Why Brazil’s indigenous people fight for the Amazon rainforest | Nixiwaka Yawanawá | TEDxBedford - Lake Harding Association

Why Brazil’s indigenous people fight for the Amazon rainforest | Nixiwaka Yawanawá | TEDxBedford

By Micah Moen 0 Comment February 26, 2020


Transcriber: Sylwia Magon
Reviewer: Tanya Cushman (Panoan) Maasharai. Hello, everyone. This is how we say
“hello, everyone” in my language: maasharai. (Singing in Panoan) My name is Nixiwaka, and thank you very much
for having me. What I just did, this is how we say thank you,
thank you for nature, talking about nature. I feel very proud to be here and to represent my people, tribals people, the animals, birds, and nature. We’re living in nature. And the reason that I’m here is to talk about the importance of land for tribals people. The importance of land
for tribal people. The first time I came
to London was in 2010. I, I didn’t just speak any –
anything in English, so it was quite hard. And I was also –
I was shocked by the weather. (Laughter) Very cold. And then I – Everything is different;
it’s another world. Many people, especially in London. It’s a beautiful city. And I went to a school, so I studied the English language. And then, my colleagues,
they were all looking for a job, and also I started looking for a job. And then I found a job as a waiter. I learned how to make coffees; I was selling lots of coffees. I learned how to do heart in coffees. (Laughter) And leaves. So I was – I was one of the best. (Laughter) And just at that moment, it helped me a lot to improve my English
and to communicate with people – was through my first job. And then it was like for a year. I was tired of making heart,
but I was enjoying. And then I felt this feeling. Something was touching me,
touching my spirit, and it was saying, “Nixiwaka, you need
to do something else. Now. You are ready to move on.” And that was my grandfather. He passed away two years ago. And when – before I came, he saw me here. He said, “Do go and behave. Do good things.” And he was telling me, my ancestors. So I was, okay, I need to find something. And then what? What I am going to do? But because in Brazil, as many tribes, we had problems and struggle to survive because of our land, and my ancestors were the same. And my people, we fought hard
to get the rights on our land. And then – I always wanted to do something,
when I was living in my tribe. Travel – discover this world. And I met a friend. He is a Survival International supporter. Survival International
is the global movement for tribals peoples rights, in UK. It’s based in London. And then, he introduced me
to Survival International. And I went to Survival, I was – yeah – talking with people. And then, now I’m working
for Survival International, representing my people,
tribals people, and telling their stories. And then, that’s the reason I came to London: to learn English and, now, doing good thing
for my people and for nature. Where I come from
is from the State of Acre, in the west of the Amazon in Brazil. We have a great connection with land, and nature is so beautiful, but people, the majority, they can’t see, they can’t feel. So they need more time to understand. But nature’s being destroyed very fast. When – Especially in Brazil. Lots of deforestation, people dying, lots of disease. In the past, we tribal people didn’t have the immunity
for common cold and flu and others, so the whole tribe died. My tribe, we – around 50 years ago, we were only 200. Now we are over 900. It’s good because, maybe, three generations, we created the immunity
for disease, common cold and flu. But in Brazil – Brazil is a home
for more than 100 uncontacted tribes, which is their tribe, they have never had
contact with no one, the West world, even with us. When they see us, they shoot their arrows,
they run away, they hide. They don’t want to be contacted. And their life is in danger
because the forests are being destroyed, and they live in the rainforest. And that’s why I’m here: to talk for them. Because I think everyone –
we have a choice, and this choice must be respected. And we tribal people,
we are facing problems because government, most of the time,
and companies, corporations, they’re not respecting
our rights on our land. When development, mining, construction of roads, dams happen inside of our territory,
it change our way of life, it change everything. And lots of tribal people,
especially isolated tribe, they – they don’t know money,
they don’t have money, and they don’t want money. Why money? What’s money? They just want their lands,
they just want to live in peace, freedom. That’s money. That’s the best way they want and we want. But also, having me, having the opportunity
to live in here and, you know … I also enjoy the use of technology, is helping us a lot. So in my tribe, we have Internet, we have one telephone box, we can communicate. So there are good things from the West
that we can use for our benefit, through the education. And what I’m doing now
is using the Western culture for our benefit and to protect nature. People talk a lot
about the climate change, and we think the way we live,
we can contribute a lot to keep the balance
of the natural environment and to keep nature, to keep this beautiful planet
for our future generations. But, again, the majority of people, they have lost
their connection with the land. But now, we are in a moment
that we need to see each other and to understand and to respect – that applies for everyone. And the way we live, we always open, our heart opens
to receive you in our land, to share how we live, to share our spirituality. It’s something
that we’re still practising, the use of this drink,
called mainly “ayahuasca.” It is something that you, you go further. You go further, but you go inside of you. You see yourself and your family. And that’s very natural, but many peoples, especially people
that is against us, it’s this drug or something bad, but it’s not. It’s just nature, it’s how nature operate. And we have this knowledge – we have this sacred knowledge
that we want to keep. And when we see nature being destroyed, our life is being destroyed. Our life is taken
out from us, and we suffer. The use of medicine plants – we have shamans. We have one shaman,
he’s more than 100 years old. He’s like this size, and he’s cute, and I hug him. He’s a shaman, he – and he knows about a lot of things
about the medicine plants. And that’s knowledge
we want repassing to our young people. And lots of outsiders, they are coming, they are learning, they stay for a while, they enjoy. We wear our headdress. We have a great respect, like if you buy your first suit,
you go to a wedding, it’s special for you. For us it’s the same, and we wear
only on special occasions. And now, we also have
the influence of womans. In the past, womans, they were not allowed
to be a shaman or leaders many years ago. Today, we have great womans leaders. We have – I have two aunts. They are both shamans
in my tribe, the first ones. And I think that’s the influence
of the West as well. And we also change. We are following this world. Many people say that indigenous people,
they are backwards, primitive. It’s a disrespect, to begin with, because we are not. We just live differently. And we live in the same time. We have developed this way,
or kept the way, of living that lasts for, you know, forever. But we live, we die. And that’s the way that people can learn. I’m adapting, living here. I am able, so you do the same. But, you know, different minds. We – I don’t think that we have enemies, we just have people
that are not really conscious, and we need to show them, and we share together this wisdom. In Brazil, there are more than 300 tribes. Many of them, they’ve been evicted, and the land is this place
for sugarcane plantations, soya. Survival International
is campaigning for them. It’s the only organization that works
for the protection of tribal people, and I’m with them. There are a lot of things to say, to do. Here, right now, I feel millions of people on my back, telling me to show to the world nature, and the importance of land
for tribals people and for the whole planet. It’s – it’s ours, it’s yours, and people are not looking after,
people are destroying. And we are here to work together, to hug. And I would like to say my great thank you for this opportunity, and good luck to everyone. Thank you. (Applause)

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