News From An A'Ukre Media Initiative
A blog that features news about the people and stories behind the filmmaking initiatives and filmmakers who are part of Kôkôjagõti, a Kayapó-Mebêngôkre media center and collective in the Brazilian Amazon.
Welcome to The Kôkôjagõti Project
In 2012, a study abroad course jointly run between the Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU) and Purdue University in cooperation with the Associação Floresta Protediga worked with the village of A’Ukre, a Kayapó-Mẽbêngôkre community in the central Brazilian Amazon to host students and faculty for two weeks. Based on ongoing discussions about media making in the community, at the end of the 2012 trip culminated in the launch of a collaborative, transdisciplinary research project. At the heart of this project was the building and supplying of a sustainable media center (Kôkôjagõti) in A’Ukre that would partner with the Kayapó to document and digitally archive cultural practices through film, music, and images. Intended to support Kayapó cultural sovereignty through the enabling of digital activism, the media center was co-imagined as a setting that would enable collaborative and individual work and would include computers and miscellaneous technologies – i.e. video cameras and microphones – that A’Ukre filmmakers could use to document aspects of community life. By 2013, several A’Ukre filmmakers had been identified as project participants, and the construction of a media center was announced to be a top community priority.
Numbering upwards of eight thousand members, the Kayapó-Mẽbêngôkre peoples are one of hundreds of indigenous communities inhabiting the Brazilian Amazon who, in their fight to survive changes that threaten their territory and lifestyles, have engaged in environmental and political activism in addition to forming partnerships with corporations, researchers, and non-governmental organizations. The Kôkôjagõti Project is envisioned by A’Ukre, a community of more than three hundred and fifty members, to be a long-term partnership. The project’s goal is simple: to support the Kayapó-Mẽbêngôkre people's’ ongoing efforts to ensure self-determination at a historical moment in which indigenous lifeways are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and defend in the face of many challenges.
In February 2016, The Kôkôjagõti Project saw the successful construction of A’Ukre’s media center with a generous donation from Thomas Moran. Then powered by two solar energy panels and inclusive of a media area, storage closets, and work spaces, the center currently houses six cameras and six computers equipped with software and hardware for filmmaking. Informed by the Kayapó filmmakers and previous work conducted at UFU, the prototype software was specifically engineered for the media center by a student team from Purdue University’s Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) group. Designed to protect from computer viruses, adaptable system design, and easy access to free programs and software, the media center’s software is the best available for a no internet and no electricity environment. By the arrival of the media center’s six-month anniversary, over forty films documenting Kayapó culture have been produced by the all-Kayapó filmmaking collaborative.
The Kôkôjagõti Project currently seeks donations to help continue the creation of the Kayapó-Mẽbêngôkre people’s’ digital archive. Funding would be used to:
- Construct a local capacity building for filmmaking workshops and pre- to post-production editing;
- Support Kayapó filmmakers in their travels to film, exhibit, and discuss their work, whether domestically or internationally;
- Purchase the necessary equipment and materials to sustain the filmmaking needs of the Kayapó media team;
- Help maintain the media center’s sustainable energy and infrastructure.
While this blog will function as the project’s first web-based presence, providing donors and interested readers alike with project updates and exciting news, team members are currently hard at work designing an official website, networking with potential sponsors, and liaising with the Kayapó in order to advance the project. The members of The Kôkôjagõti Project are very excited to begin what will prove to be a joyful endeavor and hope you will join us in our dedication to achieve the goal of realizing the Kayapó-Mẽbêngôkre people’s’ mediamaking initiatives.
Mejkumrej. Thank you.