Listen to a message from 2022 Goldman Prize winners Alexandra Narvaez and Alex Lucitante


Sinangoe Victory

In 2017, the Kofán community of Sinangoe discovered a major threat to their territory – mining camps and heavy machinery were destroying the forest and polluting the Aguarico River, one of the Ecuadorian Amazon’s most important rivers, flowing the edge of Sinangoe’s territory.

The Ecuadorian government had generated a modern day gold rush by approving 20 large-scale mining concessions, with 32 more concessions pending. The Kofán were never consulted.

Alexandra Narváez and Alex Lucitante, two young Kofán leaders, worked with the community of Sinangoe, and with Amazon Frontlines and Ceibo Alliance, to gather evidence of the violation of their rights and to bring the fight to court.

Sinangoe sued the Ecuadorian government for granting the concessions without their consent and for violating the rights of nature, recognized in the Ecuadorian constitution. In 2018, they won the case, canceling all 52 concessions and protecting 52,000 acres of biodiverse rainforest territory and dozens of downriver communities from disaster.

Alexandra, Alex and the community of Sinangoe didn’t stop there. They brought their case all the way to the Ecuador’s Constitutional Court. And in February, 2022, they won again. This time guaranteeing for the first time in the country, Indigenous peoples the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent: the right to decide what happens on their lands. 

The Goldman Prize is a recognition not only of Alexandra and Alex’s leadership, it’s a recognition of Indigenous peoples’ collective struggle to protect the Amazon rainforest and of the critical role they are playing in saving our planet from climate disaster.


Alexandra Narvaez

2022 Goldman Prize Winner

Alexandra Narvaez was born along the banks of the Aguarico River in the community of Sinangoe.
She is a mother and founding member of Sinangoe’s Indigenous guard.


Alex Lucitante

2022 Goldman Prize Winner

Alex Lucitante was raised in the Kofán community of Avie.
Part of a long lineage of Kofán healers.


“This award for two Indigenous leaders, who played a critical role in one of the biggest Indigenous rights and environmental victories in recent years, is a clear message to the world. Indigenous peoples have defended our lands for thousands of years and our leadership must be respected and supported if we are to save our planet and future generations from destruction.”

*2020 Goldman Prize winner.



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Alexandra Narvaez

2022 Goldman Prize Winner

Alexandra is a mother of 2 girls and a leader from the A’i Kofán community of Sinangoe, an emblematic community of Indigenous resistance in the Andes-Amazon foothills. As a child, Alexandra’s grandmother would tell her stories about life before the cucamas, or outsiders, arrived with their lust for resources, timber and gold. She would tell Alexandra how Kofán territory stretched farther than anyone could possibly walk, and how the forests were filled with monkeys, macaws, fruit trees and medicinal plants.

Today, Alexandra sees Sinangoe as an island of what the Kofán people’s entire territory once was surrounded by the outcome of the cucama’s colonization: deforestation, roads, oil wells. The recognition that her future grandchildren might never experience a healthy forest energized Alexandra to join Sinangoe’s guardia indígena– Indigenous land patrol– patrolling hundreds of miles of mountainous rainforest territory to detect and stop illegal incursions into Kofán lands. Despite being the first woman to join the guardia, Alexandra quickly became a strong leader, motivating and encouraging the other members of the guardia even in the most difficult field patrols. Alexandra was there when the guardia began to encounter a growing number of illegal gold miners who had destroyed a large area of forest along the mighty Aguarico River that runs through Sinangoe’s territory. She helped her community make the decision to take their fight to the courtroom.

Alexandra played a key leadership role in her people’s lawsuit against the Ecuadorian government, which in 2018 resulted in a historic victory that canceled 52 gold mining concessions, protecting 79,000 acres of biodiverse rainforest and a pristine headwaters region of one of the most important rivers in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This legal victory set a precedent that the Kofán then used to bring a case before Ecuador’s Constitutional (Supreme) Court. In February, 2022 the Court ruled in favor of the Kofán people, establishing the nation’s first constitutional guarantee for the Indigenous right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) over any extractive activities that may impact their lands; in other words, the right to say “No” to resource extraction across almost 23 million acres of rainforest in Ecuador.

Today, Alexandra continues to play an active role in Sinangoe’s guardia. She also serves as the president of Shame’cco, Sinangoe’s women’s association, where she is leading the development of women-run jewelry and clothing production and a novel eco-tourism initiative. Alexandra’s vision is that through women’s leadership, Sinangoe will be an autonomous community with its own means to generate sustainable income for families that can serve as an alternative to destructive resource extraction.

Alexandra’s dedication as a parent, community leader, member of Sinangoe’s land patrol, spokesperson for her people, and role model for other Indigenous women and youth is exceptional. Whether in long treks in pristine rainforest to detect and deter illegal mining, at the front of protests in the streets of Ecuador’s capital city or in mining boom towns to denounce the Ecuadorian government’s inaction to stop illegal mining, or in intertribal community assemblies or before press, Alexandra has tirelessly poured her heart into the movement to protect her people and their lands. Her success as community leaders is owed to her refusal to give up, no matter the obstacles.

Alex Lucitante

2022 Goldman Prize Winner

Alex grew up in the small Kofán community of Avie, in one of the most lush and biodiverse rainforests on earth, the Andean-Amazon foothills in Ecuador, a place where the cold clear water rushes down the stony mountains into the immense Amazon basin.

Alex comes from a long and renowned lineage of Kofán healers and spiritual leaders. But unlike his father and his grandfather, Alex never knew a time before the oil companies and the miners and the loggers. He grew up with one foot in the forest and one foot in the city. Alex is now 27 years old. He has a wife and three children. And he is practicing to be a shaman, like his father. He keeps a strict diet, stays away from alcohol, and is learning how to sing the ancient healing songs. But he also has a dream of being the first lawyer of his Nation.

Alex is dedicating his life to ensure that his children and grandchildren can continue to live as Kofán in a safe and healthy territory. His dedication led him to get involved in the neighboring community of Sinangoe’s struggle to protect their territory from gold mining, where he was instrumental in working alongside Alexandra Narvaez and the community of Sinangoe to organize a fight that became emblematic across Ecuador and resulted in a monumental victory, shutting down 52 gold mining concessions, protecting 79,000 acres of primary rainforest forest, and setting an important precedent to protect rivers from mining across the country.

Through his music, Alex brings a powerful message to the world about the importance of Indigenous culture, spirituality and connection to the land as a way forward to protect our planet from destruction. Through his actions, Alex demonstrates the critical role of Indigenous leadership in the fight to safeguard the future of all life on Earth.