getting this correctly,

- ca. 1000 years ago, the Proto-Jê arrive. In the space of 500 years they turn the Atlantic Forest into the Araucaria landscapes we know.
- ca. 500 years ago, the coloniser arrive. in the same time period, they all but extinguish this whole high-biodiversity biome. for wood.

re: the more you learn about colonisation the worse it gets 

- at some point in these 500 years, a coloniser takes an "Indian wife" by force, as they often did ("on horseback, by lasso"). this starts a trend with her matriline of descent, whose women are often impregnated then left behind by white men. the latest iteration of that process, in 1983, produces me.

re: the more you learn about colonisation the worse it gets 

@elilla and now the song of Anahí hurts even more than before.
Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

@elilla do you happen to have a link to that talk from the first picture?

@j12i link to talk by Eduardo Goés Neves on this topic:

CW: The audio is terrible, mic has no pop filter and there's loud mic noises at some point. But there's English subtitles.

@elilla me, regretfully having recommended Guns Germs and Steel to people years ago: :pika_surprise:

@ehabkost What makes you regret recommending Guns Germs and Steel? @elilla

@mu @elilla I think I’m not competent enough to be able to explain. I just remember learning a lot from it, but with an Eurocentric point of view. Please note that my memory is bad I’m not a reliable source for anything related to anthropology or archaeology.

the more you learn about colonisation the worse it gets 


This is very important, thank you.

re: the more you learn about colonisation the worse it gets 

@elilla "Caiapó/Kayapó" is the name Guarani (Tupi) nations used to call the Mebêngôkres to oppose them and since the colonizer took contact to Guarani nations, they assimilated that name. Some Mebêngôkre folks see that name as the colonizer heritage too and ask ppl to avoid calling them like that.

re: the more you learn about colonisation the worse it gets 

@betamaxglitch @elilla Mohawk in New England has the same naming pattern. Mohawk is neighboring tribes language for, those shitheads over there. The real Mohawks only refer to themselves by this name because it has name recognition for colonizers, who don’t care. And there I am, a white person on “The Mohawk Trail,” and I recognize the old name, and I fail to remember the actual one they give themselves.

re: the more you learn about colonisation the worse it gets 

@CaitlinWaddick I worked in an interdisciplinary crew on a resource management research project in the lower xingu river region (Pará, Brazil) in 2019, before covid. The region is in the zone of influence of a hydroelectric power plant project (Belo Monte) that has caused irreversible damage to local cultures (communities) and biodiversity in that region, despite being called "clean energy". 3 Mebêngôkre indigenous people were part of our crew and when I went to refer to them as "Kayapó", one of them gave me the explanation I just passed on. @elilla

re: the more you learn about colonisation the worse it gets 

@CaitlinWaddick @betamaxglitch @elilla Similar to Anasazi which is the name the Navajo gave them meaning “ancient enemy” needless to say for a very long time the Hopi and other Pueblo people weren’t happy with that name.

re: the more you learn about colonisation the worse it gets 

@CaitlinWaddick @betamaxglitch @elilla They still aren’t, of course, but the term is rapidly being retired. At least in academic circles.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Personal server for trans moms <3