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Indigenous People, Traditional People, and Conservation in the Amazon Author(s): Manuela Carneiro da Cunha and Mauro W. B.

de Almeida Source: Daedalus, Vol. 129, No. 2, Brazil: The Burden of the past; The Promise of the Future (Spring, 2000), pp. 315-338 Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy of Arts & Sciences Stable URL: . Accessed: 04/06/2013 15:17
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da Cunba


Mauro W. B. de Almeida

Indigenous People, Traditional People,

and Conservation in the Amazon


A STUNNING REVERSAL OF IDEOLOGICAL FORTUNE, traditional at in the Amazon, until recently were who deemed, people to, "development," for, if not hindrances best, candidates been This of modernity. change association between made At the same down time, indig by their neigh in the people


to the forefront promoted the has occurred through primarily conservation. and traditional people enous bors, formerly despised peoples, have become role models

or hunted

to dispossessed


to to write in response this essay partly We felt compelled two major current misunderstandings. first one questions The to conser commitment of traditional the foundations peoples' a kind Is it, more Is such commitment of forgery? vation. a a case Western of of projection ecological blandly phrased, concerns onto an ad hoc constructed to the former, age"? The second misunderstanding, asserts and ide that "foreign" organizations nongovernmental con were connection for the made between responsible ologies the and servation of of biological traditional diversity people Amazon. Progressive military This misunderstanding activists first-world and communists makes and alike for scholars share strange and in that bedfellows. third-world belief. "ecologically linked clearly noble sav


Manuela Chicago. Mauro W.




is professor


anthropology at






B. de Almeida in S?o Paulo.

is professor

of anthropology

the University

of Campinas


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Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

ARE TRADITIONAL use of Yet the term this traditional would them and be as PEOPLE? people" be mistaken their encom is intentionally for conceptual fuzziness. of a stable age following impact knowledge. on the sound outside True, described But is, by "tra exten or the This creation

"traditional not

passing. To define old To ness


tradition define would

people by run counter

environment the market categories through categories listing their ditional sion?that current

populations then to go on

to anthropological a low having to assert define them their them very are most of

To tautological. would make sphere in academic and or the properties can also be described constituent for the elements. time

ecological as people to often find.

hard their

legal texts characteristics "in

elements. that by

extension"?that It is our contention are such best defined "members" "membership." on the current

people," is, by

acceptable our is in consonance with approach and appropriation of categories. More to how This form themselves

enumerating candidates

being, their for


subjects is hardly Terms novel. are all and "mixed blood" "tribal," "native," "aboriginal," of the metropolis, And yet, products generated by encounter. as they were at the time of their creation, and generic artificial come to be "inhabited" these labels have progressively by flesh outcome and-blood has sometimes the This been of the people. elevation What of these terms to a is remarkable, however, inhabitants of them were able turn legal is that to or administrative as not, these status. the forced as often

it also points importantly, new practices. through such as "Indian," "indigenous,"

highly prejudiced and them into banners for mobilization. categories Depor to in tation to a foreign it leads and concept squatting patrolling at which its boundaries. is very often This the point what was previously the basis To initial it has this defined of the "in extension" characteristics. is analytically redefined on a set of


"traditional is at the day, expression people" a existence. It is of inhabited stage class, and yet sparsely some members as well as obvious for member candidates enjoys people" an administrative is a division of life: a "national Ibama, the center Brazilian

ship. It already of traditional

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official environmental and administration. Brazil-nut collectors

in the Amazon


to cover other people, such as, for example, all these people Brazil. What southeast from gatherers record based on low is a good environmental in common have or regaining control and a stake in retaining impact techniques But more of the territory they are fundamentally, they exploit. in return for control of the territory, they ready for a trade-off: clam commit themselves to providing environmental services.1

rubber-tappers has since expanded

It originally congregated the Amazon. from



Indigenous last twenty people years. them in the Amazon In the as 1970s, obstacles have come a long way in the

a state governor unashamedly to progress. politi Right-wing find in the military cians and many put them under suspicion, on nothing concern their fate based with ing the international to deplore their more It was then commonplace than greed. to the inexorable their fate Some attributed doom. impending referred to March lectuals while and Progress, of Development it to the no less inexorable ascribed for the survival governmental and obscured the that many March the true leftist intel of History.

room and

stampede of all these fiercely marching

policies afflictions. violence, were the


left no
of in

corruption, agents concern

peoples' a prominent issues became Indigenous In the Constitution of the late 1970s.2 subsequent were ethnic Brazilian constitution ascribed Dominion who cannot cannot be sold of to divert the the



in every and 1934, the 1970s until promulgated exclusive usufruct in the of each federal Indig On the

(in 1937, 1946, 1967, and 1969), indigenous land and its riches
collectively group. land is vested

government, enous land classified one years last-minute

it for any other purpose. or alienated in any manner.

other hand, in the Civil Code of 1916,

indigenous people were

over sixteen and under with twenty people together was an awkward This of age as "relatively capable." to deal not meant since the Civil Code was patch, "Relatively are granted capable special people," protection because in their

with they

issues. indigenous are easy to deceive,

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business enous

Carneiro da Cunba and Almeida


over of tutelage the concept Although indig to say the and sounds anachronistic, derogatory peoples in practice it has provided them with very effective least, judi to deal made their and with Any ciary leverage. disadvantage can be challenged out judicial in court. assistance and nullified Moreover, collective was status land since land there was no other case in Brazilian legal for status the prior law of a title, indigenous as understood land titles. peoples' the basis In as wards exceptional occupation

commonly of indigenous


(that is, historical antiquity)

is the real foundation of indigenous

a proposal to eman developed Indians that would them grant

rights. a cabinet In 1978, secretary acculturated so-called cipate

individual land titles, which

other the words, indigenous a measure are well known nineteenth land

could then be put on the market.

