ID: 365


CHRISTIANE GIOPPO1; Michelle Bocchi Gonçalves2; and Maria Eleonora Cordeiro Ferreira3;

1Departament of Teaching Practices and Internship, The Federal University of Paraná, ; 2Master Program in Education, The Federal University of Paraná, Brazil; 3Transportation and Infra-Structure Technology Institute - ITTI, The Federal University of Paraná, Brazil [email protected]; [email protected]


In many places of Brazil there is a of a boy who is a forest protector, however, he is not always described the same way. Terenas are an ethnic group of natives who are struggling to keep their and language at the same time that most of them are now Christians. Some of them live in a tribe on the wetland of Pantanal, in west Brazil. For Terenas, this boy is called Whistler. This paper discusses the relation between the myth of Whistler and environment on the discourse of Terena teachers who works in a bilingual school in the tribe. French Discourse analyzes based on Michel Pêcheux was used to analyze the textual productions of these Terena’s teachers. We analyzed eight texts produced by these teachers on the context of a workshop on environmental education. Even considering the changes on , Terenas consider whistler beyond the dichotomist view of good or evil

Key-words: environmental perception; Saci’s whistler myth; Discourse analyze. This study was held among the actions of the Transportation and Infra-Structure Technology Institute (ITTI), at the Federal University of Paraná, in South Brazil. The institute has a memorandum of understanding with the National Infra-Structure and Transportation Department (DNIT) part of the National Ministry of Transportation, to assist and implement mitigation actions regarding to the ongoing construction of the BR 262 road in between the cities of Corumbá (board to Colombia) and Anastácio along of 296 km, and cross Pantanal, one of the biggest wetlands in the world, in west Brazil. To assist some environmental demands ITTI created fifteen different programs among them the Environmental Program (PEA). Its aim is to have a strong education on the region especially with in-service teachers and schools that are affected by the vicinity of the road.

One city on the area affected by the road construction and included on the mitigation actions proposed by PEA/ ITTI was selected to be part of this study. The program then hired local stakeholders to as leaders and articulators in order to create a support basis strategy for its success. Within the city the program selected more vulnerable schools and communities strongly affected by road construction. One of these schools included native students and teachers from Terena ethnic group, one of their tribes is on road area it has a bilingual school. Most of its teachers is from the tribe, some are bilingual, they teach their native language and Portuguese, since most Terena kids speaks Portuguese as their first language now, thus the idea is to keep their language and traditions alive.

Terenas´ ethnicity is one of the many different natives in Brazil. They have their own language and cultural perspectives. Many of them were suppressed from their own culture and religion and mixed with surrounding people. Understanding the importance natives groups cultural preservation national government gives support to these ethnicities to keep their language and culture alive, thus bilingual schools were opened. However teacher education to deal with these ethnic groups it is much more than a matter of teaching two languages, or understanding subject matter, they have to deeply understand and respect the culture and know how to deal with the interface between non-Terena´s culture and school and their traditions. Among Terenas some natives became teachers on their own tribes to teach Terena and Portuguese, other teachers are outsiders. This is study is focusing in this boundary between Terena and non-Terena´s culture.

The focus of this paper is to report a slice of a bigger study held with Terenas´ teachers, and school administrators of this bilingual school during an in-service teacher workshop and its follow-up activities, organized by UFPR/ITTI. Besides Terenas the entire workshop group included also other administrators from different schools invited to participate in a total of 40 people.

During the workshop we used an integrated approach to discuss environmental issues, thus activities were tied with Brazilian tales. We discussed biomas characteristics and environmental using the tale of Saci as our Nature guide. In Brazil’s cultural diversity Saci is a mythical entity of the forest. This myth can be found in many ethnic groups, and it is a common tale story all over the country. Usually Saci is described as a boy with powers. His magic powers are in a red cap he wears all times. If one is able to take his cap out, Saci loses his powers and can be captured, if so he can be put inside a bottle. The magic boy knows plants, herbs, and their medical uses; he is also the one who scare travelers and cowboys who enter the forest to transfer the cattle from one place to another during flooded season. Furthermore he scares lumbermen or people who come to put fire on the forest and modify environ. On the other hand, Saci is also known as a child kidnaper. Because of that parents usually advice kids about going too far on their own, without adult supervision. Thus Saci´s tale is utmost dichotomy between good and evil. Terenas also have their own version of Saci, however his characteristics or story are not any or on the same level of comprehension, as a simple tale. Terenas do not view Saci as a child story, for them he is more than that. Among Terenas Saci is known as whistler.

