Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Itagenemimetics the science and the art of learning from indigenous and ancestral peoples

Luiz Pagano presenting Cauim at Bar Convent in São Paulo - June / 2019 

Recently I've been dedicating my activities to the functions of artist and scientist, mainly with regard to CAUIM, fermented alcoholic beverage of mandioca (kind of Brazilian cassava), consumed by more than 270 Brazilian indigenous ethnicities, which I'm willing to bring to the general public in the form of a drink industrial, (with beautiful bottle and everything else..) produced using a sophisticated processes, with great similarities to one used to produce sake. This initiative has the great purpose of making us proud to be Brazilians of Tupi origin - I dream about the day when all of us, Brazilians or not, will be able to eat the sophisticated dishes of Alex Atala or Tiago Castanho, harmonized with Cauim dos Yekuanas or Waurás, packaged in 'Tupi Pop Culture'.

This work made me research the life and ways of our ancestral peoples in a unique way, I saw different possibilities of a prosperous culture, good nature, happy and completely friendly with nature and the planet.

I may not be able to convey the greatness of what I feel about the subject, but surely that doesn't stop me from trying. 

here it goes...

We are so educated in European culture that we think this is the only "cultural language" in the world, but things are starting to change and the culture of the forest is beginning to prove essential for our survival on the planet.

We are so used to European culture and education, that we think this is the only way to look towards reality and to assess and understand our world, but things are starting to change and forest culture begins to unfold essential to our survival in this planet.

leia esta matéria em Português

Recently David Kopenawa of the Yanomami ethnic group, which has been called the 'Dalai Lama of the Forest', accompanied by Fiona Watson, Director of Research of the NGO Survival International, and world expert on uncontacted tribes were talking to the American media and giving some lectures in and around San Francisco, talking about the tireless work to protect the land of his tribe in the Amazon rainforest, and how this experience can be applied to the rest of world.

The Amazon rainforest has long been recognized as a repository of ecological services not only for local tribes and communities, but also for the rest of the world. It is also the biggest rainforest that we have left in terms of size and diversity.

But as forests burns and global warming worsens, the impact of Amazon deforestation continues to gradually damage the fragile ecological processes that have been refined over millions of years of evolution.

The solution to the question of how to find the balance necessary for the survival of the forest and at the same time makiing the world a prosperous place to live, can not be found in science itself, but in science combined with philosophical issues of local people, such as the Yanomami.

The Yanomami world is divided into two groups of individuals, to the YANOMAMI THËPË (human beings, people) and the NAPË (us, white men, the the 'fierce' enemies)

The Yanomami have been taken as a 'fierce' people in sensationalist and outdated work Yanomamö: The Fierce People, by American anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, describing them as "sly, aggressive and intimidating”. This book is considered the bible of the newly formed anthropologist, keeping bringing to the world highly prejudiced ideas.

The good thing is that this has been changing over time, and we began to hear more and more the wisdom of the forest people - the Yanomami point of view the world is divided into two groups of individuals, to the YANOMAMI THËPË (human beings, people) and the NAPË (us, white men, the  'feroucious' enemies).

The forest does not burn and do not pollute the its rivers by itself, the NAPË is the one who does it.

The pollution of rivers is the result an active attitude of NAPË, if we fail to throw pollutants in Tiete and Pinheiros rivers in the Sao Paulo urban area, for example, we would have clean rivers in a matter of weeks. In fact, we the NAPË are proactive in polluting and devastating, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously.

If you ask a Yanomami Indian, what he thinks of the white man - the NAPË, we'll probably end up ashamed whith his response.

Swimming in the vastness of the Amazon and Tocantins rivers put me in spiritual contact with the YANOMAMI THËPË culture. The white man considers themselves unique, and different from other beings around them - The NAPË lives under the concept of ‘The eternal silence of these infinite spaces - Blaise Pascal’ we are alone, in a monologue. The Yanomamies are different; they are able to love and to dialogue with everything and everyone around them.

