13 December 2012
Last updated at 09:48
Over the past three years, Brazilian photographer Rosa Gauditano has been following the lives of members of Brazil’s second largest indigenous tribe, the Guarani Kaiowa, and documenting their day to day existence. Many live in abject poverty in camp sites at the side of busy motorways or in temporary settlements in occupied farmland in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
There are more than 30 indigenous camps on the roads of Mato Grosso do Sul. Most who live there are Guarani-Kaiowa, but there are also members of other ethnic groups. “They live here out of desperation, but also as a form of protest," says Gauditano.
According to the latest census, there are currently more than 43,000 Guarani-Kaiowa. Most are scattered around the vast Mato Grosso do Sul State, in central Brazil - their ancestral land.
Since the 1980s, they have been gradually forced off of their traditional land as the forest is cleared for soy, corn and sugar cane plantations. “This lady was born by the roadside, as were her children. Her husband was hit and killed by a car,” says Gauditano. “They have to cross the crops to reach a river where they can get water.”
Life in the camps, especially by the roadside, is precarious but the Guarani-Kaiowa do what they can to survive under very difficult circumstances. “The community has drilled a water-well,” says Gauditano. “When I arrived at the camp, this woman was bathing the babies.”
When it rains, water floods the huts in the roadside camps. “The bed is suspended because there is mud inside the hut, so they put stones in order to walk. If you walk between the stones, your foot sinks," says Gauditano.
Those living in the - by now far from temporary – roadside camps were promised land by the government in 1988 but they are still waiting. Here, a young girl wears a “Proud to be Brazilian” T-shirt.
In Guaiviry village, the community is still waiting for their resettlement documents, making the future for younger generations far from clear. Studies suggest the relatively high number of suicides among young Kaiowa is linked to the lack of land where they can live according to their traditions. According to the Brazilian health ministry, 555 deaths were registered between 2000-2011.
At many of the camps there is an absence of traditional materials for making ornaments, utensils and adornments, so ancestral methods have been adapted and other source materials are being used - wool from donated clothing and plastic bags.
Although the community continues to fight for the right to live on the land according to their traditions, the Guarani Kaiowa are embracing technology. NGOs such as Crossed Glances and Our Tribe offer workshops for the young members of the tribe so that they have the techniques to document their lives.
Guarani Kaiowa from several villages regularly gather at meetings where they can discuss issues that affect their communities. The plight of a small Kaiowa community of 170 people in Pyelito Kue sparked protests in Brazil when the community announced in a letter that the authorities might as well declare the "collective death" of the group and "bury us here".
"What holds the indigenous people is their history, their language, their religion and their rituals," says Gauditano.
The village of Piracua - a small demarcated reserve in the municipality of Bela Vista - is an example of what can go right for indigenous peoples in Brazil. “Today families live happily on their own land, where can grow small crops to support their livelihood. It has a school, government assistance and a native forest,” says Guaditano.