Awajun

Awajún . Aboriginal nationality that inhabit part of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. It is the second largest town, its language being the most widely spoken of the four that belong to the Jíbaro linguistic family.

Summary

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  • 1 Description
  • 2 History
  • 3 Social, economic and political institutions
  • 4 Ancient beliefs and practices
  • 5 Sources

Description

The Awajún people, also known by the name of Aguaruna, are the second largest people in the Peruvian Amazon, they descend from the fierce Jíbaros, formidable warriors who tirelessly defended their freedom and who, for that reason, remained for a long time outside the political and ideological scope and dominance of Western ambition. Possibly, they faced the Inca raids, which failed to include them. Nor could they indoctrinate the priests of the Counter-Reformation, especially Jesuits and Dominicans, many of whom died in the attempt, mostly due to ignorance of the ecosystem.

This town has a strong political and organizational presence, which is evident since the late 1970s, with the creation of important indigenous organizations such as the Aguaruna and Huambisa Council (CAH). The Awajún people live mainly in the department of Amazonas, although there are also communities of this town in the north of the departments of Loreto , Cajamarca and San Martín . According to data obtained by the Ministry of Culture, the population of the communities of the Awajún people is estimated at 62,765 people.

It is possible that they were captured at the time of rubber exploitation, the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, and plundered by Fitzcarrald and Arana, among others.

History

The history of the Awajún in pre-Inca times is linked to the Moche, with whom they would have been in contact for approximately 2000 years. According to Regan (1992), this contact would be evidenced by the similarity of Awajún and Wampis myths with some expressions of Mochica iconography. Some time later, the contact between the Awajún and the Incas would have occurred during the governments of the Incas Túpac Yupanqui and Huayna Cápac. The incursion of the Incas into Awajún territory would have caused strong confrontations between the Awajún and the different Andean peoples (Chirif and Mora 1977).

The first colonial-era expeditions to the territory occupied by the Awajún were those of Benavente and Diego Palomino, both in 1549. A decade later, the cities of Santiago de las Montañas and Santa María de Nieva were founded in the current Amazon region. The founding of the city of Loja, which is currently located in Ecuador, and that of Borja in 1619, meant a strategic entry point to the areas where the Awajún and other peoples lived. It is from there that in 1638 the Jesuits arrived to start the Maynas missions, whose influence was felt for the next 130 years.

The Awajún frequently clashed with the Spanish who tried to reduce them in the missions. This indigenous resistance caused continuous failures of the missionaries until, in 1704, the Jesuit missionaries were ordered to abandon missionary work in the area occupied by the so-called Jíbaro peoples. Although in 1767 the Jesuits managed to obtain a permit to restart the missions, this attempt would not last long, since in 1769 they were expelled from Peru (Uriarte 2007).

