COLORS: Can you tell us more about the Bororo people?
KM: Bororos is an area in the state of Mato Grosso. It’s also known as Boebororo. Boe means “true people.” We always add this prefix when we’re talking about ourselves. The first time I made contact with an Indigenous person who lived in Mato Grosso was in 2007. His name is Yamaru Bambam and he is from the Kuikuro people. I met him on Orkut, a Brazilian social media website. He told me to search for my people, and that there were many of them online, but I really struggled to find them as they often use traditional names that are difficult to find.
Time passed and I began to become more confident about asserting myself as an Indigenous person. I got in contact with the Guarani people from the Indigenous land of São Paulo do Jaraguá. I remember I once told one of their children that I was of Indigenous descent. She was very confused and said: “What do you mean, you’re a descendant? Are you Indigenous or not?” This really made me think about how I defined myself. Digging into your ancestry is at once emotional and political. At first I was mainly concerned with the former: I wanted to find my people and rescue my identity. But later on, I got more passionate about speaking up about the fact that Brazil has erased my father’s cultural identity and his people.
I was finally able to get in touch with some Bororos people recently. We are currently in communication, however I’m not baptized into Bororo culture yet. The Bororo people have a matrilineal culture: only sons born to women from the community are considered Bororo, whereas I’m a father’s daughter. When I realised this I was incredibly disappointed. But the culture has changed slightly, especially in recognition of the fact that so many of the people from the community were kidnapped and are now coming back to look for their heritage and a sense of belonging. Everyone I’ve talked with has been very understanding and respectful of my narrative. I’ve started to learn more about the language and the culture, as well as other cultures beyond Bororo because I recently did a DNA test and found out that I’m from all over the Americas. It really made me stop and think: where am I going? What am I doing? So many people I know have similar experiences and feelings to me. I think we all need to occupy our spaces and identities. That’s what I try to do with my voice and with my art.