Tags / Amazonas
The Sater-Maw tribe lives in the region of the mid Amazon River, on the border between Amazonas and Par states. Inventors of the "Guaran culture", the tribe domesticated this wild fruit and created its processing method, thanks to which Guaran is known and consumed all over the world.
Known as to locals as "the Children of Guaran" the Satere-Mawe indians still maintain their traditional way of planting and using guaran, for example as medicine or their ritual drink.
Pedro, 33, a Sater-Maw indian who patrols the forest: "Illegal logging can be hard to tackle. Logging happens deep in the forest, far from the eyes of the world but GPS tracking technology and satellite surveillance means we can find out where loggers are and what kind of timber they want. We are tracking 560 hectares of virgin forest with new technologies, hopefully we will stop illegal logging here."
Kennedy, 24, defends his land from illegal timber extraction. He is part of an international project with local partners. This project in the Satere-Maw area was created to support the local communities and to prevent illegal timber extraction by increasing daily surveillance, mapping forest resources and through a series of initiatives to raise awareness and environmental education. Indigenous and other local forest communities have seen their land seized, their lifestyles destroyed, and their livelihoods stolen. The US is the largest market for timber exported from Brazil. While Americans buy massive quantities of wood, often taken illegally from forests, to construct floors, outdoor paths, and piers, local people and activists working to protect the Amazon are being assassinated and kept quiet through intimidation.
The Andir river by night. The Sater-Maw live in the region of the mid Amazon River, on the border between Brazil's two biggest states Amazonas and Par.
It's a long trip to reach the Sater-Maw reserve: one hour flight from Manaus to Parintins, the closest city, then an 8 hour trip by riverboat.
Every year since 1995, residents of Guaranatuba village and some communities and volunteers from NGOs gather to celebrate the harvest of guaran fruit, known worldwide for its high energy value. During two days of celebration, locals enjoy small performances by folks artists and musical performances to mark the event.
A Maw girl listens intently to a speech about indigenous rights and the fair trade economy.
A Maw woman prepares food and a guaran drink at home. Guaran is the daily, ritual and religious beverage, and it is drunk in large quantities by adults and children alike.
The areas where the Sater-Maw live are called "stio". In this space each family unit has its residence, where a fire is lit both for cooking and for keeping the residents warm (the fire also serves to congregate the family members around it).
Guaranatuba village, located alongside of the Andira riverbank. Two young Sater-Maw are preparing a powerful sound system for a guaran harvest festival that hosts music, traditional dance and speeches about indigenous culture and politics.
A current project underway in the Sater-Maw region involves the mapping of forest resources, the construction of a small nursery to produce 5,000 seedlings per year, making plans for the correct use of natural resources, training in techniques of forestry, collection of seeds and production of seedlings, Copaiba oil and Guarana powder.
The Sater-Maw's name references two animals native in the region. The first word, Sater, means Òburning caterpillarÓ, a reference to their societyÕs most important clan, the one that traditionally appoints the succeeding political rulers. The second word, Maw, means Òintelligent and curious parrot.Ó Here, a Maw group from various Andir villages is learning something new about the guaran process.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 25% of global disease could be prevented by better management of the environment, and identifies deforestation as having a serious impact on human health.
Idecidis Da Costa, 60, is the village Tuxaua (village chief). Every village has a Tuxaua, who has the power of solving internal quarrels, summon meetings, scheduling celebrations and rituals. He also plans the agricultural activities and commercial transactions, and orders the building of houses.
A man washes his clothes in Guaranatuba. The Sater-Maw language is part of the Tupi linguistic branch. But the Maw vocabulary contains elements that are entirely different from Tupi, and cannot be related to any other linguistic family. Today most Sater-Maw are bilingual. They speak their own language and Portuguese.
Paulo is working at Posada Vinte Quilos, a small village for sustainable tourism in Guaranatuba. The project contributes to the improvement of socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural protection of traditional Middle Amazon societies through an inclusive model that integrates institution buildings, the preservation of environmental resources, and activities promoting eco-friendly and sustainable tourism.
In their "Sitios" families build their kitchen halfway between the house and the river, where the men roast guaran and the women prepare meals from manioc root. They also have their dock where the family members bathe, wash clothes, soak cassava, wash guaran and land their canoes.
Maw kids drink guaran in a poor village near Guaranatuba. Much of the guaran-based Fair Trade economy aims at battling malnutrition and its consequences for the physical and mental condition of a whole generation of children and adolescents.
The Sater-Maw of the Lower Amazon are one of the larger indigenous populations in Brazil and one of the few indigenous groups left in the immediate vicinity of the main Amazon River. Due to prolonged contact with the broader Brazilian society, the Sater-Maw have been exposed to a variety of historical changes. As a consequence of a staggering demographic growth, the immediate surroundings of their villages have been largely depleted of game and fish, causing chronic food shortages.
