2001 Annual Report
Friends of Ancestral Knowledge Committee
The surviving generation of elders in Indigenous communities around the world is the last living connection that many communities have to their ancestral mythology and wisdom. This wisdom is priceless, as it is the source of identity for indigenous people and the world alike, our common heritage and our kindred spiritual relationships.
As indigenous people(s) are compelled to interface with the modern world, the survival of their cultural identity will depend on the transmission of traditional knowledge and ways to the younger generations.
Huaorani youth and elders sharing knowledge
The effects of modernization have been devastating for indigenous cultures. Many elders are retreating farther into the forests while the youth are being drawn into the cities. Even those inspired youth who want to learn from their elders face difficult demands of everyday life and a lack of funds.
The Friends of the Ancestral Knowledge Youth Committee is a coalition of young people from several distinct ethnic groups. Using donated audio and video recording equipment, over 400 hours of interviews, songs, stories, and mythology have been recorded in Quichua, Huaorani, and Secoya.
GO gives interested youth the opportunity to work with their own elders and learn their truths, while serving their society. GO works with the youth to produce books, tapes and videos that go back to the community and are used to train and teach others.
Current GO project
The Highland Quichua People and The Agua Santa Community at the Base of Mount Chimborazo
The Quichua People(s), whose language is the most widely spoken indigenous language in Ecuador (originating with the Incas), have numerous dialects which vary greatly from region to region. Collectively, they embody a vast cultural heritage, spiritual tradition, and rich history. They are the largest of Ecuador's indigenous people(s) with nearly 80,000 individuals in the Ecuadorian Amazon and more than twice that in the Andean region.
The community of Agua Santa (Blessed Water) is found in the highland Andes at the slopes of the mighty Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest peak at 20,702 feet above sea level. The community of Agua Santa are highland mountain Quichua People who live from the food they grow and the small livestock they raise, such as sheep and guinea pigs. Their heritage is rich and their knowledge of agriculture and weavings advanced.
At the request of the community, GO donated equipment for a radio station which is now being installed in Agua Santa. A local indigenous youth, Juan Patricio, 24, has been working with GO since 1997, recording hours of songs and ancestral lore. Juan Patricio and a group of youth volunteers are starting the first indigenous cultural radio station in the area.
The Chimborazo area is a stronghold of Quichua traditions. Nevertheless, overpopulation and lack of land have forced migrations to the Amazon and coastal regions, causing colonization and deforestation. One intention for this cultural radio station is to inspire the highland mountain Quichua to keep their land and cultivate it well. The radio station will work to transmit practical knowledge on sustainable alternatives such as bee farming, raising of small livestock, organic agriculture, traditional medicine, and permaculture.
Juan Patricio has also recorded advice on all aspects of life from more than 20 community elders, traditional healers and master agriculturists. This will be published in a bilingual (Quichua/Spanish) book for the Quichua youth of the Andes Region.
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2001 Annual Report