Alianza Arkana

The Arkana Alliance is committed to raising awareness about the current environmental and social crises in the Amazon; supporting the creation, connection and strengthening of strategic networks and regional and community-based alliances; and inspiring positive change at local, national and international levels to protect and preserve the people, environment, and ancient traditions of the Amazon Rainforest.
Jan 26, 2017

Supporting Youth in Santa Clara

Youth outside traditional maloka in Santa Clara
Youth outside traditional maloka in Santa Clara

I am delighted to write this report about exciting new developments that are happening in the Shipibo community of Santa Clara, where we have a major project that combines permaculture and intercultural education.

On December 1st last year, staff from Alianza Arkana were invited to the community to meet with and hear the ideas of a recently formed association of young people within the community. The wonderful thing about this association is that it has come about from an initiative from the young people in the community, concerned about the loss of their traditional culture and wanting to do something about this.

The formation of the association has been spurred by the recent eco-tourism visits to the community, which I wrote about in the last report, and which has led to the young people learning traditional songs and dances of their culture to show to visitors. As they have become more involved with this, their interest has been stimulated in learning more about their traditional culture.

You can read more about ecotourism and the young people on our blog here.

Since this first meeting in the community, we have had two further meetings with the group of young people in our office, which have been focussed on helping them get a grant from Global Greengrants Fund of $5000 USD to implement their dreams for the community. A further purpose of these meetings was to teach them the skills involved in applying for grants.

Their plans include:

  • Creating a one hectare reforestation project, using medicinal plants and trees. In time, this project could provide an income for the young people involved through growing, harvesting, preparing, marketing and selling medicinal plant remedies. Part of our work with the young people will be to equip them with the skills to do this. Interestingly, we have had two recent meetings with organizations looking for sources of medicinal plants so we are confident that a market exists for this.
  • Building an elevated walkway from the port to the community, which will greatly improve access to the community for visitors and help the community with easier access to the lake of Yarinacocha and the city of Pucallpa.
  • Equipping themselves with traditional clothing in order to perform the dances and songs of their culture.
  • Formally registering themselves as a nonprofit in Peru, which will give them the opportunity to have their own bank account and apply for funds in their own right. For the moment, Alianza Arkana will administer any funds successfully applied for and at the same time teach the young people the skills of administering funds.
  • Beginning the preparation to create the traditional Shipibo festival of Ani Xeati, which is no longer held in the communities. One of the roles of this festival was to bring together Shipibo people from many different communities. This role is now carried out by the yearly Mundialito Shipibo (the Shipibo World Cup), which will be starting soon on February 12th

We are confident, through initial responses received by the representative of Global Greengrants Fund in Peru, that the grant application by the asociation of young people will be successful and that this will be a great confidence booster for the young people in their ability to create positive change and sustainable alternative livelihoods in their community.

Meeting with young people at our office
Meeting with young people at our office
Jan 19, 2017

Update on our work in Ecosocial Justice

AA team with community members of Calleria
AA team with community members of Calleria

The main focus of our work in the last three months has been finding someone to replace our former Director of Ecosocial Justice, Tom Younger, who did such a great job with us and sadly had to go back to the UK when his father became ill.

We are delighted that we have now found two people who will work with us in this area.

The first is Daniel Matthews, who is Peruvian. Daniel has been involved in social movements in Peru snce the 1970's and so brings a wealth of experience with him. Additionally, he has a Doctorate in Latin Americal Literature and is a published poet.

The second is Jane Shirley Mori Cairuna. Shirley is a young Shipibo woman and graduate in agro-forestry from the Universidad Nacional Intercultural de la Amazonia (UNIA) - the first indigenous university in Peru, based about ten minutes away from our offices in Yarina. (We are supporting six students with scholarships at this university.)

Shirley will be working with us first as a trainee with a view to assuming a paid role in six months time, when we have funding for that. She will focus on the courses we want to give young people in communities about eco-social justice and also alternative livelihoods.

The highlight of our work this month was visit to the community of Calleria, which is one of the few Shipibo communities who are successfully managing the forest in their ancestral lands. Shirley wrote an excellent blog (in Spanish and soon to be translated into English and also Shipibo!), which you can read here.

In the future, we want to offer workshops in other Shipibo communities, bringing the people from Calleria to share their experience, to look at how other communities might successfully manage their own forests, rather than granting concessions to mestizo logging companies, which is what happens at the moment in at least 80% of Shipibo communities

Many thanks for your ongoing support for this important work.

Jane Shirley Mori Cairuna
Jane Shirley Mori Cairuna
Daniel Matthews
Daniel Matthews
Leader of community showing us the tree Lupuna
Leader of community showing us the tree Lupuna
Dec 1, 2016

Supporting Ecotourism and other Developments

Shipibo welcome music
Shipibo welcome music

Dear all

As always many thanks for your support.

The last three months have been uncharacteristically very hot in Pucallpa, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. Usually these months are cooler as the rainy season approaches. Sadly, I think this is climate change really starting to bite here. As always the people most affected are the indigenous and other vulnerable populations.

If you have not already seen it, please look at our new video of the work in Santa Clara. It was made by a highly professional videographer who has just finished working with us for three months.

I have just come back from a two day visit with 25 people from the Universeum of Gothenburg, in Sweden, to the Shipibo community of Santa Clara. This was their second visit in two weeks and is part of our support to the community alongside the permaculture/intercultural education project we have there.

The visit was a great success - see the photos, where the Swedes also shared aspects of their culture (¡like Papa Noel!). Also see more photos on our Facebook site:

The other really good news from the community is that the young people there are increasingly taking intiatives and breaking out of the cycle of dependency on external help. They have recently formed an association and want to talk to us about their ideas for creating sustainable livelihoods in the community, which could include further development of ecotourism in the community and the cultivation and sale of medicinal plants.

Our intercultural book for Shipibo primary school children continues to progress well. We now have all 30 paintings of plant spirits from Shipibo artist Lastenia Canayao (see photo for another example of her work) and also 30 botanical drawings of the plants. These will now be sent to New York City, where we are working with the Shipibo Conibo Center for Contemporay Arts there, who are helping us design and produce the book.

We have also created a strategic plan to increase the number of Shipibo people working in Alianza Arkana. This can be viewed in the accompanying document. We have already appointed one talented young Shipibo woman to work with us - first as an apprentice in the work in eco-social justice and with young people and then to take on a key role in one of these areas.

Finally, we had a very successful staff retreat last Friday focussed on funding and the future of the organization. We continue to attract high quality volunteers and researchers, including more Peruvians who can stay much longer term with us as they do not have issues with visas to be able to stay in Peru.

Any questions/comments please contact me at: paul@alianzaarkana.org

Best wishes

Dr Paul Roberts

Director Intercultural Education

Alianza Arkana

Shipibo girls dancing
Shipibo girls dancing
Papa Noel all the way from Sweden
Papa Noel all the way from Sweden
Small trees ready to be planted for reforestation
Small trees ready to be planted for reforestation
Lastenia
Lastenia's painting of plant spirit of Maranon
Photo from staff retreat
Photo from staff retreat

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