The courtroom was crowded in Puyo, Ecuador. Nemonte Nenquimo stood under harsh lights. She was wearing red face paint and a crown of feathers. Three judges sat in front.
Nenquimo is a member of the Waorani nation. For centuries, the Waorani have lived in the rainforests of Ecuador. Now, they had to fight for their culture. The government had divided up their land. They wanted to auction it off to oil companies.
Nemonte Nenquimo is a leader of the Waorani nation.
Nemonte Nenquimo raises her fist in a sign of strength at the start of the court hearing in Ecuador.
Nenquimo had helped her tribe file a lawsuit against the government. The Waorani had presented their case. Now, the judges would decide!
A Rainforest Home
The Waorani nation is made up of about 5,000 indigenous people. They live on 2.5 million acres of rainforest. Most of the land is in Ecuador. Here, more than
1,500 species of bird, 300 species of mammal, and more than
840 species of reptile make their home. As hunter-gatherers, the Waorani’s lives are connected to the rainforest. Weapons for hunting are made from peach palm wood. Traditional huts are made of palm leaves and tree trunks.
The Waorani live in the Amazon rainforest.
The Waorani have always fought off invaders. But they did not have much contact with the outside world until an American missionary came in 1958.
Once contact was made, something was discovered. Oil. The oil was valuable. To get at it, oil companies ran roads and pipelines into Waorani land. For the most part, this was done without the Waorani’s permission.