In our recent history, our land has been extremely threatened by violence
Polonoroeste program, corruption and failure of government agencies and the
unauthorized invasion of random people, such as timber and mineiros.
We, the Paiter, along with the people of the forest, we are determined to maintain
our culture and our living environment.
The Surui people of the Brazilian Amazon had their first contact with outsiders in
1969, introducing them to the modern world and all of its associated issues. Years
later, this contact expanded to their land, as it became threatened with
deforestation by illegal loggers.
When Chief Almir first glimpsed Google Earth on a visit to an Internet café, the
indigenous chief immediately grasped its potential for conserving the heritage and
traditions of his people. He invited Google to train his community in recording the
stories of tribal elders. Surui tribe members learned to create YouTube videos,
geo-tag content, and upload it to a “cultural map” on Google Earth in order to share
their unique history and way of life with people all around the globe.
Meanwhile, the deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest is not only having a
devastating effect on indigenous people and the local economy, but also destroying
biodiversity and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. For these reasons, Chief
Almir believes that the issue of illegal logging on Surui territory is important to
everyone on the planet and he’s harnessing the power of Google Earth to spread the
In 2009, Google visited the Surui people again and taught them to use mobile phones
and Open Data Kit to record instances of illegal logging. Tribe members can capture
GPS-located photos and videos for immediate upload to Google’s mapping tools, so
today's perpetrators of illegal deforestation literally have nowhere to hide; anyone
anywhere can see the effects of their work with their own eyes.
“Since the Surui and other indigenous people were given training tools by Google, our
land has received more visibility. All the information is shedding light on the
invasion of our land ... and giving our people the responsibility for their own
Chief Almir, San Francisco Chronicle
Now, the Surui are using Open Data Kit to monitor their forest’s carbon stock to
trade on the carbon credit marketplace, which will allow them to build a sustainable
future for their territory.