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Deforestation in the Amazon is driven largely by networks of marginalized farmers who sell illegally cleared land on the black market, often to mega-ranchers, who will sell the beef and soy grown on this land to transnational corporations. These products end up in supermarkets all around the world, including the USA, Europe, and China. For decades, these Brazilian “grileiros” (land-grabbers) have been fed the idea that Indigenous people are the ones holding them back economically. This is not new – a slogan popularized by the Brazilian dictatorship starting in the 1960s, which is still often repeated today, says that there is “too much land for too few Indigenous people”. Things have only gotten worse in the past few years, and now a new wave of invasions in Brazil driven by hate speech and violence is forcing Indigenous communities to fight back in increasingly innovative ways. 

The Uru-eu-wau-wau (also known as Jupaú) are one of many Indigenous groups that live in the Brazilian state of Rondônia. Until the 1980’s, the Jupaú people lived in isolation from Brazil’s non-native people. After contact, the Jupaú experienced an onslaught of environmental destruction, illness, and violence which reduced their population by more than half. Nevertheless, their territory remains a bulwark against deforestation, visible from outer space: a dark green island of old growth rainforest surrounded by dry and treeless farms. Their land remains under constant threat of illegal invasions, and yet the Jupaú continue to resist. 

• Learn more about deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous resistance against fossil fuel expansion, the Uru-eu-wau-wau people, and the ongoing fight to protect and preserve Indigenous land. 

• Visit If Not Us Then Who to access their database of Indigenous environmental short films and educational guides.

• Visit the Rainforest Journalism Fund to learn about the work of local and regional reporters based in the Amazon Basin, Congo Basin, and Southeast Asia. 

Use Native Land to identify the Indigenous land you occupy along with the Indigenous languages and treaties associated with that land. Then review Illuminative’s Land Acknowledgement Guide. 

• Join the Defund Climate Change Campaign with Rainforest Action Network .

This campaign is supported by: