Happiness is Love, Understanding & Nature – Nixiwaka & the Yawanawá tribe (Brazil) by Life Treasure Collector
Nixiwaka is from the Yawanawá tribe located deep in the Amazon, in Brazil. Nixiwaka currently lives in London working with the charity Survival International. He travels across the UK, schools or universities, and talks to people about the traditions, the beliefs and life of his tribe, the Amazon rainforest and all the dangers and problems that indigenous people face within Brazil.
‘I need to take the advantage of this opportunity given to me to be in London and do something good for my people, for the environment, for nature.’
As a child he was taught Portuguese and Yawanawá, even though he didn’t have the chance to speak his own native language for long after the tribe people were forced by people of the Western culture to speak only in Portuguese. Moving to London has been a very positive experience to him. He learned to speak English so he can communicate better, and learn about the pros and cons of the Western culture and so share his experiences with his tribe when he goes back to Yawanawá. Being able to communicate in English helped him also to understand better the rights of the Brazilian indigenous citizens.
The life of the Yawanawá tribe
Nixiwaka explains that the name Yawanawá means “The People of the Wild Boar”, as they are always together, when they hunt and in their everyday life. The way of life in the rainforest is beautiful and very unique. You are surrounded by nature in every step. The sounds of animals, insects and water are your constant companion and you feel connected to them, they become part of your entire existence.
“at night you are illuminated by the stars, which shine endlessly. It’s beautiful!”
However, tribal people often face discrimination as Western cultures identify them as “backward” or “primitive”, as Nixiwaka describes.
When they were first contacted by people of the Western culture, they were forced to change the way they prayed, the way they dressed or even the way they viewed the world. Yawanawá people started dying from diseases and common colds something that they never experienced before.
People from Western cultures introduced them to things like sugar, salt and alcohol and nowadays they experience Western culture related health issues like diabetes.
They strongly believe that their own way of life is the healthiest for them and they are always open to share the knowledge they gained through the years. They still learn from the rainforest and they are happy to talk about what they do to help them achieve a happy and healthy way of life. The only thing they want is to protect their land and continue to live life the way they feel is best for them.
“We have people who are known as ‘Doctors of the rainforest’. They know everything there is to know about medicinal plants. They say that this world is a beautiful place to live in; that each one of us on earth has a responsibility to take care of it.”
Indigenous people are deeply connected to their land and everything included, the animals, the plants, the water, and this is very significant to their well-being and spiritual existence. They try to learn their rights to protect their home land and hence, continue to live in peace and teach their traditions to the next generations.
‘We have people visiting our tribe, to see our traditions and the way we live. They come from all over the world. We have people from Europe too. We have two festivals taking place in July and October. People that visit forget about their problems, about everyday life. It is really great to see the rainforest, be in nature and learn about our culture. Everyone can contribute also to help us protect the rainforest. Our festivals are all about love and understanding.’
Happiness is defined different in the Western Culture
‘People are happy in Europe… maybe not all of them. I mean people in the Western society are more individualistic. But sometimes there is lack of love and sharing, and understanding of each other because there are lots of problems. It’s just about problems and it’s just about money. People are only happy if they have money. It’s like you need to pay for happiness. As long as you have this thing called money you are happy but you suffer also, because you have to work hard all the time and sometimes you do things that you don’t deserve enough, it’s like you pay to be happy. But this of course it is not a general thing, it’s just for some people.
It’s very difficult to really explain happiness for the different cultures because they define happiness in different ways. I love the western culture and I enjoy it.
But even when you have money, if you don’t have love, you can’t be happy. If you don’t have someone to love you and love him/her, you may have all the money in the world but you won’t be happy. Because you need Love in your heart to find happiness. It’s about sharing, it’s about family. We, in my tribe, are happy because we have everything we need to be happy.
Nixiwaka’s important journey
Tribals live in many areas of Brazil and they face issues threatening to their quality of life, as their ancestral land is invaded and altered by mining, roads and dams and different other projects.
Deforestation that takes place on the border with Peru and Brazil, can be threatening to their land, their hunting, their security and safety and life of both of them and the animals living there.
“In the future, we, Yawanawá people, fear that it will affect or threat our territory if it does not stop…”
The forest, the plants, the nature helps us stay alive. But these destructions happening around us are killing us, killing our happiness, our lives. We feel that if this continues, it will be threatening in the future. It is difficult because it is our happiness and our happiness is everything.
This is not for every indigenous tribe in Brazil, or in the world. My tribe lives in peace and we have many people coming to us to see how we live and we want to protect our land. We need to protect our future to prevent any further constructions. Some other tribes don’t live in the rainforest any more, as it has been destroyed, they live in a bad situation it’s like misery.
Nixiwaka is on an important journey representing his tribe to spread their message to people of other cultures so they can see the beauty and respect indigenous people’s way of life, their connection to their land, their traditions, their values and the problems they face.
Yawanawá people have lived a life in harmony and peace with nature and they want to see the next generations continue living a life designed best for them and their environment.
‘My ancestors have worked hard to protect what we have, our culture, out land, my father’s generation have done the same and we will continue, me, my brothers and my cousins.”
“I’m not alone. I feel really happy that there are people here that care about Amazon, about our tribe and the rainforest, they care about me, as Nixiwaka, as a person. And this gives me strength to be what I am, to fight as a tribal person, and be proud of representing the indigenous society, my people and tell the world what we believe. I want to talk about Love, about understanding, about sharing and that we can be happy with what we have.”
If you wish to read more about indigenous people, their way of life and support their rights to protect their land please visit:
Niwiwaka’s blog: http://survivalnixiwaka.wordpress.com/
To know more about tribal people:
Talks in schools http://www.survivalinternational.org/nixiwaka_talks
Nixiwaka & his Tribe http://www.survivalinternational.org/nixiwaka