Sue & Patrick Cunningham

Tribes Alive

Sue and Patrick Cunningham, photographer and writer, are partners in life. They are dedicated to showing how the future of the planet can be better than the present, and they are passionate about Brazil's indigenous people, who they value as teachers and friends.   In the heart of Brazil lies the Xingu, one of the world's last great wildernesses, which is home to ancient forests and peoples with ancient roots. For 25 years Sue and Patrick made short visits to indigenous communities in areas which are remote from contact with the rest of the country.   Winning the Neville Shulman Award from the Royal Geographical Society enabled them to lose themselves in the Xingu for six months. They grew to understand the depth of the cultural disparity which makes indigenous peoples different while recognising the common humanity which they share with all the peoples of the planet. The Original Brazilians they encountered taught them to experience the natural environment as both a spiritual and a physical entity.   “Our hosts on the Xingu River were generous with us; they fed us, and they nourished our souls. They asked us to tell their story, to show the world that they are one with the forests, the rivers, the rocks, the trees and the sky, but to make people understand that they, too, are men and women, human beings, with hopes, aspirations and dreams for the future of their children and grandchildren.”   A passion to explore does not always mean going to new places or even discovering new paths. In its essence, to explore is to see the Earth with new eyes and to hear its voices with new ears.