This fall, several members of the Yawanawá tribe are leaving their home in the Amazon forest for the first time and traveling to the U.S. to share their culture and try to preserve it.
Austin will be the first stop of a limited tour called 'Journey to Mutum,' which will include a short film that replicates the actual journey to the town of Mutum and a concert of traditional Yawanawá music, performed by some of the best singers in the tribe. The evening will be an opportunity for the Yawanawá to share their culture (in addition to the live music, there will also be handmade art and craft items on display and available for purchase), with proceeds helping to fund the Traditional School of Mutum, which will provide food, lodging, and supplies to Yawanawá children while teaching them about their own history and culture.
According to friend of the tribe (and tour manager for Journey to Mutum) Angelique Watson, many younger Yawanawá no longer know their native tongue, the result of 20th century missionaries visiting the tribe and encouraging the use of Portuguese. "Most people under forty years of age, they can no longer speak their native Yawanawá tongue. They only know Portuguese," she says. When completed, the Traditional School of Mutum will teach not just the language, but also "ancient spiritual practices, their traditional legends, and sacred plant knowledge."
Watson and the members of the tribe hope that the visit will benefit all parties. "We hope for the Yawanawá to have a really, really good experience and to be inspired to share their culture," Watson says, " so we can have this amazing cultural exchange."