could be sold. The effects of not



history. 1854, enous tions.

but century from put Beginning regulations to a three-decade-long it amounted over land coveted by

in from the United States only in Brazilian also from precedents in place in 1850 of and indig liquidation




rule, in 1978, still thwarted all political demonstra

were not deemed issues, however, political. Indigenous to of everyone the surprise dissatisfaction, involved, Repressed a channel seems to have in such issues. The ban on any found could well be the reason why the so kind of political protest re an issue that seemed called Indian emancipation project, to most mote channeled such a wide urban Brazilians, range of protest. it has The since emancipation resurfaced project was under different duly dropped, But guises. although the anti

was to be the start of a decade of emancipation campaign The first pan intense mobilization around indigenous struggles. as a was as well Brazilian founded,4 indigenous organization of number organiza advocacy nongovernmental significant tions basis mostly (NGOs), by anthro joined on a voluntary pologists and was lawyers. A branch to include of the not powerful Brazilian


Bishops Council,
strengthened as well. lawyers which at the

the Indigenous Missionary



(CIMI), active very Association,

but only The Brazilian Anthropological six hundred time numbered around

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members, indigenous work were the Ford was also to become

in the Amazon


rights. ICCO,


on the issue of active quite foundations such that major supported a Dutch of Protestant churches, organization based NGOs in Rio and them and such de Janeiro, and, to a lesser British Oxfam. Many legal cam There were successfully. effective protection of indig

extent, cases were paigns enous

Foundation, some German

for lands.

of fought, most the demarcation the results of

Although had very



were uneven, campaigns they to clarify For one, they helped ground: goals, on namely, or campaigns. and to

the major
some the We

threats faced by indigenous people. They also built

on very solid shared studies, between the need of

coalitions unexpected trust that resulted from will stress first only two

The federal


examples. is the alliance built around in

prosecutors, landowners case from

anthropologists the government Having assistance

defend itself from mostly

by alleged case after received in court, the official

fraudulent claims for indemnification

indigenous and dissatisfied indigenous territories. with affairs the agency, lost it


Nacional do Indio (FUNAI), the federal prosecutor's office to help Association called on the Brazilian Anthropological
establish facts in court. The ing relationship 1988 Constitution. The pecting professional ian mineral tional joint areas Amazon mining project requested had other in of mutual is the lands whose results positive trust that was of the cemented to bear an endur fruit in the

example indigenous

support by agenda

a ban Brazilian was

on mineral association

pros of Brazil a

geologists, reserves against

to maintain

a very powerful lobby of multina was This also built over support corporations. Centro Ecum?nico launched de Documenta?ao by

Ind?gena (CED?) to map

for mineral been in mineral extraction do not federal

the overlap of indigenous

A radar

land and


expectations search and and the resources

survey of the prospecting. in the mid-1970s, raising big a scramble riches and causing for re Since under coincide ownership Brazilian was of the soil law?subsoil battle


subsoil being


a bitter

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Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

mineral research and extraction could be launched As coali geolo indig indig With its own for the

about whether under

land. indigenous a democratically when elected 1987, By a new started Constitution, sembly debating tion of indigenous leaders, anthropologists, had consolidated. had become in the new Legal rights rights shortcomings and clear, quite were Constitution

Constitutional an effective and

lawyers, the well

gists enous enous

impairing aims for defined. pursued agenda revolved

the partial of CIMI, which exception ultimately Latin American broader the coalition's policy, was Constitution unanimous. Not access stakes liminary indigenous dimensions days major before surprisingly, to the subsoil the most of controversial issues


rights by non-Indians

to build hydroelectric

dams and to have

land. Private indigenous corporations' to minerals. in As a pre particularly high regard was access in which to constitution draft reviewed, subsoil was was a press of surprising barred, campaign orchestrated against indigenous rights. A few was a new to submit the rapporteur five draft, in five different to stories state capitals gave week in of an alleged conspiracy: were con companies tin-mining the market reaching land. Another indigenous which had insisted This on societies. documents by line the


space long full-front-page to keep tin prices order high, to prevent Amazonian spiring barring of accusations use of the cassiterite was term extraction directed "nations" one century alarm.

tin from in

at CIMI, for found when

ironically the late nineteenth was used to

an archaic raise

indigenous in historical the word

term, up until

entail a claim might on behalf Austrians

Nations, to autonomy. of indigenous

"tribe" it, replaced in contemporary jargon, The of a petition signing by was as used evidence rights

of foreign conspiracy
and new other similarly

lurking behind
creative conspiracy to


rights. Those
and the pub

lishing of forged documents,

constitutional draft came version,

kept the momentum


high until the

indigenous rights in the final recovery, by-step an extraordinary these rights was and indigenous Kayapo particularly

in this light. Not surprisingly, cut. The been drastically step constitutional of text, of most tour de force. the A massive presence,


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skills large of the late Senator are Severo

in the Amazon

of a


of NGOs indigenous


and the efficacy Gomes, to be praised for it. in a whole included rights were


rate chapter in the 1988 Constitution. The definition of Indian land in Article 231 explicitly included not only dwelling spaces
and of cultivated environmental as well reproduction, areas, but as also land resources indigenous peoples' to their physical and necessary to their and customs, usage, according required to necessary land for the preservation

well-being cultural traditions.

