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University professor who taught archaeology to indigenous in Brazil suffers attack

Archaeologist Raoni Valle, defender of indigenous interests in Brazil, is fired at by attackers in the Amazon

Raoni Bernardo Maranhão Valle, 41, Ph.D. in Archeology, worked as a researcher in the State of Paraíba, Brazil in the beginning of his career in the 1990s. Had he continued to investigate the rock records of the Northeast, his life would probably not be in danger as it is today.

Had he stayed there, perhaps Valle would not have been the target of the attack he suffered on the eve of March 9th on the balcony of his house in Alter do Chão, in the state of Pará. Two men – perhaps three -fired at the archaeologist. Faces covered, they carried garruchas, shotguns adapted from sawed barrels.

Immediately, upon noticing the invasion, the researcher threw himself at the two men. The first of the assailants fired towards Valle's face, but the cartridge exploded inside the gun. The second tried to focus his aim on the archaeologist, but Raoni plunged under his office desk and turned the table over the would-be assassins pushing them out of the house and screaming for help. The commotion alerted residents and the pair fled. A third element in the house had been cornered by his wife and by his dog and escaped after being threatened. The researcher did not even see the third man.

All of this would not have come to pass had Raoni Valle stayed in Paraíba but no, his work and ambition took him to regions of conflict in the Amazion and led him to befriend indigenous and extractivist peoples of the forest. Since 2005, the archaeologist carries out photographic surveys of rock sites in the , Branco, Jaú, Jauaperi, Tapajós and Erepecuru basins.

The restless academic is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Program of Anthropology and Archeology (PAA) at the Federal University of West Pará (Ufopa) and Coordinator of the Archeology program. During the years 2005 through 2007, Valle carried out the innovative task of qualifying indigenous teachers of the Mura community in the field of archeology.
Working with the Mura, Raoni coordinated between 2007 and 2008 the Yandé Anama Mura project – a cinematic documentation of an intangible heritage of Mura shamans. Today at the University of West Pará, he develops, along with students of the Munduruku tribe, an ambitious research program: Oral Archeology in the Munduruku Villages of the Middle Tapajós River. The program proposes “Indigenous Archeology” through documentary work.
His documentary film Figueira do Inferno (“Hell's Fig Tree”) recieved numerous accolades such as Best Documentary in the Rio de Janeiro International Short Film Festival.
It was to be expected, then, that a citizen with significant contributions to the advancement of archaeological knowledge of the Brazilian Amazon, especially in the field of rock engravings, would be able to generate admiration and respect, not the wrath of banditry that now prevails in various parts of the forest. With his unconditional support given to indigenous peoples, in particular through his work with the Munduruku, Raoni Valle drew the attention of enemies of indigenous peoples in the Amazon and became known as an unpleasant presence.
Raoni suspects that the attack was connected to his defense of the Munduruku and to his continued resistance against  the construction of a hydroeletric dam in the Tapajós. Although at first he resisted the idea of a premeditated and commissioned attack, Raoni is confident that it wasn't a run-of-the-mill burglary.
“After almost being killed, I have come to realize that something strange has been going on.  Since then I have come home and seen my things messed up. This is not uncommon behavior for these people. The assaults that afflict Alter do Chão may not be the final objective, but it may be a political instrument for other purposes” said Valle.
For the also archaeologist and historian Alenice Baeta, Raoni's colleague, the attack aims to disparage the archaeologist's courageous work in defense of indigenous peoples and human rights. “This attack is another example of the dangerous times we are living in. Good people are being eliminated simply because they are fighting for social and environmental justice” stated Baeta, just days after the murder of politician and social activist in Rio de Janeiro.
Subsequently Valle has left his home and is now living in refuge with his family, fearing for his life and his wife's as well.
Raoni Valle
In photo: Raoni Valle

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UMA REVISTA PRA CHAMAR DE NOSSA

Era novembro de 2014. Primeiro fim de semana. Plena campanha da Dilma. Fim de tarde na RPPN dele, a Linda Serra dos Topázios. Jaime e eu começamos a conversar sobre a falta que fazia termos acesso a um veículo independente e democrático de informação.

Resolvemos fundar o nosso. Um espaço não comercial, de resistência. Mais um trabalho de militância, voluntário, por suposto. Jaime propôs um jornal; eu, uma revista. O nome eu escolhi (ele queria Bacurau). Dividimos as tarefas. A capa ficou com ele, a linha editorial também.

Correr atrás da grana ficou por minha conta. A paleta de cores, depois de larga prosa, Jaime fechou questão – “nossas cores vão ser o vermelho e o amarelo, porque revista tem que ter cor de luta, cor vibrante” (eu queria verde-floresta). Na paz, acabei enfiando um branco.

Fizemos a primeira edição da Xapuri lá mesmo, na Reserva, em uma noite. Optamos por centrar na pauta socioambiental. Nossa primeira capa foi sobre os povos indígenas isolados do Acre: ‘Isolados, Bravos, Livres: Um Brasil Indígena por Conhecer”. Depois de tudo pronto, Jaime inventou de fazer uma outra boneca, “porque toda revista tem que ter número zero”.

Dessa vez finquei pé, ficamos com a capa indígena. Voltei pra Brasília com a boneca praticamente pronta e com a missão de dar um jeito de imprimir. Nos dias seguintes, o Jaime veio pra Formosa, pra convencer minha irmã Lúcia a revisar a revista, “de grátis”. Com a primeira revista impressa, a próxima tarefa foi montar o Conselho Editorial.

Jaime fez questão de visitar, explicar o projeto e convidar pessoalmente cada conselheiro e cada conselheira (até a doença agravar, nos seus últimos meses de vida, nunca abriu mão dessa tarefa). Daqui rumamos pra Goiânia, para convidar o arqueólogo Altair Sales Barbosa, nosso primeiro conselheiro. “O mais sabido de nóis,” segundo o Jaime.

Trilhamos uma linda jornada. Em 80 meses, Jaime fez questão de decidir, mensalmente, o tema da capa e, quase sempre, escrever ele mesmo. Às vezes, ligava pra falar da ótima ideia que teve, às vezes sumia e, no dia certo, lá vinha o texto pronto, impecável.

Na sexta-feira, 9 de julho, quando preparávamos a Xapuri 81, pela primeira vez em sete anos, ele me pediu para cuidar de tudo. Foi uma conversa triste, ele estava agoniado com os rumos da doença e com a tragédia que o Brasil enfrentava. Não falamos em morte, mas eu sabia que era o fim.

Hoje, cá estamos nós, sem as capas do Jaime, sem as pautas do Jaime, sem o linguajar do Jaime, sem o jaimês da Xapuri, mas na labuta, firmes na resistência. Mês sim, mês sim de novo, como você sonhava, Jaiminho, carcamos porva e, enfim, chegamos à nossa edição número 100. E, depois da Xapuri 100, como era desejo seu, a gente segue esperneando.

Fica tranquilo, camarada, que por aqui tá tudo direitim.

Zezé Weiss

P.S. Você que nos lê pode fortalecer nossa Revista fazendo uma assinatura: www.xapuri.info/assine ou doando qualquer valor pelo PIX: contato@xapuri.info. Gratidão!

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