Benki Piyãko is an indigenous Ashaninka leader and shaman who works for the rights of indigenous peoples and the preservation of nature.
The Ashaninka are a thousands-years-old people, ancestors and precursors of the Incas. They live in the state of Acre, Brazil and also in Peru. With a population of around 120,000, they are the largest indigenous group in South America and one of the few tribes to have managed to preserve their autonomy and traditions. To this end, they have fought against all invaders throughout history. Deeply connected to nature, they have managed to preserve their ancestral knowledge.
Benki was born in 1974. He is the son of the cacique of the Ashaninka tribe of Brazil and of a white mother, a descendant of rubber farmers. Very early on he was appointed and trained by his grandfather to assume the role of “pajé” (shaman) of the community, that is to say the one who possesses and transmits the ancestral knowledge of the people, their traditions and their medicine. From an early age, together with his father and brothers, he was involved in the peaceful resistance to the advance of the Amazonian pioneer front. The Ashaninka territories, victims among others of attacks by illegal loggers and drug traffickers, obtained their official demarcation in 1992 thanks to the actions of Benki’s father.
Benki Piyãko is the ambassador of a paradigm shift in cultural, environmental and pacifist activism and his interventions have brought with them the potential for great transformation of the world. As a cultural and environmental activist as well as a pacifist spiritual leader from the depths of the Amazon, Benki has been one of the protagonists of unprecedented cultural projects emanating from the Amazon rainforest and extending far beyond the region. It aims to show the cultural involvement of his actions and projects in the promotion of peace and how they fit into a continuum, each of which can be reproduced or reiterated in other parts of the world, each drawing on his experience from other projects. The Amazon is once again under threat from the uncontrolled economic development of the current Brazilian government. Benki’s work is a strategy to revive our concern for a region that needs our attention today by showing some of the values and wisdom that an Amazon shaman activist can share with the world.