- The Sarayaku Art Project -
uplifting Indigenous Women
in the Ecuadorian Amazon
The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International and We Play Well Together/GS Music Maker Distribution, are honored to partner with Kichwa women of Sarayaku in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador to sell and distribute their beaded jewelry and pottery.
All profits from purchases will directly support the livelihood of the craftswomen, and their advocacy work to protect the forest through Amazon Women Defenders of the Jungle (Mujeres Amazonicas Defensoras).
Protecting the Amazon Rainforest and a Way of Life
The Sarayaku are Kichwa-speaking people of approximately 1,400 inhabitants who live in a village made up of 7 community centers in the rain forest of the southern Amazon in the province of Pastaza, Ecuador.
They have struggled for over two decades to protect their villages, the forest, and their way of life after the government of Ecuador granted the oil company Compañía General de Combustibles (CGC) license for oil operations in Sarayaku territory. To survey for oil, the CGC planted explosives throughout the forests, sparking protests from the villagers. When the community protested peacefully, setting up "Camps of Peace and Life" in the forest, the government sent armed troops.
The struggle continued for years. Then the Sarayaku brought a case against the Ecuadorian government to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the court ruled in their favor in 2012. The IACHR ruling was an extraordinary victory, not only for the Sarayaku but for the rights of all Indigenous communities in the Amazon facing similar threats. (You can learn more by watching this 2012 film Children of the Jaguar.)
Activities Ongoing in 2020
The court victory was not the end of the story. The Sarayaku continue to face threats of extraction in their communities and today the women continue their advocacy to protect the Amazon and their community from past and future infringement. Women leaders in the community have also become international advocates and spokespeople for the rights of nature and climate change action.