It’s no secret that humanity is destroying the planet. Every day, it seems like things are just getting worse. But thanks to the persistence of this tribe, the rainforest that they call home has been preserved.
Every year, humans cut down 8 million hectares of rainforest. That’s the size of South Carolina.
It almost feels like there is nothing that can be done to stop this destruction. The industries that cut down the forests and use the land are very powerful and rich.
But against all the odds, some groups are taking a stand and winning. One recent success came from an Amazon tribe.
The tribesmen and women are known as the Waorani people. They have lived in Ecuador for hundreds upon hundreds of years.
But recently, something came along that threatened their way of life.
An oil company rolled into their land and threatened to destroy it.
The tribespeople, who just wanted to live the life that they’d know for centuries, objected, but it seemed like there was nothing that they could do.
But several of the leaders of the tribe knew that they could at least oppose the drilling project on legal grounds.
They took the oil company to court, saying that the land was theirs.
They had been in the area since before records began, so they should be in charge of all of the activities there, they said.
At first, it seemed certain that the oil company would win.
They tried to buy the tribespeople off. But the land was sacred to the Waorani. This meant that nothing would deter them.
The tribespeople traveled by canoe from their land to the regional capital of Puyo, where the case would be fought.
The men and women of the tribe had unconventional techniques for winning their case, but they were highly effective.
For instance, they went to court in traditional dress with ceremonial paint on their faces. The women of the tribe were able to shut down a hearing with a protest song about how they were protectors of the forest.
The court process was long and drawn out.
But eventually, the Waorani people prevailed. It shouldn’t have been so difficult for people who had always been in a place to claim the land as theirs, but it was.
What allowed the tribespeople to win was when they proved that representatives from the Ecuadorian government had not consulted the leaders of the tribe.
“Today we have protected our forest from oil drilling. We have protected our water from contamination. We have protected our children from sickness. This is a legal precedent for indigenous rights.” – Oswando Nenquimo, Waorani spokesperson.
Even if you don’t care about the rainforest, it’s hard not to sympathize with the tribespeople.
Imagine if someone came to your home and said that they were tearing it down and forcing you out. How would you react?
Hopefully, this historic achievement can become normal. For both the planet and the rights of people who live on their own land, these kinds of successes should become commonplace.
It’s hard to stress how difficult things are for the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.
Supporters of mining, logging, oil and other industries have been recorded attacking tribespeople and environmentalists on a regular basis.
In fact, large companies have driven entire tribes from villages so that they could harvest the minerals and resources of the area. The companies have been getting away with this activity, because the areas are often remote, where it is hard to track crime.
Some reporters and activists are trying to change this. The victory of the Waorani people is a significant sign that things are starting to improve for the Amazon tribes.
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