To understand Saci´s myth and its connection to environ among Terenas teachers´ we choose to analyze their speech using the French Discourse Analyses (FDA for now on), having Michel Pêcheux as its main reference.

The view point of FDA is the comprehension of process on how knowledge and society constitutes themselves through language. According to Brandão (2004, p.11) “…language as discourse is an interaction produced socially, it is neither neutral, naïve nor natural, hence it is the privileged place of ideology manifestation”. Language is a place for confrontation, for ideological , thus it cannot be studied out of society, since it is constituted by social and historical processes. Therefore from the epistemological and historical aspects, French DA is characterized as a theoretical and methodological field of Language studies, in which we discuss the intersection among discourse, subject, and history to meaning elaboration. On the scope of this study we describe all the work done in during the workshop and its follow-up activities but we analyze only the work produced by Terenas teachers’ on whistler. Thus, our main goal is to understand their discourse on , environment and conservation ideas.


Discourse Analyses point of view is to comprehend the process on how knowledge and society constitutes each other mutually by language. From historical and epistemological aspects, French DA is characterized as a theoretical and methodological field of language studies. We discuss the crossroads among discourse, subject and history on the senses elaboration.

In FDA perspective relations among thoughts/ language/ world are never straightforward but mediated by discourse, instead. On this perspective teacher is a subject who produces senses in his/her relations with knowledge and language. Thus, on the position-subject of a bilingual public school teacher of the Terenas tribe, on South Mato Grosso, his/hers speeches will be crossed by other discourses and meanings.

Education in this discursive perspective assumes “any form of language, formal or common, is always a grid from with knowledge subject sees the world” (Possenti, 1997, p. 16). School is a place for learning full of subjects who uses their own languages, trying to communicate, since language and learning are social processes. Discourse Analyses is neither about language nor grammar even if these are topics of interest. It deals with discourse bringing the idea of route, movement. Discourse is word itself in movement. On the context of this research, word in movement is a word on the myth figure of Saci, enunciated by Terena teachers living and teaching in their own tribe in South Mato Grosso.

To Orlandi (2005) language is also a place with multiple contradictions such as confront of imaginaries, matter and work tools, reflection and refraction; it is a critical theory that deals with historic determination of meaning process. Starting from symbolic constitution of humans, searching for senses, DA situates language practices in exes of time-space. Pêcheux & Fuchs (1990) stated words meanings depend on the discourse of which it belongs. Hence, in using FDA as a methodological pathway to understand Terena teachers discourse about South Mato Grosso Pantanal myth of Saci and its relation to the environment is to give these teachers the opportunity to reflect on speech, silence and belongings.

In this study discourse considers production conditions, in other words, a subject talk from a place, form a discursive position and he/she can talk only from this position. Pêcheux (2009) advocates it is not the empirical subjects that work on discourse, but their discursive positions, instead. For example: discourse analyzes in this study are from teachers of a tribe, who participated on in-service teacher education workshop, where they created texts from their own experience and life story. The authorship of their discourses needs to consider these conditions. The researcher thus must understand symbolic gestures of interpretation in there, as the sense effects that constitute the positions of these subjects.

To FDA, words enunciated on discourse do not have a pre-determined sense, they are not self- constructions, on the contrary, they are produced from process of social interaction. The subject on DA is not the individual, the empirical subject, but the discourse subject who carries with him/her social, ideological, and historical marks, and have the illusion of being the spring of own senses. FDA understands the subject illusion as origin, showing that language and senses are not transparent. Subject enunciates and has the feeling of being the spring of his/her say, however his/her discourse is full of other says that circulate socially. What subject enunciates is determined by unconscious and by ideology (Orlandi, 2006).

