The role of women in Serra da Capivara

The role of women in Serra da Capivara – Brazil

South America

Reading time: 10 minutes

If there is a place where female protagonism has made all the difference, this is Serra da Capivara, in the interior of Piauí. Therefore, if you have already thought about visiting the region because of knowing its archaeological sites, Museums and its presence in the exclusively Brazilian Caatinga, now you will have one more reason.

Before and after Niède Guidón

It is unquestionable that the region, which was recognized by UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity for housing the most important prehistoric heritage in the Americas and the largest number of cave paintings in the world, can have its history divided between a “before” and a “ after” the arrival of Dr. Niède Guidón.

A life of dedication to cave paintings and people

Since the beginning of the 1970s, when she was approaching 40 years of age, and arrived there for the first time to begin her work, the archaeologist's life has been intertwined with the discovery, preservation and studies of cave paintings and other remains of the world. presence of our prehistoric ancestors.

In 1978, Niède convinced the French government to establish an archaeological mission to study prehistory in Piauí. In 1979, in a request led by her, the Serra da Capivara National Park was created by the Brazilian Government, in order to collaborate with the preservation of the gigantic collection that had been found during the research that was already being carried out.

However, Niède did not only care for the prehistoric collection. She has also led several projects that benefit the local population generating income and improving their living conditions.

Your legacy will remain forever.

To find out more, read also: Niède Guidón and her intense work in Serra da Capivara

A region of leading women

And Niède was not alone. Over time, her beautiful life trajectory was attended by many other women who stood outinspired by it and stimulated by the opportunities that were being created.

Nowadays, there are many that make a difference in Serra da Capivara.

We are going to present some of these important characters as a way of paying homage to so many fantastic figures from the region.

Rosa Trakalo: right-hand woman of Niède Guidón

It was in 1986 that Rosa visited the region for 15 days. Before that, she had already been monitoring and working remotely on projects related to the Park for a few years. In 1992 she moved permanently to Serra da Capivara.

Throughout these decades until the present day, this Uruguayan woman who adopted Piauí as her place of life has worked in fundraising projects for Park maintenancewas involved with the holding symposiums, seminars, congresses on topics ranging from the preservation of the region's rock collection, to issues such as human rights, sustainable tourism, among others.

Since 1992, he has worked on tourism developmentthe main commitment to the sustainability of Serra da Capivara.

In recent years, he has also dedicated himself to planning, installation and operation of the impressive Museum of Nature which, together with the Museum of American Man, is a mandatory stop for anyone visiting the Serra.

At the moment, Rosa is Coordinator of FUMDHAM Museums.

Elizabeth Buco

The architect from São Paulo also adopted Serra da Capivara as her place of life. She arrived there in 1996.

It is responsible, in partnership with AD Arquitetura, nothing less, for architectural project of the Museum of Nature: a Projected Area of ​​4,075.00 m² on a plot of 18,164.78 m².

It is the first circular and spiral building completely planned with a metal structure in Brazil.

The 12 “rooms” of the museum form a large helical ramp – like the trunk of the mandacaru –, to represent, in an ascending direction, the evolution of geological and paleontological changes on the planet.

The Museum (image on the side) also has electrical, hydraulic and air conditioning systems, all sustainable. A retention tank was installed near the Museum so that rainwater can be reused.

And this is not her only contribution to the region.

Bete was also at the planning and monitoring the construction of infrastructure in the Serra da Capivara National Parkincluding design and supervision of the construction of guardhouses, walkways and access to archaeological sites, signage, etc.

It is worth highlighting that the Park is a reference in terms of quality and accessibility of facilities.

Beth still designed and executed the first Exhibition permanent fixture at the Museum of American Mandesigned and supervised the creation of the Sérgio Motta Cultural Center, current headquarters of Fumdham and is the author of the book “Archaeological Tourism – Serra da Capivara National Park Region”among many other contributions.

Marian Rodrigues

Marian is currently Head of the Serra da Capivara National Park, at the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation.

Your list of academic titles It is vast and international.

AND PhD and Master in Archeology from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro-PT, with diplomas revalidated by the Museum of Archeology and Ethnology of the University of São Paulo (MAE-USP).

