Homelands: An Amazon Indian's View (Nixiwaka Yawanawá)
Nixiwaka is a phenomenal leader from the Yawanawá tribe, who hail from the Acre region of the Amazon.
“I am from Brazil, the largest country in South America. There are about 240 tribes living in Brazil today, adding up to around 900,000 people, or 0.4% of Brazil’s population.
“My village is in the state of Acre, in the western Brazilian Amazon. There are over 900 Yawanawá, living in 8 tribal villages. The name Yawanawá translates as ‘The People of the Wild Boar’.
“The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world – a giant river basin covering 1.7 billion acres and including thousands of rivers. It spans nine countries in total, although around 60% is in Brazil.
“We have lived on our land for centuries. Our way of life is developed from our ancestors. We live close to nature. We get our food, housing and virtually everything we need from our rainforests.
“The rainforest is also our pharmacy. Our spiritual leaders are known as ‘doctors of the rainforest’. They know the powers of our medicinal herbs and plants. From tree bark to frog saliva, we hold the answers for cures and poisons alike. The forest is a magical place.
“In the rainforest you are surrounded by the constant sounds of animals, insects, frogs and water. My favourite time of day is sunset when the birds come back to roost in the tacana trees, and there is the song of the brown makukau birds all around us. It is very peaceful. At night you are illuminated by the stars, which shine brightly. It’s beautiful!
“We have a lot of respect for our land, and we have a responsibility to look after it.”
Read more about Nixiwaka and the Yawanawá via this excellent post on Survival International.
Other members of the Yawanawá tribe: