Motherland is an ongoing series shot in Brazil, my country of birth. The aim of the series is to explore the idea of reconnecting with one's heritage by way of documenting the significance that our history and where we come from has on our lives and the role it plays in shaping us.
In Brazil the majority of the indigenous population is distributed among thousands of villages located within indigenous lands (TIs). This specific segment of Motherland focuses on the indigenous population who live in the village of Tekoa Pyau. This village is not legally owned by the indigenous people that inhabit it. Whilst the government assumes responsibility for providing basic healthcare, education and food, the living conditions in the village are extremely challenging and there is little prospect of life improvement. The community’s historical methods for subsistence have been severely inhibited by pollution to the river that runs through the village. This has also affected the land and the ability of the villagers to farm in the area.
An important part of the culture within Tekoa Pyau and the surrounding villages is the preservation of its traditions. The villagers speak Tupi-Guarani and music is used as a way to express and remember the community’s spirituality and heritage. The use of clay as part of the housing within the village is also a nod to their collective past. Villagers in Tekoa Pyau supplement the government assistance they receive by way of selling traditional handicrafts.
Modern technology is present within Tekoa Pyau but its use is not with a view to being a catalyst for change or betterment. Instead, it largely provides a glimpse of the outside world beyond the community, serving as a reminder of the cycle of repetition that each generation of this vulnerable community seems to repeat as they remain neither fully immersed in their own world and culture nor able to partake in that beyond.