The Spirit of the Amazon

Indigenous Tribes of the Xingu

Sue & Patrick Cunningham

Foreword by Sting

255 x 310 mm

240 pages

Hardback

ISBN: 978-1-906506-67-4

£40.00

Subjects: Photography / Environment

Coming soon

The Spirit of the Amazon is the work of photojournalist Sue Cunningham and writer Patrick Cunningham. It is a celebration of cultural difference and a call for better stewardship of the world. Sue’s stunning photographs demonstrate the spiritual and material value of the Xingu tribes to all mankind; they keep the forest alive and they protect the climate of South America and the rest of the world. Their spiritual connection to their environment and the wider Earth shows us an alternative way to connect to the natural richness of the planet, built on foundations completely different from those of global materialism. During their expedition by boat, the authors followed the course of the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon, travelling 2,500 km through the heart of Brazil. They visited 48 tribal villages in this remote part of the Amazon, accessible only by small plane or by negotiating the rapids of the Xingu. This is the story of the tribal communities they met; their daily lives, their connection to the land and to the rivers, the threats which pervade each day of their lives. It is also a validation of their importance to the rest of the world; why these small, remote and often secretive indigenous communities are so important to our own lives and to our shared planet. It is a celebration of their vibrant cultures, their rituals and their rites of passage, of cultures very different from each other, but with a shared spiritual basis which respects the trees, the rivers and the rain. And it is a call for the world to protect them, their lands and their forests and rivers from the destruction which our avaricious greed for natural resources drives ever closer and deeper into their realm.

Sue & Patrick Cunningham

Photojournalist Sue Cunningham was born in London, but moved to Brazil at the age of twelve. Writer Patrick Cunningham was born in Northamptonshire. In the early 1980s, while on a commission to cover gold mining in the Amazon for the Financial Times, Sue came into contact with the Xicrin tribe. She experienced first hand the discrimination they suffered and the immense threats they were under from pressures for the development of the Amazon. Sue later took Sting, and Anita and Gordon Roddick (The Body Shop) into the Amazon to visit the tribes of the Xingu and help raise a more global awareness. In 1998, Sue and Patrick won The Royal Geographical Society award for their Heart of Brazil Expedition, to travel the 2,500km length of the Xingu River by boat. They visited 48 remote tribal communities from 17 ethnic groups, who between them speak 14 languages. They slept in hammocks as guests of the communities they visited, or camped on the sands of the Xingu. They were accompanied by indigenous boatmen, the only people who know and understand the treacherous rapids. It was a unique and hard-won privilege to gain extended access to tribes who keep the outside world at a distance, and a life-changing experience for them.  In the years since, Sue and Patrick’s dedication to the cause of indigenous peoples’ rights has grown into a consuming passion, and has become their life’s work. They established the charity Tribes Alive. Sue has exhibited her work in the UK, Holland, Portugal, Brazil, the USA and Japan. Her images have featured in countless books, magazines and newspapers, including Out of the Amazon, co-authored by her with text by Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, then Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

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“This book charts the changes in the lives and fortunes of these incredible people. It focuses on their humanity and on their individuality. It shows that they are people, just as we are people, and not simply exotic objects. It tells us that they have a fundamental right to our respect, and that we have an obligation to protect their land, their environment and their chosen way of life.”
Sting