National Geographic : 1968 Sep
the fear and bewilderment in their liquid black eyes, the privations are as nothing. We travel sometimes together, sometimes separately. Claudio was alone except for eight trusted Indian companions when he braved the shower of arrows mentioned earlier. And 11 years passed before we led the Tchikao Indians into the park. We had not even heard the name Tchikao until the early 1950's, although we knew that Indians speaking a tongue no one else under stood came from the unknown jungle and attacked Xingu villages. The villagers looked to us for protection. They belonged to many tribes-among them the Waura, Trumai, Ba kairi, and Kalapalo (the presumed killers in the 1920's of British explorer Col. Percy Faw cett and his son). From the village of the Nahukua tribe, the chief, Kamalive, came to us one evening in an excited state. "Tueleva omure inhicorro vegue!" he ex claimed. "What savages have attacked your village?" one of us asked. "Tchikao inhicorro!" Kamalive replied. The invaders, said the chief, had killed 12 Nahukua, abducted several girl children, and burned the village. The Trumai, Waura, and Mehinaku had been attacked on other occa sions, we were told. Tribal Warfare Threatens to Erupt In spite of our noninterference policy, we knew that one day we must seek out these Tchikao and make friends with them. The day arrived in 1956. The Tchikao raided a Waura village on the Batovi. The Waura* and other injured tribes planned retaliatory attacks that could turn the Xingu country side into a battleground. We could not afford to wait any longer. Claudio and his eight Indian comrades, who had four different tribal languages among them, set forth in a boat. On the eighth day of their trip they saw abandoned campsites, old fishing implements, and other signs of the Tchikao. On the tenth day they found a bamboo arrow floating in the river, and on the eleventh a trail into the jungle from the riverbank. They hid their boat and took this trail, mov ing in absolute silence. After three hours they heard men calling to each other, as Indians do to keep in contact in the jungle. Soon they were close enough to the Tchikao village to hear the voices of women and chil dren. They crawled through a final tangle of 428 Wiry warrior, Milowoo shoulders his bow and six-foot arrows. Tchikao men rarely ex ceed 51/2 feet, but their marksmanship and reputation for ferocity and witchcraft made them formidable foes of other Indians. Milo woo wears a tribal sign on his cheeks-black lines representing teeth of the capybara, world's largest rodent. The mark, tattooed in childhood, fades with the years. Around the neck some men wear "magic" whistles (below) made from the hollow wing bones of a bird. Once they sang and blew the whistles to scare away a thunderstorm. lianas and dense foliage. Peeping out, Claudio became the first civilizado to see the Tchikao around their home campfires. One Indian, an old man whose body was painted a brilliant red, sat quietly on a log. The others slept in hammocks, for it was the hour of siesta, noon in the forest, when the heat is most intense. Blue smoke rose lazily from the smoldering fires. Pet birds walked about-macaws, several other kinds of bright parrots, and curassows. Claudio stepped from concealment. He was (Continued on page 433) *The January, 1966, issue contained a vivid account of this tribe, "The Waura: Brazilian Indians of the Hidden Xingu," by the late Harald Schultz, author of six memo rable NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC articles on the primitive peoples of the Amazon Basin.