The following is a translation of material in the Archives of the Indian Service of Brazil - Translated into English by a friend who spoke Portugeuse. This is the report submitted by the Colonel about Bessie and the trip.

 

The North American Miss Elizabeth Steen

            According to the instructions that you gave me, I hosted, in Sao Paulo, in collaboration with our Service, the North American anthropologist Miss Elizabeth Kilgore Steen, from the University of California (U.S.A.), that had come to Brazil with the objective of gathering data for the thesis that she will present to the above named university, in order to obtain her diploma of Doctorate in Philosophy and Anthropology. Accompanying us from the capital, Sao Paulo, from where we left on April 14th, heading to Goyaz, was Mr. Julio Agostinho de Oliveira, the English interpreter that you made available to that anthropologist, to make her mission easier. When we arrived at Campinas, I received the following telegram: “Lieutenant Colonel Fernades da Costa – Passenger toward Goyaz – Campinas – I ask that you let me go work and study the Indians of Goyaz. I await you address for more details. My telephone 437. I wish to go on this trip. I was only waiting for a response from “Miss” Steen. (a) Maria Eliza de Barros (Piracicaba, -4-930)”. I didn’t respond to this telegram from that same station because of the busy confusion caused by loading and unloading (translator’s note: as in a dock) that is happening there. However, in Araguary (Minas), I sent to Ms. Maria Eliza de Barros the following telegram; “In response to your telegram dated the 14th of the current month, that I received in Campinas, I inform you that the Brazilian indigenous problem, whether as a simple study or as protection or as religious teaching, is an open field to all private initiatives which will need to get involved at their own expense, however subjecting themselves to supervision by the Official Service of Protection to the Indians. Miss Steen says that she does not remember any communication from you. My address: Goyaz (capital), Rua Rosa Gomes 4, where I will await further explanations.” To further clarify this to that compatriot of ours, I sent her, still from Araguay, the following letter: “Dear Madam – Respectful greetings – In addition to my telegram from today, I have the honor of telling you that I will proceed with my trip tomorrow to the state of Goyaz, in which capital I will await the information that you promised in your telegram. My office in that capital is located at rua Rosa Gomes 4, and there you can send all the clarifications that you deem necessary for me to know.
            “I’m very glad to see the enthusiasm that the Service of Protection to the Indians is raising in the feminine souls, who are the souls of elite. It is from that enthusiasm that depends, in a big part, the solution to the Brazilian indigenous problem, to which I am committed, continuing the great work of our forefathers. And such enthusiasm is a sign that the problem will soon be solved, since the solution for any problem, especially the ones related to the moral and social order, depend, essentially, on the collaboration of the Woman, in whose heart only rule great sentiments and whose intelligence only shelters great thoughts. .
            “ I must , meanwhile, let you ponder, as I’ve already done with “Miss” Steen, that the present time, until and including the month of June, is not the most appropriate for penetrating the valley of Araguaya, because of the big swamps presently full, in that region. The best time for penetration is the period from July to September. The actual period, of the emptying of the water from rio Araguaya, presents, still, the inconvenience of yellow fevers, that now start to appear. ***break in text***. However if you carry on toward your goal, I will be available to you in everything within my reach.
            “With appreciation and respect, I am you compatriot and humble servant in Humanity,
                                    (a)Alencarliense Fernandes da Costa.”
We arrived at the goyana capital on the 20th of April. By this time, the news of Miss Steen’s travel was known in the press, both national and foreign. She had received several propositions from people who wanted to accompany her, not only Americans but also Brazilians, all interested in the uncivilized and their study. One of those people was Mr. Benectido Propheta from whom I received this telegram on April 28th:” Rio – 27 – Indian Services – Advise scientist Elizabeth Steen professor Propheta, knowledgeable of Tapirapes, asks to accompany her, paying for his own expenses. Answer to Collegio Baptista. (a) Propheta.”
I answered this way: “ Professor Propheta – Collegio Baptista – Tijuca – Rio – Official – Number twenty four – Scientist Elizabeth Steen thanks you for your kind offer, declining your collaboration, as she’s already done toward other offers, as she wishes to conduct her studies by herself. Greetings. (a) Alencarliense , Supervisor Goyaz Indian Protection.”
