National Geographic : 1979 Jan
For many days I followed Barbara and Vaioco over dim forest trails to Abrigo do Sol and other rock-shelters where some un known people had carved mysterious draw ings into the walls and left sherds of decorated pottery in the ashes of ancient fires. Barbara had kept her part of the bar gain. Now I had to keep mine. First I persuaded two friends, Professors Mari Baiocchi and Altair Sales Barbosa of the Catholic University of Goias, to visit the shelters to see if an archeological dig was warranted. They came, made test trenches, and recommended a thorough study. With this assurance I asked the National Geographic Society for support. The So ciety agreed to help and also asked the Smithsonian Institution to join in furthering the project. Thanks largely to the efforts of FUNAI's veteran sertanista, Fritz Tolksdorf, I enlisted the cooperation of the Brazilian Government. Dig Helps to Prove Wasusus' Claim And so, seven years after the Wasusus had shown me the places they had kept hid den for so long, we-and the Wasusus-be gan laboring with picks, shovels, and sieves in the floor of Abrigo do Sol, coughing and sneezing in clouds of acrid dust. But even before digging started, our proj ect had produced heartwarming results: The Wasusus would not be forced to remain on the savanna after all! FUNAI had reported to the Brazilian Min istry of Interior that our preliminary work proved that Indians had occupied the valley of the Galera since long before the first From Abrigo's pay dirt, Wastisu girls (left)separate fragments of pottery and stone with a sieve like those used by dia mond prospectors in the region. Able recruits in the service of science, the Indians exhibited irrepressible enthusi asm for turning up new finds, such as a pipe head (above) dug from the ashes of an ancient campsite. For their efforts they were rewarded with food and cooking utensils by the civilizados.