-This story is still not complete- (It’s just a rough script for a presentation)
This story is about how Indigenous people in Ecuador are trying to preserve their culture in the face of globalization.
Just to put things in perspective, the history of the Indigenous in Ecuador dates back over 11 000 years. With all of this time and the fact that they weren’t connected to the outside world or even many other communities in the surrounding areas, made it a breeding ground for rich and diverse cultures across the region.
Today, I believe that the biggest threat to the preservation of the indigenous cultures in Ecuador is the exponential globalization.
Firstly, there’s the physical threat to the livelihoods of indigenous peoples from the massive industries that occupy the land that affects the communities. One of the most damaging is the oil industry with huge pipelines and constant risky oil traffic along the rivers. Ecuador is one of South America’s largest oil exporters despite its relatively small size.There were reports of 19 billion gallons of waste that had been disposed in the environment. 19 BILLION! without even trying to monitor it or oversee it to prevent damages from it.
There was also a leak from the Trans- Ecuadorian pipeline that was over 16 million gallons of crude.
The effects of this were catastrophic for those who relied on the environment. Jairo, the manager an indigenous village was telling me that the damages to the environment infiltrated their river and made it dangerous to drink because it was carcinogenic among many other things. Despite this, the rivers are something that are such a part of their culture that some people more poor then them still drink it even with the huge dangers.
Luckily, the Indigenous village that I visited had a good water filtration system making the water safe to drink.
The effects of globalization pose an interesting dichotomy for indigenous people because they are often faced with chasing between tradition and the new cushy world.
Jairo was telling me that when he was a kid, he wanted to lose his culture. And this was largely because of the society around. At school he would face racism where that pressured him to lose his culture. At the high schools, the indigenous kids often don’t want to return back home after.
To protect culture it has to start off with the mindset of the youth. One of the projects at the cultural centre is also to create a high school so that the young can keep their culture.
One way that many indigenous communities are trying to protect their culture is by participation in ecotourism.
This ecotourism allows foreigners to visit cultural communities. The communities get to make some money showing off their culture and in the process get to protect it for future generation by showing the value of keeping it as well as by having the funds.
It also allows them to keep practicing things that have been routed in their culture.
Jorge was my guide through my trip through the Amazon. Decades ago he was a hunter who killed wildlife for a living. Through ecotourism, he’s now able to guide groups through the Amazon in a sustainable way.
While in Ecuador, there were countless examples of people realizing that they could stop unsustainable ways by showing tourists the area.