This narrative (akinha, in the Kuikúro language, belonging to the karib family) was told by chief Atahulu (Kujame) on September 21, 1982, in the village of Ipatse, where about 400 Kuikuro live, in the Upper Xingu region, south of the Xingu Indigenous Land, Mato Grosso state. This narrative tells events that unfolded between the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of this century. It tells about the first encounters with the Caraíba (whites), the bandeirantes (called jaburus by the kuikuro ancestors), the killings, the chiefs captured and taken from their villages, the indigenous resistance, the arrival of ethnographer Karl von den Steinen in the late nineteenth century, the diseases, and the invasion of the Xinguan lands.
THE APPEARANCE OF THE CARAÍBA
Listen! The Caraíba ancestors arrived a long time ago.
- The Caraíba ancestors came to the great river (Culiseu and/or Culuene), they camped in Tugi, they built many jatobá shell canoes, many canoes lined up, to kill our ancestors.
- "Let’s go," they said. They were in Angahuku (headwaters of the Buriti River) and came to the people of Agaha (Agaha otomo). It was still night, almost dawn, and the people of Agaha were dancing duhe kueagü. Hidden away, the soldiers locked the people up inside their houses. They struck those who were still almost asleep and tried to escape. They died. Blood ran like a water line, and the axes were stained with blood.
- "Let's go!". They went to those other people and arrived before dawn too. They tried to escape through the soldiers' legs. The Caraíba got them. Blood ran. They gathered the dead and asked, "Where's the chief?" There was no chief among the dead. The Caraíba continued the journey. "Let's look in another direction." Those who had fled gradually returned to near the village after the Caraíba had left.
- "Let's go!". The Caraíba went to the people of Ugihihütü, always at night. Again, they tried to escape through the soldiers' legs. They gathered the dead and asked, "Where's the boss? Where is Kujaitsí?" The chiefs were not there, neither Kujaitsí, nor Agahi, nor Painingkú. The Caraíba went looking for them, went to look for Kujaitsí. The village was left empty after the Caraíba killed them.
- Then they went to the people of Agatahütü. They were just people from farm houses, there were few of them. They were also attacked by the Caraíba with knives. In front of the lined up dead people, the Caraíba asked, "Where is the chief? Let us look in the direction of Ajikugu."
- In Ajikugu was Kuigalu, tying buriti leaves. After being cut, a buriti fell on the canoes of the Caraíba ancestors. The canoes sank. That was Kuigalu.
- Then they went to Uahütü people. The Uahütü were killed, and again, before the dead, "Where is the chief? It's not here among the corpses."
- They went to the people of Uagihütü, at the time when the duhe kue'gü was danced. They went to Oti (the field). There were three of our canoes in the harbor. "Would they be jaburus?" "Where?". "It must be jaburus that gathered at the water's edge. Let's see!" "There's something on the jaburus' head." It was Agahi (the chief among them at that time). "Is it the Caraíba that are coming to kill us? Let's see." They went to the water's edge, back in Oti. "Yes, it's the Caraíba, let’s flee!" said Agahi to his wife. "Listen! Let's get out of here! Those are the ones who are coming to kill us," Painingkú said. They ran off with their wives. They were Kujaitsí and Agahi, they were the chiefs. At dawn, the Caraíba attacked. Some fled quickly, but those who tried to escape more slowly were struck. Then they put the dead in line. There were many of them, the village was big. They searched among the dead. "Where's the chief?" There were no chiefs.
- The Caraíba were gone. They docked at the port of the Sahutaha people. They crossed the river looking for Kujaitsí, the chief. They arrived before dawn. Some fled in a hurry, others died. In front of the dead, the Caraíba asked again, "Where is their chief?" There were no chiefs. They'd run away. They kept looking for Kujaitsí.
- Then the Caraíba left to kill kunagü's people. Some fled in a hurry; those who went slowly were struck by the circle of houses. There were no chiefs among the corpses lined up. It was almost impossible for them to find Kujaitsí.
- Then they headed towards the people of Ahakugu, at the time of the feast of duhe kue'gü. They couldn't find their way. "Where's their river? Let's take this shortcut." There was only one narrow passage to the canoes. They couldn't find the inbound river. "Where are we going?" They went to the people of Isangá, to the port of Isangá.
