Protecting the Wetlands and Strengthening Indigenous Identity
Conservation is tied to many indigenous peoples’ innate reverence and respect for the land. In Q'ero Nation, Peru, the wetlands are threatened by pesticide use, over-harvesting, and other pollutants. Conservación Amazonica (ACCA) is working to encourage the Japu indigenous group to protect los bofedales (the wetlands) by strengthening their community identity and utilizing traditions to motivate community members.
To reconnect the Japu community with los bofedales, Marlene Mamani, the Field Technical Coordinator of ACCA, with support from New England Biolabs Foundation and Creative Action Institute, led the group in activities to tie the conservation of the wetlands to ancestral cultural practices. Marlene began by leading the group in an exploration of a Q’ero Nation icon, Inti, the god of the Andean world, and land protection.
Marlene asked the group the following questions:
Who is Inti?
What does he do for us?
What does he do for the land that we inhabit?
What am I doing to return the Inca king?
They came together to weave a traditional textile that reflected their traditional beliefs about Inti, their reverence for the land, and their goals for restoring the land.
Through collaboration and cooperation, the participants created the textile and presented it to the larger community. The textile integrated the elements linked to the return of the Inti and their ancestors’ appreciation for the natural resources in the Q’ero Nation. By tying traditional knowledge to contemporary issues of land degradation, the participants strengthened their sense of community and committed to conserving care of the wetlands.