"Rivers like the Klamath and the Xingu are the bloodlines of every human on the planet."
Indigenous youth unite for rivers
- February 23, 2014
- Team Klamazon
Brasilia, Brazil – After an amazing journey deep into the Amazon we arrived safely in Brasilia with a hopeful feeling of urgency in the struggle to preserve the Amazon and its people. For our group – comprised mostly of indigenous North American youth – meeting our indigenous brothers and sisters, experiencing the Amazon's unique environment, and witnessing the destruction being caused by the Belo Monte Dam project is powerfully motivating,
We are people who call the Klamath River home. The Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk, and Klamath tribes are the protectors of the Klamath River landscape. The campaign to remove the dams on the Klamath has been a long fight, won through science, protest and defending the inherent rights of indigenous communities. All of us have prioritized protecting the Klamath River in our lives and many of us have been in the struggle since we were little kids. Seeing the Amazon Basin facing these threats has focused us on the fight to save the world's ecosystems and indigenous cultures. Through this experience, we have all become even more committed to the cause and will be warriors for life!
16-year-old Yurok tribal member Mahlija Florendo stated today, "Rivers like the Klamath, the Xingu, and the Amazon are the bloodlines of every human on the planet. They are our life-givers and they all run with the same blood through all of us. We need to realize that we are all human and we all need to stand up for our rights, for our rivers, and our mother earth. These people from the Xingu are family and all our blood runs red."
The similarities between the genocide and oppression of indigenous cultures happening now in the Amazon and continuing in the U.S. are frightening. Power, mining and logging companies are wreaking havoc on the Amazon, and their resource extraction operations are disrupting the ecological balance of one of the richest biological hotspots on the planet. They are displacing the lives of people, who have been stewards of their lands since time immemorial , protecting and enhancing their environment.
Our interactions in the Xikrin-Kayapó village of Poti-Krô were profound. These people are facing a monster, the Belo Monte Dam. If the construction of Belo Monte continues we fear for the lives of the Xikrin, Kayapó, Juruna and Arara Tribes. The entire region is being affected, and the environment and inhabitants are being destroyed by this shortsighted venture.
Already we see deforestation, pollution, and mining corporations like the Canadian company Belo Sun moving in. As temporary workers from other regions inundate the area for the short-lived jobs offered by the dam's construction company Norte Energia, the region's inhabitants are being pushed out. If the dam is completed these people will be forced to work in mines, log the rainforest, or move to the cities to live in slums. The livelihoods of people who have subsisted from fishing, hunting, farming, and even tourism will be lost through the destruction of the ecology of the Xingu River region. "It's depressing that the future of these kids depends on this company, which seems to have no idea what it's like to live and depend on the Xingu River" said Damien Scott, 16-year-old Yurok, Karuk tribe member.
We traveled to Poti-Krô village where we spoke through triple translation (Xikrin-Portuguese-English) by our amazingly devoted and brilliant guide, Maira Irigaray, Amazon Watch's Brazil Program Coordinator. The Xikrin at Poti Krô stated, "We did not know there were any indigenous left in North America. We saw a movie once, a western; in it you were all being killed. It brings us hope to see you here now standing in front of us." We told them the story of the U.S. government's destruction of the indigenous and the environment. We told them how indigenous people all over the world are standing up for their rights and fixing the planet. We told them to persevere, to keep fighting for their rights and to protect their land, but it's obvious that help is needed. The Xikrin welcomed and thanked us for this journey and our message. We promised we would be back!
The Xikrin, Juruna and Arara are not alone in facing threats to their rights and environments. Many more monster dam and mining projects are on the chalkboard for the Amazon. Directly upstream on the Tapajas River, home to the Munduruku tribe, construction of another dam is proposed to begin soon. This dam would bring more of the same devastation we witnessed at Belo Monte. Dania Rose Colegrove, Hoopa, Yurok tribal member and a Team Klamazon organizer states, "If the destruction in the Amazon continues, not only the indigenous but the entire world will suffer the same fate."
Now is the time for the world to unite against the greed and stupidity of these projects before we lose the world's lungs and its largest river, the Amazon Basin!
Reporting from the capital of Brazil, we are Team Klamazon!
Dania Rose Colegrove, Nathaniel Pennington, Anna Rose Colegrove, Sammy Gensaw III, Damien Scott, Mahlija Florendo, and Halle Pennington
Special thanks to:
- Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre, the local movement
- The Amazon, Xingu, and Bacajá Rivers, our home for six days
- Xikrin and Kayapó, for hosting us
- Mukuka Xikrín, our indigenous guide at Poti-Krô
- Mayimi of Altamira, whose home was demolished to build Belo Monte
- Maira Irigaray, of Amazon Watch
- Ivan Castro, film maker