Archives for March 2007

2120 More Acres Recovered for Bison on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

With your support, Village Earth and our community partners on the Pine Ridge Reservation have recovered 2120 more acres of reservation lands to be used to restore bison herds on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Photo Credit: Ralf Kracke-Berndorff

With generous support from St. Bartholomew’s Church in Estes Park Colorado the Knife Chief Community Bison Project, whose mission is to help “restore the sacred bond between the Lakota people the Bison Nation,” was able to acquire 1800 acres adjacent to their existing 1200 acre pasture located near the community of Porcupine in the central part of the reservation where have raised bison for several years.

 

In addition, the Red Cloud Tiyospaye recently acquired 320 acres of land adjacent to their existing 320 acres located near the community of Slim Butte in the southwest corner of the Reservation. For both groups, this additional land will allow them to sustainably grow their bison herds while maintaining their commitment to grass fed bison and restoring the native ecology.

Both projects have been past recipients of bison, low interest loans, and other material and technical needed to grow their projects from Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Campaign initiated in 2003 to help Lakota families recover their lands from the Federal Government’s leasing program to utilize on their own for sustainable economic, cultural, environmental and spiritual development.

Along with supporting the growth of bison herds on the Reservation, Village Earth is also working with Lakota Bison Caretakers to develop markets for their organic grass fed bison meat by building direct consumer-to-producer networks throughout the region. If our interested in visiting these projects in person or supporting this important effort please contact David Bartecchi at [email protected] or by phone at 970-491-8307.

First Indigenous Tribunal of the Ucayali

As a follow-up and outcome to the Village Earth Regional Organizational workshop in January 2007, a group of Shipibo leaders have decided to hold the first ever ‘Indigenous Tribunal’ as they call it. This Tribunal will be a gathering of leaders from all 120 Shipibo communities throughout the region. They are also inviting local NGOs and leaders from other regional indigenous groups such as the Ashaninka. This is an event of historic importance because the Shipibo have not had a regional meeting of this magnitude for over 30 years, and even then never did it have the possibility for such far-reaching impacts as the Indigenous Tribunal being organized at present.

Below: Participants in the January workshop who were elected to the Transitory Committee responsible for organizing the Indigenous Tribunal.
 

The organizers of this event have asked Village Earth to be a co-facilitator – to continue with a regional visioning process with the participation of all delegates present at the Tribunal. This will be the largest strategic planning that the Village Earth team has done to-date and could possibly have the most far-reaching impacts as well. 480 leaders are estimated to attend this event representing around 40,000 indigenous peoples throughout the Ucayali region. All parties involved hope that this will be the key event in mobilizing and organizing the region to begin the process of a truly community-based, sustainable form of alternative “development” – to empower the region toward active self-determination.

The Shipibo people realized that only by working together at the regional level will they ever really be able to implement their own vision for the future based on the values and wisdom of the majority indigenous population of the region. Some of the specific objectives as written in their project plan are as follows:
  • To bring together leaders, authorities, students, technicians, and indigenous professionals of the region to search together the true development of the indigenous population with a united organization with strategic allies both national and international
  •  

  • To inform and motivate the jefes (chiefs) of the communities about the importance of cultural revival and the care of our lands
  •  

  • To achieve the participation and commitment of the jefes and leaders of the indigenous communities to form a work group for environmental conservation and sustainable development
  •  

  • To strengthen the communication channel between indigenous and foreign organizations for the development of our communities.

Art and cultural performances will also play a big part in the three-day Tribunal with cultural and artistic presentations planned each evening and also for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Above: This group of orphaned children will be performing traditional Shipibo song and dance at the June event.

The organizing committee of the Tribunal is building off of the transnational legal framework that is currently so popular in the discourse about indigenous rights. For example:

The organizing committee writes, “In the last 50 years, the Amazonian cultures have been suffering from an aggressive Western acculturation. The [Peruvian] government underwent a neoliberal political shift without considering the consequences upon the indigenous peoples. Many indigenous peoples were forced to leave their cultures as they migrated to the big cities in search of a better opportunity.” The objective of the Tribunal is so “that the communities be the protagonists of their own development, and the local, national, and foreign authorities take care of and support us in our own program of development.”

Five themed expositions will be presented during the Tribunal:

  1. The Role of the Jefes
  2. Indigenous Reality
  3. The Political Situation
  4. National Political and Economic Reality
  5. United Communities

At the end of the event, there will be an election of leaders to form the new grassroots regional organization of indigenous peoples.

