Why Amazonian forest peoples are ‘counter-mapping’ their ancestral lands

29122014-DSC_1968.jpg“The earth is our mother. We should look after and respect her. This territory is where the peccary passed. Under the authority of Karodaybi [the first Munduruku warrior] Mauricio Torres, Author provided

Author: James Fraser

In 1707, a Jesuit missionary from the Czech Republic named Samuel Fritz published one of the first detailed maps of the Amazon River. Fritz spent much of his life in the region and his map names and locates (often incorrectly) many of the Amazonian forest peoples he encountered. In this sense, his map helped tie them to certain places, and to particular colonially-defined identities.

While Fritz was mapping out the Amazon, other Europeans were hard at work in tropical forested countries across the globe, drawing up boundaries that ignored and criminalised forest peoples’ customary rights to live in their ancestral territories. Read more