We are delighted to share a NEW SHORT FILM – Yaigoje Apaporis – produced by Gaia in collaboration with our partner Gaia Amazonas. The film documents the efforts of indigenous communities in Colombia’s Yaigoije Apaporis region to strengthen their traditional knowedge and protect their homeland from threats such as gold mining. Available in English and Spanish, and featuring interviews with many young indigenous leaders and stunning footage from the Colombian Amazon, the film offers a valuable insight into how communities around the world are protecting vital ecosystems from extractivism, saying Yes to Life, No to Mining, both for future generations and today’s global community.
With 93% of extractive projects in tropical regions found to impact land inhabited by local communities and indigenous peoples, efforts such as those unfolding in Yaigoije Apaporis have never been more important.
Yaigojé Apaporis is the local name for a one million hectare expanse of Amazon forest; the traditional territory of the Makuna, Tanimuka, Tuyuca, Cabiyari and Letuama peoples. It is a haven for jaguars, giant ant-eaters, squirrel monkeys and pink dolphins, and dotted with sacred sites such as Yuisi, where the river cascades over rocks, forming rapids. Until recently, this hotspot for both biological and cultural diversity has been largely undisturbed by the industrial world.
Since 1988 the indigenous communities of Yaigoije Apaporis have been legally established as collective owners of the territory, and their right to self determination, to manage their lives and care for their territory, have been recognised in Colombia’s Constitution. Despite this, in the last decade, Colombia has opened the floodgates to mining concessions in the Amazon. Mutinational companies are seeking to exploit loopholes in areas under indigenous control in order to extract the mineral deposits in these pristine forest areas. One such loophole in Yaigoije Apaporis is that, though the indigenous communities have autonomy over the territory above ground, the sub soil where mineral resources lie still belongs to the state.
In response to a canadian mining company’s attempt to exploit this loophole and mine at the Yuisa sacred site, local indigenous communities have been pressuring for a National Park to be established over Yaigoije Apaporis, a move that would see the sub soil protected and prevent mining in their territory. Through the creation stories of the local communities the grave reality of what mining this sacred area would mean is made clear. The film follows this process and explores how, by recognising indigenous cosmologies and communities’ own conservation skills, the creation of the park provides an example of a more just, inclusive and effective form of conservation.
Now part of a national system of protected areas, Yaigojé Apaporis is managed by the indigenous communities and the work of young community researchers, guided by the elders, documenting, mapping and recording, ensures the continuance of traditional practices for safeguarding the forest. Their goal, in the words of one community leader, is to: “transmit traditional knowledge to the younger generations and to protect our ancestral territory.” So far, they have succeeded in doing both.
To read more about Yaigoije Apaporis and the struggle to prevent gold mining in this sacred ecosystem, click here.