The Assurini tribe had two Catholic missionary nuns from France who had lived with the tribe for eleven years. These two women were in their late sixties but despite their age, their hard work there was apparent. I saw much in the way of adoption of western culture and things from the outside, like color t-shirts and other western clothes and shoes, flashlights and batteries, mosquito nets and many other things not normally found in a remote Indian tribe. This tribe was also the closest to Altamira and it's village was right on the banks of the Xingu river which also had an impact in the loss of Indian culture within this group since it was so easily accessible.
The Assurini had quite a lot of older women over 60 years old which were widows. Instead of building individual huts for them, the tribe constructed a large mullaca or round house where they all lived together. This was the center of activity for the tribe. Everyone was very industrious and busy at the village. The women of the village made traditional clay pottery which they took down river to Altamira to sell. The pottery was fired over small traditional wood kilns dug into the ground, then painted with traditional Assurini designs and glazed with a brown resin collected from the Jatoba tree. The older women were kept busy making traditional manioc meal which is a main staple in their diets and which takes a lot of time and trouble to prepare.
The Assurini loved to keep pets. These included the normal cats and dogs and many other forest animals like monkeys, parrots and other birds, agouti, sloths, and even wild pigs which were captured in the forest and raised for livestock and food. Normally pets found in Indian tribes are given free roam in the villages. In this village though, the missionaries convinced the Assurini that letting the animals run free brought more disease and sickness, not to mention made more of a mess. So everywhere I looked, there was some sort of animal with a traditional Assurini pretty beaded collar on and tied to a very short leash. Even the cats, and birds no bigger than my little finger had a collar and leash. It was the first time I had ever seen any thing like it!
With so many older women in the village, they still knew quite alot about their medicinal plants and how to use them. I went on a hike through the forest with several of the tribe members so they could show me what plants they used and how. Even hiking only a few kilometers outside the village, we had to take the tribe's main hunter with us who had a rifle. The area had a very large population of jaguars and no one went beyond the immediate village grounds, or even to work in their gardens without some type of weapon.
More Information on the Asurini Indians
|Home Page||Personal Stuff||Company Stuff||Rainforest Stuff||Herbal Stuff||Photo Galllery||My Books|