Raoni’s Visit


7:20 min. - Following a short tour of the territory by plane, the Kayapos meet delegates from the community of Unaman-shipu to talk politics, and also meet the community’s young people.


Narrator - Kayapos visitors are impressed indeed by the quantity of lakes and rivers in Nitassinan, just like the Innus, they use bush airplanes to roam around their territory, but it hasn’t always been so. For more than 10,000 years the Innus have walked this land which is now being challenged by the governments. They left traces all over, and they used it as a burial ground, as a result, each little part of Nitassinan has been granted an Innu name. But to gaze at it from so high, as if they’d be eagles, the Kayapo visitors come to believe these lakes, swamps, forest, and rivers are somehow similar to their own hunting grounds, except for a few details, instead of caribous, bears, beavers, and trouts, they have jaguars, tapers, turtles, and piranhas.
Unaman-shipu, known also as La Romaine, this community, which in the ‘50’s lived outdoor in tents, think quite much of the Kayapos. In those years both Nations had no school, no priest, no doctor, they relied basically on their knowledge of the land, the animals, the vegetation, and the spirits.
Looking at those gone, witnesses of yesteryears, silent seniors whose images hang on the walls of Uanamen Shipu’s Tribal Council, the Kayapos are convinced their meeting with the Innus will benefit from helpful inspiration.
Raoni’s presented with Nitassinan, the land where all the Innus are born, where they fish, where they hunt, where they’re buried, but the governments are convinced Nitassinan belongs to the total population of Canada, which includes the Innus. Such an assertion rings a bell to the Kayapo Chief, who dealt with it in the old days.
Chief Guy Bellefleur - In each big river in this area, there’s a hydroelectric dam project. And this energy will be sell to United States. We are looking for equity and respect for everybody. Our challenge is to live in harmony with both ways of life. It’s how we can guarantee a future to our kids. Remember, these kids will always be Innus and they’ll need the land to live.
Narrator - “I’m worried,” says Raoni, “in Brazil, that’s what they tried to do, giving the Indians small chunks of land, and dividing their hunting territories. I didn’t share this point of view, we kept telling the politics, our land enabled us to reach far out to hunt our animals, a right which was fundamental in the pursuit of our way of life. They finally understood. White people do not see things as we do, it’s our job to make sure they understand our land is essential to us for survival with our children.”
Raoni seems to be thinking that such a tool could have been useful during his negotiations with the Brazilian bureaucrats.
When perpetrators enter the Kayapo territory to get some timber, to fish, or to dig for gold, Raoni sends a squad of warriors after them. They are arrested, their equipment is seized, and they are expelled. The Kayapo legally run their land the way they want, and there’s nothing the Brazilian government can do about it.

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