RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- The government's Indian Affairs Bureau
has fired its founder and most distinguished Indian expert, Orlando Villas
Boas, to save his salary of 730 dollars a month, the man said Saturday.
Villas Boas, 86, said he was notified of his dismissal by fax. The explanation
from the bureau, known as Funai, was that he wasn't entitled to a salary
since he was awarded a special pension last year, also of 730 dollars a
month, or 1,315 reals.
"I never made much money, and a thousand more or less won't make much
difference. It's the way I was fired," Villas Boas said by telephone from his
home in Sao Paulo.
"I and my brothers created Funai. I chose the name. After 40, 50 years,
Funai decides I'm not worth anything," he said. "I guess we're just like the
Indians -- unprotected by the state."
No one was available at Funai on Saturday to comment. Bureau President
Frederico Mares de Souza Filho, who signed the fax, reportedly was visiting
tribes in the Amazon region.
Orlando, Claudio, Alvaro and Leonardo Villas Boas were pioneers in
Brazil's Amazon, pushing into the uncharted jungle in the 1940s to make
contact with tribes that had never seen Westerners. They witnessed the harm
that roads and airstrips caused to Indians and became outspoken defenders
of Indian rights.
Orlando and Claudio, the most famous of the four, eventually moved in with
Indians and stayed for 32 years. In 1961, they persuaded the government to
create its first, and probably most successful, reservation -- Xingu National
Seventeen Indian nations were transferred from ancestral lands to the 5.6
million-acre park in northern Mato Grosso state, 870 miles (1,400
kilometers) northwest of Rio de Janeiro. Today, more than 3,000 Indians
live there in relative isolation from white culture.
Orlando, the last surviving brother, urged the Indians to resist intrusion
any means necessary. He is revered by tribal leaders, and in 1998 was
honored in Xingu at a Kuarup, a scared ritual for the dead, in tribute to his
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.