Yaokwa, the Enawene Nawe people’s ritual for the maintenance of social and cosmic order
Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
- Yaokwa, the Enawene Nawe people’s ritual for the maintenance of social and cosmic order
- © 2008 IPHAN
The Enawene Nawe people live in the basin of the Juruena River in the southern Amazon rainforest. They perform the Yaokwa ritual every year during the drought period to honour the Yakairiti spirits, thereby ensuring cosmic and social order for the different clans. The ritual links local biodiversity to a complex, symbolic cosmology that connects the different but inseparable domains of society, culture and nature. It is integrated into their everyday activities over the course of seven months during which the clans alternate responsibilities: one group embarks on fishing expeditions throughout the area while another prepares offerings of rock salt, fish and ritual food for the spirits, and performs music and dance. The ritual combines knowledge of agriculture, food processing, handicrafts (costumes, tools and musical instruments) and the construction of houses and fishing dams. Yaokwa and the local biodiversity it celebrates represent an extremely delicate and fragile ecosystem whose continuity depends directly on its conservation. However, both are now seriously threatened by deforestation and invasive practices, including intensive mining and logging, extensive livestock activity, water pollution, degradation of headwaters, unregulated processes of urban settlement, construction of roads, waterways and dams, drainage and diversion of rivers, burning of forests and illegal fishing and trade in wildlife.
Decision 6.COM 8.3
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:
- U1: The Yaokwa ritual constitutes a pillar of the life and universe of the Enawene Nawe people, and the entire society, including the youngest members, is involved in its practice and transmission;
- U2: The submitting State has identified the threats to the viability of the Yaokwa ritual, particularly the threats to the territory and eco-system of the Enawene Nawe people whose existence is necessary for expressing the intangible cultural heritage;
- U3: The measures presented by the State aim on the one hand at strengthening the protection of the Enawene Nawe people’s environment and on the other hand at strengthening their material, financial and organizational capacities in order to provide them with the means to manage and protect their land and to defend their interests with greater self-reliance;
- U4: The Enawene Nawe community participated actively in the nomination process and provided evidence of its free, prior and informed consent;
- U5: The Yaokwa ritual was recognized as Brazilian Intangible Cultural Heritage in November 2010 by the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN), with the initiative of the Enawene Nawe people.
Inscribes Yaokwa, the Enawene Nawe people’s ritual for the maintenance of social and cosmic order on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
Invites the State Party to ensure that the safeguarding measures regarding the protection of the territory of the Enawene Nawe people are more fully associated with measures concerning the intangible cultural heritage aspects of Yaokwa;
Further invites the State Party to detail the safeguarding plan in order to define clearly the expenses and responsibilities and ensure the full participation of the community;
Finally invites the State Party to submit a report on the implementation of these measures, for examination by the Committee at its eighth session, in conformity with Paragraph 161 of the Operational Directives.
© IPHAN 2009
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