Eye on the Amazon

Peaceful Warriors: The Mundurukú Resist Dams With Strength and Art

Photo Credit: Amazon Watch

Yesterday some 60 Mundurukú people and 10 activists gathered at an island near the proposed São Luiz do Tapajós dam site in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, and performed an act of strength, dedication, and perseverance demonstrating their passion at any cost to save the Tapajós region.

Sprawled in a banner of rocks and earth designed to live for as long as the river would allow were the words "Tapajós Livre" ("Free Tapajós"). Each Mundurukú warrior carried piece by piece materials from the river to the middle of the island (nearly 1970 ft round trip) under a sweltering 100 degree sun; it was a crowd that included men, children and woman with babies.

"We respect what our ancestors left to us and that is why we carried those rocks with our bare hands – to show that we are warriors ready to fight for our territory," said Leusa Mundurukú, one of the leaders of the Movement Ipere Ayu.

I tried carrying a rock myself and couldn't, they where extremely heavy. Nonetheless the Mundurukú worked all day long without complaint. And at the end of the action, they gathered their hands and danced for an iconic aerial shot with the strength and determination as if they still had a lifetime of energy to go.

This act marks the start of a special moment when over 500 people – fisherman, riverine, political and religious leaders, activists, civil society and the Mundurukú people – shall join hands to form a "Caravan of Resistance" in the São Luiz do Tapajos community.

Sawe! *

* Sawe is a commonly-used word by the Mundurukú that means many things – it's a battle cry, an indication that all are in sync and in solidarity, or that they are in a time of celebration.

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