Theodore Roosevelt > Through the Brazilian Wilderness > Page 209
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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).  Through the Brazilian Wilderness.  1914.

Page 209
 
zonian rivers, but we were obliged to cut down everything that was not absolutely indispensable.
  Before leaving we prepared for shipment back to the museum some of the bigger skins, and also some of the weapons and utensils of the Indians, which Kermit had collected. These included woven fillets, and fillets made of macaw feathers, for use in the dances; woven belts; a gourd in which the sacred drink is offered to the god Enoerey; wickerwork baskets; flutes or pipes; anklet ratles; hammocks; a belt of the kind used by the women in carrying the babies, with the weaving-frame. All these were Parecís articles. He also secured from the Nhambiquaras wickerwork baskets of a different type and bows and arrows. The bows were seven feet long and the arrows five feet. There were blunt-headed arrows for birds, arrows with long, sharp wooden blades for tapir, deer, and other mammals; and the poisoned wararrows, with sharp barbs, poison-coated and bound on by fine thongs, and with a long, hollow wooden guard to slip over the entire point and protect it until the time came to use it. When people talk glibly of “idle” savages they ignore the immense labor entailed by many of their industries, and the really extraordinary amount of work they accomplish by the skilful use of their primitive and ineffective tools.
  It was not until early in the afternoon that we started into the “sertão,”  1 as Brazilians call the wilderness. We drove with us a herd of oxen for food. After going about fifteen miles we camped beside the swampy headwaters
Note 1. 

Pronounced “sairtown,” as nearly as, with our preposterous methods of spelling and pronunciation, I can render it.

The first four days, before we struck the upper rapids, and during which we made nearly seventy kilometres, are of course not included when I speak of our making our way down the rapids.

The above account of all the circumstances connected with the murder was read to and approved as correct by all six members of the expedition.

I hope that this year the Anan&ás, or Pineapple, will also be put on the map. One of Colonel Rondon’s subordinates is to attempt the descent of the river. We passed the headwaters of the Pineapple on the high plateau, very possibly we passed its mouth, although it is also possible that it empties into the Canama or Tapajos. But it will not be “put on the map” until some one descends and finds out where, as a matter of fact, it really does go.

It would be well if a geographical society of standing would investigate the formal and official charges made by Colonel Rondon, an officer and gentleman of the highest repute, against Mr. Savage Landor. Colonel Rondon, in an official report to the Brazilian Government, has written a scathing review of Mr. Landor. He states that Mr. Savage Landor did not perform, and did not even attempt to perform, the work he had contracted to do in exploration for the Brazilian Government. Mr. Landor had asserted and promised that he would go through unknown country along the line of eleven degrees latitude south, and, as Colonel Rondon states, it was because of this proposal of his that the Brazilian Government gave him material financial assistance in advance. However, Colonel Rondon sets forth that Mr. Landor did not keep his word or make any serious effort to fulfil his moral obligation to do as he had said he would do. In a letter to me under date of May 1, 1914—a letter which has been published in full in France—Colonel Rondon goes at length into the question of what territory Mr. Landor had traversed. Colonel Rondon states that—excepting on one occasion, when Mr. Landor, wandering off a beaten trail, immediately got lost and shortly returned to his starting-point without making any discoveries—he kept to old, well-travelled routes. One sentence of the colonel’s letter to me runs as follows: "I can guarantee to you that in Brazil Mr. Landor’s did not cross a hand’s breadth of land that had not been explored, the greater part of it many centuries ago." As regards Mr. Landor’s sole and brief experience in leaving a beaten route, Colonel Rondon states that at São Manoel Mr. Landor engaged from Senhor José Sotero Barreto (the revenue officer of Matto Grosso, at São Manoel) a guide to lead him across a well-travelled trail which connects the Tapajos with the Madeira via the Canama. The guide, however, got lost, and after a few days they all returned to the point of departure instead of going through to the Canama.

Senhor Barreto, a gentleman of high standing, related this last incident to Fiala when Fiala descended the Tapajos (and, by the way, Fiala’s trip down the Papagaio, Juruena, and Tapajos was infinitely more important than all the work Mr. Landor did in South America put together). Lieutenants Pyrineus and Mello, mentioned in the body of this work, informed me that they accompanied Mr. Landor on most of his overland trip before he embarked on the Arinos, and that he simply followed the highroad or else the telegraph-line, and furthermore, Colonel Rondon states that the Indians whom Mr. Landor encountered and photographed were those educated at the missions.

Colonel Rondon’s official report to the Brazilian Government and his letter to me are of interest to all geographers and other scientific men who have any concern with the alleged discoveries of Mr. Landor. They contain very grave charges, with which it is not necessary for me to deal. Suffice it to say that Mr. Landor’s accounts of his alleged exploration cannot be considered as entitled to the slightest serious consideration until he has satisfactorily and in detail answered Colonel Rondon; and this he has thus far signally failed to do.

Fortunately, there are numerous examples of exactly the opposite type of work. From the days of Humboldt and Spix and Martius to the present time, German explorers have borne a conspicuous part in the exploration of South America. As representatives of the men and women who have done such capital work, who have fronted every hazard and hardship and labored in the scientific spirit, and who have added greatly to our fund of geographic, biologic, and ethnographic knowledge, I may mention Miss Snethlage and Herr Karl von den Steinen.

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