For 30 years Raoni, Chief of the Kayapo tribe, has been at the vanguard of the fight to protect the Amazon Rainforest in difficult and often life threatening circumstances.
In 1989, with the help of his friend Jean-Pierre Dutilleux and the singer Sting, he was able to leave Brazil and launch his appeal in 17 countries. Raoni's message was transmitted on most television networks and helped to awaken people consciences: deforestation is not just destroying the last of the Indian tribes; it places the future of each and every one of us in jeopardy. In the year 2010 Raoni returned to Europe to pursue his work and deliver his new message.
“I came to you ten years ago to explain my concerns regarding the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. I talked to you about the fires, the burning sun and the strong winds that would blow if man continued to destroy the forest.
You have supported me and given me the means to mark out the boundaries of our ancestral lands. This has now been done: it is an enormous area, full of wildlife, flowers and fruit. It is the most beautiful forest.
Above all, to all those who have given us money or help, I want top say on behalf of the Kayapo people ... thank you. Nambikwas ...meikumbre.
I have come back today because I am once again very concerned.
I have heard that you too are now worried. The strong winds have come and have destroyed your forest. You are experiencing the same fear that we have experienced.
I tell you this, if man continues to destroy the earth, even stronger winds will come ... not just once ... but several times ... sooner or later. These winds are going to destroy us all.
We all breathe the same air, we all drink the same water, we all live on the same planet. We must all protect it.
People have started to trespass on our land again. The woodcutters and gold miners do not respect the reserves boundaries. We do not have the means to protect this enormous forest of which we are the guardians for you all.
I need your support. And I ask for it before it is too late.
About 150 years ago, in a letter to the President of the United States, Chief Seattle warned of his concern about the environment. He stated that "Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely one strand in it ... And what he does to the web, he does to himself ...All things are connected, continue to contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste...
Since indigenous peoples have had little to do with the industrial world, it is tragic that we are the victims of this inevitable fate.
In the Indian way of life, we pray to the spirit world and our creator through the tree. I continue to pray every day for the indigenous peoples of the world, for Raoni and for our survival."
Floyd Red Crow Westerman
Sioux Spiritual Leader
The Rainforest Association France (AFV) is a non-profit association, founded in 1989 to help save the Amazon Rainforest and the Indian tribes who live there.
The Birth of the Association
This initiative was instigated by Raoni, chief of the Kayapo tribe, several other Indian tribe chiefs and celebrities concerned about the massive deforestation in the Amazon, in order to create an organization which will represent and fight for their cause in Europe.
In 1989, following Raoni's appeal, the sum of 3 million French francs was raised from about 10,000 donations. This and other funds raised across the globe by other Rainforest Associations enabled the boundaries of the present Kayapo reserve to be drawn and a health and education programme action plan to be implemented in the Xingu region.
AFV is currently dedicated to the implementation of the Raoni Institute project, the aim of which is to ensure the long term future of the largest protected area in the Amazon.
AFV organized Chief Raoni's European tour in May 2000 in order to publicize this project. This tour relaunched the campaign to save the tropical rainforests and enlisted the support of many including the French President, Mr. Jacques Chirac, and the French Minister for the Environment, Madame Dominique Voynet, who financed the feasibility study for the Rainforest Institute.
This study was carried out in the summer of 2000 and the report was ratified buy both the French and Brazilian governments. Armed with this report, the AFV s organized a second European tour for Raoni in June 2001 in order to obtain the necessary funding for the rainforest institute. However, after the September 11, 2001 tragedy in New York and the election of President Bush, the relentless efforts of the AFV have brought little results., nobody cared anymore. As a consequence, the Indians, including Chief Raoni have lost crucial support. The destruction of the rainforest accelerates at an unprecedented rate.
A series of hydroelectric dams are under construction in various parts of the Amazon forest and a recent law is facilitating the devastation of protected areas.
The reservation, the largest in the Amazon, is plagued with corruption and devastated by unscrupulous loggers.
In 2011, the AFV is searching for new ways to finance the construction of the Raoni Institute and establish the boundaries of the Kapoto Nhinore area were Raoni’s ancestors are buried. This is Raoni ‘s last dream. It would protect the eastern flank of the reservation, the most threatened by deforestation and urban development.
Your support is crucial.
Honorary President: Jean-Pierre Dutilleux, founder,filmmaker
President: Nathalie Gaillard, art gallery owner.
