The media silenced my ancestors. I’ll make sure our story is heard

My people’s history and battle to maintain our land and way of life dates back millennia. Today, my indigenous community is under attack once more. Invaders armed with firearms are encroaching on our protected grounds. Our government turns a blind eye and occasionally encourages land grabs.

Indigenous peoples, like me, have frequently relied on outsiders to communicate our story to the rest of the world. Western journalists and documentary filmmakers pour into our neighbourhoods, peeking in from the outside, sifting and reporting on what they see and leave behind. Someday, the world will forget about us.

My church is attempting to modify this age-old custom. Now that technology allows us to tell our own stories without the interference of others, we may truly exercise narrative autonomy.

I am the chief of the Uru-eu-wau-wau, a group of less than 200 people in the Brazilian state of Rondônia. Our domain, which is legally protected in Brazil, covers nearly 7,000 square kilometres of Amazon jungle.

My people have suffered rising attacks from farmers, land grabbers, and loggers who wish to take our property since our initial interaction with the Brazilian government more than 40 years ago. They cleaned walkways, burnt vegetation, and destroyed trees. They have threatened and killed us, either directly with firearms or indirectly by infiltrating our society with terrible illnesses.

The situation has gotten worse in recent years. The anti-indigenous and anti-environmental rhetoric of the recently deposed administration has resulted in a rise in land grabs and deforestation. More than 1,500 square miles of rainforest were destroyed in the first half of this year, more than in any previous half-year on record.

I grew up hearing stories from my elders about initial interaction with the government and intrusions into our nation. They only had their words to alert others to the injustices they were experiencing and to assist them in defending their territory. Few listened or believed them since they had specific evidence to back up their claims.

As more invaders arrive on our shores, we are waging the same struggle that our forefathers waged decades ago. There is only one distinction. We now have the option to record and tell our own tale.

My team have mastered the use of technology such as cameras and drones. These mental weapons have the potential to be considerably more potent than the guns and fire used against us. We have hours of film footage depicting both the beauty of our jungle and the devastation wrought by intruders.

Every time we launch a drone, I’m disappointed by the photographs it returns: swaths of yellow desolate ground dotting our lovely green country. Every time we film a newly fallen tree or a burnt forest clearing, I grieve for the jungle where my people live.

Nonetheless, I am inspired by the fact that this technology allows us to tell our narrative to the rest of the world on our terms. It provides a fresh means of expressing ourselves and maintaining our culture, something our forefathers did not have decades before.

People are watching and listening. Our work is important to The Territory, a documentary we co-produced alongside Alex Pritz, Will Miller, and Darren Aronofsky, as well as Brazilian Gabriel Uchida. The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of community involvement in the development of new technologies.

In our instance, empowered storytelling has the potential to save mankind. The Amazon is the world’s beating heart. It provides one-fifth of the world’s fresh water. Rains that are now falling on crops in the United States originate in the Amazon. Our trees breathe and absorb a lot of CO2, which helps to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases on our warming world.

Every tree destroyed, every expanse of land burned, converts another section of the Amazon into a desolate wasteland, where water evaporates quicker and climate-changing carbon is released into the atmosphere. My people grasp these ramifications better than any outsider ever could. We are carried by the Amazon. Our forefathers, history, culture, customs, and wealth are all linked in the vines, trees, and roots that meander through the ground. We tell the narrative of the rainforest and the implications of its extinction when we tell ours.

Other critical tales concerning damaged environments, exploited peoples, and communities should be told as well. Giving impacted individuals the opportunity to tell their own tales will help to bring about global change.

My ancestors were silenced by the midia. I’m certifying that our story has been heard.

My people’s struggle to protect our land and way of life dates back centuries. Today, my indigenous community is once again threatened. Armed intruders are invading our secure territory. The Governor has a wide view – and sometimes even encorajas the grileiros.

Indigenous peoples, like me, have always relied on outsiders to tell our stories to the rest of the world. Journalists and documentarians infiltrate our communities, looking in from the outside, filtering and reporting on what they see and hear. The world eventually forgets about us.

My community is working to change this millennium tradition. The technology now allows us to tell our stories without the need for outside intervention, allowing us to finally practice narrative autonomy.

I am the leader of the Uru-eu-wau-wau, a community of less than 200 people in the Brazilian state of Rondônia. Our territory, which is protected by Brazilian law, has more than 18,000 square kilometres of Amazonian forest.

Since my people first established contact with the Brazilian Governor more than 40 years ago, we have faced increasing attacks from farmers, grileiros, garimpeiros, and madeireiros who want to reclaim our land as their own. They ate the mata, cut down trees, and opened the trilhas. They threatened and killed us, either directly with weapons or indirectly by introducing deadly diseases into our community.

The situation has gotten worse in recent years. The last administration’s anti-indigenous and anti-environmental rhetoric fueled an increase in land grilage and desertification. More than 3,000 square kilometres of tropical forest were destroyed in the first semester of this year, more than in any other six-month period since records began.

Cresci escutando as os mais antigos relatam histórias de primeiros contatos com o governo e incurse in nossas terras. They only had their words to warn people about the injustices they were facing and to assist them in defending their homeland. Few people heard or believed them since they lacked concrete evidence to back up their story.

As more invaders arrive on our shores, we find ourselves fighting the same battle that our forefathers waged decades before us. There is only one difference. Today, we have a way to chronicle and tell our own stories.

My people learned to use technology such as cameras and drones. These image-based weapons have the potential to be far more powerful than the weapons and fog used against us. We captured hours of footage documenting the beauty of our tropical forest as it was devastated by invading forces.

Every time I launch a drone into the air, I am depressed by the photographs it returns of amber striations and arid lands that I see when pontiling our verdant territory. Every time we shoot a video of a freshly cut tree or a carbonized tree in the forest, I feel the comfort of my people’s tropical forest.

However, I am energized by the realization that this technology is allowing us to tell our story to the rest of the world in our own words. He gives us a new way to express ourselves and maintain our culture, one that our forefathers did not have decades before.

People are watching and listening. Our work is not a central theme in “O Território,” a documentary co-produced by directors Alex Pritz, Will Miller, and Darren Aronofsky, as well as Brazilian Gabriel Uchida. Our efforts demonstrate that, with the right tools, it is possible and necessary for affected communities to lead the narrative of their own histories.

In our case, a well-crafted narrative may help to save humankind. The Amazon is the world’s heart. He provides a fifth of Earth’s sweet water. The chuvas that are currently destroying plantations in the United States originated in the Amazon. The term “carbon footprint” refers to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

Every downed tree, every cleared plot of land transforms another Amazonian pedaço into arid land, where water evaporates faster and carbon that alters the climate disperses in the atmosphere. My people have a better understanding of these effects than any outsider could ever have. The Amazon sustains us. Our ancestors, history, culture, traditions, and wealth are intertwined in the vines, trees, and rivers that snake across the countryside. When we tell our story, we also tell the story of the tropical forest and the consequences of its extinction.

There are more significant stories of damaged homes, marginalized people, and unexplored communities that ought to be told. Giving affected people the ability to communicate with others has the potential to significantly impact global change.

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