As COVID-19 threatens lives globally, the pandemic has resurfaced history for Amazonian peoples who can remember many past exposures to outsider diseases that decimated entire cultures. Today, Indigenous peoples of the Amazon are still highly vulnerable to infection due to limited access to healthcare, information, supplies and infrastructure. This, coupled with the government’s inability to effectively manage the crisis and guarantee the rights of Indigenous peoples, highlights the failings of a system that has for decades excluded Amazonian nationalities and made them more vulnerable to the pandemic. With the government and its agencies overwhelmed by the pandemic, invasions and illegal extractive activities have increased in Indigenous territories, along with human rights violations and environmental damage. All of this puts the health of ecosystems, thousands of years of ancestral knowledge, and the very lives of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon at heightened risk.
Faced with this complex panorama, Indigenous peoples of the Amazon have relied upon ancestral knowledge, organizing, and partnerships to overcome the crisis. From using traditional medicine to reduce the symptoms of COVID-19 to strengthening territorial surveillance with an Indigenous guard, Indigenous nations are demonstrating the resilience of their communities and building networks with civil society organizations. Amazon Frontlines is partnering with Indigenous organizations to help them secure a path towards autonomy and fortify their resilience through community projects that focus on the local economy, food sovereignty, and health, and through processes that promote self-governance, education, and communication. Beyond just fighting the pandemic, Indigenous communities are advancing a better future for their people. You, too, can be part of the support network and help the guardians of the forest build their autonomy and resilience!