The Matsés Rainforest

Watercolors by Matsés indigenous artist showcase biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest and support indigenous education!

Acaté is pleased to share the watercolor paintings of rainforest animals and ecology rendered by the Matsés indigenous artist Guillermo Nëcca Pëmen Mënquë for the development of education readers, ecological books and apps that support Matsés bilingual education and intergenerational transfer of ecological knowledge.

Guillermo Matsés artist gallery

Guillermo Nëcca Pëmen Mënquë is a talented and self-taught Matsés artist who illustrated the Matsés ecological texts, readers and apps.©Acaté

The Matsés indigenous people live along the tributaries of the upper Javari River, in the heart of the Amazon Basin of what is now the present day border between northeastern Peru and Brazil. The Matsés are famed as fierce warriors due to their defeat of the rubber tappers who invaded their territory early in the 20th century and their long conflict against frontier colonizers backed by the Peruvian military. Peaceful contact with the outside world began in 1969 when they accepted a meeting with missionaries. Today, the Matsés still live by hunting, fishing and farming but in family homes in permanent villages instead of in communal longhouses in temporary villages.

The gallery albums above showcase hundreds of original paintings by Guillermo of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, and ecological scenes of the Matsés rainforest. The biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest is, in a word, staggering. The Amazon is home to iconic animals such as pink river dolphins and jaguars and millions of species. Uncounted species remain un-described to science, let alone understood and appreciated for their extraordinary and often singular adaptations that enable them to thrive within their ecosystems.

Cesar shaman

For its indigenous people, the value of the rainforest is not reduced to commodity metrics of board feet, barrels of oil, or tons of carbon sequestered. The rainforest sustains their way of life. The fate of a forest and its indigenous people are closely intertwined.©Acaté

Scientific studies have validated what has long been known that indigenous peoples of the rainforest are profoundly knowledgeable and responsible custodians of their environment. Tribal people understand and value the rainforest because they are dependent on it. This relationship extends beyond a utilitarian reliance; there is a spiritual link to the forest, an interconnectivity, difficult to comprehend through the compartmentalized Western mindset but one no less real. It should not be surprising that the remaining tracts of intact rainforest in the Neotropics largely overlap with areas of indigenous habitation.

indigenous mapping initiative

The rainforests of the Matsés Ancestral Territory exist intact today because generations of Matsés fought against the encroachment of outsiders intent on resource extraction. The forests shield some of the last remaining uncontacted tribes in voluntary isolation from unwanted encroachment from the outside world.©Acaté

For over a decade, Acaté has worked directly with the Matsés indigenous people in a true and transparent partnership to support their communities as they strive to protect their cultural self-determination in a rapidly changing world. We operate through implementing strategic programs and real on-the-ground initiatives that help them protect their chosen way of life, traditions, their land, and ecology from a position of strength and independence. All of Acaté’s field projects are led, coordinated, and undertaken by the Matsés people.

native language education

Bilingual education and intergenerational transfer of ecological knowledge are key domains that sadly often go underfunded in conservation. Vitally important at an elemental level, there has never been a more pressing need for greater support in the backdrop of the chronic short falls and inadequacies of resources for education, particularly bilingual education, in most indigenous communities coupled to the rapid loss of traditional knowledge, deep generational divides, shifting ways of life, and a rapidly changing technological landscape.

Take some time today to view in the albums above through Guillermo’s beautiful watercolors of hundreds of species that offer a glimpse through indigenous eyes of the exquisite beauty, mystique and diversity of the Amazon Rainforest. If you would like to learn more about our work or purchase original watercolors to support Acaté’s conservation projects with the Matsés please contact here.

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