Every time a subject talk, enunciates from somewhere, from a determined position-subject that could be a teacher, student, parent, son/daughter/ employee, employer, researcher, subject studied, and so on. These positions stamp force relations. It is on force relations that places among subjects feature each other configuring power.

Pêcheux (2009), in “semantics and discourse” states the place of subject is not empty; it is fulfilled by what he calls form-subject, or subject of knowledge of a specific discursive formation (DF). Thus it is by form-subject the inscription in a DF becomes possible, and with it subject identifies and constitutes himself/herself. From this position-subject from which one speaks, lays the basis of imaginary formation on DA. Imaginary formation allows subjects to make projections of self and other images and images of discourse objects, considering the socio-historic context. By imaginary formations speaker and collocutor poses the discourse objects and each other.

Hence it is neither physical subjects nor their empirical places as such, as they are enrolled in society, and how they could be logically described, that works in a discourse, but their images results of projections. These projections allow subjects to pass from empirical situations to the position of discourse subjects. This is the distinction between place and position. In all languages there are projection rules that allow subjects to pass from empirical situation to discursive position. In discourse these positions are what it means. Their meanings are related to socio-historic context and also memory (discursive savvy, the already said). (Orlandi, 2005, p. 40).

These imaginary formations will designate the speaker and collocutor place and the other, as well as the image they do of places occupied by discourse subjects. Hence, these imaginary formations will influence text production and its meanings. Teacher image, for example, is already determined by the empirical place given by his/her social formation.


The participants who collaborated in the whole research were 280 teachers distributed in six groups from three cities of South Mato Grosso state, west of Brazil. The workshop occurred in two not consecutive days (16 hours of workshop attendance). Between the first and second day teachers were invited to do an activity with their own students (8 hours of activities in their own classes).

On the first workshop day activities have started from the idea that the person who know less about Pantanal environ was the lecturer, thus teachers’ knowledge and expertise should guide workshop activities. In this sense we proposed activities that could arouse different cultural aspects, discussing Brazilian mythical entities such as Saci. Teachers read the book of Gioppo and Gioppo (2009) featuring Saci in many different ways throughout Brazil and even out of it. On the book there is no description of Saci on Pantanal region. Teachers were surprised with that and had the opportunity to tell some stories they knew about Saci. We told teachers that Saci was going to be our guide throughout the day. Teachers then played the game “a new start” (Gioppo, 2011) in which Saci was in a forest that caught fire and he needed to find a new place to live. The game is played alone as a sole-adventure written as a game-book. The player read a scene and then is invited to choose from different options what he/she wants to do. According to players decision there are different story pathways, thus different decisions would guide player to different pathways and endings. The game emphasis is on the importance of decision making in environmental education. However, the portion of the game on the wetland of Pantanal is small and the environ description is very short, besides this the story there is no option for Saci to stay in Pantanal. After reading teachers realize Saci could not choose Pantanal and he learned very little about it, the goal was to create a sense of incompleteness among participants, a discomfort about the lack of knowledge of the game. With that teachers were willing to discuss what else could we include about Pantanal to tell Saci, thus the idea is to give Saci a more comprehensive information on Pantanal environ. In order to do that participants were invited to do a short in- depth study using the outdoors and take pictures of the studied area. After studying and photographing it they should write some sort of information to Saci inviting him to know more about Pantanal. The written piece could be a flyer, a pamphlet or a letter (but it was not restricted to it) to Saci. At the end teachers were invited to share their production with the group.

In between the two workshop days we suggested teachers could adapt these activities to implement them with their own students. From this suggestion students and teachers were expected to: 1) Write a story about Saci in Pantanal region. Teacher could have experienced the story himself/ herself or heard the story from elder or other people; 2) Select an area on the school surroundings to study, map and photograph; 3) Write a letter (or other text format) to Saci describing the area; 4) Take at least two pictures of the area (one taken by the teacher and other taken by the student).

