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A trek to an indigenous land teaches digital health, sustainability lessons
By Gustavo Meirelles  |  Mar 07, 2024
A trek to an indigenous land teaches digital health, sustainability lessons
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Set in a national park in Brazil’s central Mato Grosso state, Alto Xingu is home to a variety of indigenous peoples. Its very remoteness imparts invaluable lessons on digital health and sustainability. Radiologist and medical executive Dr Gustavo Meirelles guides us on this tour.

ALTO XINGU, BRAZIL - ‘Um índio,’ a celebrated song from 1977 by the Brazilian musician, singer, and songwriter Caetano Veloso, prophesies a tragic future of complete environmental destruction. The song portrays a hypothetical and futuristic world where all indigenous populations have been completely wiped out, depicting this tragedy with elements of magical realism. In this tropicalist epiphany, salvation from this tragedy comes from a technology capable of connecting a star and South America, when an indigenous person journeying from a celestial body brings from the future an enigmatic message: One ought to heed something that may have ‘always been hidden, when it will have become obvious.’

With these images in mind and the Veloso’s music playing over the headphones, one traverses the heart of Brazil to the ‘equidistant point between the Atlantic and the Pacific,’ home to the planet’s largest indigenous reserve - the Xingu Indigenous Park. Established in 1961, the reservation spans over 2 million hectares along the Xingu River in the central state of Mato Grosso and is home to around 6,000 people from 16 ethnicities.

The agenda for this trip took in the Kwarup (or Quarup), a symbolic ritual combining a funerary ceremony with myths of human creation, and the celebration of relationships between neighboring villages. Among the participants were members of the non-governmental organization Xingu+Catu, founded in 2022 by doctors and entrepreneurs to provide hea

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