Project GREEN

100 indigenous words describing the colour GREEN cover

100 paintings by the artist Michael Müller, which will be sold to

100 Climate Alliance-Cities to provide medical aid for hundreds of indigenous people in Brazil through medico international



Amazonia is the largest rain forest area of our planet and is of crucial importance for the quality of life on our earth. This region helps to stabilize the climate and accommodates a huge unique biological variety. Also a very special cultural diversity has been developed there. Amazonia is the home of about 400 indigenous peoples, who respect, use and protect their natural surrouding by their "different knowledge".

All those peoples have developed own social and political structures, but also myths, ancient traditions, medical concepts and biological classification systems. According to recent provision of international law (ILO- Convention No 169), for indigenous populations the concept "people" does not depend on the number of members, but on the historical and territorial continuity and on the common consciousness of ethnic and cultural identity. The protection of Amazonia´s natural resources must be realized by preserving the culture of its indigenous inhabitants. Initiated by the artist Michael Müller, several partners have joined the project GREEN in order to participate in this conceptional intention. Together we want to contribute to a self-determined life for the Amazonian inhabitants and stimulate a new way of thought and action for the preservation of nature and culture.

Background Information

The inspiration for the project GREEN was brought from Amazonia by the artist Michael Müller. He had been there for studies, invited by the former cultural attaché of the brazilian embassy in East Berlin, Francisco Chagas Freitas, who is the son of a seringueiro family (bras. Rubber cutters).

Michael Müller visited Amazonia for a number of times during the last years, fascinated but shocked about the state of nature and indigenous cultures. And then found a most impressing phenomenon: The abundance of - for us unknown - expressions for a green - dominated universe, that have their roots in a different way of perception and the mythological, holistic way of thinking. These expressions are oppositions to how western science classifies nature and to the patenting of its use for commercial purposes.


In the "green world" of the Amazon Indigenous they have the word "APANIRADIHADI" for a rain-wet leaf that gleams in the sunlight, and a word named "CCAJONAPODE" for trees that existed in the past. The poetry, the abstract seeming sound of these words, the tales, stories and the knowledge beyond interested the artist much. Indigenous languages don`t express abstract shades of green, but describe the Amazonian cosmos related to experiences and objects. These languages, it`s words and their meanings get lost by the destruction of the traditional indigenous conception of the word through Christianization and integration into the national society. The loss of those languages means losing an unequalled wisdom and human culture.

Project activities

Training for indigenous midwives – medicine beside the river

The traditional medicine that has guaranteed the survival of the indigenous peoples in the rainforest for millennia is today considered outdated. Few people know that 90% of the active ingredients used in modern-day medicine actually originate from plants, animals and insects discovered in traditional medicine.
The social and medical aspects of the project were implemented in the Brazilian state of Acre. In cooperation with a group of indigenous women, a total of five midwife courses were run between 2003 and 2005 with the financial support of Project GREEN in which over 100 indigenous midwives participated.
Besides imparting medical expertise, the focus of the courses was above all on reinforcing the role of women as indigenous midwives. The call for state recognition of the indigenous midwives was voiced during the discussions with the health authorities.
One major improvement was the founding of a political association by the women.
“We cannot and must not stop fighting for the common rights of our peoples, as well as for a dignified life as citizens”, Grupo de Mulheres Indígenas da União das Nações Indígenas (UNI)

Medicinal herbs for primary care

At the end of 2004, the midwives expressed the wish to set up a garden to cultivate medicinal herbs and vegetables. Concrete planning could already begin in May 2005. Groups were formed in five different areas – women’s organisations, families and indigenous communities, who wished to work on a herb garden together.
Particularly for villages in very secluded areas, the idea of a herb garden represents an important opportunity to be able to provide primary health care locally. The gardens encountered fertile soils! The participants marked out a series of planting areas with bricks on which a variety of vegetables and medicinal plants could soon be harvested.
The midwives also used the herb gardens for training purposes, and organised seminars with presentations and workshops. Participants travelled to the herb gardens from the surrounding communities, and learned to cook, filter tinctures and distil cough syrup. Planting of the herb gardens has allowed the villages’ women to ensure independent primary health care!

Waiãpi – medical support with no cultural conflicts
The Waiãpi dwell in the rainforest in the southeast of French Guiana as well as in the drainage basin in the north of Amazonia in the neighbouring Brazilian states of Amapá and Pará. There are around just one thousand Waiãpi left in Brazil, who live in voluntary isolation. Their culture and ways of life are under threat.
Contact with the outside world, which intensified around 35 years ago, has led to a dramatic drop in the number of Waiãpi due to diseases brought in from the outside. Mestizo health workers are not always accepted by the Waiãpi, even when they are from the local area: mistrust and fear come up against the racism of the non-indigenous population.
Since 2011, Project GREEN has helped the partner organisation Instituto de Pesquisa e Formação Indígena (IEPÉ), the indigenous peoples of Amazonia, and above all the Waiãpi to reinforce their autonomy.
Attempts are being made to help the Waiãpi gain greater independence from the state authorities in basic health matters through the development of special health courses. The courses also help reinforce self-organisation, and allow them to uphold their right to access to health care.

Project partners

The artist and the paintings – Berlin-based artist Michael Arantes Müller visited the Amazon region a number of times between 1994 and 2006, gaining inspiration for his work there. He was particularly fascinated by the abundance of terms for green in the languages of the indigenous people.

Climate Alliance is a partnership comprising 1,700 European municipalities and the Coordinating Body for the Indigenous Peoples Organisation of the Amazon Basin (COICA). Within Project GREEN, Climate Alliance collected and managed the funds raised through sale of the paintings.

medico international e.V. provided technical support and helped to implement the project in Amazonia. The social and medical aid organisation has been active in countless countries in the southern hemisphere since 1968.

The partners in Amazonia – União das Nações Indígenas (UNI); Organização das Mulheres Indígenas do Acre, Sul do Amazonas e Noroeste de Rondônia (Sitoakore); and Instituto de Pesquisa e Formação Indígena (IEPÉ) are committed to enhancing the health and autonomy of indigenous women, mothers and children, and provided support for the project work in the field.

Kulturdepot e.V. promotes art, culture and development aid, and was actively involved in supporting and organising the project from the outset.



15 years of project GREEN - A finale of a project for Amazonia

Since 2000, Climate Alliance has supported project GREEN, an initiative that has placed 100 oil paintings with 100 local authorities and institutions across Europe in exchange for generous donations to strengthen the autonomy of Brazil’s Waiãpi people. The paintings, created for the project by artist Michael Arantes Müller, were each inspired by a different word for “green” in the languages of the indigenous peoples of the Brazilian rainforest.  For the last 15 years, the project has supported midwifery and self-sufficiency courses for indigenous women as well as the planting of traditional gardens.

In celebration of the project’s 15 years of success, Climate Alliance held a special finale on the eve of the annual international conference in which the last painting was presented to Letitia Luiza Yawanawa of Acre, Brazil, President of the Indigenous Women's Organisation SITOAKORE. In this symbol of solidarity, the last painting of project GREEN was given back to the land and people that inspired its creation.

Climate Alliance would like to thank all donors and supporters for their interest in the project and their contributions!


Further information on the project and the activties here.


“We cannot and must not stop fighting for the common rights of our peoples, as well as for a dignified life as citizens”, Grupo de Mulheres Indígenas da União das Nações Indígenas (UNI)