Since time immemorial, the Yawanawa people have lived on the banks of the Gregorio river, in the Amazon rainforest, one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. In this rich habitat, their ancestors developed a vast knowledge of the medicinal plants of the forest, as well as a deep spiritual wisdom. Contact with the western world occurred little more than a hundred years ago, under violent circumstances, initially through enslavement to the rubber industry, and later through the domination of foreign protestant missionaries who forbid their traditional culture and spirituality. At the end of the last century, the Yawanawa regained the rights to their lands and sent away the missionaries. Since then, they have been leading their own process of cultural and spiritual revival, which has crossed national boundaries and today enchants the world.

Fundamental in this process, the Yawa Festival has been held every year since 2001. Initially designed to reclaim and strengthen their traditional culture, the festival quickly attracted worldwide attention, representing an important milestone in the revival of ancestral Amazonian cultures, serving as an example other Brazilian tribes would later follow.

The Yawanawá and their allies are dedicated to developing a model of sustainability that allows them to protect their lands and engage with the outside world on their own terms, without compromising their cultural and spiritual identity. The tribe has been working tirelessly to increase territory, reinvigorate Yawanawá culture, and establish economically and socially empowering relationships with the outside world.

The traditional village where the first contact with western man ocurred, is nowadays a space dedicated exclusively to Yawanawa spirituality. Known as the Sacred Village, it houses the ancient burial grounds of their ancestors, a garden with more than 2,700 varieties of medicinal plants, as well as serving as the principal venue for the formation of spiritual leaders by strict diets and isolation in silence.

Today, messengers of Yawanawa spirituality travel many cities around Brazil and the world, sharing their important message with us through their ancestors and exceptional musicality. A group of guardians have the honor to serve as an important link in the network between the tribe and the world.

Yawanawa from Acre on Vimeo.