2001 Annual Report
Practical Educational Materials
GO's ethnobotanical research, combined with the work of the Friends of Ancestral Knowledge Commitee, constitutes a large body of valuable knowledge that has been gathered over the last 6 years.
GO produces books and audio and video tapes on ethnobotany and ancestral knowledge in multiple languages. Educational materials of this nature are an important tool for cultural transmission because they validate vanishing ethnobotanical and ancestral knowledge while improving literacy skills needed to interface with the outside world.
To document knowledge and traditions in this way is affirmed as a priority by indigenous communities. Working with local volunteers we have published books in Pain Coca (Secoya), Huaorani Terero (Huaorani), Quechua and Spanish, and have distributed these books to schools and community members.
Current GO project
Huaorani Ethnobotanical Book: Ahueiri Teredanipa Eñengui
(The Trees They are Teaching Us)
Huaorani means "People." They are Ecuador's most recently contacted tribe and, consequently, the most vulnerable of Ecuador's Indigenous forest people. Their language, Huaorani Terero, has no linguistic affiliation to any other language in the world. The Huaorani number 1,200 people living in two million acres of primary, tropical Amazonian Rainforest in the Provinces of Napo and Pastaza. Today there still exist several non-contacted clans who continue to defend their autonomy, even by spear point if necessary. All the Huaorani communities and even the remote non-contacted clans face daily pressures from the encroachment of several North American (USA), European, Asian and Latin American multinational petroleum corporations which are penetrating deeper and deeper into the Amazonian Rainforest. Nonetheless, they live with true pride and unsurpassable vigor.
Rolling dart tips in curaré
As hunter-gatherers for centuries, the Huaorani People lived in small, nomadic bands; one person may have seen only seventy or eighty other people in his/her life. As an egalitarian society, women as well as men have played a significant part in daily life.
Slowly filtering curaré through a leaf sieve
The Huaorani elders tenaciously hold the belief that by maintaining their tremendous rainforest home, they are protecting the world. Their knowledge encompasses a profound understanding of the internal functioning of the forest. They differentiate between pollination and dispersal and have named plants unknown to conventional science. The canopy and underbrush teem with fruits, berries, and medicinal plants. Amidst this backdrop, the Huaorani can be regarded as botanists, biologists, and ecologists. Recognized as such, there are many who consider the Huaorani the true scientists of the rainforest. The last thirty years of oil and other resource extraction has brought giant machinery, chainsaws, rich landowners, impoverished, and land-hungry colonist (known as colonos), corporate investors, missionaries, alcohol and prostitution. Referred to as black gold, it is clear that oil is an indispensable commodity on the global market and is more valuable to the international investors than the fate of indigenous cultures and the rainforest in which they live. Bebantoquí, a Huaorani woman referring to oil activities says, "It hurts Earth as it hurts our bodies."
Council for Cultural and Biological Diversity is co-authoring, with Huaorani school teacher Cahuitipe Cohuë, a bilingual Huao Terero / Spanish book on the preparation of curaré arrow poison and traditions of the hunt.
Diplaying completed darts
Ahueiri Teredanipa Eñengui (The Trees They are Teaching Us) includes over 75 black and white photos of the entire curaré preparation process, as well as the construction of the blow pipe, quivers and darts. It also includes origin myths of the forest plants and traditions.
Ahueiri Teredanipa Eñengui is devoted to traditional hunting ethics and teaches the importance of forest protection. The theme of curaré was chosen because it is at the heart of Huaorani culture. With this theme we hope to inspire the youth to see the validity of their traditional hunting ways, as well as the importance of protecting the forest so that there will always be habitat for wildlife.
Once Ahueiri Teredanipa Eñengui is completed, it will be distributed to Huaorani People living among the 13 distinct, semi-permanent communities in the provinces of Napo and Pastaza, most of which can only be reached by plane or several days walk.
Many of our Huaorani friends are patiently waiting for this book and we are working diligently to publish and distribute it.
Huarani elder preparing darts for the hunt
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2001 Annual Report