The third series of debates of Amazoniar, under the theme “Culture and art of indigenous peoples as a form of resistance”, came to an end on Thursday (Oct 21st). During the last event, communicator Erisvan Guajajara and artist Daiara Tukano addressed a point that other guests – such as Denilson Baniwa and Daniel Munduruku – raised throughout this cycle: the indigenous peoples are not trapped in the past. Contrariwise, indigenous communities are using different technologies to tell the story from their perspective and take their messages to more people.
Mídia Índia is an example of this. Founded in 2017, the collective formed by young indigenous communicators was created to give visibility to traditional peoples’ struggle and resistance for their rights. “We are using communication tools that we did not have access to in the past and we are using them to expose, register and tell the world that it still needs to know the true history of the indigenous peoples. We seek to give visibility to the indigenous of the 21st century: the indigenous journalist, teacher, doctor, deputy”, said Guajajara, one of the creators of the collective.
Present on all digital platforms, the initiative currently has 200 collaborators from different communities and has greatly contributed to the union and mobilization of indigenous peoples. “We have to strengthen the union and our cause through campaigns, videos and content creation to show what is really happening at the bases. The struggle of our peoples does not only guarantee the life of the indigenous peoples, but of the planet and of humanity”, he highlighted.
Tukano recalled how communication contributed to the integration and strengthening of indigenous movements. “I once found in the project Armazém Memória documents from the first Kaingang newspaper in Porto Alegre, which was hand-drawn and made with a mimeograph, calling other communities to join their fight with what they had access to. If we have rights constituted today, it came from a wonderful and very peculiar fight”, she said. “This articulation of indigenous peoples brings the intelligence of being able to work very well together within diversity and plurality.”
Watch the full video of the event “Indigenous perspective: traditional peoples through the lens of photography and audiovisual”:
Art as a symbol of resistance and affection
Artistic expressions are also a language to communicate all the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and their messages of resistance. Author of the biggest work of contemporary indigenous art in the world – “Selva Mãe do Rio Menino”, a mural on the walls of the Edifício Levy, in Belo Horizonte –, Tukano sought to mix in this painting the history of extractive exploration in the State of Minas Gerais and the resistance of the traditional communities in the region.
“Of all the Brazilian States, I think Minas is the one with the worst name: they are miners, extractivists. This history of land exploitation hurts us in our indigenous memory. It is a region that has experienced genocide and is home to peoples who unfortunately still have to face the murder of the rivers, as it happened with the Rio Doce”, she said. “Belo Horizonte has something that I don’t know if it’s irony or cynicism: half of the streets are named after States and they are crossed by streets named after indigenous peoples – that citizens only hear about in the street signs, but have no idea who they are. So I tried to support the struggle of other local communities, as a person from another place.”
Although Tukano’s work portrays episodes of violence, it has a special ingredient: affection. “I learned that Rio Doce / Uatu is the grandfather of the Krenak people. My grandfather was already at the end of his life, he was 110 years old, and I kept thinking a lot about his childhood, which was different from what I had. Even though I grew up in the city, I was able to jump in the river, play, feel the joy that is the affective relationship with our river”, she said. “I truly believe that our struggle is built precisely through this affection, belonging to our peoples, to our family, but also to our territory as a family. It is only through affection that we can “dig into” the minds and hearts of those who are a little disconnected so that they also learn to love life. That’s what we’re talking about all the time as indigenous movements: loving and respecting life.”
Attitudes that help give visibility and break stereotypes
Society can help give visibility and break stereotypes through many simple ways. For Erisvan, besides sharing the work done by indigenous organizations, media and groups, it is essential to educate children in order to avoid reproducing pejorative behavior. “On Indigenous Peoples Day, for example, do not paint children in the classroom. Put them to watch a movie that tells about the reality of indigenous peoples today, use books that talk about fighting for rights and defending land markings”, he recommended.
Education must also include non-violence and encourage people to seek knowledge about other communities. According to Tukano, it is fundamental to respect and open space to the protagonism and autonomy of indigenous peoples. “We have to end this abusive relationship dynamic in which others appropriate our culture and put themselves as protagonists all the time. We are precisely part of a generation that values, builds and cultivates this autonomy of speaking for ourselves in all spaces. Spread the message: indigenous peoples exist and resist”, she concluded.
Amazoniar is an initiative by IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) to promote a global dialogue on the Amazon rainforest and how it influences the relations between Brazil and the world.
The first series of debates focused on trade relations between Brazil and Europe. The second addressed the role of indigenous peoples in combating deforestation, their contribution to science and culture, as well as their impact on the sustainable development of the region. The third, which took place between September and October 2021, focused on “Culture and art of indigenous peoples as a form of resistance”.
To receive news about Amazoniar, sign up for our newsletter.