This is such an important event for the future of indigenous self-determination throughout the Peruvian Amazon. Please help us to support the Shipibo by making a financial contribution today. The estimated budget for the Tribunal is approximately $9000 USD in order to provide food and transportation for even the most remote community leaders to be able to attend. As well, the organizing committee is undertaking an extensive media campaign and hopes to print posters, invitations to regional leaders, and hold press conferences.

Please help us support the future generations of Shipibo leaders and the ecological integrity of the Amazon Basin.

If you interested in supporting the Shipibo’s efforts at organizing the region, you can contribute directly through Pay Pal on the website. Or you can send a check or money order to:

Village Earth
P.O. Box 797
Fort Collins, CO 80522 USA
or call the Village Earth office at: +1-970-491-5754 to make a contribution using your credit card.
If you would like more information about the Indigenous Tribunal in June, please contact: Kristina Pearson

 

Shipibo Regional Organizational Workshop


Above: Enjoying a relaxing evening after the workshop. 

Village Earth was asked by some prominent Shipibo leaders a few months back to facilitate another regional workshop this time with more of an emphasis on intercommunity cooperation. So the Village Earth team returned for a 7-day workshop in early January. Twenty-four Shipibo leaders participated representing six communities in four different districts throughout the Ucayali. The workshop began with a review of past Village Earth-Shipibo collaborations and a viewing of the Village Earth/Shipibo documentary film, “The Children of the Anaconda“. Then we began a district-wide mapping session so community members would be begin to think beyond their own borders. This brought up an array of environmental issues as participants discussed sharing forest and river resources with neighboring communities, but also the destruction being wrought by logging and oil companies in the region.

Below: Shipibo children participated by drawing their own map of their community and then presented it to the group. For community initiatives to be truly sustainable, children, too, must always be involved in the process. 

Village Earth would like to facilitate collaboration between our project partners, and both the Lakota and Shipibo have expressed much interest in working together in the future as they face many of the same issues being the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas. We decided to do a viewing of the Village Earth-produced documentary film “Rezonomics” which highlights the economic situation on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Although they inhabit vastly different environments, the Shipibo found many similarities in their struggles and learned from the Lakota new ways to think about many of their issues.

This was followed by a discussion on the roles and activities of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in Shipibo country. This led to a very interesting discussion about NGOs and top-down funding models which many times inhibits NGOs from being responsive to community needs and truly participatory community-based development. The Shipibo have dealt with NGO after NGO letting them down with failed promises. However, this is not purely the fault of the NGO. The Shipibo, too, recognize that they need to be proactive and organized when soliciting the assistance of NGOs. Only when both parties are in consensus and work through the Shipibo model of community organization is there the potential to have successful collaborations. 

This led us to the discussion of ‘So, what has been successful?’ What has worked before and how did they organize to make it happen? This is an important part of the Village Earth process because we want to encourage communities to build off of past successes instead of reinventing the wheel each time. Many community projects had been successful before – from communal construction projects to fish farms. Then we questioned, “How did the communities organize themselves in order to make these projects happen?”

 

 

Above: One influential Shipibo leader, Limber Gomez, draws out the model of intra and inter-community governance that the Shipibo people use to organize themselves. This highlighted the disconnect between the way NGOs were entering the communities and beginning their work and the way in which Shipibo communities build consensus and participation for projects.

Shipibo communities already have their own consensus-building processes in which the community authorities hold assemblies where everybody is welcomed and encouraged to attend. From this point, committees are democratically-elected to take on different project aspects which then report back to the authorities and the community during the assemblies. They have their own treasurers and methods for financial accountability. Although this seems like such common sense, it is surprising how many outsiders come in thinking they have the answers or that the Shipibo don’t know how to manage their own finances or run their own projects. Yet, the Shipibo are actually running their community affairs with incredible organizational capacity which is only disrupted when outsiders try to impose top-down funding and project management.

We then began the strategic planning session with a five-year vision emphasizing regional unity. This was really a question from the heart – what do they really feel for their community and their people, as opposed to just thinking about what material goods they would like to have. This really forced them to look deep inside themselves to come up with their comprehensive vision collectively. Their vision consisted of four main emphasis areas: Community Development, Formation of Shipibo Professionals (business leaders, doctors, engineers, lawyers), Cultural Revival, and the creation of Micro-enterprises.

