Indigenous Communities

The Nayeri and Wixárika people venerate the San Pedro Mezquital River. It brings life to their lands, and many of their sacred sites are dotted along its winding path. Despite its importance, the river—and with it the rights of more than 15,000 indigenous peoples—are at risk from the proposed Las...

Munduruku leaders gather in ceremony to open their General Assembly.

The devastation caused by the Belo Monte Dam has become a cautionary tale for neighboring tribes like the Munduruku. I hope the Brazilian government learns the lesson that countless indigenous people already have—large dams must stay out of the Amazon!
Jarliel Juruna

Jarliel leads a dance on a beach nearby Mïratu village in 2015. | Credit: Lilo Clareto/ISA.

Jarliel died while diving for fish in water 25 meters deep. One of his brothers blames the Belo Monte Dam (Brazil), which pushed all the fish into deeper waters, forcing fishermen to follow. Before the dam, fish were plentiful in the waterfalls and shallows of the river.
Goldman Prize winner Máxima Acuña de Chaupe reportedly attacked by mining company security guards.Read more
Members of Mayan communities that signed the petition with the IACHR.

Members of Mayan communities that signed the petition with the IACHR. Credit: Robin Canul.

In the forests of Southeastern Mexico, indigenous beekeepers have tended hives for hundreds of years. Passed down through generations, beekeeping is central to the cultural heritage of Mayan communities in the states of Campeche and Yucatan. But now, this heritage is threatened. 

Indigenous leader Cofan Ermenegildo Criollo

Indigenous leader Cofan Ermenegildo Criollo smells a river contaminated with oil near his home in the Amazon rainforest. Credit: Caroline Bennett / Rainforest Action Network

After 17 years of negotiations, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was approved.
The lives, health, and integrity of indigenous people are threatened by deforestation and contamination of their land caused by the cultivation of genetically modified soy.Read more
Marcelina López

Marcelina López has on various occasions stood before microphones and cameras to defend the San Pedro River and the lives of those who depend upon it. Credit: Aída Navarro / AIDA.

At 57 years old, Marcelina López has a very active life. Perhaps what distinguishes Marcelina most is her great character and conviction, qualities that have rooted her deeply in a grand cause: the defense of Mexico’s San Pedro Mezquital River, threatened by Las Cruces Dam.

Belo Monte is having severe impacts on people and communities living in its midst. | Credit: Maíra Irigaray / Amazon Watch.

In the once-lush jungle surrounding the massive Belo Monte dam, we see injustice everywhere we look. We see displacement and environmental devastation. What we don’t see is accountability.
Berta Cáceres

Berta Cáceres and the people of Río Blanco set up a road blockade to prevent access to the dam site. For well over a year, they withstood multiple eviction attempts and violent attacks from militarized security contractors and the Honduran armed forces. Credit: Goldman Prize.

It’s been one month since the assassination of Berta Cáceres, tireless defender of the environment and human rights in Honduras. Her murder quickly gave birth to a global movement calling for justice. It has become a turning point for human rights and environmental defenders and, especially, in the...