Niède Guidon (1933) is the most famous Brazilian archeologist. Thanks to her ideas and organizational skills, the National Park of the Serra da Capivara was founded in the state of Piauí, located in Brazil's distant countryside. Inside the Park, there is one of the largest and most important collections of cave paintings made by the American man. Niède is a visionary, finding possibilities beyond the circumstances. The archaeologist and her teamwork have sown the seeds of development and culture in extremely poor villages surrounding the National Park.
In archeology, centuries mean nothing, millennia really matter. Human presence on Earth is absolutely previous to writing and documentation. Some of the proofs of human existence before the invention of writing are cave paintings. Niède Guidon looked for and found a treasure in the caves of the poorest Brazilian state, Piauí. “One hundred thousand years ago, there were human societies living here.” The paintings were hidden by the forest and mistreated due to the irregular occupation of the sites. Niède organized an archeological mission, supported by the French government, to begin the excavations. In 1986, she created the Fundação Museu do Homem Americano (Museum of the American Man Foundation), a non-governmental organization in charge of a center for research and teaching of archeology, also responsible for the National Park of the Serra da Capivara. As a consequence of Niède's effort, the Park was added to Unesco's List of Humanity's Heritage. However, this Heritage is constantly being threatened by hunters and by Brazilian society's carelessness, when it comes to the preservation of cultural heritage. The archeologist and her team of 190 people received several death threats. In 2001, a forest ranger was killed by a hunter. Niède Guidon is sure that the best guards for the Park are the communities living around it. To accomplish such task, development and education are essential. The museum maintains an art school for kids and teenagers, and it supports tourism and handcraft pottery. This scientist's current challenge is to build, in a city near the Park, an international airport, which could bring the state three million tourists per year. Tourism will economically develop the Piauí in an unforeseen manner, creating thousands of jobs. What is more, it will guarantee the protection of the Park's fauna, flora and cave paintings.
Fundação Museu do Homem Americano (Museum of the American Man Foundation)