The Amazonian rainforest (Willey, Gordon R., 1971, Lathrap, D.W., 1984) is an example of harmonious life in the realm of Nature. We intend to build, in the Venezuelan part of Amazonia, a base for studying and effectively protecting the local Indian communities and their natural environment: the tropical virgin forest (which is delineated by the Guyana Highlands in the east), the Paríma Highlands in the south and the Sierra Maigualida range in the west. The Amazon Indian communities and their natural environment – as well as elsewhere in the Gran Amazonia (Lovejoy, T.E., 1985, Meggers, B.J., 1971, 1984) – are increasingly exposed to threats involved in the expansion of industrial society. Cutting down the rainforest to an excessive extent and the activities of the mining companies, as well as illegal groups of hunters, gold and diamond prospectors, combined with the burning of the forest to gain pasture land and land for farming, are changing this landscape into vast expanses of barren land (Posey, D.A., 1984, Maraven, 1985). The Amazonian Indians live a life of hunters (Lathrap, D.W., 1968), fishers, gatherers and forest farmers (Meggers, Betty and Evans, Clifford, 1963, Sauer, Carl O., 1952). The people’s creative ability to transform and utilise the gifts of the tropical forest (Lowie, Robert H. 1948, Steen, H.K., 1992) as objects of material and spiritual use without destroying the Nature as such, has been the key to their survival. Their everyday life, family relations, religious rituals (Métraux, Alfréd,1973), the way they make their living, the magic (Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo, 1997), the “green medicine” – all this looks very primitive from our point of view. The reason, perhaps, is that we are reluctant to accept things beyond our grasp and that we depreciate the merits we know little about. Amazon Indians’ primeval cultural traditions, and the world of harmony between man and Nature, are disappearing forever and they subconsciously feel that their world is dying and vanishing. They succumb to the stronger. Thus, in fact, they act in accordance with the laws of Nature. Our civilization owes much to them and other primitive nations.
The Gran Amazonia foundation operates primary on the Caura River in Venezuelan Amazon, where it uses the experiences of its members from the investigations and researches in other parts of Amazonian rain forests.
The Gran Amazonia Foundation set itself a number of tasks under several major projects:
1. Field ethnographic researches of the Upper Orinoco Indians’ culture and environment, with a view to protecting their communities against the penetration of modern civilization. This includes the study of their health and the provision of basic health care, mainly to the communities already contaminated by the disastrous consequences of the presence of unoriginal inhabitants.
2. Field ethnozoological researches focused on the protection and population growth of the jaguar.
3. Field ethnobotanical researches
Results of the past 5 years of operating on the Caura River
During the last couple of years the members of the foundation completed several tasks, researches and projects:
The foundation of the Gran Amazonia has one general objective: to preserve Indian tropical forest cultures of the Amazon and their environment of tropical forest. Type of generally beneficial services:
Project Río Nicharé
Objectives for the next ten years
The approximate costs (in USD) of the activities within the next years:
An overview of the Amazon Indian Communities in the Region
Hoti Hot (“Man”) live in partial isolation in the north-eastern Guyana Highlands in the Sierra Maigualida range on the upper courses of the rivers Asita, Parucito and Cuchivero. The estimated population is between 500 and 700 persons. They migrate in small groups as forest farmers, gatherers, hunters and fishers. The origin of their language is unknown. It is related to Wóthuha by some hypotheses, and is influenced by the neighbouring ethnic groups (Coppens, Walter, 1983).
Yanomamas Yanomamo, Yanomami, Guaica, Guaharibo, Waika – they represent perhaps the largest group of forest Indians living a primeval life. Their number is estimated at 18,000. Their language belongs in the Yanomamo family, with a number of dialects: eastern dialect Paríma, western dialect Padamo, and another five dialects, including Kobali, Cobariwa, Ninam, Samantari and Sanema. They live as migrating hunters, gatherers and forest farmers on the extensive territory of the Venezuelan Amazonia on the upper course of the Orinoco and Caura, and in the Paríma mountain range (Cocco, padre Luis, 1972, Chagnon, Napoleon, 1983).
Maquiritari Maquiritare (the “River People”) call themselves Yecuana (the “Curiara People”) (Gazeta Indigenista). They live along the rivers Ventuari, Caura, Paraguay and Erebato and their population is estimated at 5,200. They are typical forest farmers, hunters and fishers, and their language belongs in the large language family, Caríb.
Panare They call themselves E’nepa. About 1200 hunters, fishers and forest farmers constitute two groups: those living in the forest and those inhabiting the Highlands and the basin of the upper course of the Cuchivero River. They belong in the large language family, Caríb.
Piaroa They prefer being called Wóthuha (the “Peace People”). Their language is isolated, belonging in the Sáliva language family. Their scattered population of about 12,000 spans the vast and hard-to-get-at territory from the rivers Parguaza, Sipapo, Autana and Cuao up to the mid course of the Bentauri and the Manapiare Valley. They are typical settled forest farmers, gatherers, hunters and fishers (Joanna Overing, Kaplan M.R., 1988).
In the area between Trincheras and the town Maripa, there are several Indian settlements which arose as a result of the recent migration of several of the above ethnic groups, and which are very badly affected by our civilization in cultural, social and health terms.
About The Founder
Ing. Mnislav Zelený, founder of the Gran Amazonia Foundation, field ethnographist. (bibliography: Contribución a la etnografia huaraya, Praha 1976 (PhD Dissertation), Prairie and Forest Indians, Bratislava 1985, Encyclopaedie of archeologie (part: Latin America), Bratislava 1985, Encyclopaedia of World Culture (author of entries relating to Yawalapiti and Hurayao), New Haven 1992, Indiánská encyklopedie: Indiáni tøí Amerik ( Encyclopaedia of Indians of the Three Americas), Praha 1994, Mythology of Amazonian Indians, Praha 2004, Encyclopedia of shamanism, Praha 2007 and another 200 articles on the Latin American Indians.) Spent many years living among the Indians in Latin America during the past forty years.
Possible future partners:
founder and chief of the foundation of the Gran Amazonia, firstname.lastname@example.org