BEKA IS NOT ALONE
Forty years after indigenous leaders occupied commissions at the National Constituent Assembly in 1987, native peoples returned to Brasília to defend their rights to the land and their customs, languages, beliefs and traditions, as determined by the Brazilian Constitution promulgated in 1988.
Many of the names that have become internationally recognized at that time are elderly men of an advanced age nowadays, like chief Raoni Metuktire, or were victims of Covid-19, like Paulinho Paiakan, who passed away in June 2020. Back in 1988, both were amongst the most combative advocates of the indigenous rights inclusion in the Constitution.
Also among them was a young leader of the Krenak ethnic group, who spoke at the Congress tribune while covering his face with black jenipapo ink. Currently, that man is the philosopher and writer Ailton Krenak, author of the book Ideas to Postpone the End of the World.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the role once played by these men was assumed by theirs grandchildren. They have camped out in Brasília to resist the initiatives of the Bolsonaro government and parliamentarians to change the Constitution that their ancestors fought for.
Beptuk Metuktire, 18, and Nhãkaykep Paiakan, 20, succeed their grandfathers in the indigenous uprisings held in Brasília in 2021. Just like Beka, 19, the granddaughter that chief Juarez Saw Munduruku dreams to become his successor as the leader of his people. The three are part of a new generation of young indigenous leaders whose voices are empowered by digital tools and platforms.
Below, historical indigenous leaders at the National Constituent Assembly in Brasília, in 1987 (top left); Beptuk Metuktire, grandson of chief Raoni (top right); Nhãkaykep Paiakan, granddaughter of chief Paulinho Paiakan (bottom left), and Beka Munduruku (bottom right).
Beto Ricardo/ ISA