- There the women asked themselves, "Who are those? Let's look!" "It's the Caraíba!", said those who had married in the village (the nephews). "Itseke (spirits)!" "No, they're Caraíba, let's run away!" "No, let's look!" They were wrong. Only one went to see with his wife. Ihikutaha ran away. "Mom, let's get away! The Caraíba are here to kill us." The Caraíba ancestors couldn't kill the chiefs. They say they ran away and ended up taming the old Caraíba. "Let's run, Mom!" "Let me stay here." "Won't the Caraíba strike you?" He ran off with his wife. The Caraíba were killing those who had remained in the houses. The Caraíba killed isangá's people by tricking them.
- They're gone to Itagü. These were our ancestors, the people who lived in Angahuku. The ancients didn't know the Caraíba. Again they struck them, attacked them. They died, the Caraíba lined up the dead. "Let's go back. Once again they will come to kill us." Those who returned to look at the village once again would be killed. Kuigalu was there to kill the head of the Caraíba. Kuigalu had run away with his nephew. He dug a hole in the water's edge to kill the head of the Caraíba. They arrived, burning the woods. "Let's go," said the nephew. "No, wait!" Still at night, the soldiers went to bathe; in the midst of them was their chief, carried up to the water. While lying in the water, "Right, Uncle. Kill him!" They shot with their arrows. Kuigalu ran back to hide in the hole. The comrades carried the chief to the camp. They waited for Kuigalu and his people to show up. They waited for the fugitives to show up. They missed their chief, killed by Kuigalu. There they buried their chief deep down, while Kuigalu and his companion watched them. The comrades shot randomly. They buried his arrows, knives, axe, blanket, scissors, everything, and closed the hole. There they stayed four days, waiting for the avenger (Kuigalu). "Come on, my uncle! Let's take a look." Wait! The Caraíba are still around. We're not going to let them kill us." One day passed by, and they waited for the avenger. Gradually, those who had fled reappeared there near the village. "Here's the one who killed our boss," the Caraíba ancestors said. "Let him get closer." They kept spying while they came. Then they killed them. The comrades (Caraíba) left after the death of their boss; returned to their place. "All right, let's go! Look! They killed us when we were almost gone, just when you were telling me, 'Come on, my uncle.'" On the grave there was a cross made by the Caraíba. "Here are the things that were buried together. Let's dig!" They dug it up: knives, axes, scissors. Then they covered the hole. They took the Caraíba stuff. Their chief who had brought them, and had been killed. They stayed here. The Caraíba ancestors said: "Let's see those who have joined."
- They came when the village was empty. They came to see the criminal, the avenger. They were gone. The others fled midway to other villages, they say. That was the last time. They got Kujaitsí. "No, we're not going to kill him." They went by canoe. Then they took Agahi. "No, we won't kill him; Come with us! "So they convinced them to go to where the Caraíba ancestors lived. Then they took Painigkú. Then they came back from Oti. "Come on!" Those were Agahi, Kujaitsí, Painingkú, Ihikutaha. After they had taken the chiefs, after having dressed them in shirts, pants and shoes, they came here, to the people of Ipatse, to kill other tribes. "Are we going to kill them?" Agahi, Painingkú and Kujaitsí were with them. They shot a little, for no reason. Our people got scared and ran away, they all ran away.
- They went to the stream of küá palmtrees, where Kuigalu was cutting a very high palm tree. When the Caraíba arrived, Kuigalu knocked the palm tree down and struck the Caraíba canoes, which sank, to the itseke's abode. That was Kuigalu; He's the one who did it to kill.
They were gone. They split, the Caraíba; canoes and things were at the bottom of the river. They found very black jenipapo and climbed up the tree. Many carbines were left against the trunk. Kuigalu said, "Let's see their weapons!". That's when the Caraíba were at the top of the jenipapo tree. Soon came Kuigalu, our avenger, to get the carbines. He tried to carry them, but he couldn't take them. He only got two. "He's not killing us," the ancient Caraíba said. They came down from the jenipapo tree. "He is not killing us; he's stealing the carbines." "It's true." They were laughing. Kuigalu was long gone and brought the carbines. The old Caraíba sat laughing. "Let him take them." And he took only two carbines.
