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Story Publication logo May 15, 2020

Fear and Devastation on the Hundred-Year-Old Paths of the Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition (Portuguese)

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Roosevelt River
English

The purpose of this project is to travel to Resex Guariba Roosevelt, in Mato Grosso, through the...

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Some riverside houses from the Extractive Reserve (Resex) on the banks of the Roosevelt River have resisted the threat of invasion for more than 80 years. Image by Caio Mota. Brazil, 2020.
Some riverside houses from the Extractive Reserve (Resex) on the banks of the Roosevelt River have resisted the threat of invasion for more than 80 years. Image by Caio Mota. Brazil, 2020.

"I think he was the President of the United States. He was here a long time ago—and he almost died in the rapids [waterfalls]. Back in the day, they used to say that [the expedition] would knock on doors of houses asking for help and food," says Raimunda Rodrigues da Silva, a rubber tapper and farmer from the Guariba-Roosevelt Extractive Reserve (Resex), which is situated in the extreme northwest of Mato Grosso, on the border with Amazonas and Rondônia.

In a wood stove, Raimunda prepares a long-whiskered catfish (Pseudoplatystoma corruscans) marinated in Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) milk. While adjusting the shiny pots that decorate the walls of her house, she looks at the river from the window and offers an explanation of the curious English name behind the place where she lives. "For my grandfather, a rubber tapper who came here from the Northeast, this was always Castanho. Then came that whole Rio da Dúvida and Ruselvélt thing," she explains, with the pronunciation used by locals.

To read the full story in Portuguese, please visit the National Geographic Brazil website.

“Acho que era o presidente dos Estados Unidos. Ele esteve aqui há muito tempo e quase morreu nos rápidos [cachoeiras]. Os antigos falavam que bateram nas casas pedindo socorro e comida”, conta Raimunda Rodrigues da Silva, seringueira e agricultora familiar da Reserva Extrativista (Resex) Guariba-Roosevelt, no extremo noroeste de Mato Grosso, na divisa com o Amazonas e Rondônia.

Em um fogão a lenha, Raimunda prepara um pintado (Pseudoplatystoma corruscans) marinado no leite da castanha-do-brasil (Bertholletia excelsa). Enquanto ajeita as brilhantes panelas que decoram as paredes da casa, ela mira o rio da janela e oferece uma explicação sobre o curioso nome em inglês que define o local onde vive. “Para o meu avô, seringueiro que chegou aqui vindo do Nordeste, este sempre foi o Castanho. Depois veio essa coisa de Rio da Dúvida e Ruselvélt”, afirma, com o sotaque dos locais para denominarem o rio.