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National Indigenous Culture Festival

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Bertioga, Brazil
National Indigenous Culture Festival
Renata de Brito/Prefeitura do Município de Bertioga

Updated on April 19, 2013

The National Indigenous Culture Festival takes place every year in Bertioga, Brazil around Dia do Índio, or Brazilian Indian Day, on April 19. In 2013, festival dates are April 19-21.

One of the world's largest indigenous events, the festival is an invaluable opportunity to learn about Brazilian indigenous peoples and their rituals, body art, music, dance, food, crafts and sports.

Bertioga hosted the first National Indigenous Culture Festival in 2001, during the administration of mayor Lairton Gomes Goulart, as a way to enhance indigenous traditions and highlight Bertioga’s historical significance.

According to an interview published on the City of Bertioga website, Carlos Terena, a member of the Terena people and Funai’s Director of Cultural and Sports Events at the time, said he was pleasantly surprised when, instead of sending him mail, Goulart personally visited his office to propose the creation of the event, since that is the way Brazilian indigenous chiefs usually handle communication between them.

According to Funai, 800,000 people from over 220 distinct societies live in Brazil today. They speak more than 180 distinct languages. Over half that population lives in the North and Central-West regions, especially in the Amazon. Some small groups in remote areas are still isolated.

So far, the inclusion of as many ethnic groups as possible in the National Indigenous Culture Festival has been achieved by a rotation system. Each year, new groups are invited, creating an opportunity for interaction which Carlos Terena said he hoped would reduce prejudice and foster mutual respect between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

Festival Attractions:

The celebrations start with the opening of the Art Fair at Parque Tupiniquins, near the São João Fort. The fair showcases works by all the ethnic groups involved in the festival.

In the evening of the festival's first day, the official opening involves a spiritual ceremony, a parade featuring all the delegations, the lighting of a sacred fire and speeches as well as presentations by the participating groups. A great arena is set up for the occasion on Praça de Eventos on Enseada Beach, in central Bertioga.

The visiting groups are welcomed by local Guarani, who live in the Rio Silveira Reservation in nearby Boraceia.

The following morning is usually marked by the official opening of the Indigenous Social Forum. At Parque Tupiniquins, visitors can enjoy performances of traditional dances and watch sports such as Haindú (a type of head soccer), bow and arrow, log races, and more.

The festival closes with a ceremony which includes performances and a fireworks show.

2013 Festival Schedule:

Friday, April 19
10 a.m. - Opening of Crafts Fair - Parque dos Tupiniquins
2 p.m. to 5 p.m. - Rituals, dances, music, sports and culinary - Tenda Tupiniquim
8 p.m. - Official Festival Opening - Tenda Buriqui
Parade; Sacred Fire Ceremony; cultural and sports presentations, fireworks

Saturday, April 20
9 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. - Indigenous Social Forum - Parque dos Tupiniquins
10 a.m. - Craft Fair - Parque dos Tupiniquins
10 a.m. – Hawaiian Canoe – Enseada
2 p.m. to 5 p.m. - Culture, music, sports and culinary – Tenda Tupiniquim
3 p.m. – Soccer
8 p.m. – Log racing (Corrida de Tora), Jikunahati, Bow and Arrow and Tihimore (indigenous bowling) - Tenda Buriqui

Sunday, April 21
9 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. - Social Forum - Tenda Tupiniquim
10 a.m. - Craft Fair - Parque dos Tupiniquins
2 p.m. to 5 p.m. - Culture, sports, music and culinary
6 p.m. - Closing - Log racing, head soccer, celebration of the Union of Peoples

About Bertioga:

Located 118 kilometers (about 73 miles) from São Paulo, Bertioga is a favorite beach destination in the state. Enseada, Boracéia, Guaratuba and Itaguaré are some of the popular beaches on its 20 coastal miles.

Riviera de São Lourenço, a planned community on São Lourenço beach, attracts tourists due to its infrastructure and safety.

At Riviera, you'll find a shopping center and some of the area's best restaurants, such as Gaiana and Maremonti.

Where to Stay:

Bertioga has a handful of affordable hotels.

These hotels are on the same beach as the Indigenous festival arena - Praia da Enseada:

How to Get to Bertioga:

Litorânea (55-11-3775-3861) has daily buses to Bertioga from the Tietê bus terminal in S. Paulo. Drivers can take the Mogi-Bertioga (SP-98).

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