At Grounded Summit, Nemonte Nenquimo and Mitch Anderson of Amazon Frontlines spoke about the role of indigenous people in protecting and preserving our natural resources. We learned about the indigenous Waorani people, who have lived in the Amazon rainforest for generations. Their livelihood, community, and history is there. Without it, their way of life and the land would be lost.
In a historic ruling, the Waorani people won their landmark lawsuit protecting half a million acres of Amazon rainforest. This decision suspends any possibility of auctioning their lands to oil companies and sets a vital precedent for indigenous people across the world.
“The government tried to sell our lands to the oil companies without our permission. Our rainforest is our life. We decide what happens in our lands. We will never sell our rainforest to the oil companies,” said Nemonte. She added, “Today, the court recognized that the Waorani people, and all indigenous peoples have rights over our territories that must be respected. The government’s interests in oil is not more valuable than our rights, our forests, our lives.”
We stand with the Waorani people, and indigenous peoples across the world. Together, we can ensure these critical communities are able to care for and live on their land and, in doing so, benefit the world as a whole.
At the end of Grounded, Mitch shared, “(There is a) tendency for western civilization, scientists, oil companies, governments, to believe that they have more knowledge or could put the rainforest to better use than the indigenous people who have been the ancestral guardians of it for thousands of years. Coming to Grounded and seeing that there’s an awakening happening and there are networks and resources available to redeem globalization and use these networks and resources to support indigenous struggles, to protect the amazon and their cultures? That’s something I’m taking home.”
If we protect the rainforest, we protect our climate. The Amazon is home to 10% of the species on the planet, produces 20% of our oxygen, and stores more carbon pollution than any other place on Earth.
It is all of our responsibility to preserve our planet’s greatest natural resources. It is Grounded’s great honor to partner with Amazon Frontlines and support their work. To read more about this important legal victory, and about Amazon Frontlines’ work, visit: https://www.amazonfrontlines.org/chronicles/waorani-victory/