Indigenous People of Brazil: Eywa sees you, Will you see her?

Dianne Castillo

Dianne Castillo

Rainforest waterfall

Avatar is the epic science fiction film that was inspired by the Earth AND rocked the Earth as the highest grossing film of all time.  You will learn how the mythical natives of Pandora and real-world indigenous in the Americas compare to each other.  

Then, we’ll cover how Earth’s Eywa is doing with her battle against those who want to destroy the very land she and her guardians protect.  Eywa sees you, but will you choose her?

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A Sci-Fi Film of Epic Proportions

It’s no wonder Avatar became the world’s highest grossing movie of all time.  This is especially true considering it was made by one of the best directors of all time, James Cameron

If you are not aware of the man, he has directed a modest but successful roster of films such as The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic and more recently Alita: Battle Angel. After so much success at the box office, Avatar is now set to become a TV series which is planned to have four sequels being released over the next eight years.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, let us fill you in on what the Avatar movie was all about.

Nature and its indigenous inhabitants are suddenly faced with a massive challenge: A large corporation from a distant land seeks to take advantage of their natural resources for none other than…you guessed it!

British teaser for Amazon

Pandora: A Rich Source of Earth’s Needs

Avatar is a 2009 American epic science-fiction film that is directed, written, produced and co-edited by James Cameron and stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver.  It was an incredible film for its time (and still boasts the title of one of the most financially successful films in history), that had breath-taking CGI graphics and technology that had never been seen to that extent before.

Jake sully wakes up in his avtar body for the first time

Pandora – Affecting indigenous people across the galaxy

The story is set in the year 2154 and is centred around a U.S. Army-led mission to colonize the lush soil of a new world in the Alpha Centauri star system called Pandora. Pandora is flourishing with forests and has a mineral that our Earth desperately needs: unobtainium. 

The U.S Armed Forces are not shy about what they want.  They go into Pandora full force; equipped with machine guns and hover ships ready to bomb what comes in the way of getting their precious minerals.

Indigenous people on Pandora are blu-skinned, slender giants

Jake Sully is a paralyzed former marine chosen to lead this mission, making him mobile again but only in this new world of Pandora.  He integrates and becomes one of the people quickly after falling in love with one of their own, Neyriti.   

Pandora’s forest is peacefully inhabited by a local tribe of 12 foot tall, blue-skinned, slender giants who are called the Na’vi.

The atmosphere on Pandora is not breathable by humans.  The way Jake Sully and the army combat this tiny problem is by organically growing avatars that look and feel like Na’vi, but are mind-controlled by humans from their landing craft.  The resemblance is so close that the real Na’vi cannot tell they are imposters. 


Real-Life vs. Movie Screen Parallels – Indigenous people

There is an important parallel here and one in which James actively discusses as a part of his thinking when developing the movie. How the technologically able, typically militarily gifted, have treated indigenous cultures, with a reference to how this has played out on earth for centuries.

This is encapsulated in a line delivered by Jake Sully (Sam) when discussing the sky people (Humans). “The sky people have sent us a message . . . That they can take whatever they want. That no one can stop them.” Which is almost exactly what has happened across Asia and Europe for a number of years, and in recent centuries Africa and the new world. The European conquest of the Americas in the 1500s was a dark period for numerous indigenous peoples.

Ewya comes to the rescue

Ewya comes to the rescue deep in battle

Unfortunately, the indigenous tribes of the world we live in now are not as lucky as the Na’vi. 

There is no Hollywood-style rescue in sight here.  In the film, tensions between the indigenous and the human colonizers had been mounting for years.  Pandora’s richest soil contains the most valuable mineral deposits all in one region. The humans attack and destroy the tree city which of course results in the Na’vi being swept up with anger and craving revenge.  

This escalates into the tribes uniting and having an epic battle by land and air with the humans.  The indigenous peoples are brave and passionate about their land but the technology and power of the humans are overwhelming.

Ewya communicates with all of the forest

The Na’vi begin to look like they are going to give up but right before they do, nature (Ewya) provides the help they so desperately need to defend themselves from the armed forces.

Ewya (mother nature) telepathically communicates with all the forest and planet’s many species and unites them all in an act of preservation.  The flora and fauna descend on the humans and overrun them, making them regret ever trying to disrupt nature’s balance.

A key ingredient to that victory was Jake Sully who was infuriated after the destruction of the Na’vi’s precious main land.  He became ‘Toruk Makto’, uniting the tribes and telepathically seeking the help of Eywa before defeating the human invaders.

The great leonoptreyx roaring with Jake on its back

A change of heart for Jake

Jake Sully starts the film off by being against nature, not so much because he felt this individually but more so because of his association with the U.S. Army.

It’s beautiful to see how much his relationship with it changes, as the film progresses.  The great leonoptreyx is an airborne predatory animal that is crucial to the Na’vi’s sense of destiny and interconnectedness.  Jake is naturally afraid of this creature when he first is introduced to it by Neytiri.  But with time, he gathered the courage to tame the great leonopteryx.

He said, “Sometimes your whole life boils down to one insane move.”  This “move” indeed changed the whole trajectory of his life.  It was the beginning of his great connection with Ewya and the Na’vi.

How can we be jake sully?

