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The Oral Heritage and Cultural Manifestations of the Zápara People

Ecuador and Peru

The Zápara people of the Amazon rainforest are inhabitants of one of the most bio-diverse areas of the world. Their intimate knowledge of the rainforest is of global significance and is expressed through their language, rituals, mythology and arts, as well as traditional medicine. Despite the adverse impacts of conquest, forced conversion to Christianity, enforced labour, disease, as well as wars and impending deforestation, over the past four centuries, the Zápara have fought to preserve their ancestral knowledge and way of life in the rainforest.  As the surviving bearers of a cultural heritage that included some 39 other populations before the Spanish conquest, it is of crucial importance that they are able to transmit this heritage to future generations.

Heritage of Zapara People - EcuadorPeru.jpg (209955 bytes)Threats: The Zápara population is estimated at less than 300 people, with only five fluent in the language.  An estimated 200 Zápara live in Ecuador, and 100 in Peru.

Action plan: Ecuador and Peru propose to revitalize the language, protect the cultural heritage, study and preserve shamanism and traditional medicine, strengthen the Zápara communities and encourage connections between the Záparas of Ecuador and Peru.