Recovering the ancestral interpretation of the Amazon territory

Recovering the ancestral interpretation of the Amazon territory

Colombia - 15 April, 2013

Indigenous communities and territory come together as one, but the relationship implies a variety of visions and interpretations. From a traditional point of view, the territory is multidimensional: it considers not only the physical-geographical area or the political-administrative dimensions, but it also includes the shamanic, mythological and inter-ethnic aspects. These are some of the elements that TBI Colombia recovers in the publication Traditional cartography of the Yucuna-Matapí: The knowledge and management of the traditional territory.

The knowledge holders Uldarico Matapí and Rodrigo Yucuna, both recognized inheritors of the knowledge of their ethnic groups and trained since their childhood to become shamans, engaged in the task of compiling all their knowledge about the traditional cartography of their territory. Both traditional leaders keep in their memory the multiple expressions of the Amazon territory; in fact, they travel mentally through the vast area that covers thousands of kilometers from the mouth of the Amazon River to the source of the Mirití, Pirá Paraná, Cahuinarí and Cananarí Rivers in the North East Amazon. For them, the Amazon territory is the enormous basin of the Amazon River, a world studied in detail by their ancestors.

With the objective of strengthening the traditional knowledge and its transmission, and the intention of generating an exchange of knowledge between indigenous communities and Western societies, the authors worked together in the elaboration of a series of maps to show their territory in the simplest way possible. Such maps were published in the book Traditional cartography of the Yucuna-Matapí: The knowledge and management of the traditional territory; the associated narrations and explanations are presented in the multimedia: Traditional cartography of the Yucuna-Matapí: maps and narratives about the territory.

mapa2.jpgThese materials allow the study of the history of the Yucuna and Matapí ethnic groups, the interethnic relationships in the Amazon, the symbolic and shamanistic aspects involved in the traditional management of the Amazon, the occupation areas of the different local communities, the sacred places and the territories of the animals. The whole project is directed to facilitate the processes of the recognition of traditional territories at a regional level and to strengthen the actions directed to land use planning and the formulation of Life Plans in the different ethnic groups. It also aims at the inclusion of traditional views in forest management and to demonstrate the contribution of indigenous people to the conservation of the tropical rainforest and its biodiversity.

The research of Uldarico and Rodrigo is framed in the project "Cultural Cartography in the North East Amazon" that is being developed in a Bi-National agreement between Brazil and Colombia with the participation of the Immaterial Heritage Group of the Ministry of Culture of Colombia, Patrimonio Natural, Gaia and National Parks. The whole experience will contribute to the development of a cultural cartography of all the ethnic groups in the North East Amazon in Colombia and Brazil.