In 1996, after growing concerned about the continuation of Yawanawá ancient medicinal plant wisdom for future generations, Chief Tuikuru dreamed of creating a central Nipei. The Yawanawá use plants to treat illnesses ranging from snake bites to respiratory illness, skin disease, and intestinal problems, as well as to help men become better hunters and fisherman. Medicinal plants are used to help women through childbirth, help children learn to walk and talk, and according to Chief Tuikuru, the knowledge of medicinal plants is directly linked to Yawanawá survival. Chief Tuikuru understood the critical importance of passing on this ancient wisdom, and dedicated his life to this mission.
Chief Tuikuru said that “Yawanawá education and spirituality are directly linked to knowledge about plants, for only knowing the plants, does one learn to respect, and deal, with the forest where we live.” Each elder that passes is like losing an entire library of medicinal plant knowledge that cannot be found in books. According to estimates from experts in ethnobotany at the Smithsonian, about 95% of the plants used by the Yawanawá are not yet characterized in books.
Indigenous Celebration is supporting the work of the Yawanawá to fully realize Chief Tuikuru’s dream. A four-hectare area of land in Mutum Village has been demarcated for the Nipei: Garden of Medicines, where the few remaining elders will work with their students to perform research, perform healing treatments, and give continuation to this precious knowledge.
Together with your support, funds will be used to transport the sacred medicinal plants of the Yawanawá people to the four-hectare Nipei, and build a traditional house, called a shuhu, where elders and initiates can study, as well as perform healing treatments for tribe members and visitors.