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  • In the Amazon, Kayapo warrior culture,

  • they were only pacified in the late sixties.

  • While other indigenous groups around

  • they were already pretty much vanished,

  • they've managed to stand up to the outside world.

  • They're still very much in touch

  • with their culture and their traditions.

  • They are not like other indigenous cultures.

  • ( clapping )

  • When National Geographic calls with an assignment

  • to go down to Brazil, to the Amazon,

  • first you're very excited,

  • then there's a problem with FUNAI,

  • with the authorization,

  • you don't know if you actually can go.

  • Then it goes back and forth.

  • Then you are going all of a sudden.

  • This is all the equipment we took.

  • My approach to photographing these cultures

  • is that I treat them the same

  • as if they were a famous person in Hollywood.

  • I bring my lights and my studio setup.

  • I want to differentiate myself

  • from just a pure journalistic photographer.

  • I want to be a documentary photographer

  • but I also want to document their faces

  • and their bodies against a plain background

  • so we have quite a lot of equipment.

  • Then we were told we'll be going

  • with a woman named Dr. Barbara Zimmerman.

  • She sent us this picture of herself.

  • ( laughing )

  • And we ended up in Maraba, which is in the Amazon.

  • We had to drive for six hours to Tucumã,

  • the closest town in the north of the Kayapo lands.

  • And on the way there, you drive through a landscape

  • that looks like this.

  • I thought it looked beautiful. It was very pretty.

  • But basically it's all cut down rainforest.

  • So, Barbara kept on telling me, "No, this is ugly, horrible.

  • This is what cut down rainforests look like.

  • This is the enemy right here."

  • And this is where we went.

  • You see Brazil, and you see the green area.

  • All that area is indigenous territory.

  • It's a huge territory that they have.

  • It's about a quarter the size of France.

  • Or the same size as South Korea.

  • It's actually the largest piece of protected rain forest

  • in the world.

  • Protected as long as they protect it.

  • As soon as you leave Tucumã,

  • which is right on the border of the land,

  • you fly over the rainforest and--

  • Our first village was called Kendjam

  • and right next to Kendjam is this beautiful rock

  • that just comes out of the rainforest.

  • This is an aerial view of the village.

  • I feel like it's out of a movie. It couldn't be any prettier.

  • This setting.

  • The Kayapo warrior culture where young men

  • at an early age would learn how to fight and kill.

  • They were only pacified in the late sixties

  • while other indigenous groups around

  • they were already pretty much vanished,

  • a lot of the neighboring tribes.

  • But because they had this strong warrior culture,

  • they even raided each other's villages.

  • There's stories where I met one chief, Pukatire.

  • His village was raided when he was about 5-6 years old,

  • and he was taken hostage by other Kayapo

  • and grew up with a different Kayapo family.

  • And his mother was killed in front of his eyes.

  • They're a very fierce warrior culture.

  • I think that's the main reason they're still around today.

  • This is now the beginning of our first real day.

  • The men were going hunting, we asked if we could go along.

  • This is Ynhire, my favorite person I met in Kayapo lands,

  • because he's very traditional, very tough and hardworking.

  • He's constantly doing something while we're driving the boat

  • down to a spot.

  • He's shooting at fish with a bow and arrow.

  • Then we pull up at the sandbank and he starts digging

  • and pulls out these little grubs for fishing, it turns out.

  • They keep on digging and digging.

  • Take out a lot of turtle eggs.

  • They took all of them out and put one back in.

  • It's in their culture to always leave one egg behind.

  • So with that grub, it took him five minutes to catch this fish.

  • This piranha.

  • They're not good for eating, so he would cut it up

  • and use it as bait for other fish.

  • This is Okêt.

  • They wear their traditional bead jewelry.

  • 2010 I think was the last World Cup.

  • So they incorporate elements from Brazilian culture

  • into their jewelry.

  • He was excited. He heard a wild pig.

  • There he shot this.

  • And they just use tree bark to tie the animal up.

  • He doesn't have any red paint on his legs,

  • but oftentimes they put red paint on their legs

  • before they go into the jungle

  • because that way they can find their way home easier.

  • The red paint stays behind on leaves and grasses.

  • And while we were maybe in the jungle,

  • Ynhire by himself caught all this fish

  • maybe in one hour and a half.

  • With that one piranha he caught earlier.

  • Whenever you come out of the jungle,

  • everybody goes swimming.

  • The mahogany boat paddle turns into a plate.

  • For lunch.

  • So he then cut up the pig in different pieces

  • and then traded with Ynhire part of the pig for some fish.

  • They had so much food, so many fish and fruits

  • that it felt like they couldn't even eat it all.

  • I've seen rotting bananas. Fish laying around, papayas.

  • The food was so plentiful. I've never seen anything like it.

  • They still have bone arrows but,

  • ever since they encountered the first white people,

  • the first thing they got was shotguns

  • which are obviously a lot easier to hunt with.

  • Older people are allowed

  • to get money from the Brazilian government

  • if you're over a certain age, which is hard to prove

  • because none of them have a passport or any ID cards.

