Chief of the Yawanawa People, Acre, Brazil
Tashka Yawanawá is chief of the Yawanawá people in Acre, Brazil, leading 900 people stewarding 400,000 acres of Amazon rainforest. The son of the former leader of the Yawanawá, he grew up witnessing the virtual enslavement of his people by the rubber industry and experiencing the near annihilation of the tribe’s culture by missionaries. Since the 1980s, Yawanawá has actively fought for the rights of indigenous peoples. After pursuing higher education abroad, he became chief at age 25. In a short amount of time, he and his wife, Laura, have doubled the extent of Yawanawá territory, reinvigorated Yawanawá culture, and established economically and socially empowering relationships with the outside world.