DER Documentary

Our Languages


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From the Indians in Brazil series in the Video in the Villages collection
By Vincent Carelli
color, 20 min, 2000




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Part of the Indians in Brazil series, Our Languages relates the historic repression of indigenous languages in Brazil. Many Indian languages were nearly lost thanks to missionaries and merchants - who rewarded Indians for learning Portuguese with status and material gifts - and government-sponsored schools that punished children for speaking in their native tongues. In spite of all this repression, individual acts of resistance and cultural preservation mean there are still more than 180 Indigenous languages spoken in Brazil today. The linguistic diversity is so great that Indians living in the Negro river area must know at least three languages as well as the official Portuguese in order to communicate with their neighbors. The Constitution of 1988 finally gave Indians the right to bilingual education in their own schools, and we see how the Forest School of professor Joaquim Kaxinawá allows children to be immersed in their native language, developing new teaching methods that will help to preserve culture for the future.


other films from the Indians in Brazil series:
Who Are They?
Have a Nice Trip, Ibantu!
When God Visits the Village
A Different Story
Our Territory
Children of the Land
From the Other Side of the Sky
Our Rights



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