On the second workshop day, we planned an exhibit, thus teachers brought selected productions of them and their students to present to their peers .(some of these productions were later published in Gioppo, Pivovar, Gonçalves, et. al, 2012)

On this paper we focused on Terena teachers written pieces. In order to analyze them we used French DA having Michel Pêcheux as its basis. Terena teachers are interpellated by Brazilian Education ideology, by their own ideology and culture, by the new beliefs that are coming with tribe evangelization. On this sense texts produce effects of meaning accordingly to this historical and social context in which they are. The effects establish themselves on the enunciation act, thus there is not a preexistent meaning that could arouse from language. Instead the meanings build themselves on the material existence conditions.


Our proposal was to analyze eight texts produced by Terena teachers, on the myth of Saci (Whisler) in order to understand their discourse on tradition, environment and conservation ideas. These teachers live in South Mato Grosso in a tribe 200 km west of Campo Grande, the State Capital and 200 km east of the Bolivia Border. Research corpus analyses were done by the use of French Discourse Analyses (FDA) lenses on excerpts and statements selected from the texts.

Text one is a letter:

My dear friend Saci,

It is a pleasure to write and invite you to know a wonderful place located on our city on the heart of South Mato Grosso wetland of Pantanal “The Bugio Refugee”. The place is gorgeous rich in fauna and flora, you as a forest guardian need to know it, since it is very close to the forest and it is quite difficult to us to take care of it by ourselves […].

Different meaning effects can be found on texts created by Terena’ teachers. We are emphasizing the ones related to the references of Saci’s in its relation to Pantanal environ. The first text we can see the legendary figure of Saci as a Nature protector, from discursive texts such as “you are the Forest guardian” (Text 1). It is interesting to notice that teacher is treating Saci friendly, inviting him to come to Pantanal. Even if Saci can be described as somehow dangerous, the teacher is not afraid. Thus we can interpret she is perceiving Saci only as a child tale. Saci is also known among Terenas as Whistler, but the teacher does not call him like that. It means tradition is not playing a huge role on her meaning construction. We can also see she is asking Saci to come and be the forest guardian because the area is “quite difficult to us to take care of by ourselves”, it means she is not just asking for help but also giving someone else the responsibility to take care of the environ. It seems this teacher is far away from Terenas´ traditions and view of belonging to that place. She could be an outsider

Text two is :

Pantanal always scare cowboys, ones can feel sick and others will overcome.

With his whistle, whistler scares. Who listen sometimes cry and who faces the road sometimes arrive on time.

Nature complains for a protector, human beings put themselves as the lord.

However, Saci with his naughtiness always protect nature putting his name with rightness.

Saci come to the wetland of Pantanal!

Saci Yoconé Puxovocú Uné!

In this poetry teacher starts telling Saci exists on Pantanal, he scares cowboys and others will overcome, showing he knows the legend and heard about it on the area. He even talks about Whistler, and how his whistle frights. However, on the last two phrases, one originally in Portuguese and the last one in Terena language he is welcoming Saci. This is related to the text where Saci was not in Pantanal, thus we were questioning teachers about his presence (or not) on the environment. Even knowing Saci and its stories this teacher was compelled by the position of the instructor who questioned the presence of Saci in Pantanal and abandoned his own beliefs to follow instructor suggestions meaning the position of power of the instructor prevailed above his knowledge and it is shown in an ambiguous text.

This teacher is also talking about Saci as a protector who should come to scare people out of Pantanal. “However, Saci with his naughtiness always protect nature” (Text 2). We can notice that this teacher is also looking for someone to help and protect, howeer he is counting on the myth and magic of Whistler to help. Thus the Whistler as entity has a role on keeping and maintaining nature. Thus they count on these entities to be safe and protected.

Text three is a child story on Saci:

All animals united were looking for Mr. Saci, after a while they found him imprisoned in a bottle close to a river. As fast as possible they told:

- We are here to make a deal with you Mr. Saci! We are facing life risk and need someone who could help us. Analyzing your history we realize you are the ideal person. Your task is to help us cross the animals on BR 262 road. If you accept our deal, for now on you will be released to start your work.

