The Kayapó Tribe Puts Way of Life Above Money and Progress

Although they're an indigenous tribe living in the Amazon, the Kayapó have a long history of interactions with outsiders, and those interactions haven't always had the best consequences. In the early 1980s, the Kayapó prospered greatly by employing white outsiders to log on their lands, but in 1989 the Kararao Dam Project planned to create a series of six hydroelectric dams on indigenous land, directly threatening their livelihood. The dam would have flooded around 8,300 square miles, displacing entire Kayapó communites and destroying whole fish populations across large sections of the Amazon rainforest. The Kayapó people rejected money from dam-building companies saying “We have decided that we do not want a single penny of your dirty money. Our river does not have a price, our fish that we eat does not have a price, and the happiness of our grandchildren does not have a price.” With the combined support from the media, international figureheads, and celebrities, the Kayapó were able to protest and resist these changes, pressuring the World Bank into denying the loan that was to fund the building of the dam.