Below is a translation of the video message from Chief Fernando of the Katukina tribe, discussing the recently constructed medicine house, his visions for his people and the forest as well as his thoughts on the troubles his people face. The video message will also be posted here soon.
"...Good afternoon, Frans my friend I am very happy that you are here in this house. This house is a project of the new Aldeia (village) envisaged by myself: Cacique (chief) Fernando Katukina, with support and financed by Maurice. This house is ours, it is a medicine house where we will work with the spirituality of the Katukina people. Our objective here is to more and more strengthen the culture of the Katukina to strengthen as well traditional handicrafts and painting, the language, habits, traditions and our religion.
First of all this house here is within the forest, where it is full of natural medicines. This is where we will be doing our work, where we will be taking care of our health, both spiritual and physical. Giving value to our culture, I want to thank one more time Maurice who helped me to construct this house. This house is durable; we selected the wood to make this building. Here we are going to plant Ayahuasca, the vine and Chacruna that we call Rainha (The Queen) without destroying the forest. We are going to help the life of the forest here.
This house will have a rustic structure, tables and chairs as well as space for our visitors to put tents around the building. We also have paths to walk in the forest to take away bad feelings and bad spirits, to see the medicines, the Samauma tree (the biggest tree in the forest), paxiuba, lumber trees. And see how is the rhythm here, how the divine controls our forest, you hear the sounds of the nature around here. Here we also preserve the many animals that live here, they also live here. Not only humans, the animals also come to visit our house.
That’s why I am very thankful to have your support in the hope to help me strengthen the culture of the Katukina people. So Katukina is not only a name, it is part of the story of our people, we are the true people who have suffered who have been threatened, we have been murdered. Our life is here in the forest, it is 500 years of resistance of the Nuke Kuin (true name of the Katukina) tribe.
My motivation to construct this house here, as the leader of my people is to strengthen our mother language, our Mariri (a name for caapi), our dances, our way of living, our way of feeding ourselves, our way of dressing, our way of working with our forest. The forest talks, we don’t always understand its language but we understand it wants to be preserved, for us to live in union with it, the forest is our university. It is where we learn to be a Pajé (Medicine man), it teaches us to find our medicines and it is also where we go for our food.
It is our market, where we plant our food. Where we build our houses and where we bury our dead. That’s why we have that spirit of preserving amongst the Katukina, the water, the land and the forest. I am working with the intent that we will be known and respected, our work, our culture, our language, our way of life in general.
We indigenous people have many things to be studied but we don’t permit it. Many things we still see as sacred, a sacred life, here we are just starting to focus some medicines that are already known. Like Kambo, Rapé, Sananga, three medicines that are best known, but there are other medicines that we still have in our possession to show the world, to show people from other places. Not even half of the medicines here have been used. This house here will bring many more medicines. We are not God to heal all diseases but the medicines of the Katukina people can cure many people. People who come to look for us, who stay here one day or one week or a month in this place, listening to the sound of the forest and receiving its energy.
For us the most important is this energy and we have a communication with the forest, that’s where our medicine comes from. That’s how the Pajés learn to take care of the indigenous health, the health of the family. We cannot bring evil here, we don’t want to do any bad things to any human being. For the good people that come here to recover their health, their mentality, their way of thinking and take natural medicines.
So I want to one more time invite Maurice to come here, he himself walk here on the trail, he himself looking at the building, taking the medicines with us to see what he supported. This house was constructed for this, that’s why I am preserving this forest, for those who have never been in the forest to come and see. Those who never seen a Samauma tree, who never walked on a trail inside the forest to come and walk. To see some of the animals that live around here.
It’s another world, the world we are preserving and the world we want. To guarantee this world and preserve the animals that live around here, that’s why I am working here with another vision, a vision to elevate our generation to have this idea. For the new generation to care about nature our Amazon must be respected. We don’t have a better place than the Amazon. When we start to destroy the Amazon it starts to cry and ask for help.
So us indigenous we ask our Amazon for help. That is what for us Indians means life, to have our land, our health, our education, our culture and our difference and live on this land. We are the primitive humanity from Brazil, we are the blood of Brazil defending our riches, our land, living 519 years of resistance so we can have peace. We still don’t have peace on our land, living within the Brazilian state. We ask our friends, our brothers, the supporters of the Brazilian Indigenous cause to come and be with us. Our treasure that I speak of is this, the history of the indigenous population of Brazil. It is our riches and our culture.
We are not looking back, we are not looking at the massacre of humanity, we are looking what we can share with the world that just thinks about war, about stealing, just thinking about destroying humanity. They were only thinking in goods and ending the indigenous people, the blacks, all the people who are discriminated just as the indigenous people. We didn’t expect this; we expected to live on our land in peace, in harmony and joy. These are my thoughts as the leader of my people asking help because Amazonia deserves peace......Deserves Peace.
We who defend Amazonia also deserve peace, we don’t want a lot of money, we really want peace. We want to live on this land. Our wealth is on our land. One more time, my friend, I feel like crying seeing the bad things happening. I’m working here as a Brazilian citizen that votes and elects politician to take care of us but the contrary is happening, they are putting our enemy in power. The enemy. I am a citizen that pays taxes; do I pay taxes for big business men, big landowners, paying for their sins? That’s not why I am here. I am here a person who wants to survive with his people in dignity.
Autonomy is I what I want for the Katukina people. That is my feeling in relation to asking help from our representatives in government. Leave us in peace. It’s bad enough we waste our money with our taxes and that we are dying in the middle of these politics that are negative for the indigenous population.
This is my message my brother Frans, take this message to Maurice I am very grateful for his support, we are looking more and more for partnerships. For us to at least have drinkable water, have healthcare that works, to have minimal conditions to produce our food here on our land. We are encountering difficulty to use our farm tools. We want to create the conditions within our community where the Brazilian state can defend us and educate us in agronomy, medicine, forestry and engineering so we can take care of ourselves. This is the spirit we carry, that Brazil renews, so we have conditions to work.
This was my message, thank you very much. This message is a little painful, I’m not crying but my spirit and my heart are crying remembering the bad things in life. What to do? I want to say that I am alive to face and fight.
My brothers, my father and our ancients, those who came before us and already left who without speaking Portuguese fought for the demarcation of our lands, bringing health and education for their people. And today I am taking care of the politics here; we can no longer give up our rights.
We cannot give our dignity for free so we always live in misery, live as needy, as humans without a spirit, No! We are simple people but we want respect. This is my way to speak, my way to do, to fight to defend the Katukina people..."