Saci accepted the deal and now he lives in all extension of the BR 262 road.

On text three Saci is also a protector. He is an “ideal person” (Text 3) help animals not be hit by cars on the road. For this teacher Saci is a kid tale, nothing to be worried about. When released from the bottle Saci is going to protect animals and live along the road. No mention on whistler or dangers children could face not to fear Saci or even to be close to it. Again, like text 1, this text withdraws Terena traditions and beliefs.

Talking about Saci as a protector, texts one, two, and three pointed to the wetland and the very nature as a place in need of a protection, fact recurrent in media (newspapers, magazines, television, and the internet). Pantanal is a target of many different educational projects in and out Brazil because it constitutes one of the few places with somewhat preserved biodiversity. Unite Saci to the protection of Pantanal wetland is an ideological trace that permeate people who lives in this geographical area, including Terenas. Neither these natives with their own language and believes can run from the ideological discourse of environmental protection looking for myth as , or a way to discuss their values and responsibility with nature, however the main point is to have someone to help, someone who is out of the community and will come to solve environmental problems. This discourse shows how subject is interpellated by public policies and ideology regarding to land property and environment, and carries with him in his words marcs of this ideology, in this case the national policies on natives lands, creating a sense that natives always need someone from outside to help.

In other moments Saci is shown as a scary figure or adventures organizer: With his whistle, whistler scares […] however, Saci with his naughtiness (Text 2) and […] they found it in a bottle close to a river (Text 3). All these meanings are closer to the legend of Saci, beyond the Wetland of Pantanal, this let us understand that information is constituted by movement, discourses circulated socially, and the subjects use a mechanism of repetition when enunciate it. Hence, it is important to consider we do not face free repetition of a legend, only in this ideological context in which Terena teachers can relate Saci’s legend to Pantanal, since they are posed into a position-subject that are their own and unique. In this way even if the many different stories that compound Saci’s legend are with peculiar characteristics, when relating Saci to the wetland of Pantanal, he is pointed out as the main character, invited to participate on this bioma preservation, on the Brazilian Portuguese as well as Terena’s language, what make us reflect on the ambigual constitution of these teachers: Saci come to Pantanal! Saci Yoconé Puxovocú Uné!

Below is an excerpt of text four: “Saci on the tribe”. :

The Saci´s story on the tribe [name of tribe] starts like that: In the street where I live long ago there were only few houses, weald was thick, natural hennery. Nights were dark and silent, silent dominated all night long, only night life rein, the Urutau (bird) with its melancolic sing, owl, and evening vampires.

One night an old native (my grandpa) was telling stories while inciting camp fire with logs. He told us the story of Saci who lived right behind his old straw house. […]. On the old days every night one could hear Saci´s whisper because thick vegetation was common, today there are no vegetation on the tribe and it is very rare to hear famous Saci whistling. (Text 4).

On this excerpt (text 4) it is possible to see the teacher reference of the tribe. For him it was important to present first Saci´s story, information about his routes and how the tribe was before. This teacher has a need to report about his indigenous origins. Besides the details on the straw house, thick vegetation, and how night life reigns, teacher mentioned the “old native”, his grandfather, for him to tell Saci´s story, showing respect for elder wisdom. This discourse shows how subject is interpellated by his history, ideology, and carries with him in his words marcs of this ideology, in this case the native one.

On the second part of the excerpt, teacher again mentioned his tribe, telling how it is on present time, with little vegetation and because of that it is not possible to hear the “famous Saci” whistling no more. The adjective “famous” suggests Saci is a legendary figure with high reputation, an honorable being for all tribe inmates, on the past as well as today. It seems this teacher misses some of the old traditions and Saci whistle.

