The Forest Hero

Chief Almir Suruí is a visionary Indian. He grew up in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforeset, in the Lapetanha tribe in Rondônia, but his struggle goes beyond the borders of the Sete de Setembro Indigenous Land, where he lives today.
Almir was born in 1974, a few years after the first contact of his people with the white men. At that time, the diseases brought in from outer society decimated the Suruí - which were about five thousand, and soon passed to almost three hundred. But the indigenous warrior resisted. Despite the cultural shock, Almir sought knowledge in both worlds, the forest and the city - and that is how his interest in technology came to be.
When he coordinated the indigenous movement of Rondônia, Almir Suruí discovered the computer and saw that even with distance, the whole world was connected by the internet - but his tribe and his ethnic group did not. Then he decided to use the web so that everyone could see the struggle of his people through the forest. Far away from the city, the Suruí resisted alone against invaders and loggers who destroyed their lands.
Almir discovered the world through the internet and wanted to see it up close. So he began traveling to several countries denouncing deforestation in the Amazon and seeking sustainable alternatives to the forest. Chief Suruí spoke at the UN General Assembly, spoke with the Organization of American States, debated with international leaders and was even awarded in Switzerland by the International Society for Human Rights.

In this way, he took not only computers and technology plans to the tribe but also conquered income generating projects.

Today the Suruí people care for a nursery of seedlings and reforestation of what the white man destroyed. In addition, they pioneered the sale of carbon credits within indigenous lands.

All these achievements were great for the Indians, but lousy for those who took advantage of the forest illegally, as loggers and invaders. Therefore, Almir Suruí and his family began to receive death threats. For a while they even had to be escorted by national security. But the struggle for the Amazon Rainforest never stopped.

Thanks to Chief Almir, today the Suruí people have both the traditional culture and the technology of the white man. In the schools within the tribes, the children learn in Tupi-mondé and in Portuguese.

And now, always looking to the future, the leader seeks to preserve not only the forest, but also the knowledge of his people, and for this he is planning an indigenous university.

In 2012 Forbes magazine quoted Chief Almir as the most creative Brazilian in the business area and the following year he was elected by the UN as the "Hero of the Forest."

The leader Suruí is an example of how different cultures can dialogue for the benefit of all, whether they live in the tribe or in the city. Because in the end, the Amazon Rainforeset is a wealth of the whole planet.
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