You hold the key to preserving this ancient culture, virgin rain forest and the beautiful birds and animals that live there.
Within one generation, the world the Shuar have known for thousands of years has been completely turned upside down. Many Shuar youth do not speak their native language and do not understand the significance of their traditions. We have begun building a cultural center that will be used to: revive traditional ceremonies, hold meetings about protecting ancestral homelands, wildlife, the Shuar language, and their mythology before it is lost forever.
The first use of the facility will be for an UWI Namper Festival that will be held in June of 2018.
Natem, Project Director
Natem is one of the few remaining UWISHIN (Traditional Healer) and keeper of Shuar mythology. He is guided by the Great Spirit ARUTAM and the wisdom of his ancestors. He has a long history of political activism and has dedicated his life to preserving the Shuar culture.
Natem was one of the founding members of OSHE, the Shuar Organization of Ecuador. He and his companions were persecuted by the Shuar Federation and Christian missionaries who lobbied state agencies to not recognize their rights. Leaders and sympathizers were beaten, and some lost their lives.
Currently living in the Pacific Northwest, Natem participates in a variety of conferences in the United States and abroad. Depending on the age and interests of the audience, he discusses a wide range of topics from a Native environmental and spiritual perspective. He believes we must create a human bridge in the world that unites people of all tribes with PEACE, LOVE, UNDERSTANDING and RESPECT.
Raúl Nunink Paucar, Project Co-Director
Raúl was born in Ecuador in 1976, son of Natem Anank Nunink Nunkai. His grandmother, Nunkai, made quite an impact on him at an early age by sharing her traditional wisdom and teaching her grandchildren to be proud of their Shuar ancestry.
Today Raúl is a Shuar leader and defender of Native autonomy. In 1999, at age 23, he was elected the youngest president in the history of OSHE (Shuar of Ecuador Organization). Community leaders were looking for a person to lead their fight with great bravery and unwavering morals, an individual capable of uniting communities in all provinces of the Ecuadorian Amazon. His tenure at OSHE was very difficult because corrupt former leaders were very unhappy with this turn of events. Things changed dramatically and political persecution against Raúl and his family began with threats to their lives. In spite of it all, he never gave up. The Shuar people decided: “It is time for Raúl to leave the country, because we need a leader who is alive, who we can listen to and follow, not a leader that we mourn”.
Raúl has always been willing to sacrifice everything for his ideals. Currently he is in self-exile in Spain. In 2005, he founded Asociación Amigos de la Amazonía and has continued working closely with communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In one of his speeches he was quoted as saying:
“Call me a man with dangerous ideas, but in my defense I can say that these ideas are not new; they came from my Elders and have the sole purpose of protecting the Shuar culture which is on the verge of extinction. I am not the typical Shuar who, from his Kutan (seat) stares at his people disappearing and does nothing to change it … I try to be helpful to society… and if I must go against everyone because of that, I will do it happily…”