Text five is transcribed in full and entitled “Whistler Saci”:

Elders from the tribe [name of the tribe] say they do not know for sure if Saci is an adult or a child. Sometimes he appears in a form of a child during the night when everybody is asleep. When someone forget kids toys or clothes on the yard, their kids will not be able to sleep because Saci plays with the toys and clothes and if mom does not go to the yard to pick them up her child will continue having horrible nightmares

Sometimes Saci appears in an adult form, uses a smoking pipe, he wears a cap and likes cachaça1, people from the tribe says when his whistlers seems to be far away it is because he is very close, on the opposite when his whistler seems to be very close is because Saci is far away. For Saci not to bother anyone elders offer tobacco and cachaça to him, then he goes away (Texto 5).

This text presents meanings related to Saci myth. In this text teachers subscribe himself in a set of that circulate socially about Saci “adult form, uses a smoking pipe, wears a cap and likes cachaça”. In this text we also have the legend being told towards the history of this teacher, evidencing he is a subject strongly influenced by believes thought by his ancestors. His discourse also brings the image of a contradictory Saci, sometimes harmless and playful: a child Saci other times dangerous: adult-saci. On the first part of the text, we have the child Saci, who is not that dangerous or frightful, and appears “during the night when everybody is asleep”. Besides this we can see the lesson for kids and women behind the myth, as if they

1 Cachaça is an alcohol beverage made from sugar cane fermented and then distilled. It is a very important part of Brazilian culture. Sugar cane is not a plant from Brazil and came with the first colonizers at the beginning of 16 century. live their mess outside or forget things Saci will come as a nightmare for the kids, thus no one should forget things outside during the evening.

On the second half of the text we have a threatening Saci who needs to be put away by the elders: “For Saci not to bother anyone elders offer tobacco and cachaça to him, then he goes away”. Again there are similarities between whistler Saci of the tribe with the known myth, when teacher states the need to give “tobacco and cachaça” to calm Saci. On this text it is also interesting to perceive that the native has the responsibility to keep the environment as it is, otherwise he will suffer having nightmares and so on, then he will have to come and organize the yard. Whistler is helping values regarding to nature and to their social organization on the tribe and in the family.

An excerpt of text six entitled “Whistler Saci on the tribe [name of the tribe]”

According to some stories form the tribe elders, they say whistler Saci is an African boy, with only one leg, smoking a black pipe, his eyes and lips are red. He uses to walk through the village at noon and on the sunset. When he needs something he approaches one´s house and stays whistling incessantly, as if he is asking something to the house owner. The owner has to come out and bring tobacco and cachaça for him to leave […]. If the house owner does not give tobacco and cachaça to Whistler Saci he stays disturbing with his whistle and can also bit the person […].

[…] community natives should not be calling Whistler Saci for nothing, because when he comes he scares the kids during the night and also he can take the kids away for three days, letting moms desperate, crying a lot and asking for

Whistler Saci to bring child back. After being humbled, Whistler Saci brings the kid back without anyone noticing and let the kid very close to home however he can let a defective mark on the native child. With adults Whistler Saci make them get lost on the woods for three days. This is a way to express he is around. Thus one cannot tell his name just for fun or with no reason. If natives form the tribe call Saci, he will come with tricks or evil. We should not call him because he exists and is real, is a live legend in Terena´s tribe [name of the tribe]. (text 6).

On the excerpt six the image of the myth is again presented but he is also described as whistler Saci of the tribe: “They say Whistler Saci is an African boy, with only one leg, smoking a black pipe, his eyes and lips are red. He uses to walk through the village at noon and on the sunset”. Let us pay attention on the similarities first. The cap and smoking pipe are similar to the myth from other parts of Brazil. Again on text six we have tobacco and cachaça as a way to keep Saci away, calm and happy, and it is a counter part of him taking care of the woods.

On the second half of the excerpt, teacher tells a story not mentioned before. Whistler Saci kidnaps children and take them to the woods for three days, after that he gives the native child back but sometimes with a “defective mark”. Here we have a dangerous side of Saci who should be respected and feared. Following the excerpt teacher emphasizes natives from the tribe should not call or mention Saci´s name even as a joke. Showing the deep respect this teacher gives to Saci, meaning also the activity is not appropriate for schools and pay attention of kids is an important value of the tribe.