a legal land rights were declared "originary," Indigenous term that implies to rec state's and limits the role precedence rather than granting This had the ognizing rights. phrasing

virtue of linking land rights to their historical foundations

than to a cultural groups' Indigenous their capacity for of their independently assist All of them this before resulted their or an awkward status stage associations' and legal status, on own was their behalf, suing guardian's the courts was in opinions, vested and


as wards). in particular

recognized, an obligation to in federal prosecutors.

the securing of basic instruments for success In the the and process, upholding rights.5 visibility on land were of indigenous claims with the unex enhanced, some result that and paradoxical other pected dispossessed sectors to emulate of society, such as rubber-tappers, began

RUBBER-TAPPERS By the mid-1980s, a link between


took the lead in establishing rubber-tappers concerns. their struggle and ecological By late a in state of Acre, the coalition for the preservation of the 1988, Amazonian rain active forest was the name "Forest under both rubber-tappers and indigenous Alliance," covering The Altamira led the the groups. rally, against by Kayapo con had itself explicit environmental Dam, Xingu projected cerns. By the end of the 1980s, a matter was the connection of Peoples course. the Yellowstone model that evicted against enous a pristine North-American in order to create tribes was here the vindication that local communities, ronment, As indig envi who

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Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

conserved victims and relied on their environment, should not

in order for the of ecological Rather, projects. to be conserved, in should be of both they charge of the resources and the control the management they depended on. What was to local the agency that was novel was imparted become environment communities. and The explicit gained connection an between conservation international indigenous dimension people in early

of the International Alliance of the Indigenous-Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, of which COICA (Confederation of Indigenous Organizations of the Ama 1992 with the creation
zon Basin) was one of the founding members. The Convention

for Biological Diversity and Agenda 21, approved during the Rio Summit in June of 1992, explicitly acknowledged the major
role to be played by indigenous and local communities.




AREAS at 310,000 among can an be


population is a great languages, linguistic still have from

is estimated wealth most units. no the of diversity of which

people, it. There subsumed 50 world.


of whom
there different

live in indigenous areas. While 160 of which

In addition, contact with the As short 1870s to

this is a small

are 206
and under 195

indigenous societies,
four major

are in the Amazon,


groups indigenous The Amazon remained, ber aloof enous have counts As boom from been for that lasted

the outside


occupation. European survived that have groups able the to large retain Indian are areas

of the rub exception the 1910s, relatively a result, most of the indig of the land This they ac history where nearly that

and most

in the Amazon. in the Amazon, land less

99 percent of Brazilian

Indian land is located.

is striking. Indians 12 of than percent and areas, areas in Indians land That 20 the as

a whole, of Indian the extension a little to have constitutional rights in 574 distributed Brazilian territory, percent Amazon much In the of as an the Brazilian human Amazon. presence 8.4 percent size of land for too where




is permitted give of that region. few indigenous Indians.

the 1980s, too much astounding:


seemed perspec

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tive is changing: who were The the cover story an that of

in the Amazon
Veja, a major


Indians of

journal, on June 30, 1999, was about the 3,600 Xingu

"preserving point was ecological few very the size paradise" Indians could take

Belgium. sound care in the areas all

of a large


by people is also the conservation human and

conservation That best be territory. might who have lived and sustained themselves premise areas, of for the creation of extractive

Not their clear involve

pr?existent that a sound local areas

can be managed course, by But it has also become population. in Brazil has to viable ecological policy Moreover, offering to disaster. them to evict alternative from people means of

communities. without path is a sure

conservation subsistence

JUST HOW CONSERVATION-ORIENTED Opponents argue two of traditional that not that




in conservation involvement peoples' are conserva all traditional societies those that are may not be once they con

and tion-oriented, enter the market For a long


sphere. time there has

servationists, policymakers, what Paul Bohannan anthropologist a called "working misunderstanding." one gists could call the essentialization fond of nowadays seem

among been, and traditional


peoples in another that

themselves, context has around what

It revolved

relationship indigenous

to the environment. as naturally groups Of course, but even there if one can

(something anthropolo of traditional detecting) peoples' A cluster of ideas representing conservation-oriented resulted

in what
savage."6 vationist, the issue tural an tend

has been labeled "the myth

is no such translates

of the ecologically
thing "natural" as a natural into



traditional refer both


be described

"cultural," as "cul

conservationists"? can are, to a set of practices and to three different situations that

Environmentalism There ideology. to be blurred

is the case practices?a

therefore, by using a single term to cover them all. First in which is present without the ideology the actual case of lip-service to conservation. is the Second

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Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

in which sustainable practices and cosmology societies uphold all are both a sort of

Amazonian present. Many or zero-sum Lavoisierian life and are

souls, resources of natural exploitation sustainers of the equilibrium supernature institutional for them fit included. or to act into Yagua is the Values, supernatural according the category

indigenous in which ideology is an Theirs recycled. in which of taboos sanctions to this of comes the on

things, including of limited ideology are the human beings nature and and hunting, the instruments societies could The

universe, food and

provide Such ideology.