The European invaders entered the Americas 

This is where the parallel ends though. When the European invaders entered the Americas they unknowingly unleashed a secret weapon upon first landing on the shores. Smallpox. The Aztecs lost a whopping 90% of their population to the disease and natives across both continents experienced substantial losses. And whilst resistance occurred and tribes did unite, it wasn’t enough for the indigenous to claim victory.

The ‘5 & 6 nations of the Iroquois confederacy’ battled with passion and yet the European colonies were triumphant. They were successful in dividing and conquering the populace and successful in securing and extracting the wealth of the continents.  

When rebellion came, freedom fighters represented the colony (often now a nation) repelling it’s status as a colonial entity and seeking self-governance.

Far from a Hollywood ending for the natives, the colonization period has possibly incurred around 56 million deaths. Outgunned and outmatched technologically, without an ‘Eywa’ or ‘Toruk Makto’ to help them get out of the sticky situation.

Our world’s version of Ewya, protected by indigenous people

America’s version of Ewya is, of course, the Amazon jungle that is mainly situated in Brazil but also spans 6.7 million km2 (that’s twice the size of India) across the likes of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.  The Amazon can’t exactly rise up and repel the Europeans as Pandora’s Ewya would, but the good news is that she is still alive and healthy, for now.

She is the largest forest in the world, and like Pandora and its forests, it is teeming with life, but sadly not people anymore. When first discovered by Francisco de Orellana whilst travelling through the Amazon in the 1500s, it is believed nearly 20 million natives lived amongst the forest (as discussed by Graham Hancock onwards – Joe Rogan show). 

1 million native indigenous people remain

Now, less than 1 million natives remain, divided into around 400 tribes and their home is disappearing. It is believed 17% of the Amazon has disappeared in less than 50 years. Like the Na’vi, the remaining indigenous people are locked in a local battle of their own trying to stop a ‘tipping point’ from occurring.

This tipping point, which could occur within 15-25 years, will lead to the region turning into a desert if it is surpassed.

Deforested Brazilian Amazon

Guerrilla tactics and land grabbing in Brazil 

There is no theatrical fantasy epic battle in real life.  There is however a moderate form of guerilla warfare being played out over many months and years.  This battle is called ‘land grabbing.’ For decades, Brazil and surrounding countries have exported sugar cane and minerals and in recent times soya beans and beef. 

As the export market grows and brings in more profit, nefarious individuals, supported by domestic and foreign interests, burn amazon land, forcibly evict locals, and use the land for as much agricultural benefit as humanly possible.

And with good reason, both offering a means of immediate profit to the powers in the region and world powers. It seems evil from an outsider perspective, but to the power-hungry of the region and the world, it’s a no brainer.


Image of Amazon

Some areas were protected during the ’80s onwards

There was a reprieve for the natives in 1986 when they secured protection and rights to lands from the central government.  Despite this fact, Eywa’s spirit never really led back to the stolen land.  It simply meant that she protected some areas of land while others continued to be destroyed. 

The last few years have become particularly bad, many in Brazil’s established political class toppled due to corruption. 

Brazil’s indigenous people and lands are being invaded again

As Jake Sully said in one of his log entries, “Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world, and in here is the dream.”  Sometimes the actions of presidents and leaders of the world make it feel like we are living in some sort of backwards reality. 

Brazil’s indigenous land is being invaded again but this time with the consent of Jair Bolsonaro, a new far-right president.

He gave his blessing to landowners, ranchers, loggers and farmers, and encouraged them to continue the practice of land grabbing and the destruction of the Amazon. Those warriors, trained centrally to protect the native lands, (environmental agencies) have had their numbers reduced, weapons confiscated or have been disbanded altogether since this time.

Ewya interacting with the story

The protagonist is still watching with interest from a distant land

And, like the main protagonist in our film, the enemy isn’t just the mercenary force and colony blighting the forest but it has support from a distant land. World powers and economies rely on the meat, soya and minerals that are pulled from the lands Eywa protects.  As Jake Sully says in the movie, “There’s no green there . . . They killed their mother . . . And they’re gonna do the same here.” 

70 million people still live across Americas

There is hope! Over 70 million indigenous peoples still live across the Americas. And now, more than ever, digital technology is spreading awareness of the problem native tribes in the Amazon are facing.

This awareness is what brings people like you together with organisations like One Tribe to make a difference in the way they’re contributing to the world. But defending the land/ Eywa is becoming ever more perilous for Brazil’s indigenous people.

We have our own Eywa now, spread out across 12 major rainforests across our world. She is beleaguered, the local warriors able to protect her outgunned and outmanned. And she needs a wave of guardians to protect her. Luckily for her, and just like the film, there are millions of us that can answer the call, charging through the forest to her aid. 

Our Eywa is calling and we can march to her aid 

We can buy better and make lifestyle choices that protect the world. 

We can use our eCommerce brands, agencies and businesses to help her right now. 

And we can empower indigenous tribes to win their battle against the loggers and commercial interests facing them down in their homelands. 

We can help them by funding their training and education to know how to legally and digitally win out against threats to the forest. And give them land rights or ownership to the lands they have lived on for thousands of years. Protecting the forests, and storing billions of tonnes of carbon we need to stop entering our atmosphere. 

Eywa sees you, will you choose to see her? Answer her call today. Join the tribe. 

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