In August 2020 I was invited by dear Sato do Brasil to write for Jornalistas Livre, to the project "Future Project of the Present, Present of the Future". I chose to write about my experience with the coverage of the combat action carried out by indigenous people against the fire in the Jaraguá Indigenous Land (Terra Indígena Jaraguá), in the northern zone of Sao Paulo capital, Brazil.
In those days, it was quite interesting to write about this still bubbling experience in my mind. Any chance of socializing and listening to indigenous peoples is an enormous learning experience and that episode was no different.
Here, I share the text and some images for you. I hope you enjoy it and that, in some way, inspires you to support the indigenous cause and the preservation of nature: "Fire! For this story to happen, the smoke did not have to travel from the north to the southeast and darken the São Paulo afternoon again. During the entire Sunday of June 12, 2020, the forest burned in the Jaraguá Indigenous Land.
Access to the areas affected by the fire was difficult. During the night, darkness on a steep terrain, burning embers or hot soil, marked the passage of fire through the place and required knowledge and skills unique to those who belong to that land.
While they were swallowing the smoke produced by the carbonized Atlantic Forest, the guardians of the forest were the protagonists of their salvation. Driven to protect the forest that surrounds them and without adequate infrastructure, indigenous people beat the flames using branches with green foliage until they drown out the fire.
At some moment when we entered the forest, I started to itch, feeling the discomfort of small scratches made by branches and leaves. When noticed, the answer came from one of the indigenous in the group: “Let it itch. Try to feel that sensation. Life in the city leaves the white man disconnected from nature and feeling this itch, this discomfort, signifies the phase of transition between moods. You will realize that soon, you will feel nothing more and this will be the proof that you have managed to connect with nature ”.
In 2019 and 2020, we all followed reports on the fires that advanced over the Amazon Rainforest. Watching and hearing about indigenous actions in these episodes reveals part of the reality they experienced during more than 500 years of invasions and attacks. Hearing the expression “guardians of the forest” was really impressive. In the Jaraguá Indigenous Land, located in the extreme northwest of the capital Sao Paulo, I saw the strength of this term applied to young indigenous people. Living this experience allowed the natural realization that the indigenous people take care of everyone, when they protect nature."
Well ... before I finish the story, I think it's time to look back and tell more about the day of the fire. Before we got there, I was with Murilo Salazar and Marcelo Rocha, documenting a protest motivated by the seventh day after the death of the boy Gabriel, 15, who was cowardly murdered in Vila Clara, in the south zone of Sao Paulo capital. Another terrible and structural scenario in Brazil, the early death of peripheral populations.
Murilo, Marcelo and I went to the Jaraguá Indigenous Land together. Then, we found Rafael Vilela and the guardians of the forest to do the photojournalistic coverage.
Finally, I would like to thank Thiago Djekupé Guarani, Mirim Ju Yang Guarani, Carai Jeguaka and the other indigenous warriors who bravely put out the fire and guided us through the forest! Note: the speech about the transition between moods was given by Mirim Ju, mentioned above.
Text, video and photographs: Felipe Beltrame.