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Amazon Indigenous Leader Wins Global Prize

Amazon forest
Alessandra Korap Munduruku, an Amazon Indigenous leader won this year’s Global Prize (Goldman Prize). Credit: Luísa Mota / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Alessandra Korap Munduruku, a 39 years old Amazon indigenous leader, has been granted this year’s Goldman Prize for her dedication to grassroots activism.

She fought against the mining company Anglo American to safeguard the Munduruku territory, and her persistent campaign made the company withdraw 27 research applications to mine inside the indigenous territories.

This event is a rare occurrence of an indigenous community triumphing over one of the world’s largest mining companies.

When asked about her feelings on taking on such a daunting task, Alessandra Korap Munduruku stated that she drew her strength from the land she aimed to protect, according to BBC.

She explained that the river, the power of their territory and their people, the ant doing its work, and the resistance of their community for more than 500 years in the fight for their land were the true sources of power.

Additionally, social media played a crucial role in increasing the visibility of her struggle, which put more pressure on Anglo American.

Support from the Coalition of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB)

Alessandra, along with the Coalition of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) and Amazon Watch, wrote a letter asking Anglo American to stop their mining research in indigenous territories in the Brazilian Amazon. The permits given to the company were issued without the required consent of the indigenous communities, as required by Brazil’s constitution.

Initially, Anglo American denied having the permits. However, after an intense media campaign led by Alessandra, the company decided to withdraw more than two dozen research applications.

Following Anglo American’s lead, the Brazilian mining company Vale also recognized the need for the consent of the communities before mining in indigenous territories.

Amazon Indigenous leader that won the Global Prize first stood up back in 2014

Alessandra’s interest in defending indigenous territories began in 2014 when she witnessed the effects of gold mining on her community. Settlements were increasing, and gold mining was contaminating water and killing fish, which her community relied on for food.

“When I was a child, I had immense freedom. We fished in the rivers and the lakes, we collected fruits and the seeds we use to make our handicrafts. But starting in 2014, I saw these areas turned into deserts by diggers and other big machines,” said Alessandra.

She further said that these changes motivated her to step out of her routine of taking care of her family and becoming an activist.

However, she admits that initially, it was not easy for her to take on a leadership role in her community.

Alessandra mentioned that in the last ten years, there had been an increase in the number of women who have joined the movement to protect their territories, and they are now playing a significant role.

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