The Brazilian rainforest is an inextricable part of the Surui people’s past and present. The future of the tribe and the trees, however, depends on the rest of the world knowing it.
Outsiders first made contact with the Surui tribe in 1969. Soon after, the Surui lost about half of their population to diseases like tuberculosis and measles, along with much of their land and culture. The 1,300 or so members who remain have been fighting hard to protect their 250,000 hectares of healthy green amid a vast swath of deforested land. The Surui even became the first indigenous group to create a REDD+ project, a United Nations program that pays landowners to preserve forest. Even so, illegal logging and mining on the tribe’s territory is a growing—and violent—threat.
Chief Almir is passionate about keeping the Amazon healthy for the sake of his home—and for the rest of the world. Rainforests, after all, are the lungs of the planet, absorbing up to a fifth of humans’ fossil fuel emissions each year. “We care about the future—not only of our people, but of all mankind,” he has written on the tribe’s Portuguese-language website. “International communities need to truly unify and act quickly, because nature will not wait on human decisions.”
“The Crying Forest” will be on display at Paris’s Galerie Taglialatella through December 15. Check out a video about the project (in French) below.
onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.