Centennial Celebration Continues

This is the school my grandfather helped establish and run in Taunay. In honor of his work, the Indians named it after him: Escola Evengelica Lourenço Buckman.

Uncle Larry and my mom standing at the school entrance.

After 50+ years, it’s still standing less then a block away from where my mom’s house used to be.

Mom and Dad standing where Mom’s old house used to be.

Her house might be gone, but the school is still taking in students from a variety of Indian tribes. Some of them only speak their tribal language. EELB teaches them to read and write Portuguese and gives them a full college prep education.

Evidence of Grandpa and Grandma Buckman’s lives in Taunay goes further than the name of the school or a filled-in well. Inside the school library are shelves of books bound in protective covers and labeled with my grandmother’s handwriting. The books are from the 1950’s, but the students are still reading them (gently). The older generation Terenas still talk about their days as students of my grandpa. They all agree that he was a tough teacher, but he taught them well.
On Saturday, Uncle Larry and Mom stood in front of several hundred people to receive a plaque in honor of Grandpa and Grandma Buckman. “In our culture,” the speaker explained, “When children are given food, they have one plate to share between them. The oldest child will divide the food evenly for them all to eat… Thank you for dividing your plate with us.”

Many plaques were presented to different missionaries and organizations for their work with the Terena people. Each one read, “Thank you for dividing your plate with us.”

Then it was time for the dancing. The Xavante students performed their tribal dances first. In the one pictured below, they danced in a circle. As they went, they’d let out high pitched cries. Then, one of them would break out of the circle and race to grab someone from the audience to join.

This Xavante boy grabbed a Terena girl to join the dancing.

Next, came the Kaiapo tribe. Unfortunately I missed this one.

To finish off the event, the Terena women and men danced. The Terena have a strong history of war and their dancing reflected that.

Terena women danced to a drum and flute. This is a dance they would do when the men came back successful from war.

The men’s dance was a story of war.

Men and young boys acted out fights in their dance. Their bamboo sticks would clash to drum beats.

At the end of the dance, the men lift one of the dancers up using their bamboo sticks as a platform.

Regardless of their history of war (they warred with the Xavante just two generations ago), the Terena today are very peaceful. It’s wonderful to see them going to school and celebrating their culture side by side with other tribes (like the Xavante).

The Centennial Celebration drew to a close the next day with a multicultural communion. I was sad to say goodbye to everyone. After a week, I felt like Taunay was my home. Delair and Indiria gave me their phone numbers saying, “As soon as you know Portuguese, call us.” I hope to do more than that. God willing, I will see them again before leaving Brazil.


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