My name is Tuwe, I am from the Huni Kui people of the Amazon rainforest. I live in the Kaxinawá Indigenous Land of the Humaitá River, in the village São Vicente, which is closest to the city of Tarauacá, in the state of Acre, Brazil.
I am the son of a traditional leader, who was the first person that began the struggle for the demarcation of our land and the securing of our rights. He began to work with a plan for us to organize. I am continuing the work that he started.
I am President of the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the Humaita River- ASPIRH, a filmmaker, and an indigenous agroforestry agent, working in the territorial and environmental management of our land and its surroundings. This involves various actions: surveillance, inspection, implementation of agroforestry systems, as well as the control of waste, management of natural resources, such as straw for covering houses, raising of native bees, repopulation of turtles, etc.
Some people say wealth is to have a lot of money but for us, indigenous peoples that live in the forest, this is not so. Wealth is to have an abundance of fish, game, a healthy forest,our medicines, and a life of quality in the forest. All this guarantees the future of the new generations, because it is not worth it for us to think just about the present, we have to think as well for the future of our children.
Tuwe Huni Kuin is an indigenous youth leader, a spokesperson for his peoples and their issues domestically and internationally, and is also a film maker who is currently documenting an emerging issue on the border between Peru and Brazil – peoples in voluntary isolation are forced to leave their lands and are approaching the territories of the Kaxinawa peoples of the Western Amazon.
Who Are the Huni Kui (Kaxinawá)
In the state of Acre, the largest indigenous population is composed of my people, the Huni Kuin, also known as the Kaxinawá. We are called Huni Kui to signify true people. We are distributed in 12 lands in Acre, some bordering with Peru. Although we are considered just one people, there are cultural, social, political differences among the communities, as well as in how we organize and how we live.
Today we have what is ours: demarcated land, our autonomy, and we are working in a policy to show to Brazil and the world who we are, how we live and what we are doing on planet Earth. The Kaxinawá Indigenous Land of the Humaitá River- Hene shãwãyà, was demarcated in 1983, with an extension of 127,383 hectares, distributed in 5 villages with approximately 520 people, men, women, youth and children, composed of various social categories. It is located in the municipality of Tarauacá/Acre, up the Muru River, located on the left bank.
With the lands demarcated, with the conflicts appeased and with recognition of the indigenous identity, a strong “pro-culture” movement was born and is growing day after day among the Kaxinawá, mainly in the village of São Vicente, on the Humaitá River, in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, distant four days by boat from the Turauacá-AC municipality.
The Kaxinawá peoples’ history was marked by violent conflicts and armed expeditions that resulted in massacres, the introduction of viral diseases, slavery, exacerbation of intertribal conflicts, occupation of ancient traditional territories by northeastern rubber tappers and frontiersmen, which resulted in the dispersion of the culture and traditional knowledge.
This historical situation lasted until the end of the 70’s, when the Kaxinawá of the Jordão and Humaitá Rivers began their cooperative movements and began to fight for the regularization of their lands. It was the beginning of a new time, known as the “time of rights”, marked by the free commercialization of rubber, by the cooperative movement, by the conquest and demarcation of their lands, by the emergence of schools and indigenous school education.
The search for the strengthening of culture led to intercultural and intertribal exchange, a growth of interest on the part of the youth in ancestral customs, the redemption of intangible heritage. A big part of the culture of the Huni Kuin people are their sacred medicines.