SËRA Foundation 2021
Defenders of the Amazon Forest and Ancestral Culture
Photo: Erin Deo
SËRA Foundation (Fundación SËRA) was founded by Jimmy Piaguaje and a group of young Forest Defenders from the Siekoya Remolino community of 53 families who live on the banks of the Aguarico River in Northeastern Ecuador.
The community is part of the endangered, indigenous Siekopai Nationality (which literally means ‘multicoloured people’), who live in the fragile Amazon rainforest ecosystem.
Their language is Paai koka and they are renowned for their use for over 1,000 different medicinal plants.
There used to be over 30,000 Siekopai living in an immense territory that stretched an estimated 7 million acres from Ecuador into Colombia and Peru. Currently only around 1600 Siekopai remain, 900 in Peru and 700 in Ecuador, where they live in a 50,000-acre fragment of rainforest, surrounded by oil exploitation and oil-palm monoculture plantations.
In response to this existential threat, the group of young Siekopai leaders developed innovative projects to document ancestral shamanic knowledge and created environmental youth workshops to ensure this wisdom is passed on from their elders.
Their next goal is to open a new school with an enhanced curriculum based on their own worldview (‘Cosmovision’). BCC2021 is supporting SËRA Foundation in their research to create the best curriculum to teach their ancestral forest knowledge combined with modern skills.
Together we will help them travel to other communities where similar projects are already underway, so they can learn from experience, be inspired, and take this knowledge back to Siekoya Remolino to teach new generations to live in harmony with the rainforest.
BCC is hugely grateful for the help of Beth Pitts, author and activist, for her help in connecting with the the group of young Siekopai leaders in Siekoya Remolino. You can read one of her articles where she talks to Jimmy about the Siekopai’s resistance strategies and ancestral stories, his shamanic journey, and how the indigenous worldview could help to combat climate change here.