Earlier this year, the Waorani People of Pastaza — who have lived in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest for generations — won a case to save their land. But this was just one battle, and the war against the oil companies that seek to take it away is yet to be won.
Standing in Solidarity
To ensure the Waorani People’s victory isn’t overturned, the indigenous tribe is asking for support from the modern world, via the most modern form of communication — selfies.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio shared a video made by the Waorani People and NGO Amazon Frontlines. He urged his more than 32 million Instagram followers to stand with the tribe by taking selfies to express their support and signing a petition.
He captioned the post, “the government of Ecuador is still trying to auction off the ancestral lands of the Waorani for oil drilling. Link in bio to sign the petition and protect the Amazon.”
In response, the Waorani People shared their own selfie on Instagram, with a sign that read: “Thank You, Leonardo.”
The American environmentalist, activist, and Academy Award-winning actor isn’t the only celebrity to be thanked by the tribe. American actor Mark Ruffalo and Ecuadorian actor Roberto Manrique also showed their support for the cause.
“The Waorani communities thank everyone standing in solidarity with their struggle,” DiCaprio captioned a later post about the tribe, re-sharing their thank you message.
It continued with a note from the Waorani People, “In the name of our forests, our rivers, and our ancestors, we the Waorani People thank you for standing in solidarity with us in this struggle. Our children and future generations will remember your commitment to safeguard the lungs of the earth, the Amazon.”
“Our struggle continues and your support will continue to be vital,” the post continues. “Now, we need more signatures to reach our goal of 500,000!”
The Waorani People’s petition is in the form of a letter, written in May 2018. “Our forest homeland is not an oil block, it is our life,” it states. “These are our words, our palm-wood spears crossed on the jungle trail, our message to the oil companies: our land is not for sale.”