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Telling the Siekopai Story with Jimmy Piaguaje Part 1

In this 10 part series BCC had the privilege to interview Jimmy Piaguaje, co-founder of our 2021 chosen charity SËRA Foundation. A youth leader of the Secoya Remolino community and Siekopai Nationality Jimmy lives in the Ecuadorian Amazon surrounded by oil exploitation and oil-palm monoculture plantations.

In response to this existential threat, Jimmy and his community have developed innovative projects to document ancestral shamanic knowledge and created environmental youth workshops to ensure this wisdom is passed on from their elders. 

Here we listen to their story and join them in the next phase of their journey in protecting their lands and future.

 

To listen to the interview use the link below

https://youtu.be/Rs-8mf3hNA8

Part 1: What does the forest mean to you and how do you connect to it

'I would say that the jungle is my home. It's where I grew up, it's where my grandparents lived, it's where I learned to walk, with the spirits of the jungle.

My dad, when I was a child, still had this very deep connection, through the spirits of the jungle. I could see his power, to feel the animals, to feel the spirits, to feel the rivers. Every time we went fishing, my dad would catch really big fish. I saw that. That was all amazing to me.

Now I believe that… even though we have lost that connection, there is still hope. There is hope.

Right now, the young people who are drinking ayahuasca, they know and feel that connection. That is why there is still hope. That is why we struggle, because we want to reclaim our spiritual knowledge and also reclaim our territories that were basically taken from us.

The spiritual shouldn’t only be viewed from the perspective of the jungle. In this day and age, we cannot say that we are going to live solely from hunting or fishing, it is not like that. We are already in a globalized world.

What we need is to find out how current technology can help the Siekopai to live better, and how the Siekopai can also maintain our ancestral knowledge, to never lose it. So that we can use computers, telephones, and have this western knowledge as well. That is the search and the struggle of today. 

 

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'I believe that in order to create this new world, the dream we want to live as a society, it’s not just about one culture learning from another culture. It’s about a union of several cultures, of various forms of knowledge, so that we can create this balanced world, with an understanding of the worldview of indigenous people and also an understanding of the worldview where you come from.

That’s how we can create a different world, the world we want to live in, the world we want to see, where our territories, our rivers are without pollution, where you also live well. This is the community that needs to be created today, with various forms of knowledge.

For example, oil does a lot of damage to the peoples who live in the Amazon.

We have to stop exploiting for oil and look for alternative energy sources. All indigenous peoples have to have this knowledge to be able to share with other cultures how to live, how to sow, because we still have that connection with the stars.

We still have that connection with the stars, with the moon, when to plant trees, when to plant corn. This is the knowledge that the world needs to find balance. It’s not just about us, there is a whole cosmic world around us.'