According to the Yanomami, the NAPË, don't care about everybody else, they don't love the land and the forest, they have an egoistic, reckless and short-term vision about such things. The concepts of Yanomami appear to be much higher and very often is difficult for us to conceive, so lets classify it in groups:

The concept of 'living being'

The 'living beings' according to the Yanomamies are the 'people' at large, refered to as YANOMAMI THËPË.

The NAPË (white man) seems to care only about himself and in a secondary level, with their immediate family. This feeling tends to decrease with regard to their remote neighbors and other family relativies, and they feel almost no love for the other people in the world.  But thereis still hope, the positive side of the NAPÉ is that they have pets, it seems to be a small flame of love to other 'living beings' that does not belong to the Homo sapiens classification.

The Yanomami are able to love and dialogue with everything and everyone around them.

It is very common to see Brazilian natives breastfeeding her baby on one breast and a monkey or other animal in the other, a scene that causes incomprehension and disgust to the white man who witnesses it first time. To them these animals are also 'people' and are entitled to breast milk, which - by the way, does not belongs to the woman, but to nature itself.

The white man consider himself unique and different from other beings around him - The NAPË living under the concept of ‘The eternal silence of these infinite spaces - Blaise Pascal’ we are alone, in a monologue. The Yanomami are different; they are able to love and to dialogue with everything and everyone around them.

For them, everything is deemed to be 'living being' or 'people' - the animals, the plants and even the rocks are deemed as ‘people’,  even some artifacts are also considered as 'people'. Make sure to never annoy all those 'people', plants, animals and even some artifacts should never be disturbed.

It is very common to see lady Brazilian natives breastfeeding her baby on one breast and a monkey or other animal in the other, a scene that causes incomprehension and disgust to the white man who witnesses it first time. To them these animals are also 'people' and are entitled to breast milk, which - by the way, does not belongs to the woman, but to nature itself.

For the Yanomami, nobody likes to be offended and each time this happens, the offended ‘people’ strikes back.

Thus, there are always consequences:

- What happens if we kill an animal to eat? - Killing a living being is a very serious offense, even having the title of YARO (game animals) it is a bad deed, and they are aware that they will have future consequences.

"When someone kills these beings, he must wait for the reaction that can manifested itself in many ways, as a little indigestion, or sometimes in the form of the attack of animals, a jaguar may stike a firend, partners of the dead animal could seek revenge.

The concept of 'ownership'

We don't have land; the land that have us. The property of physical assets is intangible since our matter is perishable. All material possessions can lead to suffering (as in Buddhism).

- the knowledge from the people ofAmazon rainforest is very important for from them comes knowledge that we must have to overcome the civilization crisis and environmental degradation.

The concept of 'Evolution'

The NAPË are less developed than the YANOMAMI THËPË (the Yanomami themselves), however there are more evolved beings, such as the YAI, forest being that doesn't require a name.

It is when the reader gets outraged - how could they believe that we are less developed than they?
There are several ways to make us see how little evolved we are in comparison, take the issue of waste for instance.

In nature, the garbage of any living being is incorporated as a utility to another living being (e.g. Mammalian feces are transformed into fertilizer for plants; oxygen purged by the tree becomes the air we breathe, etc.). We NAPË, produce a huge amount of waste that does more harm than good to other living beings.

The relationship between YAI with THËPË YANOMAMI/NAPË is the same of the white men with amoebas.

Men, at large, have four dimensions of perception, ability to reason about events around them, read books, build bridges and to observe the amoeba in a microscope. Amoebas on the other hand live in a much more limited world, has diminished capacity of perception that allow only eat living forms around them, are unable to read or, much less to build bridges.

The YAI observe us in the same way that we observe the amoebas, we haven't the faintest notion of it. They are infinitely superior and transit through different dimensions, inconceivable by us.

The concept of 'URIHI' - Yanomami word for forest ecosystem

The word Yanomami UHIRI designates the forest and all that dwells in it, with endless connections and interrelations, IPA URIHI, "my land" can refer to the region of birth or current place of residence of the enunciator. URIHI can be also refered to the world's name: UHIRI A PREE, "the great land-forest".

