The ancestral home of the Sateré-Mawé indigenous group is the Andirá-Marau Indigenous Reserve, an officially demarcated, heavily forested region covering 780,000 hectares (3,011 square miles) in Amazonas and Pará states, Brazil.The reserve itself — along with indigenous villages around it that were not included in the demarcated area — are increasingly under attack from illegal loggers and land grabbers.To steel themselves against the challenges posed by invading outsiders, and to create unity among their tribal groups, Sateré young men participate in a ritual known as Waumat, in which they endure the painful bites of stinging ants.They also renew their commitment to active resistance through dances and songs that celebrate myths, past wars, victories, losses, and terrible exploitation by the colonial Portuguese. The Sateré are feeling especially challenged today by the anti-indigenous rhetoric and policies of the rightist Bolsonaro administration. In February, a Mongabay reporting team travelled to the Brazilian Amazon, spending time with the remote Sateré-Mawé, documenting their culture and long-time conflict with mining companies and land grabbers. This series looks at new threats imposed on the Sateré and indigenous groups across Brazil as they’re threatened by the ruralist-friendly policies of President Jair Bolsonaro. The trip was funded by the Rainforest Journalism Fund in association with the Pulitzer Center and Mongabay. FORTALEZA VILLAGE, Amazonas state, Brazil — The ceremony begins in the late afternoon in the indigenous village of Fortaleza on the Andirá River in the Brazilian Amazon. A Sateré elder blows smoke into special gloves filled with scores of tucandeira ants (Paraponera clavata), up to 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) long. The insects have been dubbed “bullet ants,” because the sting they inflict is so severe it causes pain comparable to being shot, lasting 18 hours and often accompanied by sickness and vomiting. The rite begins as a dozen participants, all young men, with indigenous designs painted on their bodies, dance in a circle and enclosed by a fence. Eventually one plunges his hands into the gloves. The many bites go deep: the tucandeira’s fangs transmit the poison directly into the central nervous system. One young man, bent double in anguish, utters a deep, heart-wrenching moan. In time, he withdraws from the circle of chanting Indians and throws himself on the ground, keeping his swollen hands raised to avoid painful contact. He tries not to express his agony, for only those who bear the pain stoically are considered fit to be leaders. The ritual, known as Waumat, has been practiced by the Sateré-Mawé for centuries. But this rite of passage is now more important than ever, as these young men will be expected to lead their people in resisting illegal loggers, land grabbers, and the Amazon development plans of the Bolsonaro administration, which took over in Brazil in January. The homeland these Sateré warriors plan to defend is the Andirá-Marau Indigenous Territory, which covers 780,000 hectares (3,011 square miles), straddling Amazonas and Pará states. This sprawling forest reserve shares its border with another large protected area, the 1,066,000 hectare (4,115 square mile) Amazônia National Park —first created in 1974 and later intended as part of a mosaic of conserved areas to act as a barrier to further exploitation and devastation of the Amazon rainforest.