“We are Indians, we want back our land to live in it
Our ancestors lived in it, and died and left this generation
God has left our land for us to work upon, bring our livelihood from and
eat our bread here … ”
Tremembé – Ancestry, Struggle and Culture
Every sunrise is of struggle and resistance in the land of the Tremembé people, from Barra do Mundaú. The indigenous land is located 55km from the Itapipoca township in Ceará, Brazil. From their ancestors, comes the force of native inheritance and nature’s enchanted energy to continue protecting mother earth. There has always been prejudice and lack of recognition of the region’s indigenous peoples. However, in 2002, a real estate speculative project arrived there with a devastating proposal to the Tremembé of Barra do Mundaú. A Spanish business group intended to build a tourist complex called New Atlantis, which would have 27 hotels and resorts, six residential condominiums and three golf courses, all right in the middle of the Tremembé land.
In 2002 the land had not yet been declared indigenous reserve and thus the struggle of the Tremembé people against a much greater enemy. An acultured part of the community, which does not recognize itself as indigenous, was divided by job promises coming from the venture. However, most of the community came together under the leadership of Adriana and Erbene Tremembé, to achieve what they already had conquered as an indigenous people by right: the land. The declaratory decree signed by the then Minister of Justice Eduardo Cardozo came, after much struggle, in August 2015. The land underwent a demarcation process in 2016 and between 2017 and 2019 the survey procedure was carried out. There is still a long way to go before the final formal approval, when the demarcation process will be finally completed.
The resilience of the Tremembé people of Barra do Mundaú is strengthened in many ways: through education at the ‘Brolhos da Terra Indigena’ School and ‘Curumim Cunhatã’ Nursery, through sacred rituals such as the Torém, cultural celebrations such as the Farinhada Festival and the Feast of Murici and Batiputá. The later takes place at the beginning of each year and features various celebrations, cultural performances, harvesting the fruits of murici and batiputá, and artisanal production of batiputá oil, used both for cooking and as an element of traditional medicine.
Another practice of resistance of the Tremembé people is the retaking of spaces that they had previously lost in their territory. The practice of retaking has been used since 2006, when the village Buriti do Meio wer once again reconquered by the Tremembé. Another important action was in August 2016, when the Indians occupied a site that was under the domain of the New Atlantis resort.
“Before the company arrived, people lived here, our ancestors lived here. And it was always our natural path to access the Mundaú river, to Canãa, to cross the Barra. When they arrived, they surrounded all this space here, in which we are now, ”says Erbene Rosa, the Tremembé leader. During the retakes they hold classes, project meetings, cultural activities, among other mobilizations that strengthen the fight.
Between 2016 and 2019, the Tremembé people of Barra do Mundaú, together with CETRA and with the support of the European Union, carried out the ‘Tremembé Action’ project. The project’s main objective was to support and protect the human rights of indigenous peoples. The project had three specific training programs: human rights, art and communication, and agroecology. They constructed the “Índia Iandê Digital Oca”, a modern house architected as a traditional indigenous home, but with computers, internet, projector, camera, among others equipment. They also constructed a seedling nursery, developed an Agroforestry System area, as well as the strengthened the existing seed house; finally, they made communications campaign for the demarcation of indigenous land.
‘Parente Torém’, is an artistic group of the Tremembé and also a results of the Tremembé Action project. The group was created through a performance, prepared during the dance module of the Art and Communications Training Program. After its first presentation in 2017, Parente Torém has performed and promoted the agenda of indigenous art and culture.
Songs, rituals, occupations, days, nights, studies and poems are daily instruments to keep alive the original peoples’ of Brazi struggle for their land. Under the sun and moon of Ceará the Tremembé people of Barra do Mundaú have taken root and will fight until their original right is fully recognized and respected.