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Indigenous Amazonian Inhabitants at Risk of Losing Both Home and Identity

While fires are no stranger to the Amazon rain forest, particularly during the months of September and October, 2019 has set a new precedent in terms of what the future holds for the crucial carbon dioxide sink.

After 50 million years of evolution and offering a unique shelter to billions of types of plants and millions of species, not only is the rainforest crucial to the overall well-being of Earth’s climate, but to those who live within the environment.

“The Amazon Rain forest can be a natural-cultural heritage site of global importance,” states Carolina Levis, an ecologist at the Federal University of Santa Catarina.

After 500 years of defending their homeland from colonization, the preservation of many native tribes’ way of life has served as a crucial link to understanding the past.

With the lack of political support from the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, to combat the ongoing fire, native tribes throughout Amazonia are uniting together for the first time in their histories to protect the place that they call home.

The Kayapós, one of the largest indigenous inhabitants near the Rio Xingu, invited numerous other native communities, including the rival Panara tribe whom they had massacred in 1968 with firearms, to set aside long-running ethnic conflicts and discuss goals to better oppose Bolsonaro’s administration.

It was ultimately decided that a representative council would be created. After all, there is strength in numbers.

In an interview with Reuters, Tekaheyne Shanenawa of the neighboring Shanenawa tribe said that, “We want peace, love, harmony and education to stop these fires.”

Fortunately, the Indigenous are not alone. Various organizations such as Amazon Watch, have eagerly been supporting the tribes in their endeavors. Extending legal forests rights to help tribes exercise control over their lands and promoting “No Go Zones”, where resource extraction is prohibited, Amazon Watch is giving the inigenous communities a say both politically and economically.

With the mass media covering the Amazonian fires, those like Costa Brazil’s Francisco Costa, who has personally interacted with the Yawanawá tribe, have launched campaigns to assist with the damage that has occurred.

“Our goals are to create awareness, as well as being proactive on how to help the people who inhabit the region to value and protect the endangered ecosystem,” Costa tells Vogue.

There is more at stake than simply the environmental concerns that politicians and scientists are so avidly reporting. The fact that such alliances are being made indicates just how dire the situation is for these native people. They not only run the risk of losing their physical home, but their identity.

These man made fires are fueling a new precedent that not only harms the world populace at its core, but runs the risk of destroying a culture that once lost, is irreplaceable.

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