Tembé Indian Support Projects
Activities facilitated by the State College Friends Meeting
Tembé Indian Support Committee and Campbell Plowden

In 1996, Campbell Plowden accompanied Muxi Tembé on a ten-day tour of gave Washington, D.C., New York City, Lakeville, CT, and State College, PA where they gave presentations about Tembé social and environmental concerns to 24 school, church, and environmental groups.   Muxi was a young leader representing villages on the Gurupi River in the Alto Rio Guamá Indigenous Reserve in eastern Pará state, Brazil.  The trip was funded with a speaker’s travel grant from the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT.  One person from the State College Friends Meeting made a donation that allowed the Tembé to buy a new motor for the community launch.

While Campbell was working on his dissertation research with the Tembé from 1997 through 2000, he helped form the State College Friends Meeting Tembé Support Committee with Kat Alden and other Quakers to support projects that would benefit the Tembé and Ka’apor Indian communities living along the Gurupi River.  Funds were raised in State College by collecting private donations and organizing fundraising events involving both adults and children (dinners, selling flowers, bulbs and native handicrafts).  Other funds were collected from donations paid by five Americans who attended a coming of age festival and toured the forest around Tekohaw village.

Funds raised were used to support various projects in the Gurupi River region between 1997 and 2000.  Projects were decided in consultation with village leaders and administered with assistance from FUNAI (the Brazilian national government Indian agency).  These included:

  1. A land rights project that established a new Tembé village (called Mangueira) along the southern border of the reserve to act as a buffer against invasion by nearby colonists.
  2. Donate educational materials, clothing, medical supplies
  3. Purchase handicrafts that were sold to support other projects
  4. Travel expenses for Indian leaders to attend a government meeting in the Brazilian capitol
  5. Repair engines for the community motor boat
  6. Complete construction on a new community launch
  7. Transcribe, translate, print and distribute a book of traditional Tembé chants to Tembé village schools

The final project supported by the Meeting fund before it was laid down in 2005 was the purchase of a solar power system and audio-visual equipment for the Cultural House in the Tembé village of Ita Putyr along the Guamá River.  This project was supported with administrative assistance from the Goeldi Museum Caretaker Society and FUNAI.