 

This led to the question, “What obstacles are holding you back from achieving your vision?” The participants really focused on obstacles they could change themselves instead of focusing on larger global systemic issues that might seem more daunting to overcome. We then moved onto Strategic Directions where participants looked at what they can do in the next year to overcome their obstacles and begin to move toward their vision. The Strategic Directions really got the participants involved and thinking about what they can actually do to achieve their own vision for the future.
Below: All participants were involved in putting their ideas onto the board throughout the visioning process. These young men were rearranging the group’s ideas into coherent groupings for the Strategic Directions phase of the workshop.

 

 

Finally, the workshop reached its pinnacle in the Action Planning phase. Participants mapped out their plans for the next three months – practical actions that they can actually take to move toward their vision and be active agents in their own “development” process. Eight aspects were deemed the most important areas for action. They are:

 

  • First and foremost — protect and defend Shipibo territory
  •  

  • Broader regional unity
  •  

  • Cultural revival
  •  

  • University scholarships for their children
  •  

  • Small business development
  •  

  • An Indigenous Bank to facilitate economic development
  •  

  • Promoting indigenous foods for better nutrition
  •  

  • Shipibo-run radio stations broadcasting throughout the region

A committee was formed for each of these eight areas, tasks were assigned, timelines and budgets were drawn up, and finally they were presented back to the group.

Above: Lea
ders of the group planning actions to protect indigenous territory present their plan back to the group for approval.

 

These eight areas will be further discussed in forthcoming Blog postings. A Transitory Committee was democratically-elected amongst the participants (with at least one representative of each community present in the workshop) to hold an Indigenous Tribunal in June. This June event will be the follow-up to this workshop and it is Village Earth’s great honor that the Shipibo have asked Village Earth to return and co-facilitate this historic event. The Tribunal will be a gathering of Indigenous leaders from all 120 Shipibo communities, as well as other regional indigenous groups, to discuss their own alternative plan for “A Better Ucayali”.
All in all, this Regional Organizational Workshop was an incredibly empowering event and a great learning experience for all involved. The Shipibo have expressed to the Village Earth team how happy and grateful they are for our support for their self-determination. Yet, when we asked “Who came up with this plan?”, the participants realized that it was completely decided and directed by them with Village Earth only providing the framework from which to begin to question and think about some of these important issues.

 

Village Earth is honored to work with these amazing individuals that participated in this workshop and the Shipibo people as a whole. And we feel privileged to be invited to co-facilitate their landmark Indigenous Tribunal in June 2007. 

 

Above: Village Earth facilitators Kristina Pearson and David Bartecchi dance with the group as the Shipibo band plays in the background. The community organized a farewell party on the last evening of the workshop to celebrate the achievements of the group.

Below: A special thank you to Mayer Kirkpatrick, Mateo Arevalo, and Freddy Arevalo for their hardwork and dedication to this project.


Above: Thank you to Ralf (Village Earth’s media specialist), and Chloe (Village Earth’s Poet Laureate) for their hardwork and help throughout the workshop.

 

Below: A very special thank you to Flora – an amazing volunteer who gave so much of her time to help with translations and facilitating the workshop. 

And most of all – THANK YOU to all of our donors – without you none of this would have been possible!

Tourism Opens New Doors, Creates New Challenges, for Traditional Healers in Peru

By Proctor, Rachel

January 31, 2001 Cultural Survival Quarterly Issue 24.4

Mateo Arevalo, 43, was born into a family of traditional healers, or curanderos, in the Shipibo community of San Francisco de Yarinacocha in Peru. When he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and learn curandismo, he was taught to prepare a ceremonial drink from a woody vine scientists call Banisteriopsis caapi and curanderos call “ayahuasca,” a Quechua word meaning “vine of the soul.” He drank the brew regularly during his two-year training period to induce physical purging and intense visions of the spirit world. It was the spirits that provided his real training and that allow him and other curanderos to diagnose and treat patients.

While Arevalo’s forefathers put such knowledge to local use, generally treating their neighbors on a pro bono basis, Arevalo is proud to apply it to a wider audience. When foreigners started showing up in San Francisco about 10 years ago seeking the hallucinogen for healing, enlightenment, or a good trip, he took advantage of the opportunity to earn extra income. He now leads posh ayahuasca retreats in jungle lodges for foreigners, and hosts shamanism students in his home for three- or six-month courses.