At the end of discourse we found a truthfulness sense to Saci existence for all its evils and tricks. For this native Terena teacher Saci is not a myth, or legend it is real: “We should not call him because he exists and is real, is a live legend in Terena´s tribe [name of the tribe].

We also want to emphasize bias presented on the text, however, intend to present texts six, seven and eight and then come back to this topic.

The following excerpt is from text seven “Whistler Saci”:

We natives are convinced that Saci exists here in the tribe we have true stories of his tricks. He is a little African boy shines as pitch, with blood red eyes with a big belly, bat ears and a red cap on his hair, he runs like a lightening, show up and disappears; grow up and diminishes. When he goes over a donga, he leaves his footprints with three marks as a sign he has three fingers. When he sees someone he whistle so high that he can make a hole in ones ear, he put his long tong out and smoke comes true his eyes. […] the little black evil is indeed a pawky boy. Saci tries to bother native neighbors, if it is too late he whistles so loud that could make one deaf, sometimes he makes so many evil things that one could pass out and I is worse if we react. Saci becomes angry and can beat one to death. Other times he is friendlier, do not bit or kill, but take our hats off. At home he pull our blankets when we are in the best part of sleep, he ruins the bread dough, push the embers on the wood stove, after that he goes to the backyard, and abuse the poultrymoves all the eggs around and they will be foiled. (text 7).

Teacher started his text highlighting the existence of Saci for his ethnic group. Then he mentioned how Saci would be. At this point it is possible to see in teachers discourse imaginary of Saci is threefold first related to the myth of Saci, when he describes a tricky boy with a red cap, we could see that colors of pitch are now a matter of comparisons with the myth, thus the road and its changes on the environ are now part of Terena´s discourse, besides this black as pitch is a common phrase in the population imaginary, thus phrases out of Terena´s culture are now internalized. Second related to the idea of Whistler, that comes from the tribe. Many times teacher relates Saci whistle is deafening: “he whistle so high that he can make a hole in ones ear” and “he whistles so loud that could make one deaf”. Maybe it is why this tribe calls Saci as Whistler. Third we see the influence of Christian religion in the description of Saci as a devil with red yes, footprints with three fingers, smoke coming from his eyes and so on. It is important to notice that on this tribe 90% of natives were converted to Christian based religious, with a strong description of evil, thus many entities and that belonged to Terena´s culture are now being suppressed because they do not fit with their new religion.

We found on texts 6 and 7 a strong mark of subjects who believe on the myth count and recounted by their ancestors and here described by teachers in their texts. Even if talking on many meanings of Saci, or calling him “Whistler”, subjects can not avoid the imaginary formation of Saci´s myth as largely known in Brazil´s national territory: a boy with one leg, that wears a cap, smokes pipe, lives in the woods scaring people and doing tricks, besides the common characteristics Saci is usually described as an African boy. On the phrases below we highlighted Saci´s descriptions as an African boy:

[...] Saci appears in an adult form, uses a smoking pipe, he wears a cap and likes cachaça (text 5). [...] they say whistler Saci is an African boy, with only one leg, smoking a black pipe, his eyes and lips are red. (text 6).

[...] He is a little African boy shines as pitch, with blood red eyes with a big belly, bat ears and a red cap on his hair, he runs like a lightening, show up and disappears; grow up and diminishes (text 7).

[...] the little black evil is indeed a pawky boy. Saci tries to bother native neighbors (text 7)

This lengendary figure, who scares, and described as evil, is also find on the children literature as emphasized by Silva (2005 p.10): “On children literature, it is possible to observe the sub-representation of afro-characters, in texts, illustrations: the association by color, with evil, tragedy, dirt, the association of afro with punishment of ugliness”. For the author, this type of literature constantly accentuates discrimination with non-white, without a clear straightforward prejudicial discourse.

