THE HUAORANI la versíon española la version française


A COUPLE, Huaorani indians, Ecuador, South America

Noemi Paymal

"As my ancestors lived, so also will I live,
As my ancestors died, so also will I die, huaorani, huaorani, wa poni, wa poni."

Huaorani song by Mima,a member of the Quemperi, Cononaco River

IN THE EARLY MORNING MIST, Mima's song is lost in the vast, endless rain forest. The melody, enchanting, heartrending, seems to come from the night of the distant past. Where did the Huaorani come from? What is their world like, that fascinating world about which we know so little?

This Amazonian people are shrouded in mystery. As recently as two generations ago, its members used axes made of stone and lived in the immense and impenetrable rain forest which has always provided them with a safe haven. Huaorani tradition mentions only that they migrated from "down river" a long time ago, fleeing the "cannibals." Their language has no ties to any other Amazon group and has yet to be classified. In addition, their pottery bears no relation to that of their current or past neighbours.

The Huaorani are a people known as fearless warriors and superb hunters, and for their ability to adapt to their environment. Historically, they have been called Aucas, a pejorative term that in Kitchwa means "people of the jungle, savages," because of their aggressive attitude toward other Huaorani, and in their dealings with other indigenous groups, colonists and "whites." They call themselves Huaorani, a word meaning "the people," "human beings," as opposed to the cowode, the "non-people," a category that includes everyone who is not Huaorani.

The Huaorani way of life was once marked by constant war. Members of the group lived in inaccessible places, far from rivers, and were able to mobilize quickly. Though they depended on the hunt rather than agriculture, they did grow manioc in various places at the same time. The group's social organization included the practice of polygamy (polygyny and, less frequently, polyandry) when conflict led to demographic imbalance.

PREPARING FOR THE HUNT

Mima has stopped singing and gets ready to hunt with her husband, Dabo, and other hunters to whom she has just given breakfast: smoked monkey with tepae, a slightly fermented manioc drink.

extracting curare, Huaorani indians, Ecuador, South America coating curare darts, Huaorani indians, Ecuador, South America dring curare darts, Huaorani indians, Ecuador, South America
Making curare darts

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