“My people, the Yudjá ethnicity, say that butterflies hold up the sky. If the white man continues to erase the forest, the animals will die, especially the butterflies, and then the sky will fall on us.”
Anita Juruna, 19 years old

Cacalos Garrastazu


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

Reprodução/ Instagram

Reprodução/ Instagram

Letícia Valverdes

3 Questions for Alana Manchineri

Mobilizer of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon's (COIAB) Young Communicators Network

Invisible Amazon: How was the indigenous communicators network born?

Alana Manchineri: We had already been working within Coiab and grassroots organizations the perspective regarding the importance of communication, especially because we suffered with fake news in 2018 and 2019, with President Bolsonaro saying that those who burn, who stimulate deforestation are the indigenous peoples and local communities. Coiab realizes the need to have an actual communication by the indigenous populations that reaches the indigenous populations in general. We have more than 180 peoples only in the Amazon, not counting the peoples in voluntary isolation. There is a diversity of languages here, in the Amazon, and we, the indigenous people, know how to communicate with our relatives.


Invisible Amazon: What type of training is being provided to these communicators?

Alana: At first, we trained 31 young communicators, from the nine states of the Brazilian Amazon, representing more than 28 peoples. We had several trainings: in communication and political incidence, training against gender violence and also about Covid-19 with Fiocruz Institute. We produced material in six indigenous languages at this first moment, in video, audio and cards, to reach our populations by any means possible. And this had a very positive impact, we felt that communication is different when it is thought and made by us, indigenous peoples, from communication that is made by a non-indigenous person. Because we know what we can do to make it clearer for the information to arrive, and communication is this, to be able to take information in a clear way for the public to understand.


Invisible Amazon: How many communicators are already working within this network? Mitã Xipaya and Beka Munduruku were in the first class?

Alana: Mitã and Beka, for example, are two young people who came in a later class, along with ten others from other ethnicities. And this project is no longer about Covid, it is about the importance of political participation with another goal, which is to train young people in communication from the perspective of political incidence. It was a two-month training, then came the national mobilizations and we were able to take these young communicators to the Struggle for Life Mobilization and to the Second Indigenous Women’s March, in Brasília. We, from the communicators network, produced more than 10 thousand photographic records, and also produced a daily podcast summarizing what was happening in the mobilizations. And we kept Coiab’s social networks updated with daily stories, lives, and videos explaining what was happening in Brasília. And then, after the national mobilizations, we have been working and strengthening the young communicators network.

Cacalos Garrastazu / Eder Content

Juma Xipaya, Karimaa village chief, in the Xipaya Indigenous Land, located in the State of Pará.

“It is very important that all barriers and walls are torn down now and everyone comes together, because we are fighting for our future. It happens this is already the present of indigenous young people.”

Anuna De Wever, 20, leader of the Fridays for Future Movement in Belgium

Episode in pictures

Cacalos Garrastazu / Eder Content