Alessandra Korap of the Munduruku tribe conducts a boat patrol on the Jamanxim River with Chief Juarez, 61, while monitoring illegal mining on Indigenous land in the Amazon.

These women are fighting for their Indigenous land and the survival of the Amazon

Updated 1213 GMT (2013 HKT) December 24, 2021

(CNN)Indigenous women in Brazil have traditionally been excluded from taking on leadership roles that were often filled by tribal patriarchs. But those roles shifted in recent years as threats against their land rights and natural resources escalated.

Women are breaking down barriers, speaking out and joining the frontlines of the battle against rampant deforestation, extractive activities and the worsening climate catastrophe.
O-é Kaiapó Paiakan, a member of the Mebêngôkre people in the Kayapó tribe of Brazil, is one of those women. After her father, the iconic Kayapó leader Paulinho Paiakan, passed away from Covid-19 in June 2020, the 38-year-old took the reins as chief and is carrying her father's legacy as one of the greatest pioneers of Brazil's Indigenous environmental movement.
Fires burn in September along the Trans-Amazonian Highway near the Aripuanã National Forest, in the state of Amazonas in Brazil. Deforestation continues at an extraordinary rate in the Amazon, led by land clearing for meat producers and cattle ranchers, along with illegal mining. The most common means of deforestation is by fire, when ranchers burn the land in order to create farms to raise and graze cattle.
Paiakan said Indigenous women have always been powerful. But as climate and environmental threats worsen, they are stepping out of the confines of their homes to attend college and find their voices in spaces traditionally dominated by men.
"Kayapó women have always been fighting," she said. "From us, resistance is born. From us come men, children, life. The woman completes herself with nature, and we have always been part of the resistance along with the men."