Iawá, also known as Odete Kuruaya, is the last remaining fluent speaker of the Kuruaya language. Not much is known of the Kuruaya, an Indigenous group from the Amazon Rainforest. They were first described in a document from the expedition of the Portuguese settler Gonçalves Paes de Araújo in 1685, who mentioned that they were scattered across 20 villages in the Xingu River region in Brazil. Born in the early 1930s to a Kuruaya mother and a Xipaya father, Iawá and her family lived off the land, hunting and fishing, while cultivating a few crops such as cassava, corn, cotton and others, as she described in an interview in 2016. To the Kuruaya, land and culture have a powerful connection. In this image, Iawá crafts a ring out of the bark of a local tree. Indigenous art pieces are highly valued, and each is unique. The Kuruaya sell them at events or in traditional street markets. Iawá chooses the early morning to collect fruits and seeds that she later handicrafts into rings, bracelets and necklaces. Photo by Miguel Pinheiro. She married as a teenager, and soon after both she and her husband were forced to work for non-Indigenous people, a fate many other Indigenous people endured at that time. For decades they were part of a seasonal working group that harvested products from the forest, such as nuts, rubber, or the pelts of wild cats. This was known as aviamento, a form of barter where the worker exchanged the products…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer