Uru-eu-wau-wau and Paiter Suruí tribes fight to keep the forest standing and postpone the end of the world
“Lives in territories under pressure: the Uru-eu-wau-wau, Paiter Suruí and Arara tribes”, a report launched recently by Conectas, presents data and information on indigenous resistance through the voice of these three tribes
Lançamento do relatório “Vidas em territórios sob pressão: povos Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, Paiter Suruí e Arara”.
O evento conta com a presença de indígenas e indigenistas que relatam ameaças e estratégias de resistência e proteção desenvolvidas pelas lideranças dos povos Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, Paiter Suruí e Arara da TI Cachoeira Seca nos últimos anos, principalmente entre 2020-2022. Foto Paulo Pinto/Agência Brasil
“Real life”. This is how the activist Ivaneide Bandeira, known as Neidinha Suruí, describes the report “Lives in territories under pressure: the Uru-eu-wau-wau, Paiter Suruí and Arara tribes”, launched on Tuesday, September 19, by Conectas in partnership with the Kanindé Ethno-Environmental Defense Association, the Maíra Institute, the Jupaú Association and the Kowit Association.
The data and information compiled in the document echo the voices of the Uru-eu-wau-wau, Sete de Setembro and Cachoeira Seca Indigenous Territories, covering the topics of public health, the covid-19 pandemic, education, political and social organization and illegal activities by third parties inside the territories. When talking about having received constant threats, the leaders also highlighted the resistance and the ancestral wisdom of traditional peoples.
Julia Neiva, Coordinator of the Defense of Socioenvironmental Rights program at Conectas, notes that the purpose of the document is to “share experiences, strengthen the organizations and raise the visibility of the indigenous peoples. Now, the idea is to continue this process of exchanging ideas. We are not an indigenous organization, our work involves strategies to protect rights – human, environmental, climate”.
“We are allies, more than just ‘partners’,” said Neidinha Surui, who participated in the launch of the report alongside Mborep Uru Eu Wau Wau, Mobu Odo Arara, Timbektodem Arara and Daniel Faggiano. “An ally is someone who understands us and defends us. And this is how we view this project,” added Neidinha, referring to the collective construction of the report.
Pressure against women and children
The Uru-eu-wau-wau Indigenous Land covers an area of approximately 1.8 million hectares across 12 municipalities in the state of Rondônia. This land is home to the Jupaú, Amondawa, Oro Towati (Oro Win) and Cabixi tribes, who live in 10 different villages; there are also four groups of isolated indigenous tribes (one is still awaiting confirmation).
Meanwhile, the Sete de Setembro Indigenous Land stretches from the center-east of Rondônia to the northwest of Mato Grosso, covering an area of 248,000 hectares, which is home to the Paiter Suruí tribe. They live in 30 different villages and there are four distinct clans (Gameb, Gamir, Makor and Kaban), as part of an organizational system called the Paiter Suruí Parliament.
Although they are separate indigenous lands, the pressures they suffer are similar. Sete de Setembro is located in the “arc of deforestation” and, in 2022, Uru-eu-wau-wau was one of the 30 indigenous lands most impacted by environmental crimes. Other risks involve wildcat mining, water contamination, land leasing, religious missions, land grabbing, logging and threats against the lives of indigenous people and indigenists.
“The greatest pressure falls on women and children. There are no policies for indigenous children and adolescents. It’s as if indigenous people were born adults,” said Neidinha, when recalling the case of Maria Clara, a Karipuna indigenous girl who was brutally raped and murdered in September 2023, in the town of Oiapoque, in the state of Amapá.
A recent case in Uru-eu-wau-wau concerns what is known as Barrier II. This is one of the main places that intruders use to enter the territory, especially land-grabbers. In order to resolve this situation, the Jupaú tribe set up the barrier, where an indigenous surveillance team has been maintained with staff from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI). However, Neidinha warned that the organization does not have enough resources to keep them there.
Thirty-four years ago, in 1988, the Paiter Suruí indigenous people created the Metareilá Association of the Suruí Indigenous People to combat and remove loggers from their land. They also developed a reforestation project to restore deforested areas.
Another way of protecting the forest was identified by a group of young Paiter Surui indians. Using drones, they can view areas of their land that have been invaded or deforested, photograph them and note the geographic coordinates to forward complaints to the proper authorities.
The Jupaú, meanwhile, has set up a group of Forest Guardians to monitor and expel intruders from their land, reporting violations to the appropriate bodies, namely the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, FUNAI, the Federal Police, the environmental watchdog IBAMA and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio).
According to Neidinha, strengthening the indigenous cause is accessible to everyone. “If someone can help us with legal advice, preparing a publication, paying for a ticket… that helps us. I believe that we make a difference when we come together. It doesn’t mean that we have to agree on everything, we just need to understand that we can walk together”, concluded the activist.