Waorani women lead the march to the court.

In Court

On February 27, 2019, the Waorani officially sued the government of Ecuador. They did not know if they would succeed. But, they knew they had to try.

On April 11, 2019, hundreds of Waorani people marched through Puyo to the courthouse. They wore traditional clothes made of palm leaves. Their faces and arms were covered with paint used for battle.

As they walked, they sang their traditional songs. They wanted people to see their pride in their culture.

Nenquimo felt like a warrior that day, she recalled. Inside the courtroom, the Waorani and their lawyers presented their case. Their maps showed the judges the Waoroni’s bond to their land.

The Waorani wanted to protect their land.

Nenquimo stands with Waorani leaders in the courtroom.

The Ruling

On April 26, one judge spoke. He said that the government had not tried to understand the Waorani and their culture. The Waorani had not given consent. The verdict: The land was to be protected. The Waorani had won!

Nenquimo remembers that the room was filled with emotion and music. Her grandmother began to sing a song. It celebrated their origins in the rainforest. She also sang of a healthy future for their children.

Outside, rain began to pour down. For the Waorani, rain has always been a sign of victory. Now, other indigenous people could bring lawsuits of their own, if needed.

As for Nenquimo, her work goes on. Her focus is the education of young people. She wants to create jobs, so they will stay on the land.

Nenquimo and other leaders celebrate their court victory.

She wants to protect and teach the Waorani language. But Nenquimo knows young people must also learn the tools of the outside world. Then, they can carry on the fight to protect the Waorani lands.