The Discourse Analyses point of view is to comprehend the process on how knowledge and society constitute each other by language. According to Brandão (2004, p.11) “…language as discourse is interaction, and is a social of production, it is not neutral, innocent or natural, thus, considered the privilege place to ideology manifestation.” Language is a place of confrontation, of ideological conflict, and cannot be studied out of society, once the process that constitutes are socio-historical. Then, describing skin colors and the need to identify Saci that way, even if it is being described by a Terena native is ratify that bias is cross cultural. To think that Terenas ethnic group are free from bias is naïve. Prejudice pervade ethnic groups, cultures and in Terena culture, and for these teachers prejudice is clearly delineated and apparent. Besides this the tentativeness of connecting Saci to an evil image with red eyes and three footprints on the ground is beyond skin color prejudice and is also related to the changes on religious culture that Terenas are facing with the somewhat recent evangelization of the Tribe. As we mentioned before Pêcheux (2009) defends that it is not the empirical subjects that work on discourse, but their discursive positions, instead. In this case, the positions as Terena teachers, but also people inscribed in larges society whose prejudice against different skin colors tent to be subtle and uncover is show mixed with their almost recent beliefs in the dichotomy of good and evil that does not belong to their original culture. In this sense we clearly see Possenti´s idea (1997) of discourse as route, as word itself in movement. The movement here is form a traditional Terena culture to another one more integrated to Brazial culture (with all their bias) and through Christian beliefs. Hence, their entire culture is moving, including their view and connection with nature. This changed view of nature can be seen more evidently on text 8

The last text (8) is in full: “Whistler Saci”.

In the past, in our tribe there was a legend called Saci, the story scared our people. On the tribe there was no electricity, lights were by oil lamps and when the nights came Saci started to whistle. Story told to us was that when the whistle was heard in a low volume it was because Saci was close and on the opposite when the volume was loud it was because he was far away. Saci caused fear mostly among our children. Today this legend does not exist anymore among our people. The disappearance occurred by a lot of reasons. Today we have energy, houses are close to one another and there are woods are so thick, very different from the past. (Text 8).

This teacher describes Saci in two moments first the boy is related to the old times, a past that does no longer exists, the tribe had no electricity, scarce houses, a more preserved environ, and they believed in Saci´s myth. The second moment is nowadays, when woods became scarce, the tribe grew to be a village with city facilities such as electricity, thus there is no room for old traditions and myths. Saci disappeared and also did his myth among Terenas. It seems that for this teacher Saci myth is connected with the idea of progress and modern life, a time that he does not want to come back, now the tribe has electricity, old traditions also can be put aside. We could infer he is “it is time to move away from these myths”, so it is possible to grasp his relation to myth, environ and progress are connected and different from what we saw on the previous excerpts.

Collaborators on this study were natives of Terena ethnic group who are also teachers in a bilingual school in South Mato Grosso State. These teachers are in interpellated by Brazilian education ideology and also by ideology of indigenous consequently, their texts produce effects of sense according to the socio-historical context in which they are. Such effects establish on the enunciation act there is no pre-existent sense that could bloom from language, sense build itself on the material conditions of existence, instead. For Pêcheux 2009, p.160 “sense is determined by ideological positions that are in the game on the socio- historic process”. It is in this very process that words, expressions, propositions, and other discursive elements are produced and acquire sense for those who make use of it always in reference of his/her ideological background. Hence, from reviewing some historic and epistemological aspects that characterize FDA as a theoretical- methodological field of language we discussed intersection among discourse, subject and history on the sense elaboration. To finish this paper we would like to suggest other studies could probe he idea of belonging on Terena culture, because we saw some texts in which it is possible to infer the wish of belonging to a non-Terena culture, showing that natives voice is fading to give place to non-natives comprehension of world and culture silencing the natives inside Terenas teachers´.


We are thankful to the Environmental Management Project to build Bridges in Federal Roads, developed with Technical Cooperation between National Infra-Structure and Transportation Department (DNIT) and the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil (UFPR) through its Transportation and Infra-Structure Technology Institute (ITTI). They gave us all the conditions such as infra-structure, support and scholarships for this study to be held.


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