by Marcia Camargo* and Erilsa Braz dos Santos**

Reviewed by Matheus Lucas Hebling

The Day of the Discovery of America is celebrated on October 12th. On this date, the arrival of the navigator Christopher Columbus to the American continent is celebrated. Departing from Spain in August 1492 with three caravels – Santa Maria, Pinta, and Nina – Columbus reached the Bahamas on October 12th, 1492. He subsequently visited Cuba, Haiti, and Santo Domingo. This expedition would irrevocably alter the course of human history, as new peoples, cultures, foods, and climates became known to Europeans, explored, and colonized.
In the early days of Brazil, October 12th held the significance of a holiday dedicated to celebrating fraternity among people. The concept of fraternity, however, takes on a complex dimension when examined in light of the contrasting historical experiences. While this date symbolized unity among various communities, it also underscores the stark reality that indigenous peoples inhabiting the continent endured a myriad of injustices, including mistreatment, land dispossession, and relegation to secondary status in the emerging society. Over the next five weeks, we will delve into an exploration of the resilience exhibited by indigenous women in Brazil. Our discussions will revolve around themes such as fraternity, examining its complexities and nuances within the historical context. Additionally, we will investigate the pivotal role of the maracá in the struggles, fights, and celebrations from diverse perspectives, shedding light on its significance as a symbol of strength and resistance in indigenous communities. We constitute a collaborative consortium comprising both indigenous and non-indigenous women engaged in collective research endeavors that generate polyphonic textual outputs. We invite you to immerse yourself in the forthcoming five weeks dedicated to the deepness of knowledge, ancestral heritage, and communal cooperation. This undertaking underscores a collective identity, transcending individuality, emphasizing the unity of ‘us’ as a cohesive whole.
The meaning of indigenous woman for most of the population comes loaded with a concept based on our history books, where the indigenous population of our country was presented in a few pages of the book/handout and soon after disappeared from the History registers, leaving an immense gap on the contribution of the more than 305 ethnicities present in our territory with more than 274 languages, during the 523 years of ‘discovery’. The erroneous image of the indigenous population is kept in our conscious and unconscious as if by magic, indigenous people are erased from history. Therefore, so far, we can say that the Brazilian indigenous according to the books/handouts of the history of our country, were considered savage and uncivilized through a Eurocentric view, and there has always been a social/political and cultural organization within the various communities, only different from the European view on ‘civilization’.
The conception of time for Bakhtin brings with it a conception of man. Thus, each new temporality corresponds to a new man. (GEGe, 2013) One of the main indigenous characteristics has always been unity and reunion. Humans x Nature x Earth, and colonizers considered themselves dominators of the land and nature. Nowadays, perhaps we are close to changing history with the first ministry of indigenous peoples led by Sonia Guajajara, created in 2023, and also with the presence of indigenous within the academies in the most diverse environments of work and professions occupying other places and maintaining their identity as an indigenous subject, different from the place established by the popular imagination through decontextualized textbooks and European literature. In this context, Bakhtin 1984, comes to say that the word of the World and about the World has not yet been spoken, the World is open and liberated, and everything is in the future and will always be in the future.

“[T]he word of the world and about the world has not yet been spoken, the world is open and free, everything is still in the future and will always be in the future”. Bakhtin, 1984, p. 166.

