Together with her sister Putanny, Hushahu was the first woman to enter into a spiritual study in the story of her people and of other tribes in the region. She lived many strong experiences in the tribe from a young age and became determined to discover the world of the Pajé (Shamans) – to find healing and wisdom for herself and her people. Hushahu asked her father Tuîkuru to study and, after spending many years gaining their trust, her father and the late Pajé Tata accepted her onto the path to study. She spent one year and three months in Samakẽi – isolated in the forest with strict rules and without contact with anyone besides her teachers.
During this time she began to discover the world of the Pajés as a woman, expressing this through her art and her voice, bringing a female voice to the traditional songs. On her return she brought equality between men and women to her people. The Yawanawá women now sit alongside the men as equals in ceremony and in daily life. This transformation, along with the beauty of the songs and art she brought back, inspired many, both men and women to re-engage with their tradition. Following her time in Samakẽi, Hushahu continued to study with Tatá until his death, later repeating this period of study for another year.
Today Hushahu is one of the spiritual leaders of her village Mutum and is dedicated to keeping the tradition of her people alive. She has many students among the youth of the village as well as from the world outside where she travels and shares the teachings that were passed to her. The designs that she received in visions are used in the artworks of many different tribes in Brazil as well as her own.
Her work has drawn international attention, being featured in the magazine of Brazilian airline GOL and being the subject of the VR movie Awavena which featured at Sundance Film Festival and World Economic Forum amongst other events aronund the world before winning an Emmy award in 2020.
In 2021 she began to build Centro Awavãna next to her village as a project to preserve and give life to everything she strove for in her life. Today she lives at Centro Awavãna together with Adair where they continue to strive to make it an example of sustainable living within an indigenous community.
Co-Founder & CIC Director
Adair first travelled to the Brazilian Amazon in 2017 where his heart was touched for the first time by the indigenous culture there. The following year his meeting with Hushahu reinforced the importance of indigenous wisdom for himself and for our world.
He has since worked and studied with Hushahu, dividing his time between the rainforest and the Western world. Striving to discover and understand the Yawanawa culture and to share this understanding with others. He acts as a bridge and translator between the indigenous world and our own as well as working to support families in the rainforest.
Today Hushahu and Adair are happily married, working together and realising projects to improve quality of life, lessen dependence on the cities and preserve the Yawanawá culture. They created Kairao together to deepen this work and share it with the world.
Hushahu’s sister Kẽnẽmãni coordinates and organises various projects inside of her people, dedicating herself to move the Yawanawa in a more self-sustainable and positive direction.
Kẽnẽmãni is a mother to 5 children and spent her life very close to her father Tuīkuru of whom she often speaks. Taking his vision as a leader, Kẽnẽmãni is at the front of the organisation for every project in Mutum and Centro Awavãna. She works with a lot of dedication and humility for the benefit of many families.
Amongst the projects she leads is the centre for education in Mutum, the production and sales of Rauti (artwork) over 7 villages, the reforestation project in Mutum and the reforestation project Waivãna. She works to support many within the Yawanawá family, not restricting herself to her own village, with a focus on working with women.
Kẽnẽmãni is our main coordinator for our work in the forest, organising all of the work that is happening on the ground and overseeing the progress of the projects.
The son of the great Yawanawá leader Tuīkuru and student of the late pajé Tatá, Matsini is joint leader of the village Mutum as well as a spiritual leader of his people. After Tatá passed away, the responsibility of the village’s spiritual healer fell to Matsini.
Besides his responsibilities to the families of Mutum, Matsini directs the Samakēi Centre in his village where he receives westerners who come to learn about Yawanawá culture and spirituality. Raised by Tuīkuru to be his successor, Matsini is an excellent teller of the traditional Yawanawá stories, through which he brings examples which guide his people and students. His form of showing a path through his words is what makes him both an excellent spiritual teacher and leader of his people.
Matsini works following in his father’s footsteps to form healthy relationships with the outside world and develop a sustainable living model for his village Mutum.
In 1996, Nãiwēni founded the village of Mutum with her father and her siblings, including Hushahu and Matsini. In 1997 she was chosen by her father to be the leader of the village. This was a historical moment for the Yawanawá people, since no woman had ever been appointed to such a position of leadership before.