“I am an innovator, adding to my ancestral knowledge,” he explains. “We, the Shipibos, are like any other human community — we need to grow and change. We can’t just stay the same so that the tourists can stare at the naked Indians in feathers and the anthropologists can treat us like a living museum.” Arevalo’s innovations let him earn $200 per month from shamanism students and $30 per person for one-time ceremonies while most of his neighbors hawk handicrafts for pennies. And he is not the only shaman to bring in such sums. Ayahuasca has shown itself capable of summoning more than visions and spirits — it also calls an ever-growing number of new-agers and thrillseekers willing to pay $30-$50 for a night’s work. Ayahuasca ceremonies can be purchased in most major tourist destinations in Peru, and numerous jungle lodges now offer ceremonies or retreats, the latter costing in the neighborhood of $700-$1,500 a week.

But ayahuasca’s new marketability has brought traditional healing to a dangerous crossroads. Tourist dollars could allow shamans to support themselves while continuing to treat their neighbors for little or nothing, but it could just as easily allow a privileged few to abandon their communities for a more affluent life in tourist towns or jungle lodges.

It is ironic that even a decade ago the main threat to traditional healing was lack of interest. Traditional shamanism promised little in the way of material rewards to young Shipibos all too aware of the need for jobs that pay cash. Leslie Taylor, an American specialist in rainforest plants, says that only a minority of shamans she met in her trips to the Amazon had apprentices. “A lot of the shamans didn’t have apprentices because [traditional healing] was considered old knowledge, and the kids wanted what was new,” she says. “They wanted what the outsiders had, what was in the city: the radios, the colored flip-flops. They didn’t want to stay in the jungle and learn traditional medicine when Western pharmaceuticals seemed to work much faster.”

Arevalo agrees that the young were never interested in his work — until now. These days, he receives many requests for training from young Shipibos who see the possibilities in a bottle of ayahuasca. Interest in healing, on the other hand, is still on the wane. “The young who ask me to teach them do not want to be curanderos,” said Arevalo, who insists that his work with tourists does not interfere with his commitment to the health of the community. “They are only interested in giving ayahuasca to the tourists.”

The problem is not innovation per se. It is that once a shaman has innovated, a whole new world opens to him, one that often separates him from his community. Antonio Muñoz hopes to carry tradition into modernity. The 40-year-old shaman learned traditional healing from his father, but never practiced because, as he says, “to be a traditional doctor in the village is to live in the worst possible poverty.” He moved to Lima, where he met psychotherapist Pio Vucetich. The two now offer therapy in which patients take ayahuasca as a tool for analysis and as a way to confront their fears and traumas. “My work is much more sophisticated than that of other curanderos,” he says. “In traditional healing, the shaman took the ayahuasca to acquire the powers of the plants: to diagnose the illness and discover a cure. But how much more effective will it be if the patient takes the medicine himself? I give ayahuasca like any other doctor gives a prescription.” Muñoz, like Arevalo, considers his work an innovation that combines the best of the old with the best of the new. He thinks those who don’t incorporate outside elements into their healing are hopelessly stuck in the past. “Other curanderos need to learn from the science of psychotherapy to better treat their patients,” he says. “We need to advance, to offer our alternative healing to the whole world.” Even so, he himself does not work with members of his community because he finds there is no demand for his “sophisticated” technique in San Francisco. He spends most of his time treating his regular patients in Lima, or wealthy Peruvians or foreigners on special week-long sessions (cost, $500) in San Francisco. Why should he stay in the village, argues Muñoz, when there are so many who appreciate his technique in the cities? The question arises: what will happen to the sick in the communities if the shamans are all at international ayahuasca conventions?

Even if practitioners of traditional medicine do move away from healing and into tourism, it would seem at first glance that ayahuasca tourism can, at the very least, help to preserve a tradition that might otherwise be forgotten. But because foreign consumers of ayahuasca often come with romanticized images of what a South American shaman should be, shamans have an incentive to alter their discourse to fit expectations. Federica LeClerc, a French anthropologist studying the use of medicinal plants by Shipibo women, says that this is already a common phenomenon, and one that she considers to bring some positive results. “The Shipibos are very assimilated,” says LeClerc. “The healers use the Bible, which isn’t `really’ part of their culture, but for them, it’s as traditional as anything else. Then foreigners come, only looking for the natural, and the shamans change what they’re saying to please them. So in some ways, tourism is bringing about a recovery of the past.” At the same time, new foreign elements are becoming a part of the practice of some shamans. The Lima-based organization Ayahuasca-Wasi, for example, offers week-long experimental seminars in “Amazonian Shamanism” which also include meditation and “Tibetan Philosophy centered on Impermanence.” Arevalo has found the need to incorporate such ideas to please his customers. He feels, however, that this syncretism is part of his human right to increase his knowledge and that it is a positive exchange of information between cultures.

