Raoni Metuktire Participates in Special Screening of the Documentary “The Chief’s Call”

18 de June de 2024 | Amazoniar (EN), News

Jun 18, 2024 | Amazoniar (EN), News

Chief Raoni Metuktire‘s call reached Rio de Janeiro at a special screening of the mini documentary “The Chief’s Call: Heritage, Land and Future,” which was part of the Museum of Tomorrow’s Environment Week (SEMEIA 2024) program, on Thursday (6/6). “The film shows the strong culture that we [Indigenous Peoples] have. Our language, tradition, and way of life are important for the forest to remain standing,” said the leader of the Mebêngôkre (Kayapó), in the round table discussion held after the screening. “Many years ago, our ancestors [white people and Indigenous Peoples’] clashed in Brazil. There was war, killing, and violence. Let’s leave the past behind and think about the future because we have a common goal.” 

Produced by IPAM’s (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) Amazoniar, in partnership with the Raoni Institute, the documentary celebrates the chief’s journey in defense of human rights and the planet, as well as highlights the opportunity for dialogue between all. “Chief Raoni has an agglutinating power to gather Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, but also a multiplying force. The film is about spreading this call, which is for everyone,” explained Lucas Ramos, co-director of the documentary and coordinator of Amazoniar, who took part in the conversation. 

“Chief Raoni’s speech has a simplicity that we have forgotten. When we talk about unity and convergence, he engages because he speaks in a straightforward way. He talks about unity when Indigenous Peoples would have every reason to think otherwise. Sometimes we forget the history of violence they have experienced and continue to experience. And despite everything, Chief Raoni tells us to leave our differences behind and think about the future,” said Paulo Moutinho, senior researcher at IPAM, who was at the round table promoted during SEMEIA 2024. 



The scientist stressed that respecting and protecting Indigenous Peoples is not only a matter of defending fundamental rights, but also of preserving and ensuring the continuity of the planet. “The Amazon rainforest has between 100 and 150 billion tons of carbon stored in it. That is 10 years of global greenhouse gas emissions preserved by iIndigenous and traditional peoples,” he said. 

Moutinho also highlighted the importance of combining traditional knowledge and contemporary science to find solutions for protecting the Amazon and its peoples and tackling climate change. “There are several archaeological studies showing that the Amazon rainforest did not just appear out of nowhere; it was managed for centuries by Indigenous Peoples. It only has this structure and functioning process because of the Indigenous Peoples who manage this area,” he explained. 

For Ramos, going to the Amazon is always an exercise in humility, and there is a lot to learn from the Indigenous Peoples. “The forest is big and has immense power. I took a script and had a plan to make the film. When we arrived at the Piaraçu Village, on the banks of the Xingu River, Chief Raoni was sitting with the elders, listening to them one at a time. I realized how strong he was at listening: he listened attentively to what they had to say. Then I threw away my script. I understood that we had to listen, and all my questions had changed,” he said.  



One piece of data from the IPCC (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that the documentary highlights is that Indigenous Peoples represent only 5% of the world’s population but protect 80% of all biodiversity on the planet. 

“A large part of agribusiness players does not know that the forest and Indigenous Peoples are fundamental to the business continuity. If we lose this forest through degradation or deforestation, soybean production, for example, will decrease. The water supply in regions like the Amazon and the Cerrado is preserved mainly by indigenous lands,” said Moutinho.  

According to the scientist, in the Cerrado and the Amazon, more than half of the municipalities show a reduction in water of more than 30%, reaching up to 80% in some cases, due to altered rainfall cycles. “Indigenous Peoples promote what we call the ‘air conditioning’ of the planet. We have just done a large study showing that, on average, indigenous territories have 2 to 5 degrees Celsius less than outside, where there is degraded or deforested forest. Without indigenous lands, we will have a hot desert – and that is already happening,” he said. 

“When we were in the Piaraçu village, during Chief Raoni’s gathering, I took a thermometer to measure the air temperature: 46°C and 25% humidity. Brazil’s record is 44.5°C. The Kayapó are facing a problem that is not theirs and this is reaching several regions. If we do not move forward with the protection of these areas preserved by the Indigenous People – which are 120 billion hectares, around 10 states of Rio de Janeiro – we will lose the ecological service provided by them, who are the ones suffering the most from climate change. Thus, the floods in Rio Grande do Sul and the drought in the Amazon, which we are witnessing now, will happen more often. It is a matter of everyone’s survival,” said Moutinho.  



The documentary also portrays the new generation of Mebêngôkre leaders and how they are passing on the knowledge of their ancestors. The conversation at SEMEIA 2024 also included the participation of Beptuk Metuktire, coordinator at the Instituto Raoni and a young Mebêngôkre leader. “When you think about these wise leaders, you wonder what they think about every day. People like them, like Raoni, think a lot about what will become of the world. And when you embrace the world, a lot of responsibility falls on your head. I have seen what he has been through, and I am going down the same path – the worry of evil spreading. Ever since I was 10 years old, I have heard him [chief Raoni] say ‘don’t fight amongst yourselves, because otherwise you’ll weaken each other. He is not just thinking about Indigenous pPeoples, but about everyone on this planet,” he said during the panel. 

“Today we are concerned about climate change. It is especially important that we take forward what he [chief Raoni] expects from us and spread his message. We need to put the lives of all beings first and take care of what we have on this earth,” he concluded. 

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