By Chitra Gunderson
Amazon forests used to cover large areas of northeast Brazil…
now they have almost disappeared.
once lush with the world’s greatest bio-diversity now stand
bare, destroyed plant species burned to a crisp, plants that could
have been the future cure of a devastating disease. These ancient
forests are where tribal Awá
peoples are struggling to resist the advances of cattle ranchers and
loggers eager to make a fortune from excavating iron ore.
Butterfly” lives in this ancient forest with her tribal
community where they live a nomadic lifestyle, depending entirely on
the berries, plants and animals living in the forest for their
sustenance. As she plays with the other children, takes care of a pet
monkey or swings on a vine over the river, there are no worries,
until the fateful day arrives…
Butterfly” Awá’s village is just half an hour’s
walk from the frontier where settlers are invading her tribe’s
lands. The rains will soon stop, and a new wave of burning will
begin.” Visit: SurvivalInternational.org
the rainy season ends, loggers begin targeting one of the Awá’s
main hunting areas. As trees are burned and massive areas destroyed,
Little Butterfly’s tribe has to move to find a new location,
sometimes a great distance away from their ancestor’s lands.
The Awá tribe’s land is being destroyed
faster than any other Amazon tribe; they are on the run for their
hunters told me how the loggers were driving animals out of the
forest and explained that they targeted the same trees the community
relies on for fruits and berries,”
said Justin Rowlatt of BBC News. One Awá
“This is our
land and if they cut our trees we can’t survive.”
what is the Awá’s alternative? Move to the cities where
they will end up living in shanty-towns or slums, and struggling to
survive, longing for the forest they used to know and love?
the city, we feel the same insecurity outsiders do in the forest,”
says Blade, an Awá man.
imagine if it were you being dropped off in the Amazon rainforest
with no guide to lead you to safety, show you what plants are good to
eat, or how to build your shelter. Personally, I would be totally
lost, scared, and starving from hunger.
total annihilation are so many other un-contacted Awá
their lives crushed by illegal loggers, ranchers and settlers
invading the land they depend on. Fiona Watson of Survival
International explains that over 30% of one territory has already
been destroyed, even though the land is legally recognized. There
have also been reports that heavily armed ranchers and loggers, along
with their hired guns, are shooting the Awá
are the savages? In
my book, respect for other humans and cultures, is or should be a
core value of humanity, especially civilized humanity. After all,
cultural diversity is the beauty of the world.
we don’t honor and respect the basic human right to live our
lives the way we choose, then… how are we any different from
we can’t respect the right of the last tribes living in
isolation on the planet to decide their own fate, then how are we
different from the conquistadors of 500 years ago, whom we so roundly
condemn for their violence and greed?” Says Mitch Anderson,
writer and activist.
will we live without the forest?” asks Armadillo Awá.
some may ask… So what does the extinction of a tribe have to
do with us westerners?
the loss of a tribal culture, we lose the knowledge of the Amazon
Rainforest’s healing plants. Plants in the Amazon have been
used for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples to heal health
problems that we, who live in developed countries, struggle to find
relief from. In
addition, the Amazon rainforests are an integral part of the air we
breathe all over the world. Unless we save the Amazon and the
inhabitants of the forest, we will gradually destroy our own
Save the Amazon
Forest, Save the Awá, Save the Planet.
International has launched a campaign to Save the Awá.
In their campaign film, Actor Colin Firth, requests our help, “One
man can stop this: Brazil’s minister of justice. He can send in
the federal police to catch the loggers, and keep them out for good.
But we need enough people to message him. This is our chance, right
now, to actually do something. And if enough people show they care,
it will work.”
your support now… Visit www.survivalinternational.org/awa
For more information about the healing properties of Amazonian
Plants, call Chitra Gunderson, independent distributor, at (240)
674-5220 or Chitra@rainforestcanopy.com