Pataxó Naô Xohã Indigenous Village
The Pataxó Naô Xohã Indigenous Village emerged from the needs of a territory of indigenous people that lived on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte (BH) and its metropolitan region, paying rent and surviving from selling their handicrafts on streets and fairs. It was inaugurated in November 2017 with a large Toré (ritual dance and of culture preservation) to celebrate and mark the beginning of what the indigenous people called land reclaiming. The following year, on June 6, 2018, the National Indian Foundation (Funai) carried out the qualification of the village, recognising the presence and history of its founders.
Surrounded by an area of intense mining, the territory suffered a great impact after the rupture of Vale's tailings dam. Several indigenous people migrated back to the peripheries of Belo Horizonte while others became part of the territory. Currently the village has around 25 families and an average of 80 people, with many children. Affected by this environmental crime, the village had to adapt to new characteristics, and continues with prospects for the future.
In the Patxohã language, the name Naô Xohã means Warrior Spirit.
The village currently has indigenous undergraduate students in Social Sciences and Anthropology, and PhD students in Anthropology, all at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. We recognise that the university, through various actions, has shown that, despite the recurring challenges, it invests in projects that aim to expand autonomy and strengthen the visibility of indigenous peoples.
When we are invited to the Sheffield / UFPA / UFMG research project, we did not hesitate in participating, since it is already part of our nature to want to establish partnerships. We see a great perspective, aiming at improvements and visibility of our work, including the implementation of actions related to agroecology and psiculture, the fight for the recovery of the water quality of the Paraopeba River, which passes on the margins of the village, the obtaining of electricity, in addition to improvements in our infrastructure seeking to live better.
This project may be related to the beginning of technical assistance for the production of a cartography of our territory, the result of a Provisional Adjustment Term signed by the Federal Public Ministry and VALE SA, which had the effective participation of our leaders and all residents .
Cacique Valdeir dos Santos Souza
“As the cacique (leader), founder of the Pataxó and Pataxó Hã Hã Hãe Naô Xohã villages in São Joaquim de Bicas, Minas Gerais, I greet all the technicians, the indigenous students, the managers and organisers, who are part of this Sheffield/ UFPA /UFMG research project. For our community I see that it could be a significant gain and there is no gain without retribution. Our history and our resistance as a warrior spirit, originated from a living ancestry and is present in our hearts, minds and in the practice of general Pataxó culture. I offer Faith as a word of memorisation; it can bring us many victories and it has a strong and strengthening meaning. Awerê, welcome, Niamissú with us, in this endeavor".