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In the Amazon, Indigenous women bring a tiny tribe back from the brink of extinction

by Lucas Garcia
5 comments
Juma Indigenous Revival

In the heart of the Amazon rainforest, a remarkable story unfolds, one of resilience and determination. In a village near the Assua River in Brazil, the Juma Indigenous people have defied the odds and brought their tiny tribe back from the brink of extinction. Until recently, the Juma faced the same fate as many other Amazon tribes decimated by centuries of European invasion.

In the late 1990s, the last remaining Juma family consisted of three sisters, Boreá, Mandeí, and Maytá, and their father, Aruká, in his 50s. Tragically, in 2021, Aruká succumbed to COVID-19, and obituaries mourned the loss of the “last man of his tribe.” This event pushed the Juma, a patriarchal society, even closer to extinction. However, the sisters and their father had a different plan.

Mandeí Juma, the eldest of the sisters, stepped forward and took on the role of leader, becoming the first woman to do so in this part of the Amazon. Her father and sisters supported her decision wholeheartedly. This marked a significant departure from the tribe’s patrilineal tradition, as Mandeí and her sisters had chosen to marry men from other tribes during a forced relocation, ensuring the continuation of their people’s lineage.

Today, against all odds, the Juma are experiencing a resurgence. Their remote village, accessible only by a two-hour boat trip from the nearest road, is vibrant with life. Children play in the river, people engage in fishing, women grind cassava, and others are out hunting. Their communal gathering place, a traditional Juma maloca, serves as the heart of their community, where they eat, tend to their macaws and parrots, relax in hammocks, process cassava, and even stay connected with the outside world through the internet.

Protecting their ancestral land, approximately the size of Las Vegas, is a top priority for the Juma. This area in the south of Amazonas state faces threats from land-grabbing and illegal deforestation. The planned construction of a nearby highway increases the risk of encroachment by outsiders, leading to environmental changes that affect their traditional way of life.

To safeguard their territory, young Juma men patrol it by boat and use drones donated by a local Indigenous non-profit to monitor remote areas for potential threats from loggers, poachers, and fishermen. The struggle to preserve their culture and heritage remains paramount, with the sisters, particularly Mandeí, feeling a deep responsibility to pass down Juma traditions to future generations.

While the Juma have made remarkable progress, challenges persist. With just 24 inhabitants in their village and a shortage of Juma men, the task of increasing their population and ensuring the continuity of their culture remains a pressing concern. Mandeí succinctly captures the essence of their mission, stating, “The largest responsibility I share with my sisters is to not lose Juma culture as taught by our father.”

In a world facing the existential threat of environmental degradation and the loss of indigenous cultures, the story of the Juma serves as a beacon of hope and resilience, demonstrating that even in the most challenging circumstances, determination and unity can pave the way for a brighter future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Juma Indigenous Revival

What is the story about?

The story revolves around the Juma Indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest, particularly the remarkable efforts of three Juma sisters – Boreá, Mandeí, and Maytá – to revive their tribe from the brink of extinction.

Who are the main characters in the story?

The main characters are the three Juma sisters – Boreá, Mandeí, and Maytá – and their father, Aruká. Mandeí, in particular, plays a central role as the first woman to become a leader in this part of the Amazon.

What challenges did the Juma tribe face?

The Juma tribe faced numerous challenges, including the loss of their patriarch, Aruká, to COVID-19, and the threat of extinction due to their small population. They also grappled with external threats such as land-grabbing and illegal deforestation in their territory.

How did the Juma sisters lead the tribe’s revival?

The Juma sisters led the revival by breaking with the tribe’s patrilineal tradition and taking on leadership roles. They focused on preserving their culture and land, actively patrolling their territory, and using modern technology like drones to protect it.

What is the significance of their story?

The story of the Juma sisters serves as an inspiring example of resilience and determination in the face of adversity. It highlights the importance of preserving indigenous cultures and the environment in the Amazon, especially at a time when these are under threat.

More about Juma Indigenous Revival

  • [AP News Article](link to the original AP News article)
  • [Amazon Rainforest Conservation](link to information on Amazon rainforest conservation)
  • [Indigenous Peoples and Culture](link to resources about indigenous peoples and their cultures)
  • [Environmental Challenges in the Amazon](link to information about environmental challenges in the Amazon)

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5 comments

Reader123 December 4, 2023 - 10:25 am

wow this story so insp’ring, juma sisters rly show strngth n unity in amazon, grt job ladies!

Reply
HistoryBuff December 4, 2023 - 4:11 pm

Love learnin abt indigenous cultures, their resilience is truly amazin.

Reply
GrammarNerd December 4, 2023 - 8:39 pm

Good story, but needs more periods and capital letters. Great job, though!

Reply
CuriousMind December 5, 2023 - 2:22 am

no idear amazon tribes stil existed, dis was eyeopenin, keep protectin ur land!

Reply
NatureLover77 December 6, 2023 - 12:58 am

juma tribe’s fight 2 protect amazon, so important! need 2 stop land grabbin’ & deforestation.

Reply

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