  • But that's a way to get a little bit of money

  • and they buy shotgun shells with it.

  • The hunter who shot the pig,

  • his wife has a pet pig at home.

  • So--

  • It was quite ironic.

  • When they shoot a mother that has a baby,

  • and the baby doesn't die, they take the baby home,

  • and raise the baby pigs as pets.

  • And while we were gone, the women were sitting

  • right next to the men's house hanging out, practicing a dance.

  • The great chief Ropni had agreed to meet us

  • in Kendjam, in his village,

  • Metuktire.

  • But he said he'd come up to meet us with Mekaron,

  • old friends of Barbara's.

  • So it turns out these women were practicing a dance

  • for his arrival.

  • This little baby already has his huge earlobe pierced out

  • right after they're born.

  • And that was Day one, pretty much.

  • It was a long day. This was our dinner.

  • I skipped the eye.

  • ( laughing )

  • The women said they'd take us out into the jungle.

  • They've all worn these dresses for the last 40 years.

  • They have them custom made, they have their own style

  • that they like.

  • They trade beads, fruit and other things

  • to get these dresses.

  • This is my other favorite subject.

  • You can see why.

  • Some of them still have traditional wooden boats,

  • then they have metal boats

  • that they got from the Brazilian government.

  • It's a mixture of cultures coming together

  • in these villages.

  • Plastic and metal.

  • The women are as hardworking as the men.

  • Everybody has their job.

  • They always take one or two men with them

  • when they go into the jungle

  • so somebody has a shotgun in case an animal comes,

  • a jaguar.

  • But for the most part, it's like twenty women,

  • maybe one or two guys.

  • The boat's engine broke down so we had to wait for them

  • at the river and it doesn't take long.

  • And they're just settled in.

  • Anywhere in the jungle they're as at home as at home.

  • You know, they start smoking...

  • or cutting their hair.

  • The babies always come with their mothers

  • no matter where they go, all the time.

  • And this young girl climbing a tree

  • with a big machete in her hand.

  • Very good idea to send a six, seven year old up a tree

  • with a machete.

  • What she does is she cuts out Açaí,

  • which is a berry that was very popular here.

  • After pomegranate, I think before coconut water.

  • ( laughing )

  • It's supposedly very high in antioxidants

  • and they grow in the wild so they harvest a lot of it.

  • They peel a lot of bark off trees.

  • Sometimes you wonder if that's such a good idea.

  • They strip many trees for many different purposes.

  • It was so nice to see that after one day

  • everybody was so comfortable with us

  • because we made a donation for each village we went to.

  • And we had two groups before over the last four-five years.

  • And both times the money went to the men.

  • So the men got to decide with that money.

  • This time it was the women's turn.

  • So the women were extremely friendly to us.

  • Normally as a man, it's hard in these cultures

  • to make a connection with the women.

  • On that day, we were expecting Ropni.

  • Together with Mekaron, he's the most famous Kayapo chief.

  • After Ropni showed up, this older lady came up to him

  • and they started crying hysterically.

  • I was not prepared for it.

  • They literally started to wail and I learned later

  • it's a traditional crying ceremony,

  • so when you see each other again after a couple of years

  • you start crying hysterically to remember the people

  • that you have lost that you both have known.

  • It went on for literally five, ten minutes.

  • And then somebody else comes and they cry again.

  • It was very moving.

  • It was very moving.

  • Then everybody's being greeted.

  • They line up and everybody comes, says hello to this chief.

  • All the way on the right is Mekaron,

  • who lives outside of Kayapo lands.

  • He speaks very good Portuguese and he was also instrumental

  • in getting the Kayapo land demarcated.

  • It's tradition that when the new chief comes

  • the whole village gathers in the men's house,

  • but a lot of the men were out of town.

  • They were at a soccer tournament up the river.

  • The Kayapo are actually quite vain.

  • They love looking at themselves.

  • They videotape themselves, they photograph themselves,

  • they photograph their ceremonies.

  • Some of them have TVs.

  • They watch their own ceremonies over and over again.

  • So they love looking at pictures.

  • And then we set up our studio in the schoolhouse.

  • And I started taking some portraits.

  • I love the contrast of the glasses

  • with their face paint.

  • And they have two different kinds of paint.

  • The black one which stains your skin

  • and it takes about two weeks to come off.

  • And the red one is more oil-based

  • and rubs off very easily.

  • Their sense of style is amazing.

  • This red paint with blue feathers is spectacular.

  • And then you have the Brazilian flag on his arm.

  • And he's wearing a necklace made out of river pearls.

  • In the background you see that rock on the right side

  • that you saw in the beginning.

  • We climbed that rock. And then you get up on it,

  • and one of the Kayapo pulls out his cell phone.

  • And you're just, "Oh, my God, this is wild, but--"

  • They don't have any cell phone service.

  • So where they are, they don't talk with them.

  • But I guess they get them really cheap and they use them.

  • They have songs on them. They use them as cameras.