immediately are present cultural practices one thinks of people who, In this scenario, without the ideology. an explicit conservation-oriented although lacking ideology, resources follow cultural rules for using natural the that, given Third example case in which population observing not have limits. keys, however does resources, society to avoid waste It has it within just to keep entirely. a If a society whole of of mon approves group killing if and offspring and such females massacre, included, and the territory, density to conserve in order that are sustainable. a It is worth

easily Peruvian


conservationists. to mind.7

as far as resources are has no consequence distasteful, on conservation is not then this society concerned, infringing can are compatible one All is such ask whether habits practices. sustainable

use, not whether they are morally right. We a our to in is fact that yet it sport hunting society, object might as the Wildlife American such North hunters' associations, concern and positive have had a strong with effect Federation, with conserve groups Similarly, indigenous might environment with and knowledge,8 and manage their ingenuity not is is soil this when per poor, yet necessarily particularly a conservationist The of a formed under management ideology. on conservation. more but bountiful low environment population groups have density and even indeed be much less commendable, might it sustainable. still makes some such enhanced as bota as

Indigenous rubber-tappers biodiversity nists put

pressed as revolutionaries:

in neotropical it, are oligarchic, ones. by dominant

groups migrant and possibly preserved forests. Amazonian forests, with These "subaltern" societies small

op species being seem to have acted in the forest,

just by making


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they allow oppressed species a new

in the Amazon
chance to outrun


so traditional argument suggests that, although a in environment have their sustainable might exploited come frontier which into contact with manner, populations, a short-sighted such societies, will induce for utilizing strategy cieties resources. little morally customs There dissolve and will about groups be a lack of adequate opportunities. entrepreneurs institutions Anomie clash with and will old information alternative as young values.

competitors.9 The second

reciprocity "traditional culture" So, the argument goes, although might once have fostered the induced link needs and conservation, to in with the market lead culture economy inevitably changes resources. In fact, of natural it cer overexploitation to not to lead does but tainly changes, necessarily overexploita tion. For what the balanced situation is also implies pre-contact some structural traditional that, given conditions, peoples might role in conservation. play a central and the What with this argument it. Traditional any Traditional nor fails to recognize are neither is that the situation the has

changed, and the validity of old paradigms has changed along

peoples outside central are no economy system. in the periphery of longer simply and their organizations peoples with frontiersmen. They the United NGOs. now could move the have the world become Nations,

longer dealing solely as with such central institutions partners the World and powerful first-world Bank, Nor market cash is the market of old. Until from in which traditional

recently indigenous only get commodities such as (raw materials first-generation and the like). They have skipped the so nuts, minerals, rubber, called of value-added second industrial generation production. to participate Now in the information economy they are starting of third-generation local knowledge.10 commodities And market they have of derived even "existence whose and indigenous entered the emerging as such values," some people existence from

people societies

fourth-generation and natural biodiversity deem to be valuable land, of Amazonian

landscapes, in themselves. through

an NGO

In 1994, of one acre buyers called Nature Conser

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Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

for using or even seeing that acre, but rather for

vancy, paid not its preservation.




in conser in involving local communities bottleneck major stems in control from the effort them vation and putting plans to merge, to give have local these meaning. Agendas plans and benefits have to reach the communities, training techniques to be provided. have

On January 15, 1990, the Juru? Extractive Reserve in the Brazilian Amazon was officially founded. It was the first of its
kind: that is, was and "a conservation The Juru? the population." hectares, people roots union in the area managed Extractive Reserve, result at of the work different by its traditional its 500,000 with of a coalition of


grass levels, including organizations council the national (based members, rubber-tapper's state the Brazilian of of the Acre), academics, capital Bank, It was links and Brazilian and prosecutors, events outcome of unexpected also the and considerations.11 federal success in Brazil enjoyed rapid on the idea actually caught sustainable scene and and for and also was

Development eign NGOs. contingent Extractive

Reserves where

internationally, with articulated term the nized "reserve" first by national

community-based first came on the rubber-tappers

The programs.12 at in October of 1985, in Brasilia, A made delegation the remark of orga rub that


ber-tappers reserves. law

anthropologist from the could

Mary Alegretti. state of Rondonia

no one was

(in principle)


to interfere with
areas they not not


Why in a similar at to

rubber-tappers' could way? Why

be protected by "reserves"? have

"Reserve," referring term The a meeting the statute previously, collective

than other had no specific meaning that point, area. a protected a more concrete in late 1986. At meaning acquired an anthropologist leaders, explained as land. Indigenous mentioned land, and is the only case in which protected are acknowledged under Brazilian

of rubber-tapper of indigenous is specially over rights


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law. At ing seen inner In to that some

in the Amazon


to sound interest the term "reserve" began point, who have socialist leaders, rubber-tapper might a a as sorts. of After closed-door delib it collectivization from cabinet the 1980s of which chose the anthropologists to claim collective leaders to were excluded, of the of This this land. the could


importance effort to

rubber-tapper their contribution

possession were convinced the economy.

well be the legacy of theWorld War


and Brazilian

for strategic natural rubber reasons, resuscitate, pro a in massive At that time, following the Amazon. duction pro sent to and offered the alternative of campaign being paganda was in Italy, a new wave of immigrants taken the battlefields to Acre, under By late 1986 ronmentalists made reserves tion of the name resounding the alliance between launched, At that and point one no of "rubber soldiers." and envi rubber-tappers Chico Mendes year later, one except perhaps in the one


it operative.13 as the





thinking of defining
following reform was landless


conservation union

tradi of the

Rubber-tappers forest.

members, agrarian as defined themselves

the motto.


