Watercolors, portuguese and english text versions. ©Claudia Pombo

The river Surumu is a tributary of the river Amazonas, in the Roraima territory, Northwest of Brazil. Before, it was a lake, becoming a river only after the events which I am going to tell below.

At a certain day, people from this region decided to organize a ceremony for fishing in the Surumu lake. Men and women had different responsibilities. The women arranged mainly the food and cooking utensils with the help of the children, while the men had to arrange their weapons and canoes for the transport. After these preliminary activities, they traveled from their village to the lake, where they soon arrived and started to arrange the new place.

During the organization, they met a small group of young men in company of an old medicine men. They liked them very much and invited them for the party, what was immediately accepted with great pleasure for them all. This medicine man, named Page’ in their language, was a person very knowledgeable and worried with the traditions. He told them to be very careful in their activities and avoid new ways of fishing, like killing the animals with arrows or so. They should only make use of the Timbo’, a plant which could make fish dizzy when its juice was spread in the water, making them easy to catch. He also told the people that this was mainly because in that lake there were two enchanted Tucunare’, fish which lived in the company of very dangerous creatures, who did not like intrusion in their domains.

This and nothing was the same, the young hunters did not want to wait a minute. They started to kill the fish with arrows and one of them, by accident, killed one of the Tucunares.  Nature reacted instantaneously. The sky became dark of clouds and then fell down a strong rain. Thunder and lightnings scared the people, specially the poor children who ran crying for their parents. Few could be done than to try to run away carrying what they could. But then, hunger panthers emerged from the jungle, trying to eat all they could catch. Blinded by the thunders and in complete panic, the ones who could escape from the jaguars left to one direction up a small hill. They threw everything away The objects which fell on the ground made holes which were covered by the water. In this way, thirteen waterfalls were created on  the way, where emerged the Surumu river.

In fact, this was a great ecological catastrophe, similar to the ones we see nowadays, due to the misuse of the Natural resources and disrespect for the old traditions. It is vital to respect the traditions of the original Amazonian peoples.

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