Landscape Hero nomination

Iawá Kuruaya Nationality: Brazil
Country of residence: Brazil

The Last Kuruaya: a Guardian of the Forest

For native communities, language and land are intertwined. Here, in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, it’s been a long time since the lands have been invaded and cultures have been decimated. Iawá, the last Kuruaya indigenous speaker, is now on the verge of becoming a closing statistic.

Iawá was born, raised, and lived all her life in the Amazon Rainforest. As a child, she danced in the river, and played in the forest. Her parents lived off the land, growing corn, watermelon, pumpkin, cassava to make flour, and cotton to make hammocks. As a teenager, Iawá married and soon after was forced to work for non-Indigenous people, collecting forest chestnuts, hunting wildcats for fur, and extracting much sought-after rubber. Iawa’s experience became more and more distant from her indigenous childhood, and from the transcendent elements of life, such as rites and traditions, which ended up favouring the acceleration of the group\'s cultural loss.

Environmental destruction goes hand in hand with the annihilation of cultural biodiversity, which is the final blow to silence traditional peoples.The Kuruaya managed to overcome the missionaries, the settlers, and continue to show resilience as the (recently built) third-largest dam in the world suffocates their river. Iawá is a symbol for the forest’s resilience.

GLF Biodiversity Trailer:


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