Asháninka


Asháninka

ethnic group
group=Asháninka


poptime=between 25,000 and 45,000
popplace=Peru, Brazil
rels=
langs=Asháninka
related=
:"For the languages known as Ashaninka, see Asháninka language or Ajyíninka Apurucayali (also sometimes called Ashaninka)."The Asháninka or Asháninca (also known by the exonym "Campa" or "Kampa", which is considered derogatory) are an indigenous people living in the rainforests of Peru and in the State of Acre Brazil.

Their ancestral lands are in the forests of Junín, Pasco, Huánuco and part of Ucayali.

Population

The Asháninka (their name means: our kinsmen) are estimated between 25,000 and 45,000. Only a few hundred of these live on the Brazilian side of the border. That means that among the 300,000 native people from 65 different ethnic groups in the Peruvian Amazon, the Asháninka are the largest indigenous group.

The nation is made up of seven different groups who live scattered in more than 200 communities along the jungle valleys: the Cutivireni, the Perené Asheninga, the Atsiri, the Nomatsiguenga, and the Caquinteo.

Language

"See: Asháninka language."

ubsistence

The "Asháninka" is a nation which is dependent on subsistence agriculture. They use the slash-and-burn method to clear lands and to plant yucca roots, sweet potato, corn, bananas, rice, coffee, cacao and sugar cane in biodiversity-friendly techniques. They live from hunting and fishing, basically using bows and arrows or spears, as well as from collecting fruit and vegetables in the jungle.

History

The Asháninka were known by the Incas as "Anti" or "Campa". The Antis, who gave their name to the Inca province of Antisuyu, were notorious for their fierce independence, and their warlike skills in successfully protecting their land and culture against intrusion from outsiders.

Traditional dress

The Asháninka traditional dress is a robe made from cotton that is collected, spun, dyed and masterfully woven by the woman on looms, the vertical stripes are dyed with natural plant dyes prior to weaving, a full length robe can take up to three months to complete, it has openings for the head and arms, and is commonly known as a "kushma" (a word from Quechua). Traditionally, their long hair hangs down over the shoulders, and around their necks, they wear a large variety of necklaces and bracelets made with seeds, the teeth of tapir, peccary and monkeys, and brightly colored feathers. The shoulders of the garments are ornamented with seeds. Traditionally the Asháninka, men, women and children paint their faces in a variety of designs using the bright red crushed seeds of "Achiote" ("Bixa orellana") (annatto) fruits. The men also wear woven circles of palm leaves decorated with feathers on their heads, and the women wear a woven cotton head dress.

Threats

The Ashaninka are known historically to be fiercely independent, and were noted for their "bravery and independence" by the Spanish conquistadors. During the rubber boom (1839-1913), the Asháninka were enslaved by rubber tappers and an estimated 80% of the Asháninka population was killed.

For over a century, there has been encroachment onto Asháninka land from rubber tappers, loggers, Maoist guerrillas, drug traffickers, colonisers, and oil companies. For much of their history, they resisted acculturation and outside influence. Since the 1950s, Ashínanka territories have been reduced and their settlements have been systematically destroyed, resulting in a retreat by Ashínanka people into the jungle. Some Ashaninka fled to Brazil, and now a small community of 600 or so have land rights in the state of Acre.

During the 1980s and 1990s, internal conflict in Peru caused massive displacement, disappearance, and death among the Asháninka communities located in the Ene, Tambo and Perene valleys in the Vilcabamba Mountain range. In this period Ashaninka "chacres" (garden plots) were burned, Ashaninka legal papers were destroyed, some Ashaninka were forced on pain of death to join the Shining Path, and others were enslaved. Many fled into the interior and others gathered in the thousands in small areas for protection. Because Ashaninka communities are usually very small, this caused great disturbance. They could neither hunt nor fish effectively due to the danger posed by armed groups in the forest, thus malnutrition became increasingly threatening. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 10,000 Asháninka were displaced, 6,000 Asháninka died, and 5,000 Asháninka were taken captive by the Shining Path during this time, and thirty to forty Asháninka communities disappeared.

Malaria is on the rise in Ashaninka communities due to logging and the illegal clearing of tracts of lands by loggers and colonists, as are other diseases bought in by "outsiders".

In the mid-2000s, the Ashaninka gained legal title to a portion of their lands which they had mapped using GPS technology; these lands are now a National Park and a Reserved Zone, Otishi National Park. To date most Ashaninka have returned to their ancestral lands, some from as far afield as the Urubamba river. The Ashaninka are involved in new capacity building projects and projects that seek to support the Ashaninka in their quest to record, maintain and strengthen their culture for future generations and address the problems and threats from the "outside".

Current threats (either directly or indirectly) are from oil companies, drug traffickers, colonists, illegal lumberers, illegal roads, conservation groups, missionary groups, and diseases bought by outsiders. Roads are being built into the forest to extract mahogany and cedar trees for export to markets in the United States and Europe despite an international embargo.

Religious missionary groups are intent on changing Ashaninka culture and belief systems, and some other groups who are exploiting problems within the communities became worse as a direct result of the violent upheavals of the communities over a decade ago. Some Conservation programs in the area have also been less than fair to the Ashaninka, in their move to create Conservation zones in this "important ecologically diverse area" choosing plants and animals over the Indigenous rights, and it remains to be seen if this will pose a threat to their lives and land in the future.

Other Ashaninka have moved further into the interior, choosing voluntary isolation rather than have any more contact with the world beyond their lands.See article http://otishi.org/aislados_vol_ing.htm

For a list of Indigenous Organisations and NGO's that work with the Ashaninka in The Cordillera Vilcabamba - see http://otishi.org/orgarea_ing.htm

References

* Campbell, Lyle. (1997). "American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America". New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
* Solís Fonseca, Gustavo. (2003). Lenguas en la amazonía peruana. Lima: edición por demanda.

External links

* [http://www.acpc.org.pe Asociacion Cutivireni working with the Asháninka for nearly two decades]
* [http://www.otishi.org Asháninka National Park and Reserved Land]
* [http://www.angelacumberbirch.com/ACWEB/Webpages/Asha1.html Asháninka Photo Essay]
* [http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org The Rainforest Foundation UK]
* [http://photos.bartvo.com/gallery/Ashaninka Asháninka Photo Gallery]
* [http://www.cverdad.org.pe The Truth & Reconciliation Commission 2.8. LOS PUEBLOS INDÍGENAS Y EL CASO DE LOS ASHÁNINKAS P.24]
* [http://www.videonasaldeias.org.br Brazilian Foundation teachng Video to Indigenous people - Includes award winning videos from the Asháninka of Brazil]
* [http://www.narobe.com The Ashaninka Photography Project - teaching photography to the Ashaninka in Peru]
* [http://www.ecotribal.com Ecotour and support for Indigenous people]
* [http://www.forestpeoples.org/ The Forest Peoples Organisation]
* [http://www.voicesinsolidarity.org Voices in Solidarity]
* [http://www.coolearth.org/333/category/ashaninka-163.html Ashaninka and Cool Earth Action]


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