Project #12229

Support native artisans & rainforest in the Amazon

by Center for Amazon Community Ecology
Nov 11, 2013

Energizing Native Communities in Peru - Report #4

Bora artisan carving tutuma ornament with daughter
Bora artisan carving tutuma ornament with daughter

Dear CACE Project Supporter,

Since our last report, we have advanced some of our basic project activities with our partner communities in Peru, made progress on a few new fronts, and have been reminded that working in remote communities can be hazardous.  Before saying more, I want to thank everyone who has supported our project through the GlobalGiving network since we first competed in the Open Challenge last November.  Please check out our one-minute video “Energizing Native Communities in Peru” at http://tinyurl.com/CACE-GGTY as our special way of saying thanks.

Our Ampiyacu Project Manager Yully Rojas has continued to making monthly trips to the Ampiyacu region from Iquitos – Peru’s gateway city to the Peruvian Amazon.  She brought in orders for new batches of woven belts, hot pads, and earrings. We are also hoping to get a new assortment of calabash pod ornaments etched with wildlife figures that have proved to be very popular for adorning Christmas trees in the holidays.

Many artisans like master carver Rider Velasquez from Puca Urquillo Bora plant these trees in their back yard so they have a ready supply of egg to watermelon size pods to make a container or any size bowl they want.  This summer, Rider showed me how he cleaned out the pulp from a “wingo” or “tutuma” fruit with a small rounded scoop he crafted from a metal rod and then lays it in the sun to dry.  He then sits on his porch, imagines some butterfly, snake, or fanciful gremlin from the forest, and etches the figure free-hand on the dark brown pod with a small awl.  If he’s happy with the design, he pours a few dozen shiny black achira seeds into the hole on top and then seals the opening with a plug of balsa wood. After attaching a small chord made of natural chambira fiber, the ornament is ready to hang from a tree or use as a rattle that fits in the palm of your hand.  CACE has now bought several hundred ornaments from Rider and other artisans from his village and Brillo Nuevo.  This income allows him to avoid cutting down trees for his livelihood.  These ornaments featuring diverse Amazon mammals, birds, bugs and frogs will be featured in the fall Gifts for Good promotion on GlobalGiving.

September and October were busy times for renewing and establishing new partnerships in our Ampiyacu Project.  For the past few years, we have been doing handicraft development work with two Bora, one Murui (formerly known as Huitoto), one Ocaina and one Yagua village.  Progress has been good in all but the latter village called San José de Piri.  We are going to bring in more help from experienced artisans to help their colleagues learn some basic weaving skills, but in the meantime, we are very happy that a neighboring Yagua village called Santa Lucia de Pro has agreed to become our newest partner.  I know from previous visits that they have some very creative artisans that I look forward to working with.   Another political accomplish was signing a 3 year extension of our cooperative agreement with the indigenous federation FECONA to continue our work in the Ampiyacu.  This took more than six months of discussion because our agreement needed to be approved by representatives of all 14 villages in the federation.  Finally, we are excited about formalizing an agreement with the Field Museum of Chicago to cooperate in our efforts to develop handicrafts, improve our partners’ research and communication skills and promote forest conservation.

Doing field work in the Amazon always has its seasonal challenges.  Traveling between Iquitos and Pebas (the gateway town to the Amipyacu communities) by ferry boat typically takes 15 to 20 hours.  This fall Yully had some even longer trips because her boat kept getting stuck on unchartered sand bars that the shifting currents of the Amazon River creates (and then removes) from one year to the next.  As the rainy season is now approaching, though, a more basic hazard is slipping on muddy ground.  This past trip, Yully lost her footing near the edge of an embankment and fell about 15 feet.  We are fortunate that this tough woman only got banged up, but she did need to be carried out and taken right away to a hospital in the city for treatment.  We appreciate your good wishes for her recovery.

Thanks again so much for your support.

Yours truly,

Campbell Plowden

Executive Director, Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Pouring achira seeds into tutuma ornament
Pouring achira seeds into tutuma ornament
CACE donating camera to FECONA native leaders
CACE donating camera to FECONA native leaders
Yully Rojas teaching Bora men how to use GPS
Yully Rojas teaching Bora men how to use GPS
Calabash tree ornaments with Amazon wildlife
Calabash tree ornaments with Amazon wildlife
Bora boy with baby monkey on his head
Bora boy with baby monkey on his head
Murui artisan with wildlife carved ornament
Murui artisan with wildlife carved ornament



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Organization Information

Center for Amazon Community Ecology

Location: State College, Pennsylvania - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.amazonecology.org
Project Leader:
Campbell Plowden
State College, PA United States
$62,791 raised of $70,000 goal
503 donations
$7,209 to go
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