What it means to be cabolco?
August 16 2016
For long understudied by Amazonian anthropology, the Cabolcos are non-Amerindian Amazonians or the historical peasantries of the Brazilian Amazon. They mainly work as rubber-tappers, fishermen and small farmers near the rivers' margins. There are the result of a non-linear sequence of events, the fusion of cultures and an intruding environment. The roots of the cabolco people are intimately intricate with the Brazilian history and in particular with the Amazon history; from the transformation of the Amerindian Amazon as early as the 17th century to the impact of rubber trade and the latest integration of the rural Cabolco culture upon integration into Brazil’s Amazonian frontier.
The Amazon is interconnected trough trade, credit, migration, exchange, conflict and the search for commodities. The complex path of the Amazon region operated on its own term, and has made the European definition of social anthropology categories inadequate. If they have been marginalized during the past century, the progressive recognition and legalization of the Cabolco rights are vital for the preservation of the environment. The incarnation of the entire fight of the Cabolco is resumed by the personality and legacy of Chico Mendes. Born in a family of Rubber trappers in the state of Acre, he dedicated his life for the rights of Cabolco people and Amazonian Indians, united together for the first time to pursue common goals.
“At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees, and then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Now I realise I am fighting for humanity.” —Chico Mendes.
If great progress has been made, especially with the creation of The Chico Mendez Extractive Reserve and protection of more than 8 million acres of rainforest, the preservation of the Cabolco considered the true representatives of present Amazon culture is more important than ever.
The Xixuau community has been working together with the IBAMA (Brazilian Environment Institue) to designate the existing Xixuau-Xiparina Reserve and a larger area along the west side of the Jauperi (totalling 1 million acres) as an Extractivist Reserve. Not recognize yet, the Xixuaú community urges us to act. Left on its own, the Xixuaú and its surrounding territory tend to abandonment, oblivion and potential degradation.
The development of the Science village will bring sustainability to the local community, preserving the memory and knowledge of the Cabolco people and therefore the rainforest.