The Yawanawa people’s first contact with the non-indigenous world happened around the 19th century. It was an intense period of many conflicts with the rubber barons and missionaries who invaded their lands and tried to forbid the Yawanawa language, culture, and spirituality. In the 1980s, chief Biraci Nixiwaka Brazil led his people in the fight for the recognition of their native territories, and the Yawanawa became the first indigenous people to obtain the official rights to their lands in the state of Acre.
The Yawanawa have since then reclaimed their sacred medicines, rituals, song and dance, festivals, games, traditional body painting and adornment, artwork, and food, in a profound journey of cultural revival.
CHIEF NIXIWAKA BIRACI YAWANAWA
Chief Nixiwaka is one of the most relevant indigenous leaders of our time. He has dedicated his life to reclaiming his people’s ancient culture and spirituality. After reconquering the rights over their ancestral territory, Nixiwaka, alongside his family, led the opening of their culture to the outside world. Its main element is the Yawa Festival, which is held annually since 2002 in the village of Nova Esperança (“New Hope”). In the past years, he has spent most of his time in the Sacred Village, dedicated to spirituality and healing and receiving teachings from the elders to carry on the Yawanawa legacy. In his few journeys out of his village to represent his people, he’s also visited other spiritual leaders worldwide and has partaken in sharing many cultural traditions.
Nawashahu is the eldest daughter of Putanny and the chief Biraci Nixiwaka. She has been brought up to become a leader. Nawa and her sister, Ykashahu, have been very dedicated to their studies of Yawanawa spirituality, dieting with the elders, and always seeking to learn more from the leaders of the tribe. Nawashahu is a guardian of this knowledge and a very talented singer, who has accompanied her parents in their work and travels outside the villages from early age.
Yka is the middle daughter of Chief Nixiwaka Biraci Brasil and Putanny Yawanawa. Since a very young age, Ykashahu has followed in her parent’s footsteps, studying her people’s spiritual wisdom and dedicating herself to music and singing. Her voice has a force like no other moving deeply and healing. She represents the talented younger generation of the Yawanawa as well as the incredible feminine power of the tribe. Yka has traveled around Brazil and abroad representing her people’s culture.
ISKU KUA YAWANAWA
Isku Kua, representing the Yawanawa youth, the son of Chief Nixiwaka Biraci Brasil, inspires, paves the way, and guides the new generation of his people, taking the force of the legacy of his ancestors around the world. Leading the present and the future of the Yawanawa people, Isku is an example for young leaders of all indigenous nations, demonstrating the value of his own roots and the importance of cultivating ancestral wisdom with solidity and dignity, as the best alternative for the indigenous youth in the world. Isku Kua brings a breath of hope to this new dawn of humanity, weaving a dialogue between the essence of Yawanawa ancestors and the new time.
Schedule of the Journey:
•May 29th Opening circle/Presentation
10 am Traditional Body Painting
with music and stories about the meaning of the paintings
3 pm Yawanawa Storytelling with Chief Nixiwaka, Sananga & raphé medicine