Thursday, February 24, 2011

Huaorani, Moi, Ecotourism & Operation Auca

Blog post by Tina Winterlik
Feb 24/2011

One day soon I hope that Angel and I can go to Ecuador and experience the beauty of the Amazon.  We don't take it for granted, and we are sad that so many bad things have happened the the environment and the people. Now with some Eco-lodges and social media, information can be shared and hopefully some of the wrongs can be righted. But what the oil companies did there was horrific and it's so sad that the people there have to live with that.

Huaorani leader Moi Enomenga, made famous by articles in the New Yorker magazine and as the principle character in Joe Kane's Savages (1995), as well as in an NBC television documentary telling of his struggle to protect Huaorani land from oil companies, believes that ecotourism is a means by which his people can receive an income while maintaining the integrity of their culture and conserving their rainforest territory.

Moi is currently the president of the Ecotourism Association of Quehueri`ono, which represents five communities on the upper Shiripuno River, and has signed an agreement with Tropic to develop this joint venture for the next ten years.

First the missionaries, then loggers and the extraction of oil which brought deforestation, pollution and crime in their wake.

Incredibly, Ecuador has the highest rate of deforestation in South America; the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon, among the most biologically diverse regions in the world, the place the Waorani call home, has been hit particularly hard. There have been few options available: fight, die, flee, assimilate, disappear.......

Flying over the Ecuadorian Amazon or 'Oriente' in a Cessna light aircraft is a major highlight of Tropic's #Huaorani Ecolodge #adventure. With the 40 minute flight taking off from the small jungle town of Shell, passengers are introduced to Ecuador's long and difficult history of oil development.

The Huaorani have long inhabited the headwaters of the Amazon, living as nomadic hunters and gatherers with no outside contact until the end of the 1950s, at least one clan continues to shun all contact with the outside world. According to their traditions, they migrated to this area a long time ago to escape from cannibals.

The Huaorani speak a language unrelated to any other; their name means "the people", while everyone else is cowore, or "non-human" (that's you).

In 1956, when the Huaorani were first contacted by missionaries, their territory extended from the Napo River in the north to the Curaray River in the south. After the missionaries, the oil companies came looking for new reserves as the global demand for fossil fuels increased. The Huaorani live on top of one of Ecuador's largest oil deposits and since its discovery have been forced to deal with the presence of oil companies and other outsiders on the land they have called home for at least a thousand years . Read More Here.


TROPIC is an award–winning ecotourism company specialized in providing high quality travel experiences in Ecuador’s most spectacular natural areas in the company of its native peoples.

At Tropic we offer our clients an unforgettable experience in a culturally sensitive style, while contributing to the conservation and sustainable development of the places we visit.

TROPIC grew out of the need for a tourism operator which could demonstrate that environmental protection and cultural respect can be compatible with running a successful business.

While many of Ecuador's (and the world's) most valuable and beautiful regions are falling victim to insensitive 'development' at the hands of the oil, timber and monoculture industries causing a tragic loss of biodiversity, now more than ever it is necessary to create viable economic alternatives which give value to this ecological and cultural richness. Read More here
Tropic- Journeys in Nature

Misiones cristianas 1/10

La película documenta los acontecimientos de 1956 que rodean los esfuerzos misioneros de cinco americanos y de sus familias de alcanzar a los indios de Auca de Ecuador, una tribu conocida por su salvajismo.
Sus intentos de acercarse a la tribu dieron como resultado las muertes de Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, y de Roger Youderian. 

Pero esta tragedia era solamente el principio de una historia asombrosa del perdón, del rescate, y de la tolerancia. Varios miembros de la familia de los misionarios asesinados volvieron a las selvas de Ecuador para ministrar a los Aucas (hoy conocidos como los "Huaoranis"), y sus esfuerzos lograron que muchos miembros de la tribu se convirtieron en cristianos. 

En una increíble expresión de reconciliación, Steve Saint, hijo de Nate es bautizado por dos de los hombres que asesinaron a su padre, en el mismo río en donde murió su padre.

Basado en una historia real.

Operation Auca

Operation Auca was an attempt by five Evangelical Christian missionaries from the United States to bring the gospel to the Huaorani people of the rainforest of Ecuador. The Huaorani, also known by the pejorative Aucas (a modification of awqa, the Quechua word for "enemies"), were an isolated tribe known for their violence, against both their own people and outsiders who entered their territory.

With the intention of being the first Christians to evangelize the previously uncontacted Huaorani, the missionaries began making regular flights over Huaorani settlements in September 1955, dropping gifts. After several months of exchanging gifts, on January 3, 1956, the missionaries established a camp at "Palm Beach", a sandbar along the Curaray River, a few kilometres from Huaorani settlements. Their efforts came to an end on January 8, 1956, when all five—Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian—were attacked and speared by a group of Huaorani warriors. The news of their deaths was broadcast around the world, and Life magazine covered the event with a photo essay.

The deaths of the men galvanized the missionary effort in the United States, sparking an outpouring of funding for evangelization efforts around the world. Their work is still frequently remembered in evangelical publications, and in 2006 was the subject of the film production End of the Spear. Several years after the death of the men, the widow of Jim Elliot, Elisabeth, and the sister of Nate Saint, Rachel, returned to Ecuador as missionaries with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL International) to live among the Huaorani. This eventually led to the conversion of many, including some of those involved in the killing. While largely eliminating tribal violence, their efforts exposed the tribe to exploitation and increased influence from the outside. Read more here.

Anthropologist views

Anthropologists generally have less favorable views of the missionary work begun by Operation Auca, viewing the intervention as the cause for the recent and widely recognized decline of Huaorani culture. 

Leading Huaorani researcher Laura Rival says that the work of the SIL "pacified" the Huaorani during the 1960s, and argues that missionary intervention caused significant changes in fundamental components of Huaorani society. 

Prohibitions of polygamy, violence, chanting, and dancing were directly contrary to cultural norms, and the relocation of Huaorani and subsequent intermarrying of previously hostile groups eroded cultural identity.[27] 

Others are somewhat less negative—Brysk, after noting that the work of the missionaries opened the area to outside intervention and led to the deterioration of the culture, says that the SIL also informed the Huaorani of their legal rights and taught them how to protect their interests from developers.[34] 

Boster goes even further, suggesting that the "pacification" of the Huaorani was a result of "active effort" by the Huaorani themselves, not the result of missionary imposition. 

He argues that Christianity served as a way for the Huaorani to escape the cycle of violence in their community, since it provided a motivation to abstain from killing.[35]


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