From Sápmi to Mato Grosso do Sul: Our journey to the heart of Guarani Territory

Luiz Felipe Guarani and Sof’ Elle Beaivvi Mira from the Sápmi region embarked on an enriching journey to the heart of Guarani territory in Mato Grosso do Sul, spanning from April 11th to April 20th, 2024. Their mission? To assist the Guarani community in Amambai in establishing an institute aimed at coordinating projects within their aldeia.

Author: Sof’ Elle Beaivvi Mira
Leia em Português

The journey started April 11th with an early flight to the state capital Campo Grande, where we arrived in the morning. After landing, we needed to find our way to a car rental to rent a vehicle for the trip. We spent the night in the city at a friend’s house, and the next morning we were headed towards our next stop in Dourados, which was three and a half hours drive to the south.

After arriving in Dourados, we once again resided at a friend’s house. The next day we visited Laranjeira Nhanderú, a Retomada close to Rio Brilhante. In Laranjeira, we met with members of the aldeia. When we arrived in the territory, we were greeted by much joy and preparation. The whole community was involved in preparing Oga Pysy, a Guarani and Kaiowá ceremonial houses that play a key role in ceremonial practice, for festivities to be held the upcoming week that demonstrates fight and resistance of indigenous peoples in Brazil. This is traditionally commemorated on 19th April. We spent the day eating churrasco, painting and getting to know each other. In the evening, we drove back to Dourados.

In Dourados on a rainy Sunday afternoon, we also visited Luiz’s uncle, Anastácio Peralta. He lives in Xiru Karai in aldeia Panambizinho. There I was introduced to the Tekoha where Anastácio lives and works on the land, planting and studying. He likes to call it a living laboratory or free indigenous university. At Xiru Karai Anastácio is working on his PhD on Kaiowá and Guarani Spiritual Technology. When he got older, he went back to studying and today he is a reference on Kaiowa ancestral knowledge using scientific methodologies from academia. 

Our next destination was Amambai, which was a two-hour drive away from Dourados to the south, close to Paraguay border. In Amambai we went to aldeia to meet the family of Janete and Elizeu Lopes. Our plan was to help them to Resolving the association’s bureaucracy. We spent a night in aldeia Amambai sleeping in hammocks. Before going to sleep, accompanied by a beautiful moon and a starry sky, we exchanged knowledge about the processes of demarcation and guarantee of traditional Kaiowá, Guarani and Sámi territories. 

The next day our work continued. We had a community meeting in aldeia Amambai, where the members of aldeia could discuss about the institute and its objectives. After the discussions we had lunch together. The same evening, we also went to UEMS university with an invitation from professor Célia Foster. She had invited us to her class to talk about our trip and to give an introduction about my people, sámit: an arctic indigenous people from Sápmi in the north of Europe. During the class we were able to exchange indigenous knowledge about territories, political organisations and cosmologies. It was a great conversation between indigenous students in their final year of undergraduate studies in Social Sciences and Social Anthropology.

On the last days in Amambai we were busy helping Janete and Elizeu with organizing the institution and opening a bank account since there is a lot of bureaucracy involved: we were trying to get all documents and signatures in place and ended up having to visit the bank several times. Fortunately, in the end it all worked out and was worth the struggle. 

On our last evening on April 19th, we visited Retomada Kurusu Ambá, where we once again organized a churrasco to commemorate the national day of indigenous peoples in Brazil. This was a much-needed break together with the pleasure of having completed a week working with Janete and Elizeu on the bureaucratic resolutions of the Yvy Marane’i institute (Instituto Terra sem Males). After dinner we were also able to attend a traditional Guarani name-giving ceremony. This was a beautiful experience and truly an unforgettable moment that we shared with the community singing and dancing together.

Eventually all good things end, and so would our amazing trip. That same night we started driving back towards Campo Grande, where we arrived in the morning to catch our afternoon flight. We headed back home with plenty of beautiful memories and our hearts filled with so much love and caring from the people we encountered during this trip.

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