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Story Publication logo March 1, 2021

Commentary: At Tierra Menkragnoti, We Resist Invasions and We Will Resist Pandemics (Spanish)


The Jirijirimo waterfall, on the Yaigojé river, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas.

The FLARES FROM THE AMAZON project seeks to warn of the increased dangers of deforestation and...

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2020 will be remembered among us as the year in which the new coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the world, reached Brazil and hit our sacred land, causing a huge crisis. For many years, I have seen the arrival of various types of foreign invaders. But today it saddens me even more to see with my own eyes people who take advantage of the critical situation caused by Covid-19 to carry out illegal activities within our indigenous territory, such as predatory fishing, for example, which is on the increase. Due to the health crisis, the law no longer applies.

And this happens especially in the Pixaxa River, which delineates Menkragnoti Indigenous Land, as well as in the Xingu River. Our area was recognized by the Brazilian State and has been demarcated since August 20, 1993. Menkragnoti has approximately six million hectares of preserved tropical forest in the southwest of Pará, near the border with the state of Mato Grosso.

Many know, or at least have heard of, the great cacique Raoní, an emblematic figure in the fight for the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and indigenous culture. Others also know of the existence of the Kayapó people, but most are unaware of our history and reality. In truth, we call ourselves mebêngôkre and not kayapó, as the white man refers to us.

We are a people of warriors, we prefer the borduna (a cylindrical wooden handcrafted weapon) to the bow and arrow, and we preserve our culture and rituals. We speak our own language, Kayapó, and we are divided between Metyktire, Gorotire, Kuben-krân-krên, Kôkraimôrô, Kararaô, Mekrãgnoti, and Xikrin, occupying four indigenous lands that extend from the north of the state of Mato Grosso to the south and to the west of the state of Pará.

Read the full story in Spanish on the El País website.