The world is in constant transformation, human beings, nature, earth are all in constant change, so how to write about the experience lived in field research in such a way that the “vivacity” is maintained during the writing of the text? The process of co-writing maintains the vivacity and also opens spaces for collaborations where the ‘research subject’ becomes the co-creator of the research, partner, and collaborator. In this sense Bakhtin further reinforces that “The word is a kind of bridge between me and others. The word is the common territory of the speaker and the interlocutor” (BAHKTIN, 1997), and in this relationship to writing about indigenous peoples from the place of this historical and social subject is also to experience everything that comprises the being indigenous subject in Brazil today, with its constructions and identity deconstructions
New openings, new spaces are opened, as can be seen with the change in the handouts and books used in the most diverse schools that present the indigenous, although with few pages and little participation in history, but already considering the indigenous as part of today’s society. Comments on their contributions, as is the case of the History booklet, updated in 2022 for the 4th grade of elementary school, which already has a new discourse with chapters such as indigenous peoples, the invasion of indigenous lands, the exploitation of lands and indigenous peoples, Indian or indigenous? It is the indigenous presence today. All this with the inclusion of a protagonist narrative of some indigenous people.
The indigenous SUBJECT went through a long process of invisibility in the Brazilian territory, leaving an image, often frozen in time and space, limiting the knowledge of the Brazilian population about the original peoples who were already here and who are still in the territory. The reading of the indigenous SUBJECT, the reading of the indigenous woman SUBJECT will be discussed next, through dialogism, through historical, social subjects and concepts about the polyphonic narratives introduced by Bakhtin that open us the opportunity to discuss and open our knowledge concerning the original peoples and the female figure of the Pataxó community in this first article. Remember that the main concern in this research work is that the voice is kept faithful to the indigenous protagonist, so each step of the process is divided and verified with the community, especially jokanas of the Barra Velha Village.
A Brazilian indigenous maracá is a traditional musical instrument used by various indigenous peoples in Brazil, primarily in their cultural and spiritual ceremonies. It is a percussion instrument and a type of rattle. The maracá consists of a hollow gourd or calabash that is dried and then filled with small stones, seeds, or other small objects. A wooden handle is typically attached to the gourd, allowing the instrument to be held and shaken. The sound of the maracá is produced by shaking it vigorously, causing the stones or seeds inside to rattle against the walls of the gourd. The resulting sound is believed to have spiritual significance in indigenous rituals, often used to invoke the presence of ancestral spirits, communicate with the natural world, or accompany traditional songs and dances. Different indigenous groups in Brazil may have variations in the design and decoration of their maracás, and the instrument’s use can vary depending on the specific cultural practices and beliefs of each community. Overall, the maracá holds great cultural and spiritual significance in the indigenous traditions of Brazil.


In the context of the Pataxó indigenous people, the maracá holds profound significance, resonating with both cultural and personal dimensions. It carries multifaceted symbolism, particularly for the author Uruba Pataxó, who identifies as a woman, a mother, a Pataxó, and a custodian of this land. Indigenous narratives often assert that wherever the maracá resounds, the spirits of the “encantados” manifest themselves. Furthermore, where the maracá’s handle touches the earth, that space becomes uniquely ours.A significant musical tradition accompanies this symbolism, as expressed in the verse, “When the maracá resounds, it compels me to sing; I sing to Tupä, seeking his assistance.” This underscores the maracá’s role as a conduit for invoking spiritual guidance and reflection. The maracá’s resonance serves as a guiding force, providing direction and addressing the specific needs of the Pataxó people during their rituals.
In Pataxó rituals and struggles, the maracá’s reverberation assumes a pivotal role. It facilitates a connection with ancestral heritage and invokes the presence of the “encantados” within their ceremonies, fostering a profound bond with the natural world. Thus, the maracá serves as a channel through which insights about the unfolding circumstances are communicated, acting as a conduit between the Pataxó people and Mother Nature herself.
For the upcoming five weeks, this investigation will meticulously explore the intricate layers of significance and multifaceted meanings attributed to the maracá within various indigenous communities and distinct temporal contexts through polyphonic texts.
The study will delve into the profound cultural, spiritual, and sociocultural dimensions that underpin the importance of the maracá, elucidating its role as a symbol, instrument, and ritualistic artifact that plays an integral role in the cultural and ceremonial practices of diverse indigenous societies. Through an interdisciplinary and comprehensive lens, this inquiry aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the maracá’s profound relevance and the diversity of its applications across indigenous communities and historical junctures.


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Marcia Camargo is a PhD Candidate in Science, Technology, and Society at Federal University of São Carlos //Professor and Visual Artist. Multidisciplinary Ethnographic Researcher with a decolonial collective perspective. 10 years of partnership with the Pataxó indigenous community at Extreme South of Bahia, Brazil.
Erilsa Braz dos Santos is a Leader (Vice Cacica), Aldeia Barra Velha, mother land of Pataxó and Coordinator of MUPOIBA (Movimento unido dos povos e organizações indígenas da Bahia do TI Barra Velha), and also teacher at the indigenous local school – Escola Indígena da Aldeia Barra Velha.