Decades of photos show Amazon cultures under threat


SStretching millions of square miles, the Amazon rainforest is home to more than 350 indigenous ethnic groups, each with a rich and complex culture, as well as its own intricate forest roots. But as non-indigenous forces are invading the region at an increasing rate through deforestation, poaching, mining and land grabbing, many indigenous groups have had to withstand a growing wave of colonial destruction.

For more than two decades, photographer Sebastian Salgada has set his mission to document the lives of the Amazon’s indigenous peoples as they both have adapted to an increasingly modernized world and firmly adhered to their culture and traditions. His bright black and white prints are collected in his new book Amazonpublishing house Taschen.

Salgada, a Brazilian immigrant now living in Paris, first visited an indigenous community in the Amazon when he traveled to the village of Yanami in the mid-1980s for a short documentary project. He was amazed at the warmth and kindness with which the Yanamans received him. Salgado returned ten years later with a camera in hand and spent a full six years living and studying in dozens of different Amazon cultures with his wife, team and translators.

Along the way, Salgado became a staunch defender of the sovereignty of the indigenous population and the environment in this beautiful region. In 1998, the photographer and his wife founded the Instituto Terra, a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and protection of the Amazon in the Brazilian region of Valais do Rio dosa.

Vevita Piaco Ashaninka, a representative of the indigenous people of Oshaninka, inspects the arrow. He is surrounded by a daughter, wife and son. Historically, the Ochankas traded extensively with the Inca Empire, providing the Inca that lived in the mountains with forest products such as feathers, cotton, and wood in exchange for metal and wool.

The Suruwaha people live in massive communal houses about 100 feet high, almost as tall as a 10-story building. Every house, or ok named after its “owner” and architect – in this case a man named Kwakway.

Chief Cat, the then leader of the Kamayura people, wears traditional body paint. Kamayura along with other cultures, native to the Singu region in the Amazon rainforest, create intricate and gender patterns with paint, emphasizing their physical properties.

Vevita Piaco Ashaninka is fishing, standing in a canoe and throwing a net into the river. Traditional kushma The tunic he wears was once with vertical stripes, but was painted a dark brown as the colors disappeared.

Credit: © Sebastião Salgado; Provided by Taschen

Andelekia Makuksi lived in the city of Maturuca in Brazil in 1998 when this photo was taken. At the time, the Makusi people were fighting for the right to regain their land, which was finally recognized by the Brazilian government in 2009. Today, Andekleya lives in the village of Mutum.

These brilliant hyacinth macaws, photographed in Howe National Park in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, have the largest wingspan among parrots on the planet. Their beauty and size make them a frequent target for poachers for sale on the black pet market. Today there are about 6,500 individuals in the wild.

Birashi Brazil (center), also known as Bira, took over the leadership of the Javanese people in the early 1990s after decades of abuse by the colonizers. “Our beliefs and traditions were considered demonic by missionaries, and many of us believed in it. We started living as slaves, at work and culturally, ”he told Salgado.

The Yanami people represent America’s largest indigenous group with a low level of contact. Like many Yanami communities, the village of Vatorik is surrounded by lush, preserved forests and built in a ring, surrounding the central courtyard where festivals and rituals are held.

Alzira is a member of the Javanese people, a group that has grown from 120 members to more than 1,200 since the 1970s as a result of the hard-won sovereignty of the indigenous population. In their native language, Yawanawá means “white-lipped bakers”.

The Maruba people inhabit their homes along the Kurus River in the western Amazon. Like most of the Amazon, this region is prone to heavy rains and seasonal flooding. Salgado first visited the region in the late 1990s to help document an outbreak of hepatitis.

Amazing book cover.
Credit: Amazon, Sebastian Salgado; Provided by Taschen

Decades of photos show Amazon cultures under threat

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