Samela Sateré-Mawé: ‘We want to occupy the state’


At age 26, the young leader from Amazonas celebrates the arrival of indigenous women to positions of power, but notes that the ‘struggle continues.’

Samela Sateré-Mawé, 26, is a young leader who was born in the state of Amazonas.

She grew up in an urban setting in Manaus and was involved in the Sateré-Mawé Association of Indigenous Women (Amism), a groundbreaking institution in female leadership. The association was created by her mother, Regina, who remains one of her main influences in the day-to-day struggle as a traditional leader in the region.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, with the increase in disinformation, Samela, who is a communicator and biology student, became an important Amazonian voice in favor of vaccines.

I started communicating on social networks about the masks that we were producing during the pandemic and I gained visibility. Later, I started breaking down the news along with other young people from all over Brazil on the platform Reload.

Samela believes that the moment in which we're living, with indigenous women in positions of power in the federal government, is just the beginning.

In 34 years of democracy, we have never participated in these spaces of debate within the government and now we have this opportunity.

Despite the progress, the young female leader believes that the space is small: Of the 513 representatives elected in 2022, five are indigenous. Still, the first few months of 2023 saw the creation of the brand new Ministry of Indigenous Peoples (MPI), headed by Sonia Guajajara.

The struggle continues. We don't just want a ministry. We want to one day have a female president of the country and more of our people as representatives in the National Congress, in the legislative assemblies and city councils. We want to occupy the State.

REPORTING Emily Costa TEXT AND EDITING Carolina Dantas PHOTOS Raphael Alves/IMF Photo; Bruno Kelly / InfoAmazonia; Amazônia Real; Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil; André Guajajara; Bitate Uru Eu VISUAL IDENTITY Clara Borges ASSEMBLY Luiza Toledo TRANSLATION Matthew Rinaldi