Meet the Xikrín, a subgroup of the Kayapó, the westernmost group of the Northern Gê. The Kayapó – who call themselves "Mebengnôkre" meaning "people of the big water" – are divided into 15 autonomous groups, each with its own name and distinct cultural characteristics. Collectively, Kayapó communities have been fighting the encroaching Belo Monte dam project which threatens their territories and very survival for decades.
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I met Mukuka Xikrin for the first time in February of 2012. He was 23 years old and a student at that time, knowledgeable and quiet with the inside strength of a leader hidden behind his humble look. He took me to seven Xikrin communities on the Bacajá River, a tributary of the Xingu, including his own village Poti-Krô. At that time Mukuka knew what Belo Monte meant for his community but didn't realize what it would mean for his own future and growing leadership role.
Our third partner profile is someone you will recognize as Amazon Watch was proud to have Mayalu Txucarramãe as our guest of honor at our 2013 annual Luncheon. Daughter of Kayapó Chief Megaron and grand niece of legendary Chief Raoni, Mayalú comes from a long line of Xingu warriors whose unwavering strength and skills led to the demarcation of the Xingu Indigenous Park. She was born a warrior – fierce and determined to defend the rights of her people. "Resistance is in my blood!" she proclaims. Mayalu continues the fight against the devastating Belo Monte Dam complex – we stand with her.
Fearless, strong, and a mother of two, Mayalu's motivation springs from her ancestral roots and the dream that her children and grandchildren will inhabit a healthy Amazon, with its rivers and forests preserved and thriving for future generations.
This week members of Brazil's indigenous peoples renewed their unwavering objection to a series of proposed laws and constitutional amendments that aim to erode their land rights. After their historic mobilization in October, indigenous leadership learned of new and high-level attempts to undermine land demarcation norms, prompting hundreds of indigenous representatives from across Brazil to march on the presidential palace this Wednesday. In a protest marked by anger and indignation, indigenous marchers stood resolutely against the actions of an increasingly unsympathetic Dilma Rousseff government, affirming that they will not allow their rights to be legislated away.
Following last week's close of the 11th Oil Licensing Round, President Rafael Correa and the Ecuadorian government have cracked down on indigenous leaders, organizations and NGOs, including Fundación Pachamama who received an order to shut down its work to defend human rights and the rights of nature yesterday. Today, our allies have called for international solidarity demanding that they be reinstated as an NGO so they can continue their important work and to call attention to the risk that all social organizations face in Ecuador at this time.
"We are struggling for Yasuni because it is our home. Correa wouldn't like it if oil companies went to his home and tore it down like they come and cut trees and build roads in our rainforest homes," said Alicia Cahuilla, a courageous Waorani warrior from the Ecuadorian Amazon.
My journey over the past four years in this fight against the Belo Monte dam has been intense, but accompanying the Klamath delegation to the Xingu brought hope not only to the local populations of the Xingu, but also to myself!