Life in the Amazon

Huni Kuin means “true people” and is the autodenomination of this Pano speaking indigenous group. Outsiders have also called them Kaxinawa [Cashinawa] but it is a derogatory term, that means, ‘people of the bat’ or cannibals. They speak Hãtxa Kuin the “real language” and their population is just under 11,000 (2014 census). The Huni Kuin are spread in the rainforest between Peru and Brazil with the bigger part of the population living on the Brazilian side, in the state of Acre, close to the Peruvian border. The Huni Kuin have had a traumatic recent past that was marked by the beginning contact with the white man. In the time of the rubber explorations, which began around 1890, they were subjected to brutal invasion from rubber tappers who “cleared” the forest for rubber extraction and plantation. They hunted and slaughtered many indigenous people who were living in the forest and severely decimated the the Huni Kuin population. This era is remembered in Huni Kuin history as the “Time of the Runaways” (Tempo das Correrias). After the rubber prices dropped in 1910 began the “Time of Captivity” (Tempo do Cativeiro), when the rubber lords began making the indigenous work for them, they had to open trails, work on the plantations and provide food. Since the indigenous were not trained in mathematics and spoke the Portuguese language poorly, they were easily tricked by the rubber lords and kept in debt and dependency. They were ridiculed, subordinated and forbidden to speak their language and live their culture. This period ended only in the mid 1970s in which began the “Time of the Rights” (Tempo dos Direitos) and in a conflict ridden time, with many claims to the land from various sides, the Huni Kuin achieved a big conquest with the demarcation of their lands, ensuring their survival and the preservation of the forest at the same time. Now the Huni Kuin are in a moment of strengthening their culture, training their own agroflorestal agents, teachers, health agents and leaders and finding ways for their political and financial independency. It has helped them to rediscover and reclaim their cultural identity. And to take it further, some Huni Kuin shamans have made contact with the wider world where they have been received with open arms by people interested in shamanism, natural healing and medicinal plants such as Ayahuasca, which is an integral part of Huni Kuin culture.

Interview with Ninawa, Pai da Mata (Father of the Forest), Portuguese name: Francisco de Assis Mateus de Lima, is a spiritual leader of the Huni Kuin people in Novo Futuro village,  Humaitá river, Acre, Brazil. He speaks about the situation of his community, deep in the Amazon rainforest, close to the border of Peru. The village is a four days boat ride away from the next town, Tarauacá. Filmed during the II edition of the Festival Eskawatã Kayawai, November 2015.

By | 2017-06-29T02:38:10+00:00 June 3rd, 2017|Categories: VIDEO|Tags: , , , , , , |

About the Author:

Six years ago I, I had just turned 27, I received my master’s degree in Anthropology. At that moment I was supposed to transition into a working life mode. My passion was with documentary film making, which had been a substantial part of my education. I imagined how a job in that field would be like: I saw myself taking the metro everyday to work, sitting in an office and realising other peoples’ ideas. My heart cramped up at this outlook on life. It just seemed wrong, I didn’t want to be stuck in a treadmill, executing other people’s ideas, I wanted to realise my own. So instead of looking for a job, I separated from my boyfriend, moved back in with my parents and began looking for myself. I spent 9 months exploring shamanism, meditation, systemic therapies, past-life therapies and meditation. I participated in a vision-quest and spend 4 days alone without food in a forest and encountered my deepest fear - the fear of death. I participated in camps that practiced community life and taught the way of the circle, the ancestral way of sharing oneself in a talking circle. I felt the power and the beauty of the shamanic approach and by the end of that year I finally encountered with the amazonian plant teacher ayahuasca. She showed me the perfect harmony of the universe and then she brought me all the way from Germany into the savanna of central Brazil, where I am based now. For the last 5 years I have been drinking a lot of Ayahuasca in various lineages, intensely exploring my Self. I passed through various crises and got stronger along the way. Since the plant medicines and healing modalities that I have encountered have helped me greatly on my path of deconditioning myself of everything alien to me and of becoming more and more who I am meant to be, I feel the call to share this information and my experiences with healing and medicine with more people. I wish for all of us to be conscious and openhearted human beings so we can co-create a new reality on this beautiful earth. Mapping Medicine is a project straight from my heart to yours. I hope it inspires you on your healing journey!