One foreign element that no one appreciates, however, is outsides’ desire to capitalize on interest in ayahuasca without providing any benefits to the community. The most egregious example is the 1986 U.S. patent on ayahuasca by an American pharmacology student. Under pressure from indigenous groups, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1999 rejected the patent, but the Committee for International Environmental Law, which represented the indigenous groups, argues that the patent was overturned on a narrow technicality that does not provide sufficient protection of indigenous groups’ biolog
ical knowledge.

In addition to concerns over compensation for their intellectual property, the patent’s challengers warned that removing the plant from its traditional role could have devastating results, citing the existing gulf between the traditional use of the coca leaf in the Andes and the abuse of cocaine in the North. Just which adaptations and innovations are appropriate is a matter of considerable debate. The older generation of shamans in San Francisco, those who continue to heal their neighbors (or at least learned to do so, even if it no longer fits easily into their schedules), unanimously found ayahuasca-selling by those who do not heal inappropriate. Muñoz, who does not give ayahuasca recreationally, considers any ayahuasca tourism without a healing element to be a misuse. “If you go to the doctor, it’s because you’re sick,” he said. “But sadly, in our country curanderos give ayahuasca to any tourist who asks for it. Ayahuasca should not be used as a recreational drug.”

Taylor argues that as more and more people from the North seek out natural remedies to physical ailments, some profit-seeking shamans may sham “medical” treatments, which she considers not only inappropriate, but dangerous. “I met a woman who had all kinds of health problems — she was a year out of a kidney transplant and could barely walk,” she says. “Ayahuasca is incredibly hard on the body, especially the liver and kidneys, and this is why in traditional healing it is the shaman who takes ayahuasca, not the patient. But this woman was in contact with a shaman who wanted to give her ayahuasca in a healing ceremony. To give ayahuasca to someone that sick would have been criminal.”

Straddling the past and the future is Rodolfo Valles, one of the rare young Shipibos learning curandismo in San Francisco. Throughout his life he has seen his father curing members of his community free of charge. Now, at 19, he has begun the fasting and ayahuasca-induced training sessions that will culminate in his first healing, which he hopes he will achieve within a year. He plans to earn the money he needs to buy that which the jungle does not provide by teaching languages in a nearby mestizo town, and thinks any shaman who charges for his services is a fraud. Yet when asked if he would do ceremonies for tourists if the opportunity arose, he demonstrates conflicted feelings. “It makes me ashamed when shamans charge the tourists for their ceremonies,” Valles says. “But if people want to know about our reality and about Shipibo culture, I want to show them.” He plans to get around his moral qualms by adopting the technique of many shamans: requesting a voluntary donation rather than charging a set fee. Furthermore, he insists that his primary concern will always be the sick in his community. “I want to be a shaman because I want to help people,” he says. “I see so many needs in my community, so many sick people who can’t afford medicine at the pharmacy.”

The question remains as to what Valles will do once the opportunity to work with foreigners does arrive. It is a poignant question, for as Arevalo said, why shouldn’t a shaman innovate? Why shouldn’t he profit materially from his knowledge? If Valles is like the rest of the shamans of San Francisco, he will say yes to the foreigners. And hopefully he will fulfill his dream of continuing to say yes to his neighbors. If shamans are too busy entertaining tourists to help their communities, one can’t say that a tradition has been preserved. It will have mutated into an empty commercial endeavor that does little to preserve Shipibo heritage or help the community as a whole.

References & further reading

Interviews (all interviews took place in the year 2000):
Mateo Arevalo, shaman, Pucallpa, April 2; Yarinacocha, April 12
Federica LeClerc, anthropologist, Yarinacocha, April 1
Antonio Muñoz, shaman, San Francisco de Yarinacocha, April 7
Lucio Muñoz, shaman, San Francisco de Yarinacocha, April 6
Martin Muñoz Pacalla, shaman, San Francisco de Yarinacocha, April 6
Gilber Reategui Sangama, son of mestizo shaman, Nueva Luz de Fatima, Ap. 4
Alberto Reategui Silvano, mestizo shaman, Nueva Luz de Fatima, April 5
Leslie Taylor, owner, Raintree Nutrition, Inc., Lima, April 27
Rodolfo Valles Vallera, shaman trainee, San Francisco de Yarinacocha, Ap. 11
Other resources:
Ayahuasca-Wasi Transpersonal Shamanism Research Project. www.ayahuasca-wasi.com
The Center for International Environmental Law. www.ciel.org/ptorejection.html
SpiritQuest. www.biopark.org/sprtqu3.html
Trimble, Diane (2000, March 22). Taking Psychedelics Seriously. San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

