The fires engulf the Amazon rainforest, as the smoke rises up into the sky. Brazil’s indigenous Manoki watch helplessly as the flames tear their places apart.
“The fires did irreversible damage to the places we hunt and collect medicine. Huge trees that took centuries to grow have been cut and burned,” tribe member Giovani Tapura, 38, told VICE News from the Amazon’s smaller Irantxe Indigenous Territory, where the Manoki live.
As much as they fear losing their hunting grounds, Tapura and other Manoki also fear losing their very own language, which could mean the end for their cultural heritage.
It was already on the cusp of extinction, between population loss from Portuguese massacres and disease, and missionaries forbidding Manoki to speak their language. Of the 400 remaining Manoki left in Brazil, only eight speak the tribe’s native language, also called Manoki, according to Tapura.
They are far from alone with this problem: There are nearly 1 million indigenous Brazilians living in the Amazon, speaking roughly 200 languages, and almost half are endangered. The Amazon fires encroaching on many of their territories are heightening fears that if indigenous groups are driven out of the Amazon and forced into cities, their languages will go extinct.
Know more about this saddening news over at Vice.
(Image Credit: AP Photo/Leo Correa/ Vice.com)