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From the very beginning of their existence, the legend says, the Zapara — a community of indigenous people living in the depths of the Amazonian rain forest — knew their culture would someday disappear. Piatsaw, their creator, had seen it as he created the members of that community out of the plants and trees of the Amazon. As the Zapara population has dramatically shrunk from as many as 200,000 in the early 20th century to fewer than 500 today, the prophecy has become all too real.
For three years, Nicola Okin Frioli, an Italian photographer based in Mexico, followed the last of the Zaparas. His work is a “diary of the resistance,” he told In Sight. “It’s a report of what the reality is there. It’s a personal story.” It’s the story of the Zaparas’ resistance against the mining and oil industries that have contributed to the destruction of their lands. Their only rampart against the outside world is the remoteness of their home: Deep inside the rain forest, there are no roads that reach them. And it’s from that forest that they draw their strength. “The jungle is an important part of their bodies,” Frioli said. “It’s the place where their spirits and ancestors still live. They are their guardians.”
In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.
Olivier Laurent is a foreign photo editor, commissioning photographers in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He joined The Washington Post in 2017 from Time where he led and edited the magazine's photography vertical, LightBox.
Nick Kirkpatrick is a photo editor at The Washington Post where he works on an interdisciplinary team focused on visual storytelling. Follow him on Instagram or on Twitter.
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