Rita Pinheiro Sales Kaxinawa (Coletivo Kayatibu)


Dani Sales Huni Kuin, registered in Portuguese by the name Rita Kaxinawá, is a young Indigenous woman and recognised leader of the Huni Kuin people. Her work is political, social and artistic and presented individually, as part of the Kayatibu collective and in the artists’ group MAKHU. Rita Kaxinawá has held exhibitions in several museums inside and outside the country, such as MAM Rio (Museum of Modern Art) and an artist residency at Maison Folie (France). She was raised by her father, Ibã Sales, a cacique (leader), shaman, txana (singer), teacher, spiritual artist and researcher. In 2013, he founded the Kayatibu group, bringing together young Indigenous musicians, dancers and historians living in the city of Jordão to deepen the study of culture as a form of protection and living memory.

Dani is studying pedagogy, but besides her work as an educator, she also works as a craftswoman, painter, musician and a few years ago she started travelling around the country to expand her work. One of the most important trips she made was to São Paulo, for a month, to work at Itaú Cultural. She accompanied several meetings for the preparation of the exhibition and the Book UNA SHUBU HIWEA (2017-18), participated in the creation of a large painting as well as the activities of the public reception. The group received support for the artistic residence project Encontro Mi Mawai (2019), through Itaú Cultural. The project was conceived in partnership with producers from the city and enabled the exchange of knowledge between musicians from the city and musicians from the forest with the acquisition of equipment and the production of a video-album. Since the creation of Kayatibu, they have faced many prejudices for being the first young movement and with women that emerged with this purpose and in 2019 they featured in the documentary series Nokun Txai on Amazon Prime Video (2019), which discusses the role of women in Indigenous cultures.

Kaxinawá also spoke in spaces such as the Third  International Ayhuasca Meeting in Gerona (Spain) in 2019 and the meeting of public policies aimed at women in Acre. She was a mediator/teacher at SESC in Acre, where she taught Huni Kuin chants and stories for a week. She has given interviews to organisations such as Vogue Magazine (2019) – talking about sustainable fashion while valuing ancestral techniques, traditions and cultures – and the podcast Pandemias in the Amazon (2021) – where she talks about the meanings of the rituals of her people and about her intention to not only take healing to her family and community, but to the world. She uses social media to discuss issues such as the work of Indigenous women and the problems faced by her people during the pandemic; on Indigenous Day this year, she had her paintings exhibited on the television programme Encontro com Fátima Bernardes and, more recently, has been working on a series of murals for a collective exhibition at MASP (Art Museum of São Paulo).