Piatsaw A diary on the Resistance of the Native Peoples of Ecuadorian Amazon

The project tells about the different ways of Resistance of the indigenous people in the Ecuadorian Amazon who are threatened by the ongoing concessions for foreign companies for extraction activities. The extractive activities would not only destroy the jungle, they would also deprive the natives of their lands as well as their identities and traditions. The Shuar and Achuar territories are rich in copper and gold; more in the north, in the province of Pastaza y Orellana where Sáparas and Kichwas live, the threat comes from the extraction of oil. The concept of territorial identity and control of the lands, the conservation of the ethnic identity and its traditions, the War of 95 that divided them between Ecuadorians and Peruvians, the victory of the Sarayaku against the government, the attack on Nankinz and the following eviction of Tsumtsuim, are the central themes that compose this diary on the resistance of what is left of the Amazon peoples in Ecuador.

*Piatsaw: the first man in the Sápara mythologie who prophesied the end of his people’s culture.

A woman of the Sápara people looks through the window of a small plane that has just landed in the Morete community, on the Sapara territory of the Ecuadorian Amazon. This territory is surrounded by thousands of acres of primary jungle, and is therefore only reachable through the air. There is no road, and it would take a person almost a week to get there by foot through muddy lands. The absence of a road is a blessing for the local people, as it enables them to control and preserve the territory, thus preventing its deforestation. The arrival of an airplane is a special happening, as it is the only contact with the "modern world". Morete Community, Province of Pastaza, Ecuador.
The house of Rosario Ware, 108 years old, is at the Wamutey zone in Tundayme, Cordillera del Condor, Province of Zamora-Chinchipe, in the southeast of Ecuador. Her house is inside the zone of the “Mirador Project”, executed by the Chinese owned company Ecuacorriente S.A. Upon orders of that company and the Ecuadorian authorities, Doña Rosario has been evicted by force two times in the last 13 years. The mining concession consists of 4738 million pounds of copper.
From their house, Gloria and her son look at the valley extending to the west of the community of Tsumtsuim. A few days later the valley was disputed in a confrontation with the military and they had to abandon their territory. On December 14 of the same year, the State of Emergency was declared in the whole province of Morona-Santiago. The Tsumtsuim community was attacked by hundreds of military who shot against the local people. The 26 families of which this community consists were forced to flee and leave their homes, going into the jungle while night fell. Nowadays 41,769 hectares of Amazon jungle have been given in concession by the Ecuadorian government to foreign mining companies. Tsumtsuim Community, Morona-Santiago Province, Ecuador.
Francisco Chumbía with his four year old daughter at Chichis, Cantón Tiwintza, in the Morona-Santiago Province. Francisco, an indigenous Shuar, was a soldier and has 10 years of active service in the Intelligence division of Ecuador. He participated in the conflict on Alto Cenepa in 1995. Francisco stepped on a land mine, buried by his own army close to the position they held. According to the Department of State of the United States of America, there were some 120 victims of landmines in Ecuador between 1995 and 1999.
To the Left: Javier Ushigua, 20 years old, is President of the Yaku Runa Community in the Province of Pastaza. His features show a mixture of three indigenous nationalities of the Amazon. His grandmother of the Shuar nationality married an Achuar man, and his mother a man of the Sapara Nation. He represents an almost complete summary of where the community he lives in stands for. Yaku Runa is a community of no more than 30 individuals from 4 different indigenous nationalities: Kichwa, Sápara, Shuar and Achuar. It has 300 hectares of land, from which roughly 25 still are primary rainforest. Yaku Runa has no electricity and is located at 20 kilometres from the city of Puyo. They voluntarily rejected the installation of electricity. The nearest electricity pole is a few meters from the village entrance. Javier´s vision is focused on the community’s welfare and the preservation of the Amazon cultures.
A family from the Sarayaku Community returns by boat after a Minga. Kichwa. Minga is the highest act of solidarity in a communal society, a tradition of the indigenous nationalities of the Amazon, consisting of community work in which everyone participates in order to support each other. In exchange, they will be offered food and chicha. In this case, a young couple seeks to get the material to put a straw roof on their new home. Pastaza Province, Ecuador.
