In northeastern Brazil near the town of Pesqueira in Pernambuco state, the Xukuru Indians live in two worlds: one in the present, modern day, where they run successful microbusinesses and provide surrounding communities with organic milk and vegetables, and one in the past, where they perform a traditional dance called the Toré and wear tribal clothing in order to rebuild a lost identity and culture. Today, around 12,000 people identify themselves as descendants of this indigenous community. But this pursuit to reclaim their heritage is relatively new, emerging after centuries of post-colonization intercultural marriage and forced assimilation.
Dutch photographer Claire Felicie lived with the Xukuru for five weeks earlier this year, documenting the tribe in both their contemporary clothes and traditional Xukuru dress. She shot individual portraits with the Hipstamatic iPhone app, selecting Tinto 1884, a filter that, in her mind, illuminates the Xukuru's struggle -- a "mix of the modern with the traditional" -- and ultimately raises a critical question: "Is this 're-identification' possible or is their "authentic" culture definitely and irreversibly … lost?" she asks. "Or do these people create a new kind of identity, well fit for the 21st century?"
The trappings of modernity have not lured even the younger generations away from their tribal customs, Felicie says. Most are proud to wear traditional dress, to take part in the rituals, to follow the teachings, to live the bem viver -- the good life.
Above, Chico Jorge leads a Toré, a sacred dance, in the village Cimbres on a Sunday afternoon.