From October 3rd to 7th, Watatakalu Yawalapiti, cacique and representative of the indigenous women of Xingu, travelled to the United States to speak at various events to raise awareness of the cultural and environmental preservation of indigenous ancestral territories in the Amazon.
First stop: appearance at Unreal Fest in New Orleans to promote the FORTNITE project
On Wednesday 4th, Watatakalu was invited to present AFV's Xingu Fortnite Experience project with our partners Game in Society and PlayNove, at Unreal Fest, a festival bringing together professionals around the world of Epic Games.
The aim of this project is to raise awareness among gamers around the world of the ancestral cultures of indigenous peoples and their fight against deforestation by creating a Fortnite map representing the indigenous territory of Xingu. On this map, Fortnite players will be able to choose their character inspired by emblematic leaders such as Watatakalu, interact with representatives of the indigenous peoples and explore the Amazon rainforest to discover its beauty but also its rampant destruction.
Second stop: Lecture at Harvard and MIT followed by dinner
On October 5th, Watatakalu was also invited to Harvard and MIT to give two lectures on the issue of protecting indigenous peoples in the Amazon. She thus addressed the question of the relative value of Western cultures and knowledge in relation to indigenous ancestral traditions and the threats that a supposed superiority of modern and western culture posed to their survival.
In the evening, a dinner was organized with researchers from MIT and Harvard as part of Women for the Amazon to discuss what female leadership means, the challenges that women can face, regardless of their background, and how the integration of women improves decision-making processes that are often predominantly male.
Third stop: course at MIT and dinner with UN Habitat
On October 6th, Watatakalu also had the honour of being invited to lead a course at MIT, in collaboration with two other indigenous North Americans, on water and energy management in indigenous territories. The lecture provided an opportunity to discuss the different Western and indigenous perspectives, and in particular an approach based on a paradigm of reciprocity opposed to Western extractivism.
Watatakalu then spoke to MIT students from various indigenous North American communities, members of the MIT Native Americans group. They discussed what it means to live far from one's native community and to suffer the loss of one's culture.
Finally, Watatakalu met with representatives of the MIT Media Lab and UN Habitat to discuss, among other things, the participation of indigenous representatives in the COP on Climate and, more generally, the need to create procedures and methodologies to ensure that indigenous voices are heard in national and international institutions.
Fourth stop: passage to New York
The tour in the United States ended with a visit to New York where Watatakalu had the opportunity to discuss indigenous material and intangible cultural transmission as part of a meeting with indigenous art dealers. A final meeting was then held with Amazon Watch, an NGO that is also committed to the preservation and demarcation of indigenous ancestral lands.