In October

of 1989,

the left-wing Workers



lost the
basis faded. reserves

presidential of the newly elected a window There was declared

by a slim margin. president, hope of opportunity, areas.

the political for agrarian reform to have

however, technicalities such as not Legal to have the would landowners (as previously indemnify having an case to define in been the it expedient reform) made agrarian as conservation the reserves have as conservation the area areas. to seek indemnification Landowners, in the courts, in this but case, this was was other

would not

a prerequisite. After as a conservation created were

Extractive Reserve Juru? in January of 1990, three After a interview

with rapidly presented. long of the Rubber-Tappers Council and their advi to proceed its authorization the military the and sors, gave were before the deadline of March when 15, projects approved was to take office. the new president projects some members rely on a conservationist as constitute the reserves To alliance conservation was thus areas a strategy. To was a tactical

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Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

To say that this was strategic a scam, a forgery, either for does not mean or that it was in substance in project.

a deception,

The project
terms. serving rubber As

itself is still being translated into local meaningful

had indeed been con substance, rubber-tappers as In the mentioned upper Juru?, above, biodiversity. had been exploited for over 120 years, and yet the area


shown to be uniquely diverse with

of 1,536 amphibians, is true, however, is that had been conserving thought tangible, quality his name and sent they were and butterfly biological

549 bird species, 103

species.14 like Monsieur unknow diversity. it could



Jourdain, ingly. Most Rubber who estate


diversity not rubber, since to


be of varying signed store

distinctive, individualized, and was linked concretely on his product downriver before

it was

its producer, sold to the

oscillations, price was inflation raging

Despite value. When permanent relatively all over the country, and people's wages, were worth at the end of the month, less than half of what they same month, at the beginning of the very rubber had been drifting it had a tappers could still measure the worth of their currency. They of 10 kilograms country, rubber-tapper average day. An trees, a maximum rubber for each one a daily wage equal charged As of rubber. compared labor. expensive 10 would produce rubber-tapper two It did in a steady to the market value to the rest of the labor that imply of rubber trails and of then every every rubber

to the market.

this was


kilograms two exploits a week

being tapped He of eight months. a four times about week, in the wet season in the


only for on to work be expected the rest of his time mostly used in the dry season. and fishing would


obtained productive for stood achieve of which An tion some and

10 kilograms
everywhere areas. As a man's

of rubber a day
area. It is a

is not

likely to be
set this in very standard could

a daily wage, therefore, and independence, dignity



in a day is what

if only he wanted economists call

to, the monetary cost. opportunity relies for basic on

dimension extrac and meat palm

household average rubber-tapper swidden for cash, agriculture a few cows sheep and possibly fish come directly from the forest


foodstuffs, while for hoarding, and the river. Wild

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fruits from

in the Amazon


are gathered in season, items and many more and honey and canoe building, the forest are used for house medicine,

fish poisons,
It is well plantations of about on 120

and the like.

known because rubber that of rubber a leaf in the Amazon disease. Trees cannot can in prosper remain only

healthy when dispersed


in the forest. A rubber trail will consist

will trees, of the Hevea genus. A household area two will such and the total of trails, average rely or cover 3 300 hectares like (741 acres) square something area needed. is the minimum This kilometers (1.15 square miles). As an average, used up 500 hectares households acres) (1,235 or 5 square kilometers accounts for This the (1.9 square miles). a to in 1.2 estate?1 rubber low population per very density seems optimal sons per square kilometer?which for conserva

to local according In the eastern rubber of Acre, situations and agendas. part to southern estates had been sold in the 1970s, mainly corpora investors. done with tions or private This was governmental area to Some of into cattle ranches. incentives for the be turned As could be expected, conservation varied the tures legal investors or for pas started down the forest cutting actually to and consolidate their simply expel rubber-tappers in started de this titles. Rubber-tappers, predicament,

fending their livelihood. They would

stop wage nonviolent laborers resistance from drew cutting the attention the old had also for down

form human barriers to

the of trees. This form and of of the media of The rubber land

ecologists. In the western still


of Acre,

system bought roads.

estates but

Corporations prevailed. and waiting they were speculating unattractive road made the region some

there, lack of

to new


at extracting attempts mahogany. let the traditional landowners system the previous landowners (sometimes estates A and pyramid sublease of them stores would with all rubber

Meanwhile, continue. Local

any for except new the bosses lease


themselves) to the according be set at


system. tributary the


century-old river and credit. along before

mouth, provisioned tried to control Storekeepers rivers and prevent the

on available goods the rubber production from being smuggled

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debts trast archaic The

Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

were to paid off. The rubber-tappers of the more those "modern" of area the to in con Juru?, the east, were in a more "slaves." bosses and Al


a word that means "cativos," sense that resonates to this day, abandoned libertos: on debt until

"captives"; it also means by freed, slavery 1888. their

in the east, rubber-tappers in contrast, were, landowners, there is much literature though


in the Amazon,

it is quite doubtful whether

very, any at least over for of each from as known control their goods river. effective over

the system really qualified

In the out in the

as sla
of forest, system at the from

in Brazil


monopoly of credit mouth

people spread was achieved product at the that operated In fact, debt in Belem was who the

the through stores found rule took of advances

the whole

system, their clients one writer of one's

the merchants

to in Liverpool one's worth put it, in Acre had

the very last tributary As upriver. extent could be measured the by


a very flimsy for claim legal basis was estates. at all, it In if there their title any fact, ing legal cover a most estate. of An would but fraction the total likely Landowners

annual fee of 30 kilograms of rubber per trail was paid by the

a tithe. as a rent, or, rather, to the estate owner rubber-tapper to about fee amounted 10 percent of the annual production This was over two trails). Again, at 600 estimated (which kilograms it had sanctioned than claims no a rather symbolic the recognition of the forest land. The than of an economic as rubber-tappers and reinforced of it significance: tenants rather dubious had they was

proprietors over the of

the bosses'



thought their primary the predating at disrupting The

rubber-tappers to fight. What they did as a degrading state of serfdom.

