Guardian of the Amazon

Ira Pastor Comments:

Today we have a fascinating guest joining us on the ideaXme show from a rather remote location, and we are going to be discussing several themes that we have individually discussed on the show previously including ethnomedicine, environmental conservation and protection, entheogens (the topic of bio-active plant substances for spiritual and religious practices), as well as the themes of bravery and perseverance.

Who Are the Waorani?

The Waorani (Huaorani) People are a group of native Amerindians from the Amazonian Region of Ecuador. They comprise of almost 4,000 inhabitants and primarily speak the Waorani language, a linguistic isolate that is not known to be related to any other language.

Waorani Traditional Animist Worldview

Ms. Nemonte Nenquimo leading the Waorani Resistance, Photo Credit: Resistencia Waorani

Waorani’s Important Botanical Knowledge

Plants, especially trees, continue to hold an important interest for the Waorani. Their store of botanical knowledge is extensive, ranging from knowledge of building and crafting materials, to poisons to hallucinogens to medicines.

Ms. Nemonte Nenquimo, Photo Credit: Resistencia Waorani

Ms. Nemonte Nenquimo

Ms. Nemonte Nenquimo is President of the Waorani Pastaza Organization(CONCONAWEP — Coordinating Council of the Waorani Nationality of Ecuador) whose focus is on coordinating 12 different Waorani communities with a single voice to defend their territories. The Waorani view themselves as the true ancestral guardians of the jungle.

Ms. Nemonte Nenquimo leading the Waorani Resistance, Photo Credit: Resistencia Waorani

On This Show We Will Hear from Ms. Nenquimo:

About Ms. Nenquimo’s background and how she became a leader of the Waorani people. We’ll hear about the Waorani people and the various tribal groups that are currently part of it. She’ll detail the importance of the Amazon rainforest to meet the food needs of the Waorani, as well as the importance of the Amazon rainforest to meet the natural medicine needs of the Waorani people. The importance of the Amazon rainforest in spiritual ceremonies for the Waorani people. Finally, we’ll learn about the recent struggles and legal victories against the Ecuadorian government in protecting Waorani territories from oil and timber companies.

Ms. Nenquimo’s Background and How She Became Leader of the Waorani People:

“Well, first of all, before I was a tribal leader, I learned from both my father and my grandparents, who had always been defenders of the jungle. I have lived in the jungle since childhood, and I learnt a lot from them about fighting for the jungle, about language, about culture, about the territory. I also had the opportunity to learn beyond the jungle, at school, going out, exploring city life, all which taught me about the struggle and helped develop my ideas of resistance. As a woman Waorani leader, it has been very important to identify as such and also preserve the language, the Waorani language.

Waorani’s dispute over Block 22 with the Ecuadorian government to protect their land.”

Ms. Nemonte Nenquimo leading the Waorani Resistance, Photo Credit: Resistencia Waorani

Block 22

“The government created “Block 22”, an oil concession for oil companies to drill in our territory, that we are the owners of, without consulting us. In 2012, the Ecuadorian government visited by plane for only an hour. They never consulted us, and we do not believe there was a prior, free and informed consultation. That’s why we made a demand for action and we won our recent legal victory. As it is a story, the first time in Ecuador, where the judges recognized that the Ecuadorian government meant to deceive us and manipulate our territory; and that was the reason we have won.

Other Amazonian Tribes

“We live in our territory as different communities, between 4–7 hours apart. We do not live in one place in our community, or only in Pastaza, but there are many clans/families in places like Kerim, Quimo, Paire and Pastaza, where CONCONWEP is organized. Each family live in their own territory, but when it is time to protect our territories, we always get together and have a large meeting for 4–5 days, which involves both men and women, young and old. With the consultation of grandparents and elders we decided to keep our territories healthy, thinking about our future generations, that our children can live healthy and live free in our territories without pollution.”

Importance of the Rainforest for Food

“The jungle is very important for the Waorani. There is no life without the jungle. We have life because we live and consume in the jungle. We go for walks, we fish and hunt animals to consume and feed our children, and we also grow vegetable gardens. We take care of our jungle because our territory, the jungle, is like a market, like a pharmacy, because within the jungle we have plants that help heal our children, for our daughters we have plants that can cure disease and the jungle gives us clean water. The jungle also gives us clean air. That is why it is very important to have a clean forest and to take care of it.

Importance of the Rainforest for Medicine

“The jungle is very important because it is like a pharmacy. You see in the city, when you get sick, you run to the pharmacy and buy something to cure. Our jungle is the same. We have plants to cure, plants to bathe our children with. We use plant vines, leaves, roots.

Importance of the Rainforest for Spiritual Practices

“We have various ceremonies. Male hunters teach children how to go hunting, how to take care of themselves too. It’s not that we Amazonians kill everything; no, we know very well which animals to keep, and how to eat. And also, the grandmothers take women in the jungle and teach the plants to us.

Victory Versus the Ecuadorian Government

“The Waorani resistance has demonstrated to the Ecuadorian government that they wanted to sell our territory without free and informed consultation with us, without us giving permission, but the Ecuadorian government, the judges have recognized this. That was our victory.

Ira Pastor ideaXme exponential health Ambassador and Founder of Bioquark




For all those who love big ideas and great stories. #movethehumanstoryforward #science #futurism #quantumai #technology #spaceexploration #climatechange

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Little Cambridge | Half Term

The bottomless lake

The most fascinating curiosities about dessert

An Ode to Luggage.

The taste of the centuries: How the gastronomy of Plovdiv made us fall in love with the city

Exploring the old city of Geraardsbergen! 🇧🇪

Free Rides in “Couch Bikes” Soothe Senior Loneliness

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
ideaXme: Move the human story forward!™

ideaXme: Move the human story forward!™

For all those who love big ideas and great stories. #movethehumanstoryforward #science #futurism #quantumai #technology #spaceexploration #climatechange

More from Medium

10 ways to bring love into your work

Out in the Woods by a Gushing Stream

Indian Cricket has more importance than our National Sport

Eulogy for Richard Haynes