She worked for many years guiding the families of Mutum and empowered her sisters, Hushahu and Putanny, to be the first women to study the Yawanawá spirituality.
Nãiwēni is known for her wisdom and compassion, which made her defy the cultural expectation to become a great leader of her people.
In the year 2014 she entered Samakẽi for 1 year in retreat outside the village guided by the Pajé Tata, in a quest to gain deeper knowledge about her people and Yawanawá spirituality.
Tashkã & Laura
About Tashkã & Laura
Tashkã Yawanawá is overall leader of the Yawanawá people, acting as a guardian of their territory and a bridge to the outside world.
Advised by his father to study in the western world, Tashkã won schorlarships to study in Rio de Janeiro and in San Francisco where he met Laura Soriano, a Mixteca-Zapoteca activist from Mexico. Throughout his life, Tashkã and Laura have been involved in various projects involving indigenous people around the world including: the demarcation of Brazilian indigenous territories during the 80s, being directly involved in creating the Indigenous Lawyers Association, co-founding the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Lawyers Association and more.
Tashkã works together with his wife Laura to preserve the Yawanawá culture and establish economically and socially empowered relationships with the outside world.
Kēnēwma & Jordão
About Kēnēwma & Jordão
Kēnēwma is the only child of Nãiwēni, the first female chief of the village Mutum. After Hushahu and Putanny’s entry as the first women to undertake the spiritual initiation of Muká, Kēnēwma became the third woman and first youth to complete the same initiation. Amongst others, she was guided on her spiritual path by the late pajé Tatá and by Hushahu.
Jordão Souza is the grandson of Padrinho Sebastião Mota de Melo, a well-known religious leader in the Santo Daime tradition. Since he was a baby, he was exposed to Amazonian shamanism and spirituality. In 2009 he made his first contact with the Yawanawá and shortly after completed the diet of Muká as the last initiate of late pajé Tatá.
Today Jordão and Kēnēwma are married and live together in Bahia, Brazil where they founded Guananshe Sanctuary. The sanctuary is an ambitious project to make Amazonian healing more accessible to the outside world and merge the ancestral knowledge with scientists, researchers and emerging technologies.
Rasu is the joint leader of the village Mutum and grandson of the great pajé Tatá, who was one of the most respected elders and wise men of the Yawanawa people. Rasu was raised by Tatá with whom he learnt from a young age. Later in his life he became the youngest man to undertake the initiation of Muká with his grandfather.
A leadership amongst his people’s youth, Rasu encouraging the younger members of his tribe to engage in their cultural practices and work inside the village. Rasu is one of the only young Yawanawá who speak their language fluently and is a talented multi-instrumentalist musician.
Rasu works tirelessly to improve living conditions and support Matsini in leading the village, leading by his own example. He has his grandfather’s vision to always think of the future and dedicates himself to giving continuation to his grandfather’s work.
Hukēna & Dominique
About Hukēna & Dominique
Hukēna was the youngest woman of her people to undertake the spiritual initiation of Muká. Guided by the late Pajé Tatá and her mother Hushahu she developed a strong and compassionate character, challenging old values and looking often to others.
Dominique Fonseca is the daughter of a leader in the Afro-Brazilian spiritual tradition Umbanda. Coming from a strong lineage, she was also raised inside this tradition and later discovered the Yawanawá.
Hukēna and Dominique broke a strong cultural taboo inside the Yawanawá when they became married, making Hukēna the first Yawanawá woman to come out as gay.
Since then they have taken the name Shavorã to work under, dedicating themselves to bring healing to others around the world through their songs and understanding. Through their work they give a voice to the LGBTQ+ community for which they are well known around the world.
Partnerships & Outreach
Warren began his work supporting indigenous communities when he founded Anandamide, a raw chocolate business that supported small communities in Ecuador. He later spent time in the Yawanawá village Mutum, seeing first hand the beauty and challenges of life in the rainforest. He became especially close with Matsini, the village’s chief.
In 2017 Warren connected with Hushahu and Adair’s vision for Kairao and became committed to making a part of their work and supporting the projects through his connections in the western world.
Warren divides his time in various roles that encourage connection to the natural world. As Director Of Operations for Alive Waters, he works to supply natural spring water to over 3,000 families. As annual fiscal sponsor and caretaker of charitable organisation Find A Spring, Warren cares for a free international spring water map for a community of over 80,000 people.