National Geographic : 1961 Jul
KODACHROME(I NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Sleek baby otter, crying for its mother, lets Teemaree pet it. Traders killed its parents, giant otters that in Brazil grow nearly six feet long. "Papa says there used to be lots of them, but they are scarce now because ladies liked their fur." feels that he wants to become a Javahe, and to us he announces his decision. "I want to be an Indian. I want to live here for the rest of my life." Then he adds, "You are going to live here, too, with me?" "Well, we could," we say. "But we have our friends, our house, our whole life in Sao Paulo, you know. We have to go back." Forest Would Become His School "If I stay here, you can come to visit me," Teemaree replies. "I spoke to Tonia already, and he said he is willing to take care of me if I want to stay. He is a wonderful man. I like him; he likes me. Everything is settled. I am staying here! Instead of going to school, I will learn my lessons here, fishing and hunting." "And eating only what they have to eat?" we ask. "And working in the fields, and bear ing mosquito bites, and having no medicines when you are ill, and being far away from us, papa and mama, who love you so much? Would you be away from us forever?" "Well, let us say two years. All right?" Noting our astonishment, Teemaree says: "O. K. One year, and then you come to fetch me. And about all the rest, I do not mind." Fortunately, the decision is taken out of our hands. From time to time the men gather for a strange ritual. The medicine man appears with a triangle of calabash into which he has inserted a row of teeth of the cachorra, or "puppyfish." He pushes a pole into the sand, upright. An Indian grips it with both hands. With rapid, sure movements, the medicine man passes his sharp instrument over the upper arms, the chest, and the upper thighs. The patient betrays no emotion whatever. Stoically he clenches his teeth, and soon the blood streams from the long wounds and covers arms, chest, and legs (page 68). A piece of dried palm leaf is used to wipe off the blood, and the wounds are washed in the clear river water. Then the Indian crushes a green pepper pod in his hands and rubs its juice into the wounds. Its strong astringent effect closes them. The Javahe have themselves bled in this way every few months. They say it purifies and renews the blood, but they also believe that it is important before fishing and hunting expeditions, and, formerly, before going on the warpath. Many believe also that it is helpful to them in matters of love.