Return to the origins

Born in Serra da Capivara itself, in the region where the municipality of Cel is today. José Dias, Marian went to study outside Brazil but made a point of returning to her origins.

She is an educator and Founding Partner of the Olho D Água Institute, which works to support the dissemination of cultural/local practices and knowledge.

O Olho D'Água instigates the creative vocation of communities for social well-beingin caring for the environment, in defending life, in preserving memory, traditions and cultural heritage, in connection with the Park's archaeological collection.

Marian still uses her experience in the field of Archeology, working mainly on topics: environmental and cultural management, archaeology, education, conflict management with traditional communities and cultural sustainability.

Girleide Oliveira

Anyone who goes to Serra da Capivara can hardly resist buying ceramics made in the region. In them, thousands of years old paintings made by our ancestors are reproduced on beautiful plates, pots, cups, vases and souvenirs (photo below).

If in the beginning, they were only purchased by visitors to Serra, today they are sold in large stores throughout Brazil and are still part of a project that involves entrepreneurship, environmental preservation and social inclusion.

The Ceramics Factory project was Dr. Niède’s idea and has existed since 1994.

Since the beginning of the 2000s, he has been led by Girleide Oliveira.

She is still responsible for an inn that is in the same area where the ceramics are produced. Those who stay there visit the production and can even test their pottery skills.

“It wasn’t an easy or simple path, we had ups and downs, but we got far. It really arose to generate income for people who live in the region, thinking at the same time about taking care of the fauna and flora around the Park and promoting the cave paintings, which are our greatest heritage”, says Girleide.


Going to Serra da Capivara, you will notice that those who take care of the guardhouses in the Park are women.

This option of placing them in charge of the entrances to the Park was made by Niède Guidón and proved to be a success over time.

Very committed and responsible, in addition to bringing quality to the Park, this work helps many of them support their families and have more autonomy as caregivers for their children.

Their friendliness is an attraction in itself. Being there, it's worth taking, even if just a few minutes, for a chat..

Read too:

The saga of Niéde Guidon in defense of women – Text by André Pessoa

Women in leadership positions at Fumdham

Fumdham (Fundação Museu do Homem Americano) is a civil, non-profit entity, created in 1986 to guarantee the preservation of the cultural and natural heritage of the Serra da Capivara National Park, (1979).

Among its stated objectives from the beginning, there is the “understanding of the region’s biome, the reconstitution of the human past and its adaptation to the environment, in the different environmental realities that the region has experienced, since the first occupation…”.

Among the foundation's current purposes are: “maintaining the collections resulting from research in the Serra da Capivara National Park region; stimulate research and teaching in the field of archeology; and disseminate the results of investigations”.

To this end, Fumdham carries out interdisciplinary scientific, cultural and social activities.

Women in leadership positions

Taking a quick look at the site, we can see the female presence in leadership positions:

President Emerita: Dr. Niède Guidon, President Director: Dr. Anne Marie Pessis, Scientific Director: Dr. Marcia Chame, Financial Director: Dr. Gabriela Martin Ávila and on the Fiscal Advisory Board: Dr. Daniela Cisneiros, Dr. Elisabeth Gomes de Matos Medeiros, Dr. Fátima Barbosa, Dr. Gisele Daltrini Felice, Dr. Maria Conceição Soares Meneses Lage.

Women entrepreneurs

In the restaurant and inn sector, it is also common to see women owners.

Paula Alves can be found in the Sítio do Mocó restaurant. She worked at the Fumdham school and then grew up with tourism until she became a businesswoman.

A Dirinha (image above) is the owner of the restaurant Sabor e Arte and was in charge of the restaurant at the Museu da Natureza, until shortly before the pandemic.

These are just two examples. Both have a lot of stories to tell about their life paths.

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In addition to appreciating the archaeological collection recognized worldwide in the region, you visit Amazing museumsstroll through Caatingaa biome of immense richness and beauty, and still know this place where women fought and continue fighting for their protagonismin addition to being in contact with traditional communities where the culture of the northeastern country people takes place in everyday life.

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