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About Nixiwaka Yawanawá
“I am a Yawanawá Indian from the Brazilian Amazon. I am working with the charity Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, to raise awareness of the Amazon and to speak out for tribal peoples’ rights.”
Image of Nixiwaka epa european pressphoto agency b.v. / Alamy
"Yawanawá translates as ‘The People of the Wild Boar’. This is because as a tribe, we are always together – when we hunt, and in life in general. We are a pack. I was born in Kaxinawa, the most sacred part of the Yawanawá lands, where my people originate from. Kaxinawa is where my grandfather and all our great chiefs are buried. I lived there for a month as a baby, and we then moved to Tarauaca, a small town near our lands.
My Father had been asked by FUNAI (the National Indian Foundation) to represent indigenous peoples in the area, which is why we moved to Tarauaca. I studied in town until I was 10 years old, then we moved back to our village, which is called ‘New Hope’. Kaxinawa is now known as ‘the sacred place’.
My Father was concerned that we were removed from our people and wanted us to be raised within the Yawanawá way of life. In the rainforest, you are completely connected to the elements; you are surrounded by the constant sounds of animals, insects, frogs and water. At night you are illuminated by the stars, which shine endlessly. It is beautiful!
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."
Robin Hanbury-Tenison OBE