the Juru? River have was what Manumission

message to open rent amounts defiance pay the annual estate It directly landowners' system. challenges rumors reserve were When of the extractive bellion against a cooperative rent started store was

toward this end, The first efforts long agenda. were reserve extractive several attempts project, 30 kilograms of rubber. of the annual payment was to to understood: this day, clearly refusing of the rubber claims.15

re circulating, a in move, again. Then, spectacular a grant with from the Federal founded,

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Development over trade. local Bank. This store

in the Amazon


Overcoming several authorities, to become the reserve, loaded and motors for canoes, among went cargo.16 The cooperative other reasons

landowners' challenged monopoly and threats from arrests, conflicts, was what boats entered triumphantly with other blue things, radios, jeans, watches, in an apotheosis of in little more than a

one (among truly understood initia of but the these two and money inflation), significance was not tives lost. At that point the Upper Juru? Extractive was the federal and put under Reserve founded government by year the jurisdiction of Ibama. It was grounded of on on reports portance serfdom and anthropologists by biologists its high incidence of the area, were in which rubber-tappers to the advice expert the biological and and im the

bankrupt no because


In contrast

there was region, in mobilization initial take ber exhilaration root of local in the

kept. trees in the Xapuri for preserving struggle at first that could be called ecological nothing times the Juru?. After these heroic and the of area. freedom, A large was a set of research institutions project, started a great to funded by the num


launched, involving and anthropologists, people, biologists, geologists, set out to had political aims: it others. This project many prove, a that successful under conditions, example, through adequate so-called Adequate traditional conditions, of life, democratic quality and technological manage people would in our view, include a conservation clear area.


good to scientific were

institution-building, resources. A number were reserve. directed in the

a legal rights, access and of different at shaping there and people biological the in

many achieved, goals a conservationist set of ideas was an effort

of which


government of charge and

to persuade the public, environmentalists, of the viability of putting traditional areas. conservation of the high Evidence

diversity of the area was



by the biologists.

degrada code for of the the area

to monitor for the rubber-tappers simple methods as well as quality A land-use of life were devised. in an assembly the area was and adopted discussed A association of rubber-tappers. for zoning project based was on local set up. exploitation "Democratic" patterns and institution-building ecological and

significance administra

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Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

mo of patterns took place. Studies of settlement, training were was a and conflict resolution undertaken. There bility, of land and a registry census, rubber-trail) (actually rights. A use to of local and related the of the practices study knowledge forest out And on and new its or resources enhanced strengthened was old prepared. Research with more was added carried value. them to products with Ibama, encouraging to the association and or inspectors." Ibama

links were some

delegate responsibilities overseers local "environmental neled The G-7 funds to the

a body of also chan


on all aspects of life in the upper impact of these policies was not remarkable but very different Juru? quite surprisingly For one thing, from what had been expected. the Juru? people of conservation. their own version While their adult developed

children tended to enter the political dispute on the side of the

men a group mostly of mature the Association, comprised a of "environmental of The part inspectors." body was on modeled the old undertook mateiro, they closely policing were or woodsmen, in the workers role. Mateiros specialized board of became rubber sanctions were the not estates of if rubber allowed up new old, who opened trees were overexploited trails or and imposed The damaged. of power, but counsel merely

"environmental and

could They to in the official bureau infractions report culprits was or in Cruzeiro do Sul, which three days downriver. Brasilia out that if given no real power, not they would They pointed engage theless never in any confrontations with their neighbors. They at their went The major job with self-righteousness. a new bill were to hunting. 1998 when Until related infractions passed, was forbidden strictly hunting without bail was the sentence not under Brazilian law. for hunting, whereas on bail. This strict be released as a conservation In the officially two practices (and policy approved to related indeed there to the in the refers

received inspectors" to take sanctions.

a measure


Imprisonment primary law was but

of murder could culprits in local terms translated as a matter of

primarily land-use after much deliberation, code, were for the market banned: hunting hunting was a market for game meat and using reserve) dogs. area: native dogs and the valued


in a nearby village, are two kinds There Paulista dogs

adjacent of dogs (the word

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to someone which valley their from S?o Paulo). the region were It is uncertain through indeed

in the Amazon
whether with S?o Paulo these another

dogs, river


trade from

a reference to their superior predatory In any case, they are excellent dogs, who will hunting not lose a prey once they have tracked it. The problem, accord was that these dogs would frighten ing to the Juru? reasoning, owner's their into deserting the area?not the game area, only returns one?thus but also a much larger diminishing hunting abilities. who for neighbors in the forbidden dogs to have dogs Not reserve project. ban on had reserve the became no Paulista according touchstone So Paulista dogs. to the land-use of local sign dogs were code. The to the

(the Tarauac?), name was species

or whether



the external

of adherence

stems intro An from the very notion, dissonance important and maintaining the reserve, of producing duced with biodiversity. to the forest, limited the old rules were With restraint, respect and social pacts precautions, sharing, magical exploitation, with the keepers on Agriculture, thought known separation controlled domestic fact that to control fact that between or mothers the other are the whole results what of what hand, we has could call wild realms. no mother. are People the well a radical is

process, uncertain.

notwithstanding is thus There from nature

is extracted

and what

a sharp disjunction and women, between the by men can be sensed, in the for instance, and the wild. This we to what is no category call there corresponding word we "plant" would call it refers does but exist, {planta) This meaning cultivated plants. to people who from derive the noun Since "planted." one ever call them be its as drawn from the

The "plants." to what only appears the verb wild to be "to



are necessarily "Plants" plant." are definition not, how could by in the rendered same direction and manso. can In

"plants"? Another distinction brabo could refer uncivilized" erally those who

clue be



as opposed to the contrast are unafraid the word

approximately to domesticated. between of him. brabo

usage, regional or savage, "wild, It can also more gen creatures who flee men and restricted to those sense unfamiliar of

In the more is applied


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with called brabos. stuff

Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

work and survival soldiers were in the forest. left During World War were II, so "wild" food



commonly They sometimes and under the guidance instructions, to be "domesticated." rubber-tappers, experienced

called surprisingly in the forest with basic

of more

The opposition
pervasive and


the wild
As one

and the domesticated

rubber-tapper put

is a


it, "There

is both a wild

{brabo) and a domesticated

{mansa) variety of

in this world: the tapir and the cow; the deer and the everything or and the rat; the nambu the bird and the goat; sheep squirrel same are tame is true even chicken. The for people: there

{manso) people and there are wild

Indians."17 biodiversity, Producing a contradiction moron, what the G-7 funds are in terms of policy? A producing in (local)

{brabo) people, namely



rewarding. economic for what

an oxy is therefore nature, terms. Yet is this precisely How is one to handle this would be to response is actually the market to this runs counter Yet of a form of life,

Exter externality. are products are from other nalities that result and processes no not taken into account carry They price tags. by the market. are pres services and environmental (or disservice) Biodiversity to be taken ently beginning are starting to be internalized, into their costs or benefits account; is the and so they should be. This an expanded notion of the total were to be directly paid and ground: figure of a way for what of life, in

pay directly rubber-tappers in: namely, interested biodiversity. is a by-product local perception. Biodiversity economists the equivalent of what call an

of consequence, by the way, If environmental services system. the was would On value reserve, a by-product, become the other of it could mean

inverting an unintended consequence the product itself.

expects But Ibama ing.18 The enhanced als bally and

on enhancing Ibama has concentrated the hand, so-called sustainable from the forest and products on those grounds. to be economically viable the reserve does rubber not include conservation be solved services in its account conundrum of might by a judicious mixture to that would cash individu products provide a fund that would in conjunction with glo of biological diversity by provid



the maintenance

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in the Amazon


benefits health, (such as education, ing general tion and services) environmentally financing is already tives. This taking place. Conservation

transporta initia friendly was initially a

political weapon
rights. Presently, for boats, for

in a fight for freedom and entitlement

conservation schools, for money health is being facilities. used

to land

for motors, Conservation


embedded within

local projects

and expanding


TRADITIONAL We that would started constitute

PEOPLE REVISITED in terms of the elements category an analytical that definition suggested the what to state are we that have a described, traditional people to create use of of step are in that groups


defining it and From be or

emerge. would direction that have created the

struggling characteristics:



and symbolic means)

not all of following tal-impact and, techniques;

a public

identity that includes several if

low-environmen organization; forms social

institutions with

legitimate enforcing power;

local leadership;

reaffirmed and enhanced. traits, lastly, cultural selectively to say that "traditional it is tautological Thus, while people" to have a low impact on the environment, it is nontautological a as in that definite such clam collectors Santa say group, have become "traditional for this is a pro Catarina, people," cess of self-constitution. it requires conservation Internally, legitimate leadership with alliances requires making as well as with and academics It should be clear by now rules and and institutions. Externally, organizations institutions. it nongovernmental governmental the category

that "traditional people" are to give is occupied who it sub by political subjects ready stance: that is, to enter into a covenant. commit them They a to return in selves number of practices for other benefits, are land rights. even the In this perspective, foremost of which most are nonetheless conservationist human societies culturally some sense or in neotraditional neoconservationist. always

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Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

We would like to acknowledge the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foun

the CNPq (Brazilian National Research (award number 92-21848A), Council), and the Lichtstern Fund (Anthropology, University of Chicago) for
research support. We also thank Fany Ricardo (ISA) for providing accurate


data, Paul Liffmann for his editorial help, and all participants in this issue of Dcedalus who discussed and helped clarify some of the ideas in this essay, the
shortcomings of which are our sole responsibility.

although, enous as we will to show, endeavor have traditional taken people indig as role models, in Brazil the category of "traditional people people" rests on a fundamen does not encompass This separation indigenous people. are not on tal legal distinction: that indigenous land rights namely, predicated indigenous otherwise land stands out as an island of environ the Bra devastated stress To landscapes. from "traditional apart latter, and we will

even when conservation, mental within soundness zilian the specificity former will the that not be sets

indigenous people subsumed under the cumbersome

people," be using, when and tradi

necessary, tional people." 2The only





previously in 1910 of

comparable the SPI (Indian

national Protection


around Colonial

indigenous are examples Indian slavery move attracting some that massa issues, condi

rights took place in the first decade of the twentieth century, resulting in the
creation Service). less clear, although some could, with ments. great would The urban later seventeenth-century Jesuit against struggles be included among large-scale Park, experiment, a mere showcase. were level occur were not violence. not in 1961, although to the extent treated The

anachronism, possibly creation of the Xingu National support, contend was that an it had kinds types violence isolated become of violence of local could

