My name is Kenewma Luiza Yawanawá and I come from 3 generations of chiefs and shamans. I live in Mutum Village of the Yawanawá tribe and here is a beautiful place… We are deep in the Amazon forest living with much joy, but also sadness because our cultural and spiritual heritage are in jeopardy.
Growing up I learned to speak Portuguese, as the other children were taught. Missionaries came here before I was born and told my people to change. Change the way we’ve been living for centuries, and learn to live like everyone else. Because of this, I had confusion about my own identity. I did not fit in when I tried to go to university but I also no longer felt like I was truly a Yawanawá.
This caused me great distress and I finally decided to leave the university to firm myself in the forest and the culture of my people. In my heart, I knew I needed to discover who I am and the spiritual lineage I come from. So, I undertook a difficult one-year “Dieta” in the seclusion of the forest, away from my village, to study under the guidance of our elders, which still hold the traditions and knowledge of my people.
I began to learn our language, our legends, the meanings and deep messages of the songs we sing, our spiritual practices, and about the vast medicines our forest holds. I learned how to heal, to create balance and harmony with the rhythms of nature, and began to reintegrate with my roots and feel for the first time, a purpose, a mission.
We live simply in the forest, but I discovered the greatest wealth is in this way of life, in the wisdom held by our elders.
My mission became clear, and with the help of Indigenous Celebration I am asking for your support to save our language, our way of life, and our ability to care for our forest, the Amazon rainforest.
We are all together on this Earth and we have only one home. Together with my people, we can continue to care for this land, in true harmony with our Mother Nature that provides for all of her children.
But we need your help.
My tribe is in crisis and this is a very significant point in time, where we either pass down our spiritual and cultural heritage to the next generation, or this knowledge and beautiful way of life will be lost forever.
Together with 7 other Yawanawá, I will travel from my home in the deep Amazon to 5 cities across America to sing our ancestral songs, play our traditional games and share our rich culture, in order to save it.
We’re traveling to raise money to establish the Traditional School of Mutum- to give this generation of Yawanawá the opportunity to learn from the elders our language, legends, ancestral spiritual practices and sacred plant knowledge, so that we may continue to firm ourselves in the forest, in our culture and pass this knowledge on to the next generation, as our ancestors have for millennia.
It is only together that we can accomplish this mission to save our language and culture from extinction. And with your support, we can ensure the treasures and lineage of our ancestors will not be lost!
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for hearing my story and for already being part of the solution.
This fight is not only for the Yawanawá people but for all that live on this Earth. Supporting the indigenous peoples to thrive as guardians of their land is the most effective solution to climate change. Simply preserving the remaining forests will do more good, than any other action taken to soothe our ailing Earth from the devastation we’ve already caused.
Here, I invite you, to join together, in celebration of our union- the union of the North and the South. This union has incredible power. It has the strength to create a new, more conscious state of existence. Elevating humanity to remember we are brothers and sisters on one Earth, and that our collective roots, are but one.