A man in Pira village is fixing his sanitation system. Pira is the first Maw community one encounters when traveling by boat from Parintins, the closest city.
The Sateré-Mawé people make up one of Brazil’s largest indigenous populations and one of the few who still live in the immediate vicinity of the Amazon River. Just over ten thousand Mawé live in the Andirá-Marau Indigenous Land Reserve, a nearly 800 thousand hectare area spread out over five municipalities between the Amazonas and Pará states demarcated by the Brazilian government in 1982 and ratified by parliament in 1986.
Prolonged periods of contact with guests from the vast modern society of contemporary Brazil, and the increased modernization of neighboring communities have exposed the Sateré-Mawé to a variety of historical changes, not only cultural, but most importantly economic. Staggering demographic growth in areas surrounding their villages, as well as the illegal logging industry have begun to deplete their sources of wild game and fish, making food shortage a chronic problem.
Kennedy, a 24 year old Mawé, defends his land from illegal timber extraction. He is part of an international project with local partners. This project in the Satere-Mawé area was created to support the local communities and to prevent illegal timber extraction by increasing daily surveillance, mapping forest resources and through a series of initiatives to raise awareness and environmental education. Indigenous and other local forest communities have seen their land seized, their lifestyles destroyed, and their livelihoods stolen.
Holding a machete, Pedro, 33, also patrols the forests. "Illegal logging can be hard to tackle,” he said. “Logging happens deep in the forest, far from the eyes of the world but GPS tracking technology and satellite surveillance means we can find out where loggers are and what kind of timber they want. We are tracking 560 hectares of virgin forest with new technologies, hopefully we will stop illegal logging here.”
The US is the largest market for timber exported from Brazil. While Americans buy massive quantities of wood, often taken illegally from forests, to construct floors, outdoor paths, and piers, local people and activists working to protect the Amazon are being assassinated and kept quiet through intimidation.
Since 1995, however, the Sateré-Mawé have placed a great deal of hope on fair trade initiatives that have allowed them to commercialize their traditional products such as guaraná and other goods from the forest. Although well established as an indigenous enterprise on the international market, revenues from the guaraná trade are yet to counter poverty in their villages on a large scale.
Despite their relative isolation, the Sateré-Mawé’s creation of a global “guaraná culture” has left its mark on the globalized cultures of the world’s urban centers. Their history with the fruit is a long one. The Mawé domesticated the Paulinia cupana, a wild vine from the Sapindaceae family, producing a cultivated shrub. They have mastered its planting and processing, allowing them to elaborate a variety of food and drink products from their crops.
A central ingredient in the Sateré-Mawé’s social economy, their guaraná has become a globally popular product for its properties as a stimulant, intestinal regulator, cardiovascular tonic and aphrodisiac. It is also believed by some, though this hasn’t been confirmed, to fight venereal disease.
The first description of guaraná and its importance for the Sateré-Mawé dates to the year the group first had contact with Europeans. Father João Felipe Betendorf describes, in 1669, that "the Andirazes have in their woods a small fruit they call guaraná, which they dry and then press with the feet and make balls with, and which they praise like Europeans praise their gold, and which, grated with a small rock and drunk mixed with water from a gourd, provides them with so great a strength that when the Indians go hunting they do not feel hungry and in addition it makes one urinate and cures fever, headaches and cramps."
Today, though globalization has brought about opportunities to the indigenous people of the world, it has also impeded their ability to retain traditional cultural practices and indigenous knowledge. One solution to this problem has come in the form of fair trade markets and sustainable tourism.
With the help of international NGOs, the Mawé are developing a guaraná based economy that protects their heritage while fighting the poverty that increases in population and the depletion of natural resources has visited upon them. In this model, through funding by international partners indigenous groups are given opportunities to express the potential of their products worldwide, while welcoming visitors in a sustainable manner at home in their villages.
Seven-thousand indigenous people in 85 villages along the Marau, Miriti, Urupadi, Andira and numerous other tributaries of the Amazon are expected to benefit from the work the Sateré-Mawé community has begun.
The final goal of a series of projects organized by the tribe with the help of international actors is to ensure the sustainable management of natural resources that could lay the groundwork for the sustainable production in their forests and rivers. The Sateré-Mawé hope that this will both put an end to chronic food shortage and fight the illegal logging trade that continues to harm their heritage lands.
Since 1995 a great deal of hope rests on a fair trade project, which commercializes Sater-Maw products such as guaran and several other forest products. Although well established as an indigenous enterprise on an international market, the guaran project still struggles to counter poverty in the villages on a large scale.
A Maw moves from village to village using a traditional canoe. Guaran is a plant native to the highlands of the Maus-Au River basin, which coincides precisely with the Sater-Maw's traditional territory. The Sater-Maw have transformed the "Paullinia cupana", a wild vine of the Sapindacea family, into a cultivated shrub, and mastered its planting and processing.
Smoke rises from a slash-and-burn site in the Amazon Rainforest in Pará State, Brazil