The Ka’apor native to Naturalis walks after taxidermied birds from their habitat.  Science died here

The Ka’apor native to Naturalis walks after taxidermied birds from their habitat. Science died here

The Naturalis Museum in Leiden hosts many visitors. to me Historia Naturalis Brasilia, a thick book neatly opened on a pillow, showing Irakadjo Kapoor, the Brazilian indigenous leader Kapoor, his wife Roslyn Tempe, and former chief Waldemar Kapoor. They sing a song about protecting the Amazons while rhythmically stamping on the ground.

This week they are in the Netherlands to help think about what permanent exhibitions should look like and to draw attention to the threatening destruction of their world. And they are there at the invitation of Brazilian-Dutch anthropologist Mariana Françozzo, project manager for the ERC Brasiliae. This research group advocates the involvement of indigenous people in the collections on display at the Museum. In the area where the Kapoors live, there are many stuffed plants and animals. The museum wants to avoid a one-sided western view.

In the language of the indigenous people

The Kapur ancestors lived in an area called Nova Holland between 1630 and 1654, a small part of Brazil that was controlled by the Dutch in the country that was colonized by Portugal. Governor-General Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen – nicknamed the Brazilian – left Historia Naturalis Brasilia Formulation, one of the first scientific books on Brazilian nature. The Kapoors never read the book, while according to the anthropologist, they may have helped the Dutch with their research.

Tempe steps forward. She blinks – the room full of old books is fluorescently lit – and begins to read. You learn the names of plants and animals in the Latin text. Since there is no Latin translation of Tropical Species, it is likely that Dutch scholars adopted the native language.

Birds fly in our museum.

A little later, the group entered the narrow corridors of the bird section. It’s darkened, so as not to damage the stuffed animals on display. The former president bends over a sparrow lying in the stairs and says: “Birds fly with us. We have a full museum, but we keep them alive.” He refers to the stomach animals around him. “Science is dead here.” He explains that the Kapoors use the feathers of blue birds for decoration. Each blue bird has its own meaning and must be killed in a different way.

Alkabour tells the Leiden researchers that there are many more species of birds in their habitat than scientists first thought.Weary Kron Statue

Franchoso believes the Leiden museums can learn a lot from visiting Kapoor. Not only because the capers say that some ornaments are hung incorrectly, or that there are many more species of birds than the researchers first thought, but also because of their scientific point of view. “In the Amazon, culture, nature and archaeology are indistinguishable,” says Fransozo. “Everything is connected.”

Beef is eaten in the Netherlands

The group moves to the herbarium. Kapoor doesn’t blame the Netherlands for this occupation hundreds of years ago, Chief Irakadjo Kapoor says, while donning the obligatory white lab coat. But in reality they see no difference between colonization at that time and the conquest of their region now. “There’s still a lot of illegal logging going on,” says Kapoor.

The people’s area next to us is occupied by peasants. They cut down trees to raise livestock. The meat is sold to European companies.” Dutch wholesalers also sell beef from Brazilian slaughterhouses that contribute to deforestation in the Amazon, according to research by Norwegian Refugee Council In association with the Forbidden Stories press collective.

And while incumbent center-left President Lula da Silva is doing his best to curb logging — he presented a plan Tuesday morning to end illegal deforestation by 2030 at the latest — the Capors are trembling. Last week, Brazil’s parliament approved a bill introduced by pro-agrarian MPs and other opposition groups that would restrict the demarcation of indigenous lands. The Senate will vote on the bill next week.

“We will continue to fight,” says the chief of Cabourg. “In every possible way.” He and his wife Tempe stopped in front of a cupboard of jars. Each jar is filled with herbs from their region. “If we need something, we go for a walk in the woods,” Tembe says. She rubs her arms, It’s cold in the herbarium. “We don’t keep anything.” She explains that children learn about the influence of plants at an early age. “And those who have talent in biology become experts.” The three walk, busy talking about the now-extinct plants, which they still see in the woods.

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