A food transport offered to the community members of Tsumtsuim is on its way to the Community. San Carlos Panantza, Morona-Santiago Province, Ecuador. July 3, 2017. After an attack on the territory in December 2016, the army occupied their houses for 5 months approximately. When the families returned to their community, they found their homes empty. The military stole pots and working tools, finished with their farms products and ate all the chickens they breeded in the comunity. A year of labour will be needed to reestablish the productive pace of their crops and regain independence.
A boat travels through the Bobonaza River near the Sarayaku community, inside the Amazonian jungle in the province of Pastaza. The Bobonaza River is the only access to enter the zone by land. The road to get to Canelo, where the boat leaves, is complicated, with roughly 50 kilometres of dirt road from Puyo, where some 4x4 trucks drive; when the river allows it, from here another four hours by boat is required. Sarayaku was always opposed to a land road, in order to avoid deforestation and to maintain control of the land against the arrival of intruders such as oil companies and armies. Kichwa Community of Sarayaku, Pastaza Province, Ecuador.
To the left: The head of the former President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, in what is left of a poster inside a Shuar house in the community of Paandin. The Shuars are widely known for the practice of reducing the heads of their enemies and protecting themselves from the spirits that remain inside them. To the right: Grandmother Mukutsawa is the President of the Community of Llanchama Cocha, in Sápara territory. All of the community's decisions are subject to her approval. She is one of the few people in the community that possesses a Motorola radio so she can communicate in the territory that the Saparas have under their control and consider as theirs, for being guardians of the spirits that live in the jungle. No strangers are allowed on their territory, because they fear that they could belong to an oil company interested in the extraction and destruction of the place which is considered to be sacred. Nowadays the Saparas community consists of 573 individuals who keep fighting against oil extraction and control the access of unknown people to their ancestral territory.
Tobacco juice Drink. It’s 3 am and the Yuku Runa Community is awake for the traditional Guayusa, which is taken to cause vomiting and thus clear the stomach of possible bugs and diseases. This is also the day for anyone who wants to inhale tobacco juice by the hand of the elder of the community. Inhaling the juice this way serves to increase their own strength, have clearer dreams and be able to work with them in order to improve their own life. Intercultural Comunity of Yaku Runa, Pastaza Province, Ecuador.
Beetle larva’s for sale in the Binational market Ecuador-Peru, on the Santiago River. Soldado Monge, Morona-Santiago Province. The war from 1941 and the one in 1995 on Alto Cenepa, caused by territorial conflicts between the two countries, divided the Shuars into Ecuadorian and Peruvian. But the local people never accepted this border and on days like this commercial and relationships and get-togethers are established with the communities on the other side of the border.
To the left: A young indigenous heir of three amazonic ethnic groups and of the identity of two worlds. Multicultural community of Yaku Runa, Pastaza Province. To the right: A man from the community of Tsumtsuim. To this date, the men of Tsumtsuim are subject to an arrest warrant proclaimed by the former government of Rafael Correa. They cannot leave the Community, as they are at risk of being arrested. Shuar Community of Tsumtsuim, Morona-Santiago Province. After the forced eviction of Shuar inhabitants of Nankints by the Ecuadorian authorities in August 2016, around 30 men, mainly from Tsumtsuim, took back the territory by attacking the mining camp at November 22, 2016.
A chonta spear head. A chonta lance, traditional weapon of the Shuars, is useful in war and hunting; it's used to kill either men or animals. Shuar Community of Buena Esperanza, Province of Morona-Santiago.
The newborn baby of Hilario and Luisa cries in his hammock at the Community of Llanchama Cocha. At his side, the objects Luisa usually carries with her when she goes away from the house: a Motorola radio and the machete. Sapara Community of Llanchama Cocha, Pastaza Province.
A helicopter from the AEE Ecuatorian Army launches from the soccer field of a school in the Parish of San Juan Bosco on November 24, 2016. For some days, the army was installed in the school to attack people of the Shuar community of Tsumtsuim, who decided to go back to their ancestors land after the forced eviction of August 2016. According to news made official by CONAIE, the Ecuadorian army carried out a repressive operation in support of the mining company Exsa China, that will start extraction activities in the region of Nankints, Panantza sector, Province of Morona-Santiago.
