September 11, 2001, was not only the day of a horrific event in the United States that changed the world in which we live, it was also a day of hope for the Deni. The Deni are a poor indigenous group living in semi-isolation in a very remote part of the Amazon and Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Brazil Amazon Campaign Director, explains why September 11 holds special significance for their survival…
“After waiting more than 10 years for the Brazilian government to show up and recognise their traditional territory, the Deni asked for help from people who wouldn’t deliver broken promises. That day, at 10:00am (same time as New York City) we had a Greenpeace ship – the Sunrise – arrive in Manaus. Media were on board for a press conference to announce that Greenpeace would help the Deni people to demarcate 1.6 million hectares of forests, claimed by them as their historical homeland. With everyone’s attention turning to the tragic news coming out of the USA, it’s no wonder this was the worst media day to help the voices of Deni people to be heard, but work continued and in 2004 the demarcation was completed.
On September 11 this year, our Deni friends held a ceremony on the Xeruan River to launch what they called Ibure’i hanahanu Ikanade shunu Deni Ihadekha – or the Territorial Management Plan of the Deni Indigenous Land. A fantastic plan led by a proud and now strong people.
To mark the occasion I received two things from them: a beautiful book written in Deni language (full of pictures of smiling Deni, their schools, their kids, their canoes full of fish, their plans for a bright future); and a small bottle of shina (ceremonial snuff they use in special moments to talk to their gods). Together with the gifts, there was a very warm thank you letter written on behalf of the Deni chiefs by the leader of Opan, a NGO which we invited a long time ago to work with them.
Greenpeace is quoted in the book as being fundamental for our indigenous friends, but we could not have done it alone. On behalf of our Amazon team, I want to thank all of you, our supporters, who helped the Deni to change their lives!”
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* photo by Sarah Howarth – Intrepid Photography Competition