Shiwiars village Shiwiars village "We live in a very spiritual world, where trees and animals have a soul"
Graphic charter
Graphic charter


Our culture is unique. We have always lived in the forest, and have had relatively few contacts with the outside world. We share the same ancestral origins as the Achuar and Shuar, but our culture is different. We live in a very spiritual world, where dreams have a tremendous signification, and where trees and animals have a soul. We have chacras, our sacred garden where we cultivate the food we eat. We live in a non-monetized society. We still use many of our traditional accessories like necklaces, headbands and bracelets, and we paint our faces for special occasions. We live in traditional houses and we often use blowguns for hunting.

According to our cosmovision, the forest is alive, with its own spirit, the Amasang, which is the god of animals and of the forces that we use to hunt them. We owe the fertility of our soils to Nungui, that our women celebrate through Anent music and song. Our men learn from the Wishin how to hunt and the knowledge of the world.

We have however been contacted by some missionaries who converted some of us to Christianity (although not in Tanguntsa or Juyuintsa). As a result of this, we presently wear western clothing, and we use some western technology such as motors for our canoes, chainsaws, lamp torches, rifles and solar powered radios. All of this has not necessarily been bad for us. The airstrip saves lives during medical emergencies and we are happy to move between villages more quickly than before. Nevertheless even today western influence is minimal and we remain self-sufficient in our territory, still being able to obtain most of what we need from the forest.

But we are at a crossroads, and know that we have evolve to resist the pressure from the outside world. As human beings we want access to education and health care and are therefore fighting to promote our rights. We hope the Ikiam Expedition will allow us to make the changes we both need and want, integrating our society into the modern world while preserving an integral part of our culture.

For more information about our culture, please visit the Shiwiar Initiative site.