(Isael Maxakali, Sueli Maxakali, Carolina Canguçu & Roberto Romero, Brazil, 2020, 70 min, in Maxakali & Portuguese with English subtitles)
This Land is Our Land! is a powerful and urgent profile of the Maxakali or Tikmu’un, a Brazilian indigenous group struggling with the impacts of deforestation and white vigilante violence. Threaded through with folklore and ancient wisdom, the film implores the viewer to remember that “The earth is our kin!”
Its Tikmu’un subjects wander through a landscape transformed by agriculture: trees replaced with cattle feed, ponds no longer hospitable to fish, roads overtaken by native plants, and fields cordoned off with barbed wire. Even the limits of their reserve have been encroached upon in recent years. As they walk familiar, primordial paths, they pray that the land will one day belong to them and the yãmĩyxop spirits once again.
Animated by raw anger and resentment, they also decry a double standard where murders against Tikmu’un go unpunished while they are over-penalized for petty crimes. Tense interactions with hostile white strangers are evidence of pervasive prejudice. But as This Land is Our Land! powerfully demonstrates, the Maxakali remain defiant in the face of colonization, determined to tell their stories. They will continue to chant in unison, “This land is our land!”