U.S. Government Offer of $7 Billion to Settle Native Lawsuits Rejected

by Mary Clare Jalonick
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. government has proposed paying $7 billion to partly settle lawsuits alleging mismanagement of native trust lands.

The offer met with immediate objections from native plaintiffs. At issue is a decade-old lawsuit by natives against the government alleging the government mismanaged more than $100 billion in oil, gas, timber and other royalties held in trust from their lands dating from 1887.

The litigation, filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell, a Blackfoot, deals with individual natives’ lands. Several tribes also have sued for mismanagement of their lands.

Democratic U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, chairman of the Senate Indian affairs committee, said he will hold hearings on the settlement offer, which he said marks the first time the government has acknowledged a multibillion-dollar liability in the case.

“That is a significant admission,” Dorgan said, adding he believes the conditions attached to the settlement offer will be controversial.

Associate deputy interior secretary James Cason, who has overseen native issues in past years, took issue with Dorgan’s words.

He said the proposal is not an admission but a “recognition that where we are right now is not very productive.”

Cobell and one of her lawyers, Keith Harper, said the Interior Department is asking for too much.

Under terms of the offer, the government would pay $7 billion over 10 years, without interest. In exchange for the money, all tribal and individual mismanagement claims against the government would be dropped and the government would be relieved of future liability.

The proposal also would end, over a period of 10 years, most of the government’s responsibilities to manage native trust lands and would consolidate ownership of native lands, which are now often held by many people.

Cason said roughly one-half of the $7 billion would go toward settling individual and tribal claims and the other half would go toward the other proposals.

U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sent the proposal to Dorgan last week, saying they strongly support comprehensive legislation that would help the parties move “from a litigation-oriented relationship to one of economic prosperity, empowerment and self-reliance for tribes and individual Indians.”

Harper said the proposal is an insult.

“There’s no sum specific for how much is going to be used for Cobell,” he said.

“It’s pennies on the dollar.”

He said the plaintiffs estimate the government’s liability could exceed $100 billion, although they have in the past considered settling for less.

Cobell said the government is trying to do too much at once.

“It’s not fair to throw every problem that exists in Indian country that has been created by the Department of Interior into our lawsuit,” she said.

“This lawsuit is about individual Indians and accounting.”

Santa Teresita, Ucayali, Peru

The indigenous community of Santa Teresita lies on the shores of Cashibococha, a pristine lake near to Pucallpa. Jaime Flores Diaz invited Village Earth to their community for an afternoon of cultural performances. Jaime began this performance group a few years ago after taking in several orphaned children. He began to teach them traditional Shipibo song and dance. Jaime learned many Shipibo songs from his father who was a traditional healer of his community. Jaime was worried that this knowledge would be lost, so he decided to impart his wisdom onto his adopted children.
Below: Jaime Flores Diaz, a cultural visionary for his people
Jaime is interested to teach more Shipibo youth traditional Shipibo song, dance, and even theater. He is currently looking for funding to construct a cultural center in Santa Teresita that will be open to all Shipibo interested in regaining their knowledge of the traditional performing arts. They will also be available for performances for tourists. Not only will youth be regaining an important cultural aspect in the performing arts, but they are also learning so much more about other aspects of Shipibo culture such as traditional clothing and jewelry design. They are also gaining more confindence in themselves – young people are once again proud to be Shipibo.
This project fits into the larger regional plan for the alternative development of the Shipibo nation. One of the eight key aspects of the Shipibo regional plan is to rescue their culture and bring it back from the brink of extinction to once again be a vibrant, flourishing way of life that distinguishes them from the Western world. Cultural exchange was an important component of each communities’ plans – cultural exchange from the elders to the youth and also between Shipibo communities and the tourists who come to visit them.
If you are interested in helping to support Jaime’s dream of a Shipibo cultural center in Santa Teresita, please contact Village Earth’s Peru project coordinator, Kristina Pearson: [email protected]
or call the Village Earth main office: 1-970-491-5754