On the 30th of the same month, I received another telegram from professor Mr. Propheta: “ Taripares were visited studied registered in book my expedition twenty three. Will protest pretentiousness. (a) Propheta.” That same day I sent him the this telegraphic response; “ Professor Propheta – Collegio Baptista – Tijuca – Rio Official – Number twenty five – Response to your telegram of today, regarding the studies you say you’ve done ***break in text*** as the problem of  indigenous Brazilians is an open field to all initiatives, individual or collective, pertaining to the ones who dedicate themselves to it, simply as a study or as a religious mission, to do so at their own expenses, as we proposed in your first telegram, and subjecting themselves to the inspection of the Official Service of Protection to the Indians – Greetings – (a) Alencarliense, Supervisor Goyaz Indian Protection.” In confirming the above telegram, I sent that patriot the following official communication: Goyaz, the 30th of April of 1930 – H16 – Professor Mr. Propheta: - In confirming, as it is the practice of this Service, telegrams number 24 and 25 that I sent you yesterday and today respectively,  and whose copies I attach, allow me to express the astonishment in which I read your last communication.
            Effectively, the protest that you make, because the north American scientist Miss Elizabeth Steen declined your collaboration in the anthropological studies she will conduct on the indigenous tribes of the plain valley of Araguaya, including the taripares Indians, seems to me to have no foundation. As I wrote you in my telegram number 25, The studies you declare having done about these uncivilized ones, in 1923, doesn’t hinder other studies from being conducted, even if about the same natives. I don’t know if Miss Steen knows about your studies. In any case, the scientific studies to which she will dedicate herself seem to me to be useful as I’m sure yours are, to the indigenous problem, which cannot be in fact resolved without first having a knowledge of the Indian. Moreover, the studies of Miss Steen, as I have told you, will be anthropological,  and Anthropology  literally means study of the man. Now, the man is a small world; and from that comes the difficulty if his study. Consequently, any contribution to surpass this difficulty is a benefit to our species. It is beneficial that man be known in all the levels of his evolution, from the primitive stage in which our aborigines to the splendors of Civilization in which we find the West. Health and Fraternity. (a) Alencarliense Fernades da Costa,  Supervisor to the Service of Protection to the Indians in the State of Goyaz.”
            On the 21st of May, I received the following letter, which I identified as being from the professor Mr. Propheta, and which explained his attitude and his requests; “Rio de Janeiro, May 3rd, 1930 – Mister Alencarliense – Goyaz, Capital – Dignified Chief of the Service of Protection to the Uncivilized – I received your responses to two communications I sent you regarding Miss Elizabeth Steen’s expedition. Only by letter can I give you the reason for my attitude toward the mentioned scientist. I was at home, located at my college – “Collegio Indigena Brasileiro” – in the village of Rio Novo, State of Bahia, when I came across the “Diario de Noticias” (translator’s note: name of newspaper) from the capital, with the following telegram: “ New York – 12 – (Argos) – On Saturday, Miss Elizabeth Steen will leave toward Rio de Janeiro, taking with her an Indian and a black gal, the first as a guide and the second as an interpreter. The objective of Miss Steen’s mission is to discover the Tapirape tribe, that she thinks might reside, yet hidden, in the region of Matto Grosso”.
Now, the discovery in question is a farce or ­ I don’t know what. The foreigner, with honorable exceptions, thinks us incapable of anything, and, for that reason, the mentioned scientist (at least that is what I understood from the telegram) thought that here in Brasil nobody would scientifically know the Tapirape Indian. ***break in text*** … Alfredinho and others that visited before me.  There is now doubt that the tapirape is so obscure that even here in the Federal Capital some think that that tribe doesn’t exist. And so, my feelings, as being a pioneer in this field, were hurt once I read the mentioned communication which highlighted the way of thinking that that aborigine does not exist. This was even aggravated more by the fact that a German anthropologist, a certain Schauder (I’m not sure of the spelling) spoke at the “Theatro Deodoro), in Macelo, in a conference, citing entire sections of my book “ The Brazilian Indigenous”, without the respect of mentioning the author, which left indignant the following friends : Paulo Motta Lima, Pedro Motta Lima and the commander pilot Belisario Silva, who assisted in unmasking this foreign criminal.
            “So as you can see we couldn’t suffer such an insult without protesting; because the crime of calling as his own somebody else’s intellectual property is punishable by law and of immeasurable damage to our self-esteem criteria. Note that on page 314 of my book, I mention my meeting with the tapirapes, the morning of October 30th, 1923. After enormous sacrifices, as I recorded on the pages of the above mentioned book, I find such Indians, stay with them, study their ethnology and ethology and etiology, all of this to then hear that whoever it is, is going to discover this !! Please understand my point.
            “Furthermore: On page 415 I declare, with all the dignity in which I’m used to writing about the truth, that***break in text*** I met with the American Ambassador and other Americans representatives here in Rio and only after did I send the telegram to the Service there. All of this without mentioning that since 1910, General Rondon gave me the title of “Honorary Delegate to the Service of Protection to the Uncivilized in Brasil.”
            “It’s obvious that with having principles I could not remain quiet. Meanwhile, I will wait, with all consideration, as I’m not the kind of person to will embarrass another publicly, especially when it comes to a foreigner gal, who deserves courtesy.
            “Use this as you find appropriate.

