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Story Publication logo September 30, 2022

Indigenous People In Politics (Portuguese)

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a man presses to confirm at an electronic voting system
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The result of the elections in October in Brazil will define how the government will treat the...

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This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit JOTA. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. The RJF website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


Amazon: Female leadership grows in the 2022 elections. Understand the trajectory of women who launched themselves as candidates.

Vanda Ortega was a child who lived in the Colônia Village, on the upper Solimões River, in the municipality of Amaturá (AM), bordering Colombia and Peru. She was small in stature, but fast and strong in the agricultural routine, which earned her the indigenous nickname Tatu. It is a custom of her people, the Witoto, to name children with characteristics they recognize in animals. There was no school there, so she learned to read and write with her father in the village. When she was 10, her parents decided to leave the territory so that she and her six siblings could study. With no money to buy shoes, the family got four pairs donated and the way was to organize themselves to be able to attend classes. "The father divided the children between morning and afternoon so that we would have shoes to go to school," she says. It was there that a leadership trajectory began.


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At 16, Vanda was taken to Manaus to work as a maid and earn less than a minimum wage a month. She suffered moral and sexual harassment, was humiliated, school was a refuge and also training to mobilize many people around her.


Infographic by JOTA. Brazil, 2022.

Vanda Witoto, first woman in Amazonas to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Image courtesy of personal archive. Brazil, 2022.

Simone Karipuna, candidate for state representative in Amapá. Image courtesy of personal archive. Brazil, 2022.

Infographic by JOTA. Brazil, 2022.

As a nonprofit journalism organization, we depend on your support to fund journalism covering underreported issues around the world. Donate any amount today to become a Pulitzer Center Champion and receive exclusive benefits!



Bigail Tupari, candidate for state deputy in Rondônia. Image courtesy of personal archive. Brazil, 2022.

Neidinha Surui. Image by Gabriel Ushida. Brazil, 2022.