The rainforests of the Amazon are filled with unique beings: animals, insects, trees, and plants of every kind. For Indigenous nations and communities, some of the most treasured beings are medicinal plants. These help people not just alleviate physical illnesses, but also provide them with portals to connect with their ancestors. From mi’a, a rainforest strawberry used to treat injuries and open wounds, to añaëko, a plant whose roots are used to heal snakebites, to huatiduri, a seed used to combat the influence of malign spirits on the body, the Amazonian forest floor is filled with remedies and herbs infused with reparative properties. 

Many Indigenous youth however, grew up without access to their elders’ knowledge of medicinal plants. Sometimes their parents didn’t pass down stories; other times they were dissuaded by a dominant Western culture which doesn’t value or visibilize Indigenous ways of knowing.

But with older generations passing away, young Indigenous leaders and artists are recognizing their responsibility to protect traditional knowledge, and pass on their ancestors’ stories to future generations. The vivid traditions that elders have kept alive are being trampled by Western cultures, and without collective grassroots efforts, this sacred memory will be lost. 

Using photography and audio narrations, Indigenous youth are working to convey the importance of medicinal plants, transmit ancestral understandings of plants into the future, and open the mentalities and curiosities of young people. Indigenous elders have gifted younger generations with a wondrous medicinal culture; the artwork of the youth can help continue it. 

Coordination: Michelle Gachet
Stories: Aneth Lusitande, Daris Payaguaje, Judy Payaguaje, Morelia Mendúa, Magdalena Quenamá, Tamara Alvarado, Milena Piaguaje, Limber Piaguaje
Text edition: Alejandra Alzate
Translation: Christopher Curran
Audio editing: Michelle Gachet
Sound mixing: Nando Vega
Illustrations: Mario Salvador
Web Design: Omar T. Bobadilla
Pre-production support: Nicolás Kingman