National Geographic : 1964 May
Sitting at the river's edge, a raven-haired child curiously examines a kite swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides). Innocent of either cruelty or gentleness, Erigbaagtsa children handle such helpless captives matter-of-factly. Three-inch lantern fly (upper right) rests its crocodile-like head on a branch; Fulgora's ugly features give rise to a false belief that its bite is venomous. Bristly poisonous ant (Paraponeraclavata) grows to nearly an inch in length; its vicious sting causes intense pain. Katydid (Thliboscelus hypericifolius) mimics the leaf on which it feeds. "We Indians," says Radiokoobee, "were afraid of the thundering weapons. We wanted peace in our forests. We watched the rubber tapper go from tree to tree, make a deep cut in the bark, and then put there a cup which began to fill up. We walked quietly behind him, so that he couldn't see us, and collected these fine cups and took them to our huts." Radiokoobee crooked his fingers in succes sion, saying "Nipa... nipa," meaning sleep once, sleep once more-passage of time. "After a few days, when the liquid had hardened, the tapper returned to collect the little rubber balls-and couldn't find his cups! "We hid behind large tree trunks and watched how angry he was. A young fellow 746 wanted to approach the tapper, but Mapatati, the chieftain, was much afraid and said no." Radiokoobee bent double with laughter as he told this. Fear is a disgrace to an Indian. He continued: "A young fellow leaped from behind the tree trunks and shouted, 'Rubber tappers are good-the Erigbaagtsa are also good!' " Thus trouble was averted, and the rubber tapper went away in peace. These same words, I learned, are still a greeting today between the Erigbaagtsa and rubber tappers. One day we see rubber tappers in small boats paddling up the Juruena in such a hurry that they do not even talk. Only one of them spends the night with us.