and other cres, evictions, as unfortunate but rather tions under which such

Ordinarily, as national structural


3Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, 1993 Legisla?ao Indigenista no seculo XIX (S?o Paulo: Editora da Universidade de S?o Paulo e Comiss?o Pro-Indio, 1993). 4This was UNI (Union of Indigenous Nations), which was to play a significant role in the 1980s despite or maybe because of its urban origins. Itwas to be followed in the late 1980s and the 1990s by active indigenous organizations
either 5Manuela ethnically Carneiro or regionally grounded. "L'?tat ed., L'Etat du Congr?s les Indiens, br?silien, et les Autochtones annuel. Association Laval, Universit? la Nouvelle en Consti da Cunha,

inMarie tution," Lapointe, au Canada (Symposiums ?tudes latino-am?ricaines

Latine/ Am?rique Canadienne des 1989), 133-145;

et Caraib?ennes,


in Ethnies



6Kent Redford and Allyn M. Stearman, "The Ecologically Noble Savage," Cul tural Survival Quarterly 15(1) (1991): 46-48; Kent H. Redford and Allyn M.

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Stearman, Biodiversity: "Forest Interests Native Dwelling in Common Amazonians or in Collision?"

in the Amazon
and the Conservation Biology Conservation

of 7

(2) (1993): 248-255.

7Jean-Pierre Nord-Est Chaumeil, P?ruvien Voir, (Paris: Savoir, Editions Pouvoir: de Le chamanisme des Hautes chez Etudes l'Ecole du les Yagua en Sciences

Sociales, 1983).
8William Bal?e, "The Culture The of Amazonian Forests," Case," Advances Advances in Economic


7 (1989): 1-21; William

in Amazonia:

Bal?e and Alfred Gely,

"Managed Forests
in Economic Botany


7 (1989): 129-158;


B. Anderson,

"Forest Management
in Arturo Rain Forest

and Tradi

in the Amazon Inhabitants by Rural T. C. Whitmore, and Malcolm Hadley,


Gomez-Pompa, Regeneration from

tine Padoch, 83-107.

eds., Conservation

1991), 351-360;
of Neotropical

Kent H. Redford and Chris

Forests: Working

tional Resource Use (New York: Columbia University

Press, 1992), chap. 5,

9William Balee (Footprints of the Forest [New York: Columbia University Press, 1994], 119-123) provides a detailed review on the evidence of Amazonian
societies plant enhancing diversity. environmental resources, be it rivers, soils, wildlife, or

10Andrew B. Cunningham, "Indigenous Knowledge and Biodiversity: Global Commons or Regional Heritage?" Cultural Survival Quarterly (Summer 1991): 1-4; Gurdial Singh Nijar, In Defence of Local Community Knowledge and Biodiversity (Penang: Third World Network Paper, 1996); Stephen
Brush, "Indigenous Knowledge of Biological Resources and Intellectual Prop

American Anthropologist 95 (3) erty Rights: The Role of Anthropology," Carneiro da Cunha with Marilyn (1993): 653-686; Manuela Strathern,
Philippe Descola, C. A. Afonso, and Penelope Harvey, "Exploitable Knowl

edge Belongs to the Creators of It: A Debate," (1998): 109-126; Manuela Carneiro da Cunha,
a Conven?ao published da Diversidade in French: Biol?gica," Estudos traditionnelles "Populations

Social Anthropology 6(1) "Popula?oes Tradicionais e

also (1999); Avan?ados sur et Convention la

Diversit? Biologique: l'exemple du Br?sil," journal tionnelle et de Botanique Appliqu?e (1999).

nMauro script. 12Eleven and tive other two reserve such units at created by 1997, totaling in the process of being created. to 1 million with Mendes's close had been are Reserves: Conservation to Deforestation: "Extractive the Amazon An Alternative in Amazonia," Steps Toward Reserves: Rainforest," Almeida, "The Struggles of Rubber Tappers,"



2.5 million The



is Chico "Extractive

hectares, extrac largest H. hectares. Mary Development B. Anderson, Use of the Ama

Allegretti, and Environmental ed., Alternatives

for Reconciling in Anthony Sustainable The Rubber in John

zon Rain Forest

(New York: Columbia


Press, 1990), 252-264;

Tappers' Browder, ed., Strategy Fragile

Schwartzman, Stephan for Sustainable Use of

Lands of Latin America: Strategies for Sustainable Development Westview Press, 1989), 151-163.


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Carneiro da Cunha and Almeida

13ChicoMendes, Fight for the Forest: Chico Mendes inHis Own Words (Lon don: Latin American Bureau, 1989; 2d ed. 1992); Susanna Hecht and Alexander Cockburn, The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon (London: Verso, 1989); Alex Shoumatoff, Murder in the Forest: The Chico Mendes Story (London: Fourth Estate, 1991). 14Keith Brown Jr. and Andr? V. Freitas, "Diversidade
avalia?ao, causas e manutenc?o," inManuela Carneiro


no Alto Juru?:
and Mauro

da Cunha


eds., Enciclopedia

da Floresta: O alto Juru? (S?o Paulo: Ed. Cia das

15MauroW. B. Almeida,
Making 16This of a Forest is a reference Pereira Ibama, da to the Silva,

"Rubber Tappers of the Upper Juru? River, Acre: The

Ph.D. on thesis, the cargo personal on very the University cult of Cambridge, 1993. literature "seu inMelanesia.


17Antonio 18Nor did


communication. old naturalized reserve of the reserve. idea funds of for forest admin


recently, for

conservationists, being people istration costs, providing

relying by their the local



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