Tawana Cruz & Comunidad Ecologica Fulkaxo
Tawana is the cultural and spiritual leader of the Kariri-Xoco Fulkaxo, a group of three tribes of the Fulnio trunk based on the banks of the river Opara in Northeastern Brazil.
Tawana is the cultural and spiritual leader of the Kariri-Xoco Fulkaxo, a group of three tribes of the Fulnio trunk based on the banks of the river Opara in Northeastern Brazil. The area where he lives, known as caatinga or Brazilian savannah, lies between the Amazon and Atlantic rainforests. Tawana comes from a family of indigenous leaders (pajes), which includes his father Soire, a distinguished community and spiritual leader of the Kariri-Xoco. Since 2011, Tawana’s family has led a legal campaign against the FUNAI, the Brazilian government body for Indigenous affairs, to be granted rights for relocation from their indigenous territories. In 2019, the Kariri Xoco won a landmark case at the Brazilian High Court granting 52 indigenous families the rights to relocation. The Cruz family are seeking to move out of Kariri-Xoco village, situated by the side of two busy urban conglomerates, so that they can go back to their ancestral lands in the Atlantic Forest, where they can access medicinal plants and the treescapes that sustain their ancestral worldview. The Cruz family set up the Reserva Ecologica Fulkaxo at the Pacatuba Estate, which boasts 550 hectares of Atlantic Forest. Tawana and his family have been responsible for the guardianship of this estate, protecting the forest from illegal burning, and steering initiatives for reforestation. Tawana has been shot twice and he was wrongly imprisoned for his work as forest guardian, but he remains unshakeable in his conviction to share his people’s spirituality and culture, as expressed in song and dance, for the healing of a world in crisis.