Joy is a form of resistance. And it is with that sense of joy that I today share with you the first seed of SUMAÚMA. For this launch edition of our newsletter, we chose to listen to the women of the Yanomami people, who usually go unheard because they do not speak Portuguese or any other napëpë language, because they live in a territory increasingly controlled by illegal miners, and because if their stories of suffering reach the outside world at all, it is usually through the narratives of their male leaders. We focus on them because we understand that SUMAÚMA comes into being in a time of war, a war against nature and its peoples that has taken the planet to the brink of climate catastrophe. We know that women, whether adults or children, are the ones who are silenced the most and who suffer the most.
In the Amazon rainforest, which is the headquarters of our journalism platform, this war has taken on extra speed and intensity during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, who is now a candidate for reelection. The effects of his predatory policies, with the dismantling of protection and inspection agencies, are sketched in blood, mercury and malaria in the Yanomami Indigenous Land. Children vomit worms and even die of these easily-treatable parasites due to lack of medication. Our report outlines what is at stake in the elections on October 2nd. It is a denunciation document woven by listening to silenced voices. To get the words exactly right, Sumaúma added two translators to its reporting team, one a Yanomami, the other an anthropologist with 15 years experience with one of the most complex peoples on the planet.
In keeping with this perspective, SUMAÚMA asked the shaman and thinker Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, to be our first columnist. For our first art story, we interview the Yanomami artist Ehuana Yaira, whose giant women represent the resistance – or rexistence of those who have resisted to exist for 500 years. Art is a powerful form of resistance, which is why it has always been one of the first targets of authoritarian and fascist governments, and Ehuana has taken her denunciation out to the world with her. Finally, in this bumper debut edition, we have a war dispatch from the Amazon, showing how fire has become a protagonist on the eve of the elections.
In coming editions, we will look in greater depth at the Amazonian implications of the Brazilian election, at the global trade that is pushing the rainforest to the point of no return, at efforts to rehabilitate this biome, and at international talks that promise so much but deliver so little. Mostly though, we will listen to those who live in the forest and amplify their ideas and techniques about how to manage this globally important ecosystem and nourish an existence interdependent on other lives. We will recount the wonder that is the Amazon rainforest, because in order to love, protect and care, we first need to know.
Today, our small core team disperses this trilingual newsletter, initially every two weeks, as a seed. Only with your help will it grow into a tree able to connect sky and land, as the sumaúma tree is described by one of our counselors, cacica Juma Xipaia. Only with your involvement as part of the SUMAÚMA community, will it be possible to make this newsletter a journalism platform. Our goal is to expand our team and coverage as quickly as possible, because the forest is dangerously close to the point of no return. There is no time for anything less than great ambition. We need to make our journalism influential enough to work for the benefit of our home-planet and for the future of our children.
We cannot do it alone. We invite you to join us and to encourage others to add their support, so we can make more high-quality content from the center of life on Earth. If you believe our journalism is important, click here to be part of the SUMAÚMA community. To win this war, we need everyone.
Thank you for being here with us at the beginning.
Altamira, Middle Xingu, Pará, Amazônia, 13 September 2022.