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Yawalapiti tribe living traditionally in the Amazonian jungle of Brazil

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Yawalapiti youth chief Anuia (front) leads a dance in the Xingu National Park, Mato Grosso State on May 7. In August the Yawalapiti tribe will hold the Quarup, which is a ritual held over several days to honour in death a person of great importance to them. This year the Quarup will be honouring two people - a Yawalapiti Indian who they consider a great leader, and Darcy Ribeiro, a well-known author, anthropologist and politician known for focusing on the relationship between native peoples and education in Brazil.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Yawalapiti tribe members catch fish in the Xingu National Park.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Yawalapiti men wrestle in the Xingu National Park, Mato Grosso State.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Yawalapiti children play over the Xingu River.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

An aerial view of the Yawalapiti village is seen in the Xingu National Park.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

An aerial view of a portion of the Xingu National Park that is deforested from agriculture and logging is seen in Mato Grosso State.

Reuters photographer Ueslei Marcelino describes his time visiting the "village of joy:"

The mood was one of celebration. The Yawalapiti, one of the 14 tribes living inside the Xingu National Park, were preparing a new “quarup,” a ritual held over several days to honor in death a person of great importance to them. In its original form, the quarup was a funeral ritual intended to bring the dead back to life. Today, it is a celebration of life, death and rebirth. From the very oldest to the very youngest, all the members of the Yawalapiti tribe participate in the preparations.

The Yawalapiti are living in new times. During the meetings of tribal leaders that I observed, they demonstrated a preoccupation with preserving their culture and with the devastation of the Xingu’s forests. They discussed policies that could be implemented in a new project called Xingu+50, in reference to last year’s 50th anniversary of the creation of Xingu National Park.

Aritana, the Yawalapiti cacique, who immediately struck me as witty, serene and wise, told me that a man should be like a good, old tree; he should give fruit throughout his lifetime, and towards the end produce a huge shadow to shelter others.

Without a doubt, it was a great experience to live with the Yawalapiti for a few days. They made me ponder my own coexistence with mankind in my corner of the world in urban Brasilia, and our relationship with nature.

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