The Amahuaca - Amazon Tribe of Peru
The Amahuaca are located in the tropical jungles of Peru. The largest community of Amahuaca is in Puesto Varadero, a jungle community on the Peruvian-Brazilian border.
The Machiguenga, Yine-Piro, Yaminahua, Amahuaca, Ashaninca, Nahua and Kugapakori Indigenous Peoples have traditionally occupied the Urubamba Valley, situated between the central and southern regions of Peru.
In the beginning of the 18th century, missionaries met with resistance by these peoples, because the region was isolated from the national society.
After the rubber boom, the phenomenon of the hacienda and the patrons appropriated indigenous territories and exploited their work force. This also led to the arrival of Dominican missionaries to the region.
In this manner, the national policies of territorial occupation in the Amazon, since the advent of the Republic, has been characterized by the intensification of this colonization, as well as the mercantile activity and extraction. This trend is consolidated with the promulgation of the Law of Lands and Mountains (No.1220) in 1909, that incorporates the State's domain over lands traditionally occupied by Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon, but that were not acquired as agreed to in the Civil Code of 1852. Through this law, large areas of land were granted to businesses and explorers. Such arrangements continued until 1974, when Decree No.20653 (Law of the Native Communities and of Land and Cattle Promotion in Jungle Regions) was proclaimed. Before this law, Decree 3 of 1957 established the legal term "reserve," creating sixty-four of them to assure the subsistence of the Indigenous Peoples (Manríquez, 1996, p. 1-3).
Nonetheless, the settlers in the Urubamba Valley occupied 34,000 hectares and their relation with the native communities have remained unequal, especially in labor and business issues. Also, land disputes arose mostly because of the invasion of communal territory, with the consent, or at least the indifference, of the authorities. In the scope of environmental conservation to the exploitation of wood and the activities of fishing and hunting, should be added the exploitation of hydrocarbon in the Valley of Urubamba trough the Supreme Decree o 24-95-EM, of November 3, 1995. This is especially effective in the Camisea Zone after the discovery of huge gas reserves have affected the economic, social and cultural life of Indigenous Peoples.
Since 1893, when the first well was drilled in Peru, petroleum began to constitute an important element of national political life and of intense ideological debates and antagonistic positions. Despite the opposition it caused, Law 11780 gave foreign companies incentive to solicit concessions of petroleum exploration in the jungle. Although in the 1970s, petroleum explorations were nationalized, foreign companies could be contracted for the exploration andexploitation through the system of Operational Contracting.
During the first years, in the early 80s, because of the deficit that the government faced with respect to petroleum production due to the lack of investment, the decline in the reserves and the technological inefficiency of PETROPERU, the foreign contracting continued. In this way, through Law 23231, and because the contractual and tributary system in Peru had discouraged investors, additional benefits were granted to foreign interests.
In 1981, through the Supreme Decree 17.81-EM/DGH, the Contract for Petroleum Operations was approved with the Shell Company. The results of this exploration during 1984-1987 were the discovery of natural gas in the area called Camisea. Subsequently, the Executive Power confirmed the extraordinary importance and the commercial value of this area, then having to do with one of the largest hydrocarbon reserves discovered in the country, which transformed Camisea into the "new gold of the south." Nonetheless, the explorations of gas have brought negative consequences to Indigenous Peoples, the environment and to human health.
The inclusion of the Urubamba Valley within the national economy has been characterized, since the beginning of the Republic, by the strengthening of powerful economic groups (rubber tappers, patrons, loggers and business people, among others) that have created an irrational pattern of occupation in this region, spoiling the territories traditionally occupied by Indigenous Peoples. This worsened with the development policies that the Stated performed during the 70s and 80s, when it was seen as a large area with scarce population but with many natural resources which use might contribute to the development of the country. This situation encouraged the settlement of colonists and the granting of logging contracts, as well as the contracting of the Shell Company for the exploration and exploitation of petroleum.
The economic impact on Indigenous Peoples, due to their increased involvement in the mercantile economy can thus be described as discriminating and unequal labor relationships.. This disadvantage has brought transformations in the traditional structure and has increased relationships based on cultural discrimination, as well as negative environmental impacts resulting in a larger extraction of natural resources that puts the ecological balance at risk.
Likewise, pollution from lubricant residuals increased. Also, the dynamization of the economy affected the health of the people in the region, since infectious-contagious diseases were introduced. In some cases, like the village of Nahua, this caused strong epidemics that decimated the population. The eating habits of these villages were also altered and problems of protein deficiency, especially in women and children increased.
