National Geographic : 1971 Sep
the hope they could interpret for us. I recorded con siderable conversation on tape; linguists later identified several words as being of Tupian stock-a language group common to many Brazilian aborigines. In 1914 Theodore Roosevelt and Col. Candido Maria no da Silva Rondon, who inspired Brazil to protect her Indians, explored the river now named for the United States President (map, page 426). They saw no Indians. But later, when fortune seekers penetrated Rondonia in quest of wild rubber, jaguar pelts, and diamonds, they were driven back by warriors wearing wide belts. For years the Cinta Largas were left in peace. Then, in the 1960's, the highway being built from Brasilia to Cru zeiro do Sul came close to their hunting grounds. With the road came more fortune seekers, this time in hun dreds. The newcomers were of all kinds, from gunslingers a jump ahead of the police to adventurers of substance seeking tin, rubber, or land for speculation. FUNAI Must Balance the Interests of Many Hostilities with the Indians resumed at once. There were ugly incidents. And though we Brazilians know of no nation that has ever passed through a similar stage of development without committing such sins, my country is ashamed of some of the things then done by its nomi nally civilized citizens. Indians were shot on sight. I know several Cinta Largas with bullet scars, and one who survived a machete slash that almost split his face. A Cinta Larga village was dynamited from the air. Poisoned foods were left temptingly on trails. The Indians also did cruel things. They killed the young wife of a settler on the Riozinho River. They murdered a rubber tapper with 13 arrows and grue somely mutilated the corpse. And once a Cinta Larga proudly showed me his prize trophy, a set of false teeth. Eventually the government acted. It ordered the Na tional Foundation for the Indian-FUNAI, we call it, from its Portuguese name-into action. FUNAI is the agency with which the government replaced its original Indian Protection Service in 1967; over the years the old service had grown cumbersome and tangled in red tape. FUNAI'S mission is a dual one. First, it pacifies hostile Indians so that Brazil, an underdeveloped nation, may extract the riches of its vast wilderness area as efficiently and painlessly as possible. Second, it protects the Indians it pacifies against the harmful aspects of our civilization with which they cannot cope. As an example, it prosecutes trespassers on lands set aside for Indian use. It guards its charges against exploitation. It seeks to keep the diseases of civilization EKTACHROME © N.G .S. Friendship rebuffed: Stone Age Indians of western Brazil mutilated a plastic doll left for them as a gift, and then impaled the head on a tree. This angry rejection marked an early attempt to contact the Cinta Largas, after nine months of fruitless effort.