  1. Benedicto Odilon Propheta.”

On the 23rd of May, I sent that “Honorary Delegate to the Service of Protection to the Uncivilized in Brasil” the following letter: “Goyaz, May 23rd, 1930 – Professor Mister Propheta: - Cordial Greetings – I am responding to your letter of the 3rd of this month, arriving from Rio de Janeiro, in which you had the kindness of explaining the determining factors of the telegrams you sent me dated April 27th and April 30th. I can see in your letter why the telegram you read on the “Diario de Noticias”, of Bahia, would offend you and I understand there was an absence of authorized explanations that would explain such journalistic information which has no basis when it says that “The objective of Miss Steen’s mission is to discover the Tapirape tribe, that she thinks might reside, yet hidden, in the region of Matto Grosso.”
            The objective of Miss Elizabeth Steen’s excursion is ***break in text*** …the Indians that live in the plain valley of Araguaya. Such a study is necessary for her presentation of a thesis to the University of California, in order for her to received the doctorate degree in Philosophy and Anthropology. These were the credentials she presented to the Board of the Service of Protection to the Indians, in Rio de Janeiro, who, through the Minister of Agriculture, recommended her to the Service of Goyaz, of which I am the Supervisor. It doesn’t consist of a farce  our any other less dignified manner, but, on contrary, of an educated Lady and highly recommended, who is making a devoted effort to finish one of the most complex degrees in the United States of North America.
            “ I regret not having the pleasure of knowing you book “The Brazilian Indigene”,  not only because of your studies recorded in the book but also because it is another collaboration, surely valuable, for the solution to the problem of the Brazilian indigene to which I dedicate myself as my professional career and because of the personal fondness I have for such a noble cause, in which I have you, with delight, as a colleague. So I ask if you can tell me how I can get a copy of “The Brazilian Indigene”.
            I celebrate with you your title as “Honorary Delegate to the Service of Protection to the Uncivilized in Brasil”, trusting that you will always honor such title, never feeling down or wavering in your dedication and your efforts in favor of our brothers of the jungle, who are needing more and more of our civilized influence, as we look at the proportion between the multiplication of perfecting the moral and material resource of Humanity, as opposed to the pitiful situation of social retardation ***break in text***
            “I take this opportunity to present my high regards and distinct respect. 

  1. Alencarliense Fernades da Costa.”

Professor Propheta’s attitude at first caused Miss Elizabeth Steen to be upset, who had as the main goal of her trip to Brazil, the anthropologic study of the tapirape Indians. The director of her university, who advised her on the undertaking of this project, had told her that the tapirapes were Indians who still hadn’t been scientifically studied, allowing her to possibly do a work of great scientific magnitude if she indeed were able to have contact with them and study them in relation to the knowledge she had brought from the University. And Miss Steen saw in Professor Propheta’s letter when he said that he had already studied their “etiology, ethnology  and all at his reach” a threat toward her plans of such ample vision and of such difficult execution. However, soon after, her fears dissipated when Professor Propheta presented a report about her expedition to the tapirapes to the “ Board of National Missions”, the entity that offered assistance when she, for a few hours, came in contact with those uncivilized ones.

