- TĐH: The issue the Huaorani face is common to many ethnic minority peoples around the world: How to preserve your ancient land and culture against the invasion of “civilization”?
A people about to be wiped out? The Huaorani are one of two remaining hunter-gatherer tribes in the Amazonian rainforest in Ecuador, most of whom have never been in contact with the rest of the world — and their home and very existence is under threat by oil companies that, supported by the government, want to drill for oil in what’s left of their homelands.
Sworn to protect the rainforest. The Huaorani have preserved their part of the Amazon rainforest for centuries. The area in Ecuador designated as the Yasuni National Park and Biosphere Reserve is world-renowned for carbon-rich forests, extraordinary biological diversity, and for being home to many endangered species. “We used to defend our territory with wooden spears,” the Huaorani say. “Now we launched a petition on Change.org, and we are asking for your help.”
What you can do: Some of the Huaorani left the Amazon to try to save their homeland, and they started a petition on Change.org — they want Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa to grant them legal rights to the forest, which they’ve lived in and preserved for centuries. Click here to sign the Huaorani’s petition.
Here’s more information from the Huaorani’s petition:
We, the Huaorani, have defended and protected Yasuni since before written history. Before ‘contact’ and the arrival of ‘the civilization’ and first oil company Texaco (now Chevron) around 1970, we defended our territory with hardwood spears. Now we, the ‘contacted’ Huaorani of Yasuni, are developing new ways to protect Ome, our rainforest that is our home and source of life.
We live in the Huaorani communities, Bameno, Boanamo and Wema. We have organized ourselves to work together to defend Yasuni and our culture and way of life – and make real the promise of rainforest conservation and human rights for Indigenous peoples in Yasuni, including the right of our uncontacted neighbors to live free in isolation in the forest. We call ourselves Ome Gompote Kiwigimoni Huaorani (We Defend Our Huaorani Territory), “Ome Yasuni.” With the help of Judith Kimerling, a professor at CUNY Queens College and author of Amazon Crude, and Luminita Cuna, who we met when she visited as a tourist, we launched this petition on Change.org, and we are asking for your help.
This is our petition: Something of this great rainforest territory must remain for us, the Huaorani, where we can continue to live freely and in accordance with our culture, without oil companies, settlers, roads, military and security forces, loggers, bureaucrats, or other outsiders damaging the forest or telling us how we should live. We need a legal title to our territory, and reforms to the laws of Ecuador to protect Ome and our right to live as we wish, as Huaorani.
Our fate and the fate of Yasuni are one. Without territory and self-determination, we cannot survive. Without the Huaorani to defend and care for her, the Yasuni Rainforest cannot survive.