Elvis Aroerê Tabajara, a leader of the Tabajara, Indigenous sanitation agent (Aisan)
Yané Karuka, Ixé serera Elvis Aroerê Tabajara, I am 29 years old, a Tabajara from Serra das Matas, in the municipality of Monsenhor Tabosa (Ceará state), Olho D’Aguinha village. Currently in my village, there is only one case of Covid-19. We advise families to maintain social distancing, always use gel alcohol when going out (and only go out if it’s urgent) and select one person in each residence to do the necessary shopping. As a health professional, I always advise families, when they notice any symptoms, to communicate this to the multidisciplinary health team. This has been a very difficult time, mainly in relation to collective spirituality, which is a strongpoint of the Tabajara. I love being in the middle of an Indigenous ritual promoting spirituality, making speeches, giving lectures on education and health, and about Indigenous culture ̶ spreading our culture to the young. The pandemic has affected our activities, including the meetings of our school (which focuses on the Tabajara Indigenous youth of Serra das Matas) which can’t have class, because of the pandemic and the need to avoid gatherings. This, as I indicated, also greatly affects our rituals.
The greatest impact, for me, is precisely not being near our relatives and not being able to have their human warmth, the proximity to our elders, the troncos velhos [elders with many descendants], who are the people who possess wisdom. Each time, every minute we are with them can be very valuable, because every word that they express will be a lesson for the rest of your life. So we are afraid of losing them and not having that opportunity to talk.
We lost a well-known relative of the Tabajara ethnicity to the Covid-19 virus, our beloved Daniela (Teodózio), an Indigenous health agent (AIS). She lived in Grota Verde village, which is part of the municipality of Tamboril. It was a great shock, because she was a very cheerful person, very determined, dedicated to what she did, and one who fought for life…for the life of the community. This really affected our morale, but we are sure that she is in a good place, that she is with the spirits of light. What remains for us is the longing and hope, each time we fight for our rights, that one day we will win and have the answer that life depends on the unity, peace and solidarity of all of us.
And to conclude this study, I would like to say a prayer that has been passed down from generation to generation, which is from my grandmother and goes, “blessed forest, blessed water, Jesus Christ on the altar, bless our paths, which we will follow.” We will get through this, believing in our enchanted ones, believing in our Father Tupã, all of us will get through it and we will get together again. (Elvis Aroerê, September 7, 2020)