- Then they, the Caraíba, came. They didn't kill anymore. Kujaitsí didn't let that happen anymore. "Are we going to kill them?" "No, come on." "All right!" Caraíba ancestors held only Kujaitsí; they came back, but they didn't kill our old ones anymore, they stopped killing. Now looking for Kujaitsí's people, they eventually arrested Painigkú, but stopped killing. So our old ones became many.
- Again, they came. The people of Kujaitsí and Agahi brought them back tamed. "Those are no longer our killers." "The killings you used to do will no longer hit us." "Yes, let's see!" Kujaitsí, Painingkú, Ihikutáha, Agahi brought them back.
- The Caraíba came and gave gifts to the old ones, they gave the things they had. Kujaitsí, Painingkú, Agahi, Ihikutaha told the Caraíba to give gifts. Still, some fled. Those who stayed in the village received gifts. The same happened in other villages. Kujaitsí was in charge. They came back again. The old ones had very few of those Caraíba things. The old ones of other tribes had some. The knives, the axes, just a few. It was another instrument used to cut, they say, in ancient times. They said that, to make gardens, they cut first the small sticks, then took the big trees down with red piranha teeth. They made big fires in their gardens. The next day, they continued to take down, they say. It was like that back in the day. The sharp knives appeared. Some axes appeared with which they began to open the gardens. They became owners of these things. They opened swiddens with knives and shovels. If someone didn't have a knife, who didn't own it, they asked, "I want your knife." "Yes, you can take it." "I'm going to stay with her for so many days." "Okay, you can take it." So, the work of the gardens ended and then returned the instruments. The same was true of those who didn't have the shovels. They borrowed the instruments to cut, the axes. Gradually, the Caraíba arrived, so gradually, the knives increased, small knives arrived for everyone.
- Later, when there were many children, came Kálusi (Karl von den Steinen). [Where is the village of Kálusi?]. He came to Kuhikugu, that's when the Caraíba were already good. "Here are the Caraíba." "Don't kill us!" "No, I'm here to give this to you." "All right." The chief was in the house. Then they took things to the middle of the village for sharing. The chief said, "Come here, come here!". "Let's look!" They were out of the houses, the old ones. The women lined up. "Come here, near the chiefs!" The chiefs gave necklaces in the hands of women, white necklaces, fisheye beads. They were beautiful. All necklaces were distributed. Then the knives were distributed to the men, small knives, axes, hooks. The old ones didn't have hooks. Then the wives made necklaces, one necklace for this, another for that. Many necklaces for women; they didn't give blue beads. Then he kept exchanging all this for snail necklaces, at a time when it was hard to find them. It was Kálusi who brought the beads a long time ago, the women say. It was Kálusi, the first real one. They shared the things given by Kálusi, the knives, the shovels.
- But then the deaths started. Diseases/spells arrived (kugihe). We became only a few. By the time the Caraíba came, they brought the diseases/spell, them, the ancients, the spell owners. The arrows/spells flew. Many died. Kuhikugu's people are over, believe me, in the days of Caraíba travel. The ancients say that the "fisheye " necklaces, the women's necklaces, were buried with the dead.
- Kálusi's gone. A year went by, and the people of Kuhikugu traveled to the Caraíba, to the village of Bakairí (Poto). From there, they say, they brought the cough. They had gone to get knives. They gave knives, scissors, axes. The cough came.
- The Caraíba say of us: "Let's take their land! Let's leave them landless! Let's leave Kuhikugu's people landless." Why is that? Why does this happen, as can I see? Why don't you just leave us alone around here? I know that in the old day your ancestors always killed us, coming from the villages of the Caraíba, our ancestors were here, the Caraíba were after us. That's why, on the other hand, children are few now. In the old day, they say, the Caraíba would kill us. Running away from them, our people moved villages several times. Here they are, see, the descendants. Why do you take our land? I know you're over our old villages. The Caraíba say of us: "Hurry, take their lands!". I ask why you take our land, how you talk about us. Listen! So were the Caraíba in the old years, I know, the ones that were killing our old ones. Now we've tamed the Caraíba. Listen! The story's over. These are the last words.