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News from the Xingu

Heralding the so-called Westward March, the Roncador-Xingu Expedition set off in 1943 to open roads, airstrips and electricity lines from the Center-West inland. The brothers from São Paulo, Cláudio, Orlando and Leonardo Villas Bôas enlisted as workers, in search of adventure, and went on to take command of the expedition.

Meeting with the peoples of the Upper Xingu opened the eyes of the Villas Bôas brothers to the urgent need to protect indigenous ways of life which were being threatened by the advancing expedition. In 1952, along with Darcy Ribeiro, Noel Nutels and others, they presented a plan for demarcation to president Getúlio Vargas.

The press, which followed the expedition from the beginning, was instrumental in this campaign. Spurred by a mix of journalistic flair, financial interest and pride, Assis Chateaubriand, owner of the Diários Associados newspaper group, used the most popular magazine at the time, O Cruzeiro, as a vehicle..

The magazine sent some of its leading photographers to the Xingu. Jean Manzon translated the discourse of absorbing indigenous peoples into the idea of a nation into images. José Medeiros and Henri Ballot captured details of the encounters and the culture shocks.

The representation of indigenous peoples in the press is a theme for Denilson Baniwa’s interventions. And communicators from the Rede Xingu+ share precisely what never used to make the news: the point of view of the people of the Xingu.