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An Amazon Tribe Stops a Big Oil Company From Destroying Their Rainforest, and It’s a Giant Leap Toward Saving the Planet

The Waorani people are a tiny indigenous tribe who usually mind their own business in their village. But when their natural habitat faced the risk of being destroyed for oil mining, they marched to the court to demand their rights. Equipped with attorneys, legal papers, traditional weapons, and songs, the Amazon tribe remained unfazed while facing off against big corporations and the government.

Bright Side gained some insight into the bravery of the Waorani people, who fought for nature.

The reasons the Amazon rainforest is important to the Waorani:

The culture of the Waorani tribe is dependent on their territory and the plants, animals, soil, and water within it. They need the plants for medicine, the animals and water for sustenance, as well as the soil for growing edible plants. Not only that, the people have a deep spiritual connection to the forest. In short, the Amazon rainforest is their lifeline.

The reason the oil company wants the Amazon rainforest

It is a well-known fact that the Amazon rainforest is rich in natural resources. One of these resources is oil. Seeing the opportunity to rake in profits from mining oil off of land that has never been mined, the oil company wanted to bid in an auction to get the land from the government. After all, there is alwaysdemand for energy to power cars and other vehicles.

What would happen if the oil company got the land?

There would definitely be deforestation before oil is drilled out of the land. This would threaten the existence of the Waorani people, as they would need to find a new home. The greenery of the forest would be stripped, ancient medicinal plants and traditional crops might go extinct, and animals would be forced to flee to find shelter. Even the water the Waorani drink and travel upon, and the air they breathe would be polluted.

Which begs the question, who truly pays the price of our constant need for oil?

The fight was brought to the court

In order to auction off the lands belonging to the Waorani people, the government has to properly consult with the tribes. Even though a representative was sent to the village to get the tribe’s consent, it is claimed that the consultation was confusing and not favorable or fair to the tribe. Using that argument, the Waorani filed a claim against the Ecuadorian government. They marched to the court carrying spears and wearing their traditional garb.

The challenges the Waorani faced

While the Waorani might have been civil enough to bring the matter to court, justice was not always present during the time they were there. They requested for the hearing to be held in their own territory, so that their traditional leaders could attend, but the judge did a rushed hearing instead. When there was no court-certified translator, the judge proposed a process without the approval of the Waorani elders. Not understanding what was going on, Waorani women stood in protest and took over the courtroom while performing a traditional song.

In the end, the judge had to suspend the hearing until a translator was present.

The victory of the Waorani

Before the official win, the Waorani tribe won the support of the people. This includes non-profit organizations and also celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio. When the court ruled the victory of the Waorani, history was made. The win saved their land and also disrupted the possible auctioning of 16 oil blocks that cover over 7 million acres of indigenous territory, because now the case can be used in future court proceedings to save other land.

After the big win

Even during the celebration of their win, the Waorani people were aware that this was not the end. Oswando Nenquimo, the spokesperson for the Waorani of Pastaza, remarked that the fight was far from over. They were proven right as the Ecuadorian Government has announced that they will appeal the court’s decision. But the Waorani people will stand firm in their struggle.

After all, as Nemonte Nenquimo, President of the Waorani Pastaza Organization (CONCONAWEP) and plaintiff in the lawsuit said, “We will never sell our rainforest to the oil companies.”

What would you have done if your home was under the threat of being torn down? Did this uplifting news give you hope for the future of the earth? How do you fight for the world you live in?

Please note: This article was updated in August 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit Johnny Lye / Shutterstock.com
Bright Side/Curiosities/An Amazon Tribe Stops a Big Oil Company From Destroying Their Rainforest, and It’s a Giant Leap Toward Saving the Planet
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