Oral Histories: Helping the Kogui Manage their Territory

Two of ACT’s objectives in our work at Jaba Tañiwashkaka, a coastal sacred site of the indigenous peoples of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region, are to increase the territorial management capacity of indigenous leadership and to establish conservation agreements between the local indigenous and non-indigenous communities. In contexts like the Sierra Nevada de…

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Land and history among the Matawai of Suriname

Along the Saramacca River in central Suriname live the Matawai people. They are descendants of Africans who escaped slavery in the 17th and 18th centuries by fleeing into the jungles and fighting for their freedom. In the rainforest, the survival of the Matawai has always depended on an intimate knowledge of their territories. Place-based stories…

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ACT partakes in Ruby for Good 2018 to develop offline geostorytelling app Terrastories for remote communities

At Ruby For Good 2018, a team of programmers in the Ruby language worked to develop the open-source and offline-compatible Terrastories application, designed for remote communities to map their place-based storytelling traditions. ACT will be using this application for oral histories projects with the Matawai Maroons in Suriname and other indigenous communities elsewhere in the Amazon.

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Storytelling empowers indigenous people to conserve their environments

Oral histories

Indigenous storytelling is a powerful tool for preserving biocultural diversity, says Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, an environmental researcher at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Having heard stories in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Kenya and Madagascar, he has now proposed that storytelling could transform how conservationists work with native peoples. The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) embodies this philosophy. ACT partners with South American indigenous communities to preserve rainforests and traditional culture.

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Aluakumá, the Big Bat: Oral Histories in a Waurá Community

Oral Histories in a Waurá Community: In the village of Ulupuene, which partners with ACT, two elders and community leaders passed away: the regional “keeper of songs and dances,” Yakuana, who took with him a vast wealth of knowledge about Waurá cultural practices; and most recently, Aluakumá (“Big Bat”), a village elder, shaman, and healer. Both men were revered, and their kin expressed that they had lost more than just a loved one—they had lost an unrecoverable repository of cultural knowledge.

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