I’m writing you because I’m deeply concerned about the fate of a place and a people I have come to know over the years. Right now, the greatest threat I’ve seen is facing the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Waorani people who have lived there for thousands of years. The Ecuadorian government is auctioning off vast tracts of pristine rainforest that rightfully belong to the Waorani, to oil companies.
The Waorani communities have declared their unanimous rejection of the oil auction and are united in resistance.
We can’t stand by and watch one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth be stolen from the Waorani and destroyed by oil companies seeking a profit.
The words of the Waorani are more powerful than anything I can say:
We are Waorani and we have always lived in the Amazon rainforest. For thousands of years we have defended our territory from trespassers. As a warning, our ancestors left crossed palm-wood spears on trails to give would-be invaders a chance to retreat.
Our ancestor’s bones are buried under this earth. Deer, boar and jaguar still roam free across this land. Our memory, our language, and our songs are borne from the forest, and we will ensure that they live on, generation after generation.
Drilling for oil fuels modern life in the cities, but drilling within our territory threatens everything that matters for our people. We have seen the destruction that oil drilling causes in the rainforest. We have heard neighboring indigenous peoples tell of their children poisoned by contaminated rivers, and seen their bounty of wild fish and game disappear, their language and culture fall to the brink of extinction, all in a single generation.
Our territory gives us life. We will not allow oil-drilling to poison our creeks and our fishing holes. We will not allow lines of explosives to be placed in our hunting grounds for seismic testing. We will not allow the building of platforms or pipelines or roads. We do not recognize what the government calls Oil Block 22. Our forest homeland is not an oil block, it is our life.
These are our words, our palm-wood spears crossed on the jungle trail, our message to the oil companies: Our land is not for sale.
Please, take action right now to protect the Amazon rainforest and the ancestral home of the Waorani people. Time is running out and there is too much at stake.
Board member of Amazon Frontlines and
Program Director at Rainforest Action Network