Last year, the Amazon was better known for acres ablaze than for acres saved. But the lawsuit that Nemonte Nenquimo, president of the Waorani of Pastaza and a co-founder of the Ceibo Alliance, brought forth was a rare bright spot. The landmark ruling protects the Waorani’s ancestral home in Ecuador from immediate destruction. The ripples have brought hope to Indigenous communities everywhere, all too often facing overwhelming odds of their own. Nemonte lives her fight, and to have a conversation with her is to witness a rare clarity of purpose. I remember she once told me that she wasn’t going to give up. That she was going to keep fighting. That she would continue to defend the forest that she loves from the industries and the oil companies that would devour it.
She has kept her word, and continues to be a voice and advocate for her community. Nemonte’s cause is all our cause. She inspires those she speaks with to shoulder the nearest boulder and walk alongside her as her movement continues to grow. I am lucky to have met her, and I am luckier still to have learned from her.
DiCaprio is an Academy Award-winning actor and environmentalist