Meet the indigenous leaders

LifeMosaic films share the insights are inspiration from indigenous leaders around the world. 

Facing Extinction, Defending Life tells the story of the threats to biodiversity, the climate emergency, and the rapid destruction of cultural diversity: an interconnected story of loss which is threatening human existence on the planet. It is a call to all to seek pathways towards a resilient, abundant future, and to inspire collective action to defend life on earth.

Meet the indigenous leaders that speak out in the film who are taking action and developing indigenous-led solutions to these crises. 

Marisol Garcia Apagueño, is a leader of the Kichwa people of the Tupac Amaru native community in San Martin, Peru. She is the current president of the Federation of Indigenous Kechwa Chazuta Amazonian Peoples (FEPIKECHA) and former leader of the Coordinator for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of the San Martin region (CODEPISAM). She has taken the voice of Kichwa women and the territorial claims of her people to spaces such as the Congress of the Republic of Peru, IACHR, UNHCHR, IUCN, COP26, COP27, FOSPA, among others. She is a scholar of the 16th edition of the Expert Degree in Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and International Cooperation, of the Intercultural Indigenous University (UII) and the Carlos III University of Madrid. She promotes and practices the philosophy of life and struggle that she calls "Green Heart Resistance", in defense of human and environmental rights.

Dr Teina Rongo is a MĀORI from the Cook Islands. Teina is the co-founder and coordinator of the NGO, Kōrero O Te `Ōrau. They support the traditional leaders and indigenous peoples of the Cook Islands in the management of the tribal lands and seas of their jurisdiction. They promote, execute and monitor the customary laws that control all manner of human activity aligned to their customary knowledge and practices and ensure sustainable development is in line with the safekeeping of their cultural heritage and values. Teina also has a Ph.D. in Marine Biology.

Tania Pariona is a Quechua leader, social worker, politician and human rights activist from Cayara in southern Peru, who represented the Department of Ayacucho in the Congress of the Republic of Peru. As an activist, she works largely to establish social equality for indigenous peoples, youth and women. She is an associate member of Chirapaq and forms part of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas.

Sonia Guajajara, ARARIBOIA, Brazil. Sonia is an internationally recognized indigenous rights and environmental activist and in 2022 she was became  became  the new head of Brazil’s Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, the first indigenous woman to become a minister in the country. She stands: against machismo, as a woman and a feminist; against the massacre of Indigenous peoples, as an activist; and against neoliberalism, as a socialist.

Samwel Nangiria, LOITA MAASAI, Tanzania. Samwel is a deeply culturally rooted defender of Maasai lands and culture. He has founded several NGOs and CBOs including NGOnet, Pan-African Living Cultures Alliance, Living Cultures movement, Oltolio Le Maa. In 2017 he was acclaimed as Tanzania’s Rural Human Rights Defender of the Year and he continues to speak out against the violent forced evictions of his people from their ancestral lands.

Wrays Perez Ramirez was Pamuk or President of the Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampis Nation from 2015-21. He studied at the Carlos III University of Madrid (Spain), where he was awarded the title of “University Expert in Indigenous People, Human Rights, Governance and Cooperation International”. His long history of leadership began at the age of 24 years in the Amazon basin of Peru. His experience is recognized by international organizations: he has held the presidency of the Intercultural Indigenous University of Latin America and the Caribbean and has been a member of the Binational Technical Team for the Development and Cross-Border Integration between Peru and Ecuador.

Pipi Supeni, Dayak Benuaq, Indonesia. Pipi is a Benuaq indigenous leader dedicated to defending the Benuaq territory from extractive industries and other destructive developments. In this aim, she organises  women and youth from 14 villages across 4 districts in East Kalimantan. Along with her fellow indigenous women, she revives collective work to inspire and empower women to speak up, rise up and take leadership roles both in their communities and local organisations (PEREMPUAN AMAN Lou Bawe).

Petrus Asuy, DAYAK BENUAQ, Indonesia. Pak Asuy is a traditional Dayak leader who is known for defending the rights of the Dayak Benuaq community and customary forest in Muara Tae. In 2015, he, along with his fellow Benuaq, received the prestigious United Nations Equator Price award for defending, protecting, and restoring their customary forest area from coal mining companies and oil palm plantations.

Jakeline Romero Epiayu, WAYUU, Colombia
Wayuu leader of the Eiruku (Clan) Epieyu, Jakeline has participated in community processes in the south of La Guajira since she was very young. She is the mother of two daughters, and is part of the Fuerza Mujeres Wayuu movement, created in 2006 with the purpose of making visible the human rights violations and the multiple impacts of the armed conflict in the Wayuu communities in the department of La Guajira in Colombia, as well as to highlight the impacts caused by extractive activities, mega-mining, dams, wind energy, among others in Wayuu territories.

Adelaida Vangrieken, belongs to the WAYUU people of Colombia. She is a respected Wayuu leader from the Patsualii community. She has led the defence of water in Wayuu territory, fighting in defence of the Bruno and Ranchería rivers and against mining exploitation by the Cerrejón coal mine.

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