Adriano Karipuna. Amazon: a sacred place

He has inherited the legacy of his father, one of the few survivors of the genocide half a century ago, and represents a “people” that today numbers only 59 people.

Adriano and his few companions are so attached to his land that they have taken its name: Karipuna, in fact, is a segment of the immense Brazilian Amazon, in the municipality of Panorama, 186 kilometres from the city of Porto Velho.

In 1998 – when Adriano was eight years old – this territory was “demarcated”, that is, officially recognized by the State as the property of the Karipuna (who agreed to see it reduced by almost half compared to its original size): as a result, it is coveted by the indigenous peoples of Brazil because it should mean security, self-determination, freedom of movement, protection of their culture and biodiversity…

But these conditions are essential, given the appetites of the timber industry and of the companies in general that would like to profit from the destruction of the forest: invasions and raids are frequent and in recent years there has been no shortage of murders of defenceless Indians.

For years, Adriano – who has also been threatened with death – has been asking the Brazilian government, on behalf of the Karipuna people, to fulfil its duty to protect the land and the forest. And his battle has become, symbolically, a battle in defence of all the indigenous peoples who inhabit the green lung of the planet. 

“In the Amazon – he recently recalled – in the first half of 2022, almost four thousand square kilometres of forest were lost, much of which will be transformed into soybean crops and pastures. As well as that, at least 350 indigenous peoples are in extremely difficult conditions and are resisting strenuously to defend their environment.”

Also mentioned by Pope Francis on the occasion of the 2019 Synod for the Amazon, Adriano recalled: “The forest is a sacred place to be entered very carefully. When we hunt, we never kill a mother with her cubs and if small fish end up in our nets, we throw them back into the water. We would rather go hungry than destroy a food source: Brazilians should learn from us; the world should learn about the real love we have for nature.” (Photo: Sermig)