#13 The Huni Kuin – Protecting Indigenous Lands in the Amazon

“Protecting the rainforest and protecting the indigenous are one and the same.” 


In this crucial junction of history, bridging indigenous wisdom as well as balancing the masculine and feminine is all the more important.

In the dialogue today with Alexandra Schwarz-Schilling, Founder of Coaching Spirale in Berlin and Founder of Living Gaia, a holistic healing biotope in Alto Paraiso, Brazil. The joint endeavour we are exploring is building a holistic retreat centre in Brazil and preserving the indigenous lands of the Huni Kuin. 

In our dialogue we dive deep into:

  • Different indigenous traditions from North America and the Amazon.
  • A critique of patriarchy and the history of the sexes. 
  • An appreciative yet critical view on Ayahuasca. We both agree that we should drink the medicine time and again but approach it with respect, as well as take time to integrate. Ultimately it’s about not giving you responsibility away and to not make a cult out of plant medicine.
  • The Huni Kuin: Living with some of the few remaining indigenous tribes in the Amazon feels like a memory of our collective past, how we can live in harmony with nature. There will always be children around. This is because in a village there is no separation like in modern culture. Being there feels like a deep remembering, a deep healing.
  • Not romanticising or tokenizing indigenous people. The Huni Kuin only got contacted some 80-100 years ago. Even though they are one of the biggest ethnic groups in the Amazon region, they are only 20.000 people. The problem now is pretty simple and straightforward: Now that they are having a lot of children, but live on small territories, the villages are exploding. Also they can’t pursue their nomadic life and most settle down. Many of them started to travel and start ceremonial work but without proper education. The problem is that both putting them down like still most Brazilians do or putting them on a pedestal creates separation. When those travelling come back with a lot of money they don’t necessarily give it back to the community. Also the Brazilian culture has turned the Huni Kuin into a very patriarchal culture, and since they don’t have a written history, only within two generations a lot of the ancient old wisdom gets lost. This is why we think it’s key to invest into women. 
  • In Alto Paraiso, we are building Living Gaia, a holistic retreat centre and biotope on 300 hectares of land to educate the women. Women have to take leadership. And we also support the women as shamans. 
  • The land purchase project near Jordao. The Huni Kuin need a place to live. And the problem is that in Jordao there are a lot of Brazilian farmers and they are close to the indigenous territories, and there the cattle graze. We want to protect the forest and support their indigenous way of life. Protecting the rainforest and protecting the indigenous are one and the same. 


Alexandra Schwarz-Schilling

is Founder and Managing Director of Coaching Spirale in Berlin and Founder of Living Gaia, holistic healing biotope in Alto Paraiso, Brazil She is also a senior coach and teaching coach (DCV) since 1997.

Alexandra Schwarz-Schilling is always concerned with the big question: What is the human being? She wants to get to the bottom of his essence. She has been doing this long before she met her great passion, coaching, in 1996.
She studied anthropology and ethnology, led theater projects in Moscow, and trained in shamanism. Her experiences abroad in London and Paris, in India and Japan have shaped her; her business studies, her studies in psychology, her insights as a mother of three children – her knowledge, her skills, her experience combine in a wonderful way in her work at Coaching Spirale Berlin. Since 2011, she has been dedicating herself to her next big task: building a holistic retreat center in Brazil and preserving the indigenous lands of the Huni Kuin.




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