Ancestry guarantees the self-determination of a people, their land, their landscapes. Through ancestry, the history of a people, its place, a political unit, cultures and a collective identity that sustains a way of life is constituted. Over the centuries, due to the dispute over the power of the world, many ancestors were killed and this produced peoples who do not know their origins. The erased memory of a people means the disappearance of ancestors, entities and spirits that took care of them causing helplessness in the present. Talk now with Ailton Krenak and Eliane Potiguara, two indigenous authors from the Krenak and Potiguara peoples of Brazil who have been thinking about memory and ancestry:
“It is worth thinking about a production of memory. if you see a people that was totally segregated, humiliated, like blacks, for example, in slavery or like a large part of the Brazilian people who live in the most predatory poverty, and who lose their memory of themselves, about who they are, produce memory about themselves, as a collective, as a social being, it is a wonderful phenomenon, it is an active political action. it’s when we choose to be a critical citizen, wanting to build a reality for your people, for your country, for where you live. without surrendering to all the ideological and theological preaching that happens out there. memory has the ability to stand up to affronts in a critical way. memory is critical consciousness”. Ailton Krenak
“We won’t go hungry anymore. Soul hunger, land hunger, forest hunger. Hunger of History. We will not commit suicide. Every century, every age, every minute. And we, indigenous people from all over the planet, will only feel natural hunger. And the juice of our ancestry will feed us forever. And there will be no more ulcers, anemia, tuberculosis, malnutrition that will snatch us. Because we will be stronger than all the cancer cells put together.” Eliane Potiguara
From this reading, I invite you to research your ancestry. What did your ancestors do? What did they work with, how did they organize themselves socially, what songs did they sing, how did they dance? How is your ancestry expressed in your territory? We suggest that you talk to your elders about their memories and ways of life; search for family history records; try to materialize this search in your body; look around and try to decipher what is ancestral in the street, in the buildings, in the landscapes you inhabit; tell us a memory you have about yourself or about someone who talks about the ancestry of your people. Demonstrate that ancestry in any way it needs to be shared.