Vice- President: Bernard Laine, founder, former president (89-90), journalist,
Vice- president: Gert Peter Bruch, communications
Secretary: Maximilien Giraud Laine
President : Henri de Bontin
Chris Braeckman, Alain Canu, Elie Chouraqui, , Etienne Dembour, Robert Denis, Gabriel Dornay, Jacqueline Dutilleux, Remy Gaston Dreyfus, Evelyne Gelin, Mick Mahe-Gerriet, Mamine Pirotte, Josee Roumilhac, Alain Schlumberger, Michel Viet, Heidi Eckes-Chantre, Alberto Lenzi, Stanilsas et Isabelle De Sadeleer, Michel Gast, Jean-Francois Gallois, Ginger Lindbergh, John , Geri and Jimmy Cusenza.
Origins of the Project
Located in the states of Mato Grosso and Para, in Brazil, the boundaries of the Kayapo reserve were drawn and officially recognized by presidential decree in 1993, following Chief Raoni's world tour in 1989 with filmmaker, Jean-Pierre Dutilleux. Together with the Xingu National Park and the Gorotire forest reserve on the planet (an area the size of the state of Florida or even a third of France).
Although the boundaries of the territory have been officially marked out, it is currently under increasing threat from logging, mining, cattle ranching interests.
After two years of research and consultation involving the Indians, experts and the Rainforest Association, the project to create an Institute in the heart of the Xingu national Park has been chosen as the most suitable solution to ensure it's long term survival.
The Institutes Objectives
The Raoni Institute will offer the Indian people the facilities to deal with all health and education related issues as well as the preservation of their culture and the forest, of which they are the guardians.
The Institute will endeavour to integrate the latest technologies relating to environmental protection.
It's purpose is also to serve as a pilot which can be used by other people and other threatened areas of the planet.
Ratification of the Project
The feasibility study for the Institute, financed by the French government, was carried out by GRET (Research and Technological Exchange Group) whose experts visited the site during summer 2000. The report was ratified by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Brazilian government (FUNAI) in 2001.
Xingu Rainforest Institute
Map of Brazil with Xingu area
The site of the Xingu Rainforest Institute
Description of the Raoni Institute
(A full feasibility study, financed by the French government, including blueprints and budgets, is available upon request.)
The Institute will be a multi-purpose center consisting of three round wooden towers on four levels and 12 single level satellite buildings. All of this will be constructed on piles and connected by covered walkways. The entire structure will consist of:
Tower No 1
As the nearest hospital is currently located 250 km from the reservation, the clinic will help to cope with most medical needs. It will also allow for the establishment and upkeep of a health center in each village as well as the training of Indian nurses.
Tower No 2
The Cultural Center
This center will offer the Indian people training appropriate to their needs. With this goal in mind a primary school will be established in each village and a secondary school will be set up within the Institute itself.
One of the elders' greatest fears is to see their culture dying out. It will therefore also be the aim of this center to help pass on their ancestral culture. The Institute will therefore be equipped with the following:
A book and video library
A conference room for meetings, exhibitions and video projections
A room equipped with computer for Institute administration and maintenance of a web site in order to disseminate the Institute's publications over the internet, broadcast information on the tropical rainforests and the native Indian people, foster relations with other NGO (non governmental organizations) and allow Indians to sell arts and crafts and forestry products directly to buyers. A team of technical experts will train the Indian operators.
The research center
The center will bring together researchers and scientists with the aim of finding low-cost renewable economic resources, sourced from within the forest. It will allow Indians to meet their own needs while protecting their heritage.
The reserve's communication and surveillance center
This center will improve communications between villages, the Institute and the rest of the world.It will include an office for the surveillance and maintenance of the reserve's boundaries, a telephone exchange and in time, a radio and TV station which will broadcast programs for Indians.
Tower No 3
The Reception and Administration Center
There are currently no facilities in the reserve suitable to receive visitors. Accommodation will be made available to scientists, guests of the Institute's administrators.
Raoni and the French President, Mr Jacques Chirac, May 2000
From right to left: Mr. Jacques Chirac, Pitu, Raoni's nephew Pitu and Tidje, Raoni's son (+), Raoni, Jean-Pierre Dutilleux, President of the Rainforest Association
Paris, 22, May 2001
Dear Chief Raoni,
I was pleased to learn that you will be returning to Paris in June.
I am delighted that France has been able to contribute to the launch of the project, which we discussed during your visit last year, by taking part in the feasibility study and helping to organize a meeting between yourself and investors.
Please be assured of my support in the implementation of this exemplary project, exemplary for the future of your people, the protection of the Amazon Rainforest and the preservation of the different ecosystems as well as in the fight against climactic change.I will be very pleased to see you again during your visit and wish you a highly successful trip.