1 February 2023
Author: Carmela Vecchione
Image: Agência Brasil
Indigenous products made by the Cinta Larga, Paiter-Suruí, Kamayurá and Yamalapiti ethnic groups from Parque do Xingu and Kaingang-Kamé-e-Kanhru now have exclusive sales e-commerce through the Maeí platform. The project was conceived by the Moara Institute, with support from the National Indian Foundation (Funai) and the Cooperative of Business Consultants (Cbrase). With the name ‘Maeí’, which in Tupi-Guarani means, ‘Sell, Distribute, Share’, the platform has a vast catalogue of Indigenous handicrafts, such as baskets, necklaces, ornaments and miniature animals, among others.
The Wani Wani village, in Terra Capoto-Jarina in the Mato Grosso region of Brazil, was the stage for an audiovisual workshop that brought together 20 young Indigenous people with no previous experience with technology. The project culminated in the launch of a web series featuring seven short films, called Amirin Comunica, which rescues, through interviews and scenes from everyday life, the history and culture of Brazilian Indigenous peoples. ‘We opted for audiovisual precisely because of the invisibility, the lack of information, the fake news and stereotypes that white people have with us,’ explains communicator and activist Matsi Waura, 28, one of the participants in the event.
Xokleng is a language spoken only by an Indigenous community in the Alto Itajaí Valley, in the central region of Santa Catarina, where more than 2,000 people live. Since most of the Indigenous languages in Brazil are at risk of disappearing, the linguist Namblá Gakran has been working to rescue and keep the native language alive. Since last year, the community, which lives in physically distant areas, has become closer through a Whatsapp group where they share their daily lives. The only difference from the other family and friends groups on the communication network is that people are only allowed to communicate in Xokleng. ‘People who more or less speak the language join the group and start to learn there,’ explains Gakran. In addition to everyday facts, such as fishing or good hunting, the group gradually becomes a space for sharing traditional stories. ‘When an opportunity arises, we tell a story from the past,’ adds Gakran.
Technology can be divisive, often increasing the inclusion gap for those with less opportunity. But it can also foster inclusion if used in the right way. In this case, it is used to enshrine the idea that all cultural narratives deserve a place under the sun and that cultural minorities must also occupy these new spaces.
Today, many Indigenous communities already have wi-fi as well as broad access to the internet and social media. This represents a major shift for them, since not too long ago some communities would still communicate via radio and have very few televisions available. These technologies arrived in the communities as a tool for education, and for amplifying their identities.
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