To the left: Burning of gas to process the oil extracted in Dureno, in the Province of Sucumbió. In 1964, the oil company Texaco (now Chevron) arrives in Ecuador with a concession for 1.5 million hectares in the Amazon jungle, in the province of Sucumbio and Orellana. Between 1972 and 1992, the company extracted 1.5 million oil barrels while 19 billion of waste barrels were intentionally spoiled in the region, mainly in rivers. According to environmental associations, this has been the worst oil disaster in the world. The company argued that in the area where they worked there was no human presence, disqualifying the presence of the indigenous people in the area. On the Right: : Doña Rosa and her husband founded the Tsumtsuim Community 50 years ago. They also had to hide in the jungle when the military attacked. Shuar Community of Tsumtsuim, Morona-Santiago Province.
Fighting games in Llanchama Cocha after a bath in the Conambo River. Sapara Comunity of Llanchama Cocha, Pastaza Province, Ecuador.
Aerial view of the Shell town in the Province of Pastaza. This town adopted the name Shell after the first Dutch company that arrived in Ecuador in 1937. Before the arrival of the company, the site was known by the indigenous people for having peccaries and hunting them. Nowadays it is one of the greatest parishes of Pastaza with 8,000 inhabitants and the airport “Rio Amazonas” has 12 airlines with small planes to enter the Ecuadorian Amazon. Shell, Pastaza Province, Ecuador.
Overflying deforested zone in the Amazon towards Sapara territory. Pastaza Province.
Guard man in the Community of Tsumtsuim, Province of Morona-Santiago.
Hunted monkey in the Sapara community of Llanchama Cocha.
Sight of Coangos River, one the conflict zones. During the war of Alto Cenepa against Peru in 1995, inhabitants close to Coangos had to be evacuated to the northern riverbanks of the Santiago River. The zone was sown with landmines.
Andrés Wisum, former Arutam-soldier, in the Shuar community of Buena Esperanza. The Arutam were a group of élite soldiers and indigenous commandos that responded to the call for war and guided the unexperienced Ecuadorian soldiers in the unknown Amazon territories during the Alto Cenepa conflict. They were recognized as “National Heroes”. The War on Alto Cenepa was a military conflict that took place between the armed forces of Peru and Ecuador between the 26th of January and the 28th of February of 1995, and was originated by the absence of demarcation of 78 kms of border territoty. Divided by the Río de Janeiro-protocol in Ecuadorians and Peruvians, the Shuar were in the first lines to defend their territories. Apart from knowing their territory as the plam of thier hand, the Arutam could survive very long days in the jungle, where they could walk up to 60 hours with rest. It is said that, during a initiation ceremony, they received the protection of the god Arutam which helped them to stay alive in the fights with the Peruvians.
Amazon with restricted access. Wamutey, Zamora-Chinchipe Province, Ecuador. The war of Alto Cenepa sowed the Condor mountain range with landmines. A report of the United Nations 1999 mentions 90,000 sowed landmines in the Ecuadorian side of the region, covering an estimated area of 426,480 square kilometers.
Atanasio Anguasha's (55) prosthesis. He was a 15 years service Sargent during the 1995 combats. He worked at the land mine-removal operation in 97 when his mine accident happened. Metal detectors at the Ecuadorian army disposal turned to be useless for the damp jungle land. So, for the land mine-removal operation, whole areas were explored with machetes. Shell, Pastaza Province.
Amarum, the little school's first grade teacher of the Sapara Community of Llanchama Cocha
Fallen and abandoned small plane propeller at the Kichwa community of Sarayaku.
Carlos Wilson Tendetza, brother of José Tendetza who was murdered two years ago for being a defender and activist against the mining company Ecuacorriente S.A. Carlos decided to continue the fight of his murdered brother. Shuar community of Yanua, Ecuadorian Amazon. In the last eight years, the bodies of three indigenous Shuar were found; they were defenders of the Amazon and of their territory in particular, and against the activities of mining extraction on a large scale. Their murders have remained unpunished. Shuar community of Yanua, El Pangui, Zamora-Chinchipe Province, Ecuador. November 22, 2016.
To the left: A man from the community of Tsumtsuim. To the right: Edwin of Kichwa nationality, recently graduated from Iwias Battalion ("Jungle Demons") at the Shell military training camp, Province of Pastaza. He was born 23 years ago, when the war on Alto Cenepa started. Shell, Pastaza Province, Ecuador. February 4, 2015. The mission of the Iwias Military School is to form jungle infantry soldiers out of native people of the Amazon region. Since it was founded this unit is considered to be the most lethal force the Ecuadorian army has.

Nicola "Ókin" Frioli © All Rights reserved 2017


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