When Pia Maybury-Lewis and I witnessed, more than 30 years ago, the struggles the Xavante in Central Brazil faced to protect their lands and culture, we were inspired to found Cultural Survival. Today, the Xavante have developed a number of projects to promote their own cultural survival. The Wara Collection Project, which we visited in fall 2001, is Cultural Survival's newest Special Project.
In Xavante, "Wara" means "the council" and its meeting place, where adult men gather to discuss the affairs of the community. Xavante leader Hiparidi Top'tiro developed the project in collaboration with others in his community of Abelinha (Idzo'uhu), located in the indigenous reserve Sangradouro in the state of Mato Grosso. Over the last six years the project has gathered and catalogued a large amount of information concerning the Xavante. The collection now contains books, articles, and newspaper clippings concerning the Xavante; many hours of taped interviews with Xavante about their current circumstances; and maps and satellite photographs of the region where Xavante live. It also contains drawings and texts by Xavante of all ages, from elders to children. An extensive collection of Xavante artifacts includes notes about the manufacture and use of its items. Also included are extensive recordings of Xavante songs, speeches, and rituals, as well as discussions and supporting materials relating to Xavante views of how they might continue to live in their present environment.
The Wara Collection-now recognized as one of the major Xavante archives, if not the major archive-is constantly growing. Project organizers intend it to be a living and expanding archive that can be used by anyone interested in the Xavante, but most of all by the Xavante themselves as a resource to maintain the fundamental features of their culture and to protect the essential elements of their environment. Xavante working with the archive use it to teach classes-particularly to young Xavante so that they may study a vital past and envision how it can connect with an emerging future. The project needs funds to bring the archive together under a single roof, to pay for its maintenance, and to help it mount its classes.
David Maybury-Lewis is president of Cultural Survival. For more information about the Wara Collection Project contact Laura Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples' rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience.
To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.
For ways to take action to help Indigenous communities, click here.
We take on governments and multinational corporations—and they always have more resources than we do—but with the help of people like you, we do win. Your contribution is crucial to that effort. Click here to do your part.
Cultural Survival is not a disaster relief organization. We work towards a world in which the rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected, protected, and fulfilled.
Bikalpa Gyan Kedra, an organization in Nepal founded by our Board Member Stella Tamang offers alternative educational opportunities to Indigenous girls and is not a disaster relief organization either, but since the earthquake they have been acting as a shelter to 300 local families. They need basic items like drinking water and food.
Radio Kairan in Kubu-Kasthali is asking for help with purchasing a power generator to get his community radio station back up and running to provide an essential means of communication for villagers on relief efforts as well as to power his community. Cost for this generator would be about $2,500