During the 1980s, the Ashaninka tribe of Brazil had seen large swaths of its land being devastated by deforestation at the hands of lumber companies seeking to exploit the indigenous reserve for resources such as mahogany and cedar wood. Seeking justice, the tribe managed in 1996 to take the companies responsible for decimating their homes to court.
After enduring an over twenty-year-long legal battle, last month, Ashaninka has finally won the lawsuit — in a victory representing a truly historic win for indigenous rights. On top of a $2.4 million settlement, the indigenous Ashaninka people will receive an official apology from the companies who deforested their lands decades ago.
According to the Ashaninka’s lawyer, there’s more to the sentence than granting justice to the group. The settlement marks a key turning point in the safeguarding and protection of native peoples’ rights, acting as a precedent for thousands of similar cases of environmental crime and destruction.
The indigenous group announced that it will hold an assembly every year to discuss how to spend the money. The overarching goal is to finance projects “that defend the community, Amazon, indigenous peoples and peoples of the forest”.