            On May 24th, we left the capital of Goyaz to the indigenous “habitat” of Central Brazil, via Leopoldina. From there, I had to go to the federal capital, to tend to urgent matters of the service, as I told you in my telegram number 35, dated June 10th. Because of this, Miss Elizabeth Steen, proceeded to the Island of Bananal accompanied by her interpreter ***break in text***
            Concerning her trip, I will transcribe the description made my Mr. Julio Agostinho de Oliveira, in his letters to the “American Agency”, from the Post Indigenous Redemption:
The departure from the ships of Leopoldina and its crew- On June 4th, 1930,  the ships CARAJA and TUPYNAMRA and the boat CARAJAHY left the port of Santa Leopoldina, heading toward the Post Indigenous Redemption (Island of Bananal). The crew of CARAJA consisted of 12 people: Manoel Silvino Bandeira de Melos, Supervisor of the Post Indigenous Redemption; “Miss” Elizabeth Steen, American anthropologist on a mission of scientific studies; Julio Agostinho de Oliveira, her interpreter; Pedro Ludovico, assistant to the Service of Indians, his wife and son; a boy, the pilot and four men who rowed. In TUPYNAMBA there were 9 people: David Barbosa Ribeiro Passos, Supervisor in charge of transportation and restocking of the Service of Indians and his wife: a boy, the pilot and his wife and for men who rowed. The boat CARAJAHY transported the necessary supplies for the trip like oars and other equipment to help maneuver the boat.
            The trip – The trip was without problems with the same day to day things like in a barrack: at four thirty in the morning, the preparation for the departure would start – we would break down of the tents, pass the coffee around, the ships flags would be raised, all men standing and with their heads uncovered. Then we would leave. At nine o’clock, we would disembark for lunch. Once we finished, we would again board the ship and continued our voyage. At noon we would eat “jacuba” (unrefined sugar with flour). At 5pm we would dock at one of the magnificent beaches to have dinner and rest overnight  ***break in text***
…. This was the ceremony attended by all, with the head uncovered and bare feet. At 8pm, it was silent and we would sleep until dawn, with regular breaks to take care of mosquitos.
Cocalinho and Sao Jose  - On the second day of the trip, we went by Cocalinho which was scarcely populated: very few houses and also very few habitants. As in Leopoldina and in Sao Jose, there had been a village of Carajas Indians and there are still 5 or 6 Indians that remain.
            Sao Jose is 80 kilometers from Cocalinho and to the right of Araguaya. It was founded by Corto de Magalhaes and it is a place that is run down. Mr. Bandeira and I visited ***ineligible** of Caraja that was located nearby, in a place where there had been a big village. Before we left, the Indians we had met there came to say goodbye. They went with us to the port. Mr Bandeira gave them rapadura (translator’s note : “rapadura” is dried whole natural juice of the sugar cane).
Piedade – When we left Sao Jose, we added one rower to the crew of the CARAJA. In the afternoon, we rested on a beach close to the Piedade Adventist Mission. Miss Steen spend that night at that Mission. On the beach where we stayed there were many Caraja Indians. When we left we took with us two of those Indians, Maluire who became a rower for the CARAJA and Bederrira who became a rower for the TUPYNAMBA. On our trip to Piedade we found out that unfortunately some from the Chavante tribe had attacked two young man from Caraja, killing one and wounding the other one almost to the point of death.
”Terraluna” – After traveling for a few hours, we arrived at a small island so we could talk to the Caraja chief “Terraluna” who was there with a sick daughter. .  Mr. Bandeira gave him rapadura and medicine and then we continued our trip. Mr. Bandeira, CARAJA’s captain and his wife, Maluire and me, we all went to a farm called Luiz Alvez and  it takes its name from the lake that is close by. We came back at night.
Ilha do Bananal – Next day, in the afternoon, we reached the edge of Island of Bananal. Two days later, we found several canoes that belonged to the Carajas, who were going up the river. They told us that a group of them had gone to find the tribe Chavante and had eliminated one of that tribe’s families. At that time we also took another Indian to help us row on the TUPYNAMBA. His name was Orojuer.
Indigenous Redemption Post – On June 13th, that is, 9 days after we had left Leopoldina, we saw Santa Isabel on the horizon where the Indigenous Redemption Post. We were very impressed by this Service of Protection to Indians in the State of Goyaz. When we turned around the corner from Santa Isabel’s mount we could see the Post’s houses lit up by the early sun. We lit up a flare to let them know we had arrived. All of us including Miss Steen were welcomed very warmly. The path that led from the dock to the Post was lined by Caraja children, very well dressed with uniforms. There were also other Caraja Indians and members from the Service.
This post was founded in July 23rd, 1928, two years ago. ***break in text***
…houses: the main house which is divided in 3 sections – Administration, the School, which has classes 3 times per day with 56 students per class; the house where the workers stay, the kitchen and 4 others where the families live. Near these houses you can find the house where the Caraja Indians live and a little further down there is the field of sports. Then, 3 kilometeres from that group of houses, via a beaten path, there are fields of corn, beans, tapioca, sweet potatoes, sugar canes, pineapples , pumpkins, etc.. They are building a silo where wheat will be stored as well as a machine to process the sugar canes. They are also building ovens to make rapaduras. ***ineligible***
-At the Post, there is a book in which the visitors can write their thoughts. I will now transcribe here, for the Brazilian newspapers, the entries of Mr. Archie Mackintyre and Mr. A. N. Allen, representatives of Catholic, Protestant and Adventist Protestant missions. His opinions are more valuable than anything I could say regarding the wonderful work of the Service of Protection to the Indians in the Island of Bananal.
-“ I was very impressed when I docked at the Post, founded and managed by the most admirable Mr. Manoel Bandeira. This good impression became even greater when we got to go into the Post and got to visit its installations and the agriculture and industries that have already been developed. In this place, it reigns order, discipline, work and peace. The Indians are healthy and satisfied. They view the directors as true parents with esteem and little by little following the wise, caring and cautious directions. It is a post of real and effective protection to our dear brothers from the jungle whose heart is so sensitive, whose intelligence is so open, whose character is so noble. I pray to God that this work which is so beneficial also would extend to other parts of this vast yet promising area where our aborigines are ready to welcome these charitable and beneficial deeds. With affection and dedication of this catholic missionary. (a) Mr. Sebastiao Taumaz, Prelate of Conceicao of Araguaya.”