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Amazon Outreach Brings Community Together at Sacred Lands

A fundraiser for the protection of the Amazon Rainforest was held Monday evening by Sacred Lands Preservation and Education; the site of an ancient mound in St. Petersburg.

The outreach was to benefit tribal communities of the Amazon, including presentations of life in the rainforest and the current effects of ecocide. The result being a loss of the indigenous peoples’ culture and their way of life.

The audience was asked to listen to the language of these people as if they were “listening to the forest” as well.

Star fruit tree at Sacred Lands. Photo courtesy of Magen Diogenes

Timo Gualinga shared the experience of his 11-month trek through the Amazon and his connection to the land. He explained the fear native tribes currently face, subjected to the use of equipment and modern machinery of surrounding civilizations. Man-made fires, as well as the destruction caused from petroleum extraction, are detriments to the tribes who endure these effects.

Additional causes mentioned for the rise of ecocide has been logging and cattle farming.

To help these people as they fight against the loss of their culture and way of life, speakers stressed the importance of increased environmental awareness and the reduction of global emissions. Other discussions stressed the importance of the land to these people and their connection to the earth.

Through art and song, speakers displayed their passion and love for the land and culture of its people. The audience sat peacefully, listening to the pleas of those who have close connections to the destruction taking place.

Seating for the ceremony as locals gathered in for the event. Photo courtesy of Magen Diogenes

The Narvaez/Anderson Mound on the preservation is cared for by Erik Anderson and his wife, Doric, who acquired the land from his parents. After hitchhiking to Alaska and back, Anderson said he was “footloose and fancy free” for a long time, but ultimately he felt the need to fulfill his duty and take care of the preservation.

Foliage and scenery around the preservation. Photo courtesy of Magen Diogenes

The mound includes a greenhouse with numerous plants surrounded by long brick roads varnished with foliage and wooden structures. Anderson offered me a stevia leaf from the greenhouse. It tastes “like sugar but 100% sweeter!” Peacocks roamed the grounds undisturbed, ever since two flew in and reproduced years ago.

Anderson said he also cares for injured animals that have been brought to him, almost as if his land is a sanctuary.

The center has a museum with artifacts and information on the Tocobaga tribe. It hosts peace meditations and events such as flute circles to help visitors enjoy the land and honor the people who once lived there.

Many are in awe of the land after they visit and return for events supporting the arts, social advocacy and, sometimes, the occasional wedding. The team hopes to educate visitors while allowing them to feel a connection to the space and each other.

For more information on the education and outreach provided by this community, visit http://www.sacredlandspreservationandeducation.org/index.aspx

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