We 'the NAPË' are the only species on the planet that produce waste without balance with the ecosystem.
The Amazon rainforest is the largest continued forest region on the planet, cut though nine countries, corresponding to 60% of the Brazilian territory, has nearly 6 million km2. The Amazon River has 4225 miles, 65miles longer than Nile according to the measurements of 2007; it has 20% of the world's fresh water.

Currently 18% of the forest has been devastated, this devastation appears in the form of extensive cattle low intelligence ranching, illegal property, irregular mining.

It may does't seem much but 1% of devastated area, is larger than the state of Rio de Janeiro (approx. 43.000km2).

Brazil can be very bad when it comes to dealing with rivers of its capitals, mainly due to corruption and electioneering reasons, but isolated initiatives in Amazon region draw attention of public opinion for its ingenuity.

The concept of Itagenemimetics or itagenemimicry 

Did you know that Europeans learned the habit of smoking herbs from the American Indians? Perhaps the cigarette industry was the first to use the concept of Itagenemimetics* (the art/science of learning from indigenous peoples and ancestral traditions). It is important to say that the cigarette we know today, which causes deaths and illnesses, has undergone a series of changes for the worse since its initial adoption or better said, it was undoubtedly an adoption of degrading habit from our ancestors. But the vast majority of habits that we acquired from them, however, such as sleeping in a hammock, bathing every day and drinking guarana, have proven to be very healthy.

Biomimetics* along with itagenemimetics** has been the best and most effective learning tools that our civilization can make use of - as for the term Itagenemimética, I believe it was me who invented that word in one of my lectures, but it makes perfect sense (lol).

Civilized man has been increasingly distancing himself from his brothers who live in the tribes, the degrading habits of civilized people seem to be much worse than that of the indigenous people, dispersing plastic on the planet and emitting CO2 are some of them.

The indigenous people I know say that civilized people are very dumb, we do things that no other animal does, we defecate in the water we drink. It is evident that with our current level of cultural development, living in tribes and abandoning the material goods and conquests we had could be seen as an involution, however we pay more and more attention to what they have to say to us.

*Biomimetics or biomimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems (Greek: βίος, life, and μίμησις, imitation, from μιμεῖσθαι, to imitate, from μῖμος, actor).

**Itagenemimetics or itagenemimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements adopted by ancestral communities or indigenous native people for the purpose of solving complex human problems (Greek: ιθαγενείς, itageneis - indigenous people, and μίμησις, imitation, from μιμεῖσθαι, to imitate, from μῖμος, actor).

We cannot put a huge dome over the Amazon

Environmental protection can only happen if it doesn't oppose the huge economic forces, so we have to make the standing forest more valable than the deforested one.

All we have to do is use the YANOMAMI THËPË intelligence to guide us in this field. Sooner or later, very old trees falls naturally as part of the renewal process of the forest. Well monitored, these trees can have its downfalls managed through legal agronomists and the timber can be used more intelligently.

A trunk of a centuries-old Samaumeira (kapok tree) worth just over R$ 10.00 on the black market, while a beautiful handcrafted object with just over 20’ in length from the same tree can reach worth R$ 300.00.

This is a good example of how to turn a NAPË attitude towards YANOMAMI THËPË

Science combined with Yanomami philosophy - A good way to save the planet.
A low-impact vehicle cuts a samaumeira, in a smart renovation process in the Amazon rainforest.

The great culprit for the current problems was the PIN, Programa de Integração Nacional (National Integration Program), a geopolitical nature program created by the Brazilian military government through Nº1106 Decree-Law of July 16, 1970, signed by Brazilian President Medici.

Worried about losing the vast Amazon territory by the difficulty to monitor its borders, the military government has proposed to relocate the victims of non-productivity of the dried Brazilian northeast areas and turn them into labor at prosperous Amazon region, thus occupying the Amazonian demographic emptiness, "integrate in order to not handover" and "land without men to the men without land" were the slogans of that time.

