Célia Xakriabá is a teacher, poet, and activist from the Xakriabá people in the Cerrado biome of Brazil. She is one of the founders of the National Association of Ancestral Indigenous Women Warriors (ANMIGA) and a leading member of the Indigenous women’s movement in Brazil. She also helped to create the “Reforesting Minds” movement based on Indigenous ancestry and wisdom which advocates for a change in consciousness among the global public about planetary preservation.
Brazil’s territory contains 60% of the Amazon, of which 21% has been destroyed, an area three times greater than the United Kingdom. Today’s deforestation rate is pushing the Amazon to what scientists call a “point of no return,” beyond which the rainforest won’t be able to maintain its own climate and will turn into a dry savanna, emitting more planet-warming greenhouse gasses than it absorbs. This grim scenario is already playing out in heavily deforested parts of the Brazilian Amazon.
Since 2017, Xakriabá has spoken at various conferences and debates at universities in Brazil, promoting, among other things, advancing the status and rights of Indigenous women, land rights, education, and encouraging the revitalization of native languages in Brazil.
In 2015, Xakriabá became the first Indigenous person in the education department of Minas Gerais state. She held the position from 2015 to 2017. Xakriabá promotes an expansion of the inadequate educational system in Brazil to include teaching Indigenous history, land rights, and traditional knowledge that is shared collectively.
Her biggest dream is “to have the right to go back to sleep peacefully, because there are 523 years that Indigenous peoples don’t have the right to go back to sleep in the tranquility that they deserve,” referring to the more than half-millennium since the Portuguese conquest of South America in 1500.