Zapara Culture of Ecuador and Peru Recognized by UNESCO

Association of the Zapara Nation of Pastaza Province (ANAZPPA) - zapara@punto.net.ec

For more information, contact:

Paul Paz y MiƱo, +1.510.281.9020 x302 or paz@amazonwatch.org


The culture of the Zapara nation of Ecuador and Peru was recognized today by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the "Intangible Heritage of Humanity" for its oral traditions and other cultural manifestations.

In the name of the five Zapara communities of Ecuador and of the Zapara families who live in Peru, we thank UNESCO for this recognition and support of our cultural identity.

Although declared "extinct" by historians and anthropologists, in fact we Zapara continue to live in what remains of our once vast ancestral territory, and we are reviving and reaffirming our identity. Approximately 200 Zapara live in the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador, in one of the most biodiverse regions of the world along the heads of the Conambo and Pindoyacu rivers in the province of Pastaza, in the communities of Kuitza (Llanchamacocha), Aremano (Jandiayacu), Mazaraka (Mazaramu), Cuyacocha, and the new community of Akamaru. (Names of communities in parentheses are in the Quichua language, and are the names by which they are commonly known in Ecuador.)

The candidature of the Zapara culture as a masterpiece of the human creative genius was developed and presented by the Association of the Zapara Nation of Pastaza Province (ANAZPPA), in collaboration with Ecuadorean linguist Carlos Andrade, who, along with the five elders who are its last surviving speakers, works to document and revitalize the distinct Zapara language.

For centuries the Zapara were one people living in one immense forest, and were one of the most numerous Indigenous nations of the northwest Amazon Basin of South America, comprised of 39 different linguistic groups. Years of suffering and disease brought by rubber companies and religious missionaries reduced our nation to just one linguistic group, which was violently divided in the war of 1941 between Ecuador and Peru. At that time, many of our families were captured and forced to live on the other side of the border in Peru, while the majority of Zapara remained in our ancestral territory located within the borders of Ecuador.

This prestigious award by UNESCO strengthens the reunification of our people and the preservation of the centuries-old Zapara culture. Further, it serves as a message to the entire world that Indigenous cultures are created in, and sustained by, specific territories, and that their preservation depends upon the autonomy of our people and the respect of our ancestral rights, among which are the right of ownership of our land and the protection of our environment from destruction through the exploitation of its natural resources by oil companies, timber companies, pharmeceutical companies, etc. For all Indigenous peoples of the world, nature and culture are inseparable.

Cuijia ikicha Zaparananuka curapaka Zapara. (Idioma Zapara)
We are the caretakers of the land of our Zapara ancestors.

Yatsawa ikicha uwitsata. (Idioma Zapara)

We will not forget our ancient way of life.
SENOR BARTOLO USHIGUA
President of ANAZPPA

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