In 1925 the Nazarene Protestant mission was established among the Awajún, and in 1949 a Jesuit mission was established in Chiriaco, in the Imaza district, Bagua province, Amazonas region (Brown 1984). For its part, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) entered the Awajún territory in 1947. A confrontation between Ecuadorian soldiers and peoples whose language belonged to the Jíbaro linguistic family near the border between Peru and Ecuador led the Peruvian State to establish, in 1946, various military garrisons along the rivers that make up the Alto Marañón basin. One of the consequences of the establishment of military garrisons was the arrival of settlers from Cajamarca and Piura. Later, in the 1970s, the Peruvian State promoted the establishment of colonist settlements in the area, as part of the living borders policy. The purpose of this policy was to guarantee the defense of territorial limits in supposedly unpopulated areas (Regan 2007). In the 1960s and 1970s, both Peru and Ecuador relaunched the oil exploration campaigns that began in the late 1920s, also promoting “colonization” projects in the area, establishing non-indigenous population settlements, military posts and garrisons ( Uriarte 2007). The mestizo settlement continued with the discovery of oil in the Alto Marañón area and its tributaries, in addition to the consequent migration of workers, many of whom stayed in the area as farmers or merchants (Regan 2007). The purpose of this policy was to guarantee the defense of territorial limits in supposedly unpopulated areas (Regan 2007). In the 1960s and 1970s, both Peru and Ecuador relaunched the oil exploration campaigns that began in the late 1920s, also promoting “colonization” projects in the area, establishing non-indigenous population settlements, military posts and garrisons ( Uriarte 2007). The mestizo settlement continued with the discovery of oil in the Alto Marañón area and its tributaries, in addition to the consequent migration of workers, many of whom stayed in the area as farmers or merchants (Regan 2007). The purpose of this policy was to guarantee the defense of territorial limits in supposedly unpopulated areas (Regan 2007). In the 1960s and 1970s, both Peru and Ecuador relaunched the oil exploration campaigns that began in the late 1920s, also promoting “colonization” projects in the area, establishing non-indigenous population settlements, military posts and garrisons ( Uriarte 2007). The mestizo settlement continued with the discovery of oil in the Alto Marañón area and its tributaries, in addition to the consequent migration of workers, many of whom stayed in the area as farmers or merchants (Regan 2007). Both Peru and Ecuador relaunched the oil exploration campaigns that began towards the end of the 1920s, also promoting “colonization” projects in the area, establishing settlements for non-indigenous populations, military posts and garrisons (Uriarte 2007). The mestizo settlement continued with the discovery of oil in the Alto Marañón area and its tributaries, in addition to the consequent migration of workers, many of whom stayed in the area as farmers or merchants (Regan 2007). Both Peru and Ecuador relaunched the oil exploration campaigns that began towards the end of the 1920s, also promoting “colonization” projects in the area, establishing settlements for non-indigenous populations, military posts and garrisons (Uriarte 2007). The mestizo settlement continued with the discovery of oil in the Alto Marañón area and its tributaries, in addition to the consequent migration of workers, many of whom stayed in the area as farmers or merchants (Regan 2007).

Social, economic and political institutions

The family (called patá in awajún) is made up of all the people with whom there is a genealogical or consanguineous link. Formerly, the Awajún marriage was performed preferably between cousins ​​descendants of a brother and sister couple. In this regard, Regan maintains that at present, the basis for marriage is, in many cases, the completion of primary education and having acquired money to support their future family (Regan 2007). As in the Wampis people, there is a tradition that some Awajún men have more than one wife, and it is preferred that the union be with the wife’s sister, who lives in the same house. If the wives are not sisters,

Traditionally, the Awajún practice slash-and-burn agriculture, where women play a leading role. She is in charge of maintaining the farm and harvesting the yucca. Hunting is also an important activity for the Awajún men, who are in charge of making weapons and traps, hunting, and treating animal skins. Women are in charge of distributing the meat (Regan 2007). Mora and Zarzar (1997) have argued that in the last decade of 1990, the Awajún already commercialized their agricultural products, sending their production of rice, cocoa and banana to the city of Chiclayo in the Lambayeque region by the marginal highway (Mora and Zarzar 1997).

Ancestral beliefs and practices

In the Awajún worldview, nature is personified. There are many spirits that inhabit the forest and the water, they protect and help heal sick people (Regan 2007). The three powerful beings of the Awajún worldview are Nugkui (spirit of the earth), Etsa (spirit of the forest) and Tsuqki (spirit of the water). These spirits provide reference points that order, organize and guide the use of space according to gender, abilities, productive activities, etc (Brown 1976). Regan (2007) argues that according to the ancestral belief of the Awajún, there is a supreme being who created the world but who was always distant from “human affairs”. According to Regan, the Awajún worldview involves considering that each person carves out their own destiny through their efforts. In addition to the importance of the beings described, the worldview indicates the importance of three worlds: 1. Heaven: where Apajuí (Father God), Etsa and the Ajútap (souls of the ancient warriors) live, and where iwaji souls, the stars and the Milky Way (Íwanchijínti) live; 2. Earth: where humans, animals, plants and some supernatural beings live; and 3. Underground world: where the Núgkui (land) and Tsugki (in the depths of rivers and lagoons) live.

 

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