What is described above directly conflicts with the national legislation. For example, Decree 22175, The Law of Native Communities and the Agrarian Development of Jungle Regions, legally recognizes in Article 7 these communities and guarantees in Article 10 their own territory, which, according to Article 13 is inalienable, imprescriptible and unseizable.
In the same way, the Law of the Forest and Wildlife, Decree Law 20653 stipulates the following:
The forest resources and wildlife are public property and cannot be possessed (Art. 1)
The forest resources are to be used in harmony with social interest. (Art. 7).
Logging within the native community's territory may only be carried out by those same communities (Art. 35).
The extraction of wildlife within the native community's territory can only be carried out by its own members (Art. 55)
The Aymara are a native ethnic group in the Andes region of South America; about 2.3 million live in Bolivia, Peru, Northern Chile, and Northern Argentina (in particular in Salta province). They lived in the region for many centuries before becoming a subject people of the Inca, and later of the Spanish in the 16th century.
The Aymara have existed in the Andes in what is now Bolivia (and, to a lesser extent, Peru) for over 2,000 years, according to some estimates. Some scholars, and many Aymara themselves, associate them with the highly advanced civilization centered at Tiwanaku, though due to the lack of written history this cannot be proven conclusively, and does not fit with the linguistic evidence.
The region where Tiwanaku and the modern Aymara are located, the Altiplano, was conquered by the Incas under Huayna Capac (reign 1483-1523), although the exact date of this takeover is unknown. It is most likely that the Inca had a strong influence over the Aymara region for some time. The architecture for which the Inca are now known is clearly modeled after the Tiwanaku style.
Though conquered by the Inca, the Aymara retained some degree of autonomy under the empire. Looking at the history of the languages, however, rather than their current distribution, it is clear that Aymara was once spoken much further north, at least as far north as central Peru, where most Andean linguists feel it is most likely that Aymara originated.
In fact, the Inca nobility may themselves originally have been Aymara-speakers, who switched to Quechua only shortly before the Inca expansion: the Cuzco area has many Aymara placenames, and the so-called 'Secret language of the Incas' actually appears to be a form of Aymara.
Most Aymara-speakers now live in the Lake Titicaca region, and are concentrated south of the lake. The urban center of the Aymara region is El Alto, a 750,000-person city near the Bolivian capital La Paz. In addition, numerous Aymara live and work as campesinos in the surrounding Altiplano. The Aymara language does have one surviving relative, spoken by a small, isolated group of about 1000 people far to the north in the mountains inland from Lima in Central Peru (in and around the village of Tupe, Yauyos province, Lima department). This language, known as Jaqaru/Kawki, is of the same family as Aymara, indeed some linguists refer to it as 'Central Aymara', alongside the main 'Southern Aymara' branch of the family spoken in the Titicaca region.
The native language of the Aymara is also named Aymara; in addition, many Aymara speak Spanish, which is the dominant language of the countries in which they live, as a second language. The Aymara flag is known as the Wiphala; it consists of seven colors quilted together with diagonal stripes. Aymara have grown and chewed coca plants for centuries, and used its leaves in traditional medicine as well as in ritual offerings to the sun god Inti and the earth goddess Pachamama. Over the last century, this has brought them into conflict with state authorities who have carried out coca eradication plans in order to prevent the creation of the drug cocaine, which is created by extracting the chemical from coca leaves in a complex chemical process. Coca plays a profound role in the indigenous religions of both the Aymara and the Quechua, and in more recent times has become a symbol of cultural identity.
There are numerous movements for greater independence or political power for the Aymara. These include the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army, led by Felipe Quispe, and the Movement Towards Socialism, a political party organized by cocalero Evo Morales. These and many other Aymara organizations have been involved in activism in Bolivia, including the 2003 Bolivian Gas War and the 2005 Bolivia protests.
One of the goals of the movement, as put forth by Quispe, is the establishment of an independent indigenous state, Collasuyu, named for the eastern (and largely Aymara) region of the Inca empire which covered the southeastern corner of Peru and much of what is today Bolivia. Evo Morales has run for president in several recent elections with several close calls, and in 2005 he finally won a surprise victory, winning the largest majority vote since Bolivia returned to democracy and becoming the first indigenous president of Bolivia. He is also credited with the ousting of Bolivia's previous two presidents.
In the News ...
New analysis of the language and gesture of South America's indigenous Aymara people indicates they have a concept of time opposite to all the world's studied cultures -- so that the past is ahead of them and the future behind