ALTO RIO GUAMA INDIGENOUS TERRITORY, Brazil — A bit after sunrise, dozens of Indigenous Tembé men began preparing for the important day ahead. They danced, chanted and donned matching black T-shirts before setting off on motorbikes into Brazil’s Amazon forest.
Self-declared “forest guardians,” their aim was to find and expel illegal loggers and miners within their territory on the eastern edge of Brazil’s Para state. Emblazoned on their T-shirts was their group’s name — Ka’Azar, which in their language means “Owners of the Forest.”
“For a long time, since I was born, I heard my father and the elders talk about the need to fight the loggers in our lands,” said Ronaldo Tembé, a 21-year-old member of the 40-man patrol. “We are trying to combat deforestation within our reserve, which is becoming increasingly precarious.”