The Awá nationality is limited to the north by Colombia, to the south by the parish of Lita, Ibarra canton-Imbabura province, to the east by the Chical parish, the Tulcán canton-Carchi province and to the west, by the Tululbi parish, canton San Lorenzo-Esmeraldas Province.
The population according to the 2002 census is approximately 3,500 inhabitants, which are divided into 19 communities: San Marcos , Tarabita , SIPI , Gualpi Alto , Gualpi Bajo , Sabalero , Gare , Pailón , Aguaña, Río Tigre, El Noboso, Río Verde, Palmira del Toctoni and San Vicente are located in the province of Carchi, while the communities of: Mataje, Guadualito, Pambilo, La Unión and Río Bogotá, located north of the province of Esmeraldas.
According to their ancestors, the Awá nationality is descended from the Mayas of Mexico. The elders of this nationality say that three hundred years ago, they left the Mexican territories, heading for Central America and South America, arriving in Colombia, where they hoped to settle; But there was a conflict known as the 1000 day war, for this reason, many Awá had to travel to Ecuador. Thus they arrived in the country and stayed to live in Esmeraldas; It took 80 years for this town to be certified as part of the Ecuadorian territory; years later they were organized as the Federation of Awá Centers of Ecuador. Federation whose objectives are: the recovery, the strengthening of its culture and the care and defense of its territory.
The Awá nationality, still practicing and preserving ancestral medicine, medicine that is practiced by the local healers, in general these healers are the elderly who know diseases and with what plants to cure them. Diseases, such as parasitosis, flu and the most common ones, those related to chutón or tumors that appear in the body, according to their beliefs, are produced by having eaten outside of established hours; diseases that only the curandero can alleviate, with appropriate herbs: cuilde grass, lemon verbena, guaipil, romerillo, palm heart, coastal mountain potato, raft, achiote and even with animals such as: sardines, hens, eggs.
Beliefs, symbols and customs
Their beliefs, linked to their symbolic world, tell us about a people linked to nature and beliefs given by the evangelization processes of their people. Thus, we can mention that for the Awá, encountering a hummingbird head-on is a symbol of death, it is the announcement that someone very close is going to die; or the belief that when you find a cross on the road, it is a sign of the direction you have to take, for your good. They also have the belief that children should not be allowed to play or bathe after four in the afternoon, because it can give them bad air. That you can’t eat fallen fruits after three in the afternoon because they get a chutón (tumor). They bury the placenta and the umbilical cord, under the house, so that the woman who gave birth does not get sick. Their customs in relation to death, They tell us of a people respectful of the transition from life to death, therefore, they build a ranch of leaves and branches for the dead, away from the community, they visit him with food for 4 days, then they bury him and offer the dead the feast of honors, so that it is an ally of their houses and not an enemy that can harm them. In the event that the deceased is a child without baptism, they are buried in the mountains on the banks of a river. In the event that the dead child is baptized, they are buried in the middle of a great party. In the event that the deceased is a child without baptism, they are buried in the mountains on the banks of a river. In the event that the dead child is baptized, they are buried in the middle of a great party. In the event that the deceased is a child without baptism, they are buried in the mountains on the banks of a river. In the event that the dead child is baptized, they are buried in the middle of a great party.
The Awá house has a simple architecture. A large rectangular room, set on four large square stones. The entire structure is covered with bijao leaves, similar to those of banana, the difference is that these are larger leaves. The interior of the house is divided: 1) at one end we have the kitchen, a place where the family meets to orally transmit tales, legends and stories, which for the Awá, is of utmost importance, because it is in this space transmits the secrets of the skills of hunting, fishing, agriculture and productive activities that allow the existence of this nationality. 2) the remaining space is determined for the rest of the family or what we can call the bedroom.
Your artistic practices
The Awá nationality makes their own musical instruments, takes advantage of the natural wealth that their territories have to make the marimba, the bass drum and the flute, currently instruments have been adopted from other cultures that when producing music, take the sounds of this nationality.
The Awá’s own games are: bolichas, a game that consists of taking seeds from the trees, to make them collide with each other. The high jumps, jumps that are given from high points and the person who jumps the most, is the winner. The guande or reed, consists of hanging from the vines of the trees, balancing the body, to be able to go from one place to another and the person who advances longer stretches, that is the winner. The raft game consists of the ability to drive canoes, whoever has the most skill, can even get the love of a girl. Currently games such as volleyball, soccer, among others, have been adopted.