Meet Sâmia Biruary - Protector of the Forests
Written by Anne-Lieke van Leeuwen & Jeanne de Kroon - 10th November 2022
There is a world of wisdom we can learn from Indigenous women. For the next chapter of our ‘Sacred Activism month’, we shine light on a special story from Sâmia Biruany, indigenous leader and force behind the Mimã Xarabu collective in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Sâmia is a feminine energy of the forest who inspires us with her leadership and shares the wisdom and message she has learned on her journey to bring shared visions, creations and perspectives to the world.
Video by ©Cinetree & Simavi - full credits below. All images by Stefan Dotter, ©Zazi vintage
THE STORY OF SAMIA BIRUANY
Sâmia Biruany is from the Huni Kuin Indigenous community and comes from a small place that translates as the village of the hummingbird. Her village is located near the city of Tarauaca and close to the Humaita river. Surrounded by cattle farmers that push their borders day by day into their territory, we have rarely come across a more strong embodiment of hope and sacred activism. Of what it means to be human and stay in joy and courage.
The Huni Kuin have made their homes on this land since time immemorial, living in harmony with nature. Huni Kuin translates to “the true people” and their culture is deeply connected to the rainforest around them. As inhabitants of the forest, they protect nature while passing on the wisdom and ancient knowledge of their community. Like many indigenous communities worldwide, the history of the Huni Kuin tells a story of genocide, forced labour, and missionaries and rubber landlords colonizing their land. Today, the community still faces the continuation of a colonialist system, where defending their land risks threats of violence; where unsustainable development and illegal cattle ranching are displacing homes and destroying forest land; and where indigenous groups are disproportionately affected by climate change.
Despite these many layers of pain, Sâmia’s community marks our time now as the time of sharing culture. Somewhere on a little piece of native forest surrounded by farm lands, the Pinuya village of the hummingbird is starting to bring their visions, creations and perspectives into the world with the women at the forefront. Guided by the great spirit yuxibu, the Spirits of the forest and the paje of the Pinuya, Sâmia is travelling the world and co-founded the Mimã Xarabu collective. A new time of shared thoughts and dreams and to form alliances to reawaken connection to ourselves and the Earth as one.
MIMA XARABU COLLECTIVE
“Our dream is for the world to learn and value natural life with strengthened spirits, with the hope that everyone can heal and live in more harmony with nature.” - The women of Mimã Xarabu
As a homage to the crafts that her sister loved, Samia is one of the co-ordinators and leaders of the women’s cultural group Mimã Xarabu who aim to raise the feminine voices of the forest as safekeepers of the sacred. Breaking boundaries and borders of women’s roles in her community, she has become an inspiration for many indigenous Huni Kuin women around her on finding their power both spiritually and politically. Along with the other women in her village she cultivates intricate artwork and works with her indigenous tribe’s spiritual work, keeping the feminine force within their culture alive and strong.
“Today we have a new way of thinking, the Mimã Xarabu, a new thought, a vision that us women have come to seek. With our women’s cooperative we can continue to share our work, our arts and crafts, our stories, our chants. We have this vision to further strengthen the feminine aspects of our culture, our artisanal work, and share it with the world, for people to get to know our story, our work.” - Sâmia Biruany
With Zazi, we are currently working on a project to co-create together with the women of Mimã Xarabu. We are expecting to share our jewellery co-creations by December 2022.
MESSAGE FROM SAMIA TO THE WORLD
We are Huni Kuin, true guardians of the forest and we feel a bit forgotten. So we want to bring this vision for the world to see, that it’s from the forest that all our abundance and wealth comes from. Our mission, as women of the forest, is to take care. Take care of our community, of our environment. We also pray for our planet, encouraging other women to do this work as well, encouraging the women to appreciate it. To bring more of this feminine empowerment within women’s spirituality, so that more women can become spiritual leaders, leaders of their communities.
My hope is to see a better future. A future with more peace and more protection. A future with peace for humanity and our planet. So the new generations can live something different, even better than how we are living today. - Sâmia Biruany
Sâmia Biruany, Cinetree, Simavi, Allesandro Isaka, Martijn van Monsjou, Jeanne de Kroon, Edna van den Meijdenberg, Zazi team - Sita Sunar & Anne-Lieke van Leeuwen, Mariana Maia, Hanna Verboom, Casa Hairá, Thomas van den Berg, Eefke van de Wouw.
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