Cover image: An Amazon Indian in London

An Amazon Indian in London

Nixiwaka Yawanawá introduces himself to UK schools. My name is Nixiwaka Yawanawá and I am an Amazon Indian from the Yawanawá tribe in Brazil. My name Yawanawá translates as ‘The People of the Wild Boar’. My village is in the state of Acre, in the western Brazilian Amazon. In my tribe there are only 800 Yawanawá. I am currently living in London, learning English and working for the charity Survival International raising awareness and support for threatened tribes. It is a very important time for indigenous rights in Brazil - the world's eyes are on us because of the World Cup. Few people know about the history of Brazil and what is happening to our tribes today. This is why I am helping Survival with a campaign called the 'Dark Side of Brazil' raising awareness of the tribes that have been driven to extinction and on whose lands the cities of Rio and Manaus are now built. I also want people to know that Brazil's new wealth still comes at a human price - the blood of my people. Tribes like the Guarani who are suffering at the hands of violent ranchers. For the Guarani, land is the origin of all life. But violent invasions by ranchers have devastated their territory and nearly all of their land has been stolen. Guarani children starve and their leaders have been assassinated. Hundreds of Guarani men, women and children have committed suicide. Brazil also has the highest number of uncontacted tribes in the world. These peoples depend completely on their forest for their survival, but much of it is being destroyed for logging, cattle ranching, dams, roads, oil and gas exploration. Survival's work is bringing hope to these tribes and others around the world. In 2014 I am visiting schools, colleges and universities around the UK with Survival. The students know many things about the rainforest from their books but this is the first time they have met a real tribal person. They are fascinated by my ceremonial headdress and bow & arrow and ask me many question! I feel honoured to be sharing my story. I want people to understand and respect the way we chose to live. Our land means life. Our forests are our home, our body and soul. Through my talks I hope to inspire in British children the same respect for the environment as my tribe has. If you would like me to pay you a visit please get in touch: Survival International is the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. Survival helps tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.

Further resources:

Take a look at the following publications and teaching resources which include references to indigenous and tribal people: There You Go! - satirical cartoon from Survival International which takes a wry look at the concept of 'development' from the point of view of indigenous communities. Also available through Survival International: Progress can kill (report PDF) and Tribal peoples for tomorrow's world (book/e-book - free electronic version available to students/teachers; contact Survival International.) Yet We Survive - book of text, photos and illustrations telling the story of the Kalinago people of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean. Children's Rights and Social Justice - includes a case study featuring indigenous children in Nicaragua defending their right to play.