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Shuar Nationality

The Shuar nationality is present in both Ecuador and Peru. In our country it is located in the provinces of Morona Santiago, Pastaza and Zamora Chinchipe, with other settlements in Sucumbíos and Orellana in the Amazon and, in the Coastal Region, in Guayas and Esmeraldas.
Currently, the Shuar claim a territory of 900688 ha. The legalized extension so far is 718220 ha, while 182468 ha are still without legal recognition. According to Shuar estimates, their population is 110,000 inhabitants (1998), settled in approximately 668 communities.
In the past, the Shuar inhabited the Amazon in dispersed hamlets, subsisting on hunting and fruit gathering. At that time, this nationality did not have centralized leadership. Currently, due to the missionary influence and the colonists that are also part of their territory and history, the Shuar have been organized in federations since 1964. This is also the date when the political link with the State and other non-State organizations began. The sense of belonging of this nationality is very marked, they recognize themselves as Shuar and are proud to be so. With the signing of the peace treaty between Ecuador and Peru, there have been meetings between authorities of both states to bring together the members of the Shuar nationality that were separated by the 1941 treaty.
In the Shuar cosmovision, inanimate beings are neither masculine nor feminine; they can therefore be considered as neutral and as such do not bear any mark. Examples: nuka leaf, nayaimp sky, never earth, jea house, kampuntin jungle, naint hill, kutánk seat, kanu canoe, peak bed, kaya stone, tuna waterfall, numi stick, nase wind, mayai air, sana dew, tsawant day, tuntíak rainbow, nánki spear, charip thunder, peem lightning, etc.
The community uses natural medicine, they are defenders and connoisseurs of the healing benefits of the plants that exist in their territories, this knowledge is held by all the people, it is transmitted from generation to generation, either orally or when young people look to apply this knowledge in the daily life of their nationality. Thus we can know that the (mantze) escancel, (llandría) llantén, (seaatpat) cane, (maya) carrot; among many more that are used to heal and maintain the health of its people. They use the drink known as Natem as a natural medicine, which allows them to see the future and also cure diseases, this medicine can be ingested only by the person to whom the Shaman has prescribed, the cure and certainty of diagnosis through this method has a 98% credibility. According to what they say, to have better results it is necessary to be of legal age, that is to say, to believe with maturity. To these practices, nowadays, the use of allopathic medicine is added.

This nationality enjoys, in great part of its life, the chicha of yucca, chonta and guineo, which are complemented with yamala meat, guatusa, yucca, plantain, sweet potato, Chinese potato, wild birds; the ayampaco, which contains the tilapia that is the favorite fish of their diet.
Many family structures of this nationality recreate themselves fishing and walking in the jungle or in the orchard, moments in which the children take the opportunity to demonstrate their swimming skills or demonstrate their creativity, making homemade bags, they also play swinging in the vines that exist in the trees and the skill with the spear. They also have their own dances, songs and musical instruments, (Tampur) drum, (Pinkui) flute, (Shacap) rattle and (Nampet) music.
Their symbolic structure is oriented under very clear principles, respect for the elders, honesty, work and respect for what another person owns, principles that are taught by example, with the daily planning of work and the wisdom of listening to the forest. For example: when lightning strikes, it announces the arrival of lightning and if lightning strikes somewhere in the territory, that place will not be able to receive a new crop because they know that in that place another bolt of lightning of greater proportion will strike and destroy what has been worked there.
In the religious sphere they respect the Tsunki, the snake festival, however the introduction of the Catholic and Evangelical churches has caused a kind of ritual symbolic dispersion in relation to nature. Their most important symbols are: the tiger, representing the masculine sphere and the snake representing the feminine sphere.
This people struggle to maintain customs such as singing and the adornment of the face to plant cassava in order to have a good harvest, they do not use any tool (katamuke), this practice is unfortunately being lost.
The Shuar are a people of warrior tradition, formerly practiced the rite of “tzantza” or reduction of the head of their enemies, in order to preserve it as a trophy of war.

Due to the fact that the Shuar have been a warrior people they have been known in a derogatory way as jíbaros or savages, denomination that they reject for its ethnocentric and racist content. Therefore, they claim their right to call themselves Shuar, which means people or person.
Their traditional language is Shuar-Chicham, which belongs to the Jivara or Jivarona languages. It is one of the 3 official languages of Ecuador. The shaman, called uwishin, is a kind of priest who mediates with the supernatural world and at the same time is a political leader.
This nationality practices polygamy and lives united in centers or communities, which has allowed them to maintain their culture and fight for some of their rights such as Intercultural Bilingual Education, access to land, etc.

Kichwa People
Shaman Shuar


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