A frame from the campaign film #LessPrejudiceMoreIndian. Credits: Daniel Klajmic/Pródigo

“If everything has changed over 500 years, why can’t we change and continue being Indians?”

In its first campaign for TV and cinema, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) invites Brazilians to look toward indigenous peoples with respect, generosity and an open mind

By Bruno Weis, from ISA

“We are the Baniwa. We live in Alto Rio Negro, in the Amazon. We do not wear clothing. Our only sport is hunting. We have no country or religion. We eat with our hands and always cut our hair the same way… At least, that’s how it was in 1500 A.D. Everything has changed since then. And if even after so much change you continue to be ‘white men,’ why can’t we continue to be Indians?”

The question, asked by an old Baniwa leader, is in the final scene of the film for the first campaign promoted by Instituto Socioambiental (ISA). The campaign was launched this week on TV, the internet and in cinemas. The reflection summarizes the current challenge faced by more than 250 indigenous peoples in Brazil: how to tackle the racism and prejudice they suffer for having incorporated non-indigenous habits and technology in their daily routines? It is as if, for their identities and rights to be respected, they had to remain frozen in time, as if in a museum.

“Indians, like everyone else, have their own identities and assimilate what they think is important from the world around them,” says André Villas-Boas, executive secretary of ISA. “But they are still Indians.” Mariana Borga, creative director at J. Walter Thompson — ISA’s partner ad agency, responsible for the campaign — adds: “What happens is that some people, with the ‘help’ of school books, have created an image of a ‘pure’ Indian, more Indian than the rest. It is as if those who do not live up to the stereotype would not be worthy of the same rights. We want to confront this prejudice”.

The campaign was filmed in a Baniwa community in Alto Rio Negro, in the state of Amazonas, by Pródigo Filmes. It invites all Brazilians to look toward indigenous peoples with more generosity and respect. “We are happy to help fight the prejudice we suffer, the prejudice we know our relatives around the country suffer, oftentimes accompanied with violence,” states André Baniwa, one of the leaders of the ethnic group seen at the campaign. “After centuries of contact with white people, the Baniwa are an example of cultural resistance,” reinforces Beto Ricardo, coordinator of ISA’s Rio Negro Program.

A frame from the campaign film #LessPrejudiceMoreIndian. Credits: Daniel Klajmic/Pródigo

The campaign came to J. Walter Thompson through Planning4Good, an initiative of the association Grupo de Planejamento (Planning Group). ISA’s chairman Jurandir Craveiro is part of the association. “This insight into prejudice reveals something that few Brazilians are willing to admit: racism against Indians is a reality, it does exist,” he says.

Instituto Socioambiental is one of Brazil’s leading environmental and indigenous rights organizations. Founded 23 ago, ISA operates regionally and nationally to defend indigenous peoples, traditional communities, human rights and cultural heritage, and to promote social and environmental diversity in Brazil.

For more information about ISA, go to www.socioambiental.org.

Watch the film and learn more about the campaign at www.socioambiental.org/maisindio.

Share the video and use the hashtags #LessPrejudiceMoreIndian #MenosPreconceitoMaisÍndio to help promote this project.