The PIN had the wonderful merit of mobilizing a nationalist sentiment, regardless of political views and promote colonization of the Amazon.

The Trans-Amazon Highway was the tool chosen by the Medici as a gateway to the forest. With 2,624 miles long, connecting the city of Cabedelo – PB (Paraiba) to Labrea – AM (Amazonas), the road cuts seven Brazilian estates: Paraíba, Ceará, Piauí, Maranhão, Tocantins, Pará and the Estate of Amazonas.

In the near future the agroforestry system can count on the help of collectors drones to promote low-impact agriculture. In the agricultural system of today we deforest the woods and then plant, in order to clear the ground and thus facilitate the entry of our antiquated agricultural machinery - with the advent of collectors drones we no longer need to carry out such unintelligent process.

By the side of highway some routes emerged, and from these other small streets, connecting farms, communities and homes – the so-called 'fish bones', are the causes for the irregular occupation and the consequent deforestation.

The man of the northeast region of Brazil, along with others from other regions, who first arrived there, found great facility to have a cattle farm, since in order to obtain ownership of the land they just had to turn 50% of their land into pasture.

An artificial intelligence system evaluates the fruits and vegetables with a far more sophisticated sensors than our eyes, robotic arms collect the fruit and place it in a circular basket, aboard a collector drone.

Today there are 60 million head of cattle in the Amazon, a ratio of three oxen for every inhabitant of the region.

How to change the NAPË philosophy into YANOMAMI THËPË?

We, the NAPË, look at the forest and see just weeds not a farm, if we want to plant something there, we have to deforest it first, and them plant later, but a local group of Japanese immigrants, inspired by local natives create the so-called agroforestry systems.

Hajime Yamada arrived in Tomé-Açu on September 22, 1929, he learned from the indigenous the technology of agroforestry system, “we always look at the forest as weeds, not as a farm” (photo: documentary Eternal Amazon)

This group of Japanese immigrants arrived to the municipality of Tomé-Açu-PA, (Pará), at the end of the 1920s with the proposal of planting of black pepper, In the 70s with falling prices and epidemics in ‘pimentais’ (pepper farms) made them rethink their business.

Based on ancient Indigenous knowledge, they began to cultivate pimenta do reino (black pepper)  in the same space of cocoa and with cupuaçu, papaya, açai, coconut, passion fruit, Brazilian-nut, natural rubber and paricá. The plague of ‘pimentais’ was countered by locals predators, brought by other plants in balance with nature.

Since then, the system has been improved by trial and error in choosing the best species combinations. Today, Tomé-Açu is a reference in this type of planting and the cooperative accumulated several awards related to entrepreneurship and sustainability.

In addition, the CAMTA promotes and guides the adoption of agroforestry systems for family farmers in neighboring municipalities and conducts the commercialization of this production, a project that serves about a thousand families in the region.

Latex extraction robots operate autonomously, supplied with sunlight. The 'estradas de seringa' (the slashes in the bark of the rubber tree) are accurate, as have sophisticated sensors that make precise calculations to take better advantage of extraction.

The basic idea of this agroforestry system is to achieve the integrated planting of different plant species, of different sizes together in the same area, forming several 'floors' - the process just gets its name from agriculture floors.

The agroforestry system, long-known by indigenous peoples, offers a number of advantages such as:

- As it generates large amount of organic matter in soil from various crops, there is less need for fertilizers and pesticides;

- This variety of nutrients generates healthier food;

- The abundant vegetation cover also retains the moisture of the ground, protects the crops from the sun and provides a more pleasant environment to work in the field;

- The planting of several crops at the same time allows continued production and generates income during the whole year.

An important part of the YANOMAMI THËPË philosophy is that 'garbage does not exist', we cannot throw anything away (out of where? The world?). That being said, all devices are 100% recycled to produce new equipment, substances that cannot be used on other equipment are reintegrated into nature by composting. All facilities have huge skylights as 80% of the equipment is solar powered.

After so long catechizing our Indians according to European cultural heritage, now it's time to being catechized by the people of forest, perhaps this way, we can save our souls and our lives.

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