Indigenous People’s Cultural Support Trust
Registered charity number: 1050461
In 1995 Emily Burridge founded the charity “to aid in the promotion and conservation of Indigenous people’s culture and traditional knowledge” She founded the charity as a direct result of her first visit to a Xavante community in 1994 and on return to the UK she was encouraged under the experienced consul of Tim Miller to set up the Trust.
The charity was also fortunate as Sir Professor Ghillean Prance (the then Director of Kew gardens) accepted to be Patron.
The first development initiative to be completed was the “Marimbu Xavante small Health Centre” and medicinal gardens which were inaugurated in 1998. The development of the health centre and medicinal garden was overseen by Emily on various visits between the years ‘94 – ‘98 working in close consultation with the Xavante indian community and in collaboration with Chief Francisco Pronhopa.
The proposal for the Health centre was allocated match funding by the governmental office for overseas development aid and the rest of the funding came from donations by trusts and individuals.Emily guaranteed and insured that all funding was distributed and accounted for by personally drawing up contractual agreements and overseeing the payments with construction and architectural firms in Brazil.
Living Medicinal Gardens
In 1998 she accompanied Germano a Xavante nurse on a course “Living Medicinal gardens” which is an inspired health development program established by the late Professor Matos at the Federal University in Fortaleza on the northeast coast of Brazil. Germano then returned to the village and set up the medicinal garden adjacent to the health centre to aid in restoring a value for the Xavante traditional knowledge of herbal medicine.
Solar energy – she further contracted a solar installation company to install and provide solar energy for the power for lights and a fridge for the storage of essential medicines.
Undeniably the health centre has gone through periods of difficulties due to various adverse conditions but in 2016 the Xavante Marimbu community reported that it is currently functioning and is used by the governmental agency Funaca to provide basic health care to isolated communities on the Xavante reservation of Sangradouro.
Emily continues to support the Xavante communities in various ways.
Over the years through non specific donations made at performances of her musical production “Into the Amazon” Emily has responded and provided aid for various requests from the community including funding travel expenses for the Chief to travel to a hospital in Sao Paulo for specialist cancer treatment, and for his eldest son to go and collect him and for them both to return to their village where he was able to be for the final months of his life.
She has also been able to support a Xavante video producer by funding maintenance of camera equipment through continued donations to the Trust
In October 2016 – responding to a request to help with travel expenses enabled two Guarani chiefs to travel the long journey by bus from Mato Grosso de Sul to Barra do Garcas and attend a public viewing of a video that they were featured in at a landmark event – the first Xavante film festival which took place in Barra do Garcas.
Amazon Tree Initiative
2018 The Xavante community have communicated that they are ready to start a sustainable initiative to aid in the recuperation of tree species on the reserve with the long term objective to make saplings available to surrounding areas.
This initiative has gradually developed as a result of Emily’s observation of the situation on the reserve when she visited the community 2007. The monoculture of soya has created an economic boom in Brazil but at great expense to the natural environment of the Mato Grosso.
In 2011 through a seed grant provided by Artist Project Earth Emily was able to arrange for a Brazilian agronomist and environmentalist Mario Friedlander resident in Cuiaba which is relatively close proximity to the reservation to travel to and stay with the Xavante community for a week to assess and make a feasibility study for the development of the tree nursery.
There has been a series of delays to the further development of the tree nursery but with one of the Xavante in the community having just completed his University degree in agronomy they are ready to commence in 2018 and Emily is invited to visit and help get preparations under way.
How Emily came to meet members of the Xavante tribe.
Her expansive relationship with the country commenced with a holiday in 1990 and she has converted that landscape and her personal experience into various musical productions.
In 1992 she was invited to perform at the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro and as a result of her performance encountered elders of a tribe called the Xavante, indigenous to the Mato Grosso.
An intrepid traveller, she accepted their invitation to visit a Xavante village and travelled alone across Brazil on the buses and then off the beaten track and was guest with a chief and his family in a traditional Xavante dwelling. On returning to the UK Emily commenced the process of founding the charity.
Her association with the Xavante was furthered due to their tradition of singing and on the numerous occasions that she was staying with the tribe she was invited to record individuals and groups “choirs”. She also made location recordings of their environment.
These recordings and the experience of this time has been furthered through various musical productions including her CD and solo performance “Into the Amazon” which has a backing track featuring some of these recordings and is accompanied by seventy-five projected images of daily life in a Xavante Indian village.
Her performance production is particularly poignant in the light of global warming, climate change and the expansion in Brazil of mono culture agriculture which is at the expense of the loss of a lot of natural landscape.
Where Emily stayed between ‘94 and ‘98 outside of the Xavante reservation is now a mono culture of soya for thousands of kilometres and the dawn chorus that Emily recorded has been massively diminished.
Some of Emily’s photos of the Xavante taken during the period 1994 -’98 are on resident display at the “Living Rainforest” centre in Berkshire, UK.
For further information on the work of the charity please visit the web site: www.tribesalive.org