AMAZON WARRIORS | By Sam Potter and Nainoa Langer | Beautiful Destinations
Hello, my name is Sam Potter, and I am the host, writer, and director of this series of short films on Beautiful Destinations Youtube channel. For me, our latest film, “Amazon Warriors,” is a project that started when I was a child growing up on the island of Kauai. My brothers and I would go camp in the woods or at the beach with no food or water and play what we called “survivors.” We’d imagine we were far far away from civilization, from the comfort of our beds and the safety of our parents. We would build shelters, find water, set traps (that never worked), hunt, and gather fruits to eat. Sometimes if we found a place that we really liked, we’d even try to cultivate the land and further build on the dream of a life lived in the natural world. However, this was just a game. Food, shelter, tv, mom, and dad were never too far away, but the Amazon Rainforest, in our eyes, was where this dream was a reality. A place where people somehow lucked into skipping out on this whole modern world thing. Where kids like us didn’t have to go to school, learn math, or grow up and get a job. In the Amazon, adventure was around every corner, giant trees, snakes, jaguars, and people living amongst it all. Uncontacted, undisturbed, what a life we thought.
I’m 23 years old now, I’m a (borderline) adult, so I’d like to think I’ve matured a little since then. At least enough to understand that I wasn’t about to walk into some Avatar-like utopia hidden away amongst the dense greens of the Amazon basin. I could now enter this mysterious world with no expectations, just a thirst for knowledge, for a taste of what living in the Amazon is really like.
Nevertheless, throughout the process of making this film, I could feel my younger self tugging excitedly at the bottom of my shirt. He was with me every time we had to get out to push the boat upriver. He was there for every snake encounter, and through every minute spent with the people who have called the Amazon home for thousands of years. Tugging at my shirt, wide-eyed and yelling at me, “This is it!”, “This is everything we dreamed of!” “I told you!! I told you this place exists…”. He was also there for every realization of the suffering and pain the modern world has pushed onto the people of the Amazon. The younger me was silenced by the cold reality of our world, heartbroken and confused.
Creating “Amazon Warriors” was a hell of an adventure that led us to the frontlines of a powerful story of Indigenous resilience. And I’m glad I didn’t only see it through my eyes but through the eyes of an over-excited child.
As you see in the film, the Waorani people won a major lawsuit against the Ecuadorian government which protects 500,000 acres of the Waorani's rainforest territory. However the fight is not over, there’s now major momentum to defend 7 million more acres of indigenous lands threatened by the same oil auction. The Waorani are now in the process of deepening alliances with neighboring indigenous nations to forge a unified movement for the protection of the south-central Ecuadorian Amazon from oil. To learn more and support this movement, visit: https://waoresist.amazonfrontlines.org/action/
Sam Potter | Writer, Director & Host | https://www.instagram.com/captainpotter/
Nainoa Langer | Director of Photography, Editor & Sound Design https://www.instagram.com/nainoalanger/
Waorani Tribe Members | Mo’i and Nemonte Nenquimo
Matsigenka Tribe Member | Jose
Tom Jauncy | Beautiful Destinations VP https://www.instagram.com/tomjauncey/
Alan Potter | Copy Editor https://www.instagram.com/mr_uncle_alan_potter/
Matt Stoltz | Translator and Waorani Territory Guide https://www.instagram.com/matthewstoltz/
Peru Eco Expeditions | Translator and Guide Peruvian Amazon https://peruecoexpeditions.com/
Amazon Frontlines | An unparalleled wealth of knowledge regarding the Waorani’s fight against the Ecuadorian government and a dedicated group of people fighting for Indeginous rights and the Amazon https://www.instagram.com/amazonfrontlines/?hl=en
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