indigenous concepts

The Tucano Calendar – Tangible Indigenous Knowledge

The Tucano people in Brazil live beside the Rio Tiquié and other tributaries of the Rio Negro – on whose lower course the city of Manaus is located. Over the centuries, they have developed technologies and sustainable methods adapted to the scarce resources. The calendar of the Tucano people is a representation of traditional astronomical, environmental and socioeconomic knowledge of cosmic connections. This knowledge was handed down verbally from generation to generation, but has increasingly been forgotten.

The introduction of the indigenous education system in Brazil in the 1990s foresaw the integration of the teaching of collected and recorded indigenous knowledge in schools, among others. Young students and teachers at the indigenous Yupuri Tucano school observed and documented environmental phenomena and everyday activities in their villages over a period of two years in collaboration with experienced women and men, comparing them with many years of experience. It became clear that climate change was also altering the relationships between different natural phenomena in the seasonal cycles. The developments observed affect aspects such as the ways of life, religious, spiritual and agricultural practices as well as the food supply of the Tucano people.

A dynamic calendar was developed based on traditional knowledge and observations. The circles are movable and can be rotated independently of one another. This enables adaptation to change. The most important constellations are recorded on a disc at the calendar’s centre. The six subsequent circles record (from the inside to the outside) the annual cycles of rainy and dry seasons, animals, wild and crop plants, religious and spiritual activities and the moon. These are associated with the respective constellation that can be seen at dusk.

The calendar has different functions. For one, it helps to pass traditional knowledge on to young people in the region. At the same time, it also serves as a tool to implement and monitor the environmental concepts developed by the indigenous communities. Adapting agricultural methods safeguards the food supply and thus the subsistence of the Tucano people.
Another way to create economic alternatives is to develop strategies for providing local products with quality seals and marketing these.

  • @ Climate Alliance Austria

    @ Climate Alliance Austria

"The calendar plans preparation of the fields in the dry summer months: each family then creates new space in the forest for fields. The men cut down the trees and burn them. The ash then serves as a fertiliser for the new plantations. However, the rainfall in February 2012 made it impossible to burn the felled trees, so no new fields could be prepared."

This is an account of the serious consequences of climate change from Almerinda Ramos de Lima of the indigenous Tariano people and the first female head of FOIRN.




  • @ Associação da Escola Tukano Yupuri (AETY)

    @ Associação da Escola Tukano Yupuri (AETY)

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