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One of the persons of 2021

Too often people in the industrialised countries do not take into account peoples living in the remote areas of our globe. Though they are often the best guardians of this world’s precious forests.

Our world needs those forests very much. For thousands of years, the Amazonian rainforest has provided life, nourishment, water and spiritual connection to its Indigenous inhabitants. Protecting those vast forests is vital to tackling the climate crisis and plummeting populations of wildlife. The “West” often forgets how important those regions are where indigenous and tribal peoples try to live and secure their land whilst the endless extraction of its natural resources by outsiders is destroying the forest and the lives of those who live there.

Location of Yasuní National Park and Waorani land in Ecuador

The indigenous people who live in those regions where certain moneyed rulers prey on, luckily could find some individuals who were not afraid to raise their voice and come up for mother nature. Among the most eloquent and impactful is the indigenous activist and member of the Waorani nation from the Amazonian Region of Ecuador, Nemonte Nenquimo.

Nemonte Nenquimo is the first female president of the Waorani of Pastaza and co-founder of the Indigenous-led nonprofit organisation Ceibo Alliance.

Her land is one that provides everything they need. There she sees plants she can eat, leaves she can use to heal, vines to make baskets and wood to build good homes. But outsiders, she says, are blind to the value of the jungle. They view the Amazon as land to plunder and exploit for oil, natural minerals, fertile soil — with dire consequences for the forest and the entire planet.

A Waiapi boy climbs up a Geninapo tree to pick fruits to make body paint at the Waiapi indigenous reserve in Amapa state, Brazil.
A Waiapi boy climbs up a Geninapo tree to pick fruits to make body paint at the Waiapi indigenous reserve in Amapa state, Brazil. Photograph: AFP Contributor/AFP/Getty Images

For years unsavoury exploiters of land that does not belong to them, could raid the Amazon, which now is burning. Oil spills and mineral extraction have contaminated its waterways; big agriculture has clear-cut millions of hectares of forest, destroying wildlife and damaging the sacred spiritual connection the Amazon’s Indigenous communities have with the land. She demands that outsiders leave the guardianship of the forest to those who have inhabited it for thousands of years.

Nemonte became better known in the world when in 2020 she was, as the only Indigenous woman, named in the Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In recognition of her work, in 2020 the United Nations Environment Programme gave her the “Champions of the Earth” award in the category Inspiration and Action.

In different countries people could come to see how she has an extraordinary ability to express the essence of the matter, deeply but directly.

Indigenous people have taken thousands of years to understand the forest,

Nenquimo says.

Those burning trees, drilling oil and mining gold bring only ignorance. Their blindness,

she says,

is not only killing indigenous people through violence and pollution, but killing the benign climate which all the citizens of the world depend on.

“You are capable of having the same values, the knowledge we have as Amazonian peoples,”

says Nenquimo, the first woman to lead the Coordinating Council of the Waorani Nationality of Ecuador-Pastaza.

“All I ask is for your respect. Mother Earth is waiting for us to respect her. Mother Earth is not waiting for us to save her.”

That is something very important people have to come to understand. We are allowed to be inhabitants of this planet. We may use its resources to our advantage, but we may not abuse them.

Because there are so many people endangering this planet, we need strong voices like Nemonte’s, who are not afraid to even bring a nation to court. As the plaintiff in the lawsuit with Ecuador’s human rights ombudsmen against the Ecuadorian government, she got the 2019 ruling by a three-judge panel of the Pastaza Provincial Court for protecting half a million acres of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador from oil drilling. The verdict that the Ecuadorian government must engage in the free, prior and informed consent process according to the standards of international law and the Constitutional Court of Ecuador before auctioning land provides a legal precedent for other Indigenous nations to counteract resource extraction within Indigenous territory.

Though there is still a long way to go, last year around COP 26 Nemonte Nenquimo showed that she shall not rest until people will show more respect to mother earth.


Find also to read

  1. Of Mountains and Creatures
  2. Ecological Reserve Antisana – Ecuador
  3. The “Rainforest Chernobyl:” Chevron, Ecuador and the Persecution of Steven Donziger
  4. Ecuador private-sector oil pipeline to restart operations on Dec. 31 -operator
  5. Ecuador’s oil output recovers after pipeline repaired
  6. He Is No Fool…
  7. “Rights of Nature” enforced by Ecuador court to protect Los Cedros rainforest in landmark ruling
  8. Nemonte Nenquimo: The indigenous leader named ‘environmental hero’
  9. One planet: Notes from Session 7 of Countdown Summit
  10. Indigenous peoples by far the best guardians of forests – UN report
  11. La nacionalidad waorani presentó una demanda contra empresas petroleras extranjeras
  12. Estos son los compromisos a los que llegó la nacionalidad Waorani con el Ministerio de Educación

Published by Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".

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