Indigenous People’s Cultural Support Trust

Registered charity number: 1050461

Indigenous People's Cultural Support Trust

In 1995 Emily Burridge founded the charity “to aid in the promotion and conservation of Indigenous people’s culture and traditional knowledge” She  founded the charity as a direct result of her first visit to a Xavante community in 1994 and on return to the UK she was encouraged under the experienced consul of Tim Miller to set up the Trust.

The charity was also fortunate as Sir Professor Ghillean Prance (the then Director of Kew gardens) accepted to be Patron.

The first development initiative to be completed was the “Marimbu Xavante small Health Centre” and medicinal gardens which were inaugurated in 1998. The development of the health centre and medicinal garden was overseen by Emily on various visits between the years  ‘94 – ‘98 working in close consultation with the Xavante indian community and in collaboration with Chief Francisco Pronhopa.

The proposal for the Health centre  was allocated match funding by the governmental office for overseas development aid and the rest of the funding came from donations by trusts and individuals.Emily guaranteed and insured that all funding was distributed and accounted for by personally drawing up contractual agreements and overseeing the payments with construction and architectural firms in Brazil.

Living Medicinal Gardens

In 1998 she accompanied Germano a Xavante nurse  on a course “Living Medicinal gardens” which is an inspired health development program established by the late  Professor Matos at the Federal University in Fortaleza on the northeast coast of Brazil. Germano then returned to the village and set up the medicinal garden adjacent to the health centre to aid in restoring a value for the Xavante traditional knowledge of herbal medicine.

Solar energy – she further contracted a solar installation company to install and provide solar energy for the power for lights and a fridge for the storage of essential medicines.

Undeniably the health centre has gone through periods of difficulties due to various adverse conditions but in 2016 the Xavante Marimbu community reported that it is currently functioning and is used by the governmental agency Funaca to provide basic health care to isolated communities on the Xavante reservation of Sangradouro.

The health centre continues to provide basic health care to remote communities.

Emily continues to support the Xavante communities in various ways.

Over the years through non specific donations made at performances of her musical production “Into the Amazon” Emily has responded and provided aid for various requests from the community including funding travel expenses for the Chief to travel to a hospital in Sao Paulo for specialist cancer treatment, and for his eldest son to go and collect him and for them both to return to their village where he was able to be for the final months of his life.

She has also been able to support a Xavante video producer by funding maintenance of camera equipment through continued  donations to the Trust

In October 2016 – responding to a request to help with travel expenses enabled  two Guarani chiefs to travel the long journey by bus from Mato Grosso de Sul to Barra do Garcas and attend a public viewing of a video that they were featured in at a landmark event – the first Xavante film festival which took place in Barra do Garcas.

In 2019 funding instalments have been made to help in the production of a video filming the Xavante boys coming of age festival WAPTÉ MNHÕNÕ which took place in August 2019.

Waté’wa by Divino Tserewahu (copyright 2019)

In 2020 Emily has been able to make small grants to help families during the pandemic ; should it be in the bulk purchase of food stuffs prior to a lock down or helping in the purchase of medication when discharged from hospital.

Aid to Xavante tribes man 2020 covid19 support

  Aid to purchase medication for treatment of first degree burns 2021, having been discharged from hospital.

In July 2021 the purchase of a water pump was arranged and negotiated and  this enabled members of a Xavante community to collect it and have it installed. 


Indigenous People’s Cultural Support Trust is now funding a campaign to aid in the establishment of tree nurseries developed in consultation with tribal communities in Brazil.

Where the trees stand the tribal people live.

Tribal Trees – With this campaign we as a Trust are supporting indigenous communities in Brazil in the creation and establishment of tree nurseries.

Tribes Alive will also be supporting other NGOs working in this way. 

link to Tribal Trees on Just Giving

Emily will be working with the Xavante community on the Sangradouro reservation  to aid in the recuperation of tree species on the reserve with the long term objective  to make saplings available to surrounding areas.

This initiative has gradually developed as a result of Emily’s observation of the situation on the reserve when she last visited . The mono-culture of soya has created an economic boom in Brazil but at great expense to the natural environment of the Mato Grosso. The Mato Grosso in recent years has suffered the highest rate of deforestation in Brazil

Through a seed grant provided by Artist Project Earth Emily has already arranged for a Brazilian agronomist and environmentalist  Mario Friedlander resident in Cuiaba which is in relatively close proximity to the reservation to travel to and stay with the Xavante community for a week to assess and make a feasibility study for the development of the tree nursery.


How Emily came to meet members of the Xavante tribe.

Her expansive relationship with the country commenced with a holiday in 1990 and she has converted that landscape and her personal experience into various musical productions.

In 1992 she was invited to perform at the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro and as a result of her performance encountered elders of a tribe called the Xavante, indigenous to the Mato Grosso.

An intrepid traveller, she accepted their invitation to visit a Xavante village and travelled alone across Brazil on the buses and then off the beaten track and was guest with a chief and his family in a traditional Xavante dwelling. On returning to the UK Emily commenced the process of founding the charity.

Her association with the Xavante was furthered due to their tradition of singing and on the numerous occasions that she was staying with the tribe she was invited to record individuals and groups “choirs”. She also made location recordings of their environment.

These recordings and the experience of this time has been furthered  through various musical productions including her CD  and solo performance “Into the Amazon” which has a backing track featuring some of these recordings and is accompanied by seventy-five projected images of daily life in a Xavante Indian village.

Her performance production  is particularly poignant in the light of global warming, climate change and the expansion in Brazil of mono culture agriculture.

Where Emily stayed between ‘94 and ‘98 outside of the Xavante reservation is now a mono culture of soya for thousands of kilometres and the dawn chorus that Emily recorded has been massively diminished.

Some of Emily’s photos of the Xavante taken during the period 1994 -’98 are on  resident display at the “Living Rainforest” centre in Berkshire, UK.

In 2005 Sue and Patrick Cunningham became trustees and their focus has been with tribal groups in the Xingu and the Kayapo tribal group. November 2019 has seen the exciting launch of their book ‘Spirit of the Amazon’

The charity has no employees and overheads are at a minimum. For further information on the work of the charity please visit the web site: