Brazil's constitution guarantees the indigenous population the right to education in their mother tongue and according to their knowledge transmission patterns. Few studies exist on truly indigenous methods of knowledge transmission among Brazil's ethnic minorities. This study provides an in-depth description of Kayapo knowledge transmission. It bridges the disciplines of education and anthropology and expands our knowledge of indigenous processes of education.
The Kayapo, whose language is a member of the Ge family, are one of the major Amerindian societies remaining in the Brazilian Amazon region. They have a strong sense of identity, tradition, culture, and ethnic pride. The major purpose of this book is to show how they conceptualize and transmit their knowledge. Their education is learner-initiated, designed to transform a nonsocial being into a socialized Kayapo "beautiful" person. The Kayapo knowledge paradigm is shown to be global, context-dependent, integrative , and holistic.
Isabel Murphy worked for more than twenty years in Brazil in the field of literacy among indigenous peoples. She based this case study on her eleven months of fieldwork in a Kayapo village, augmented by her extensive experience in literacy. She received her Ph.D in 1992 in Educational Anthropology.