National Geographic : 2014 Jan
kayapo 45 Stop & Shop would be to me. He and Okêt dart- ed ahead. Fifteen minutes later a shot rang out, then two more. When I caught up, a collared peccary lay dead on a bed of leaves. Meikâre fashioned some twine from a swatch of bark and bound the ani- mal’s feet. He cut another belt-shaped length of bark and lashed it to the fore and hind legs. He slung the load over his shoulder, moving with 30 pounds of peccary on his back as if it were no heavier than a cashmere shawl. The Kayapo we’d left behind had been busy fishing. First they had plugged the escape holes of a mole cricket nest in a sandbank and then had dug up and captured a batch of mole crick- ets, which they used to bait fishhooks and catch piranha. They chopped up the piranha on a mahogany canoe paddle and used the pieces as bait to catch peacock bass and piabanha. They started a tidy wood fire on the riverbank with Bic lighters and cooked the lunch on freshly whittled skewers. In midafternoon we motored on toward Kend- jam against the light current. Meikâre reclined in the bow, back propped against a mahogany paddle, feet up, hands laced behind his head, gaz- ing out at the hypnotic water like a commuter heading home on the train after a long day. That night Chief Pukatire wandered over to our camp with a flashlight. “ The only things we need from the white culture are flip-flops, flash- lights, and glasses,” he said amiably. I wondered if he’d heard how skillfully I’d negotiated the for- est that afternoon, because he said he had a new name for me: “Rop-krore,” the Kayapo word for spotted jaguar. He had a good humor about him; you never would have guessed that two of his children had died of malaria not long after the founding of Kendjam. The village census lists the year of Pukatire’s birth as 1953, and notes the names of his wife, their 38-year-old daughter, and their three grandchildren. He said he was born near the town of Novo Progresso, west of Kendjam, in the time before contact. When Pukatire’s village was attacked by Kayapo from the village of Baú, his mother and his baby sister were killed; Pukatire Two Kayapo warriors dine on a peacock bass they’ve just caught in the river. By contrast, Kayapo who live near border towns supplement their subsistence diet with trips to the supermarket, like this one in Tucumã.