Orfalea Center Thematic Research Cluster

Environmental Justice & Climate Justice Studies

Global South/East Partners

In coordination with Amazon Frontlines, we are partnering with Indigenous organizations and with filmmakers and scholars working in the Ecuadorian Amazon around the theme of “Indigenous resistance and responses to COVID-19.” This partnership has supported the creation two short documentaries, one by Oswando Nenquimo, an Indigenous leader from Alianza Ceibo, and another one by Alianza Minga. Aditionally, this partnership has sponsored the translation and subtitling of two episodes of the docuseries Sacha Samay (co-produced by the Women Defenders of the Jungle, the Association of Ecuadorian Anthropologists, FLACSO Ecuador, Cine Disidente and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation). 

The purpose of this partnership is to bring to the fore the perspectives of Indigenous peoples who have been confronting the double threats of extractivism and COVID-19 firsthand.

The pandemic has hit Amazonia very hard. The conditions of this region are particularly challenging, as there are weak health care systems and long distances between communities and emergency services. This only adds up to the continuous exploitation of Indigenous territories, which the pandemic has even enhanced. But different responses are also emerging across the Amazon basin. These responses are not only connected to Indigenous autonomy and self-determination, but also epitomize the continuation and strengthening of Indigenous cultures in Amazonia. 

Waorani resistance against extractivism and COVID-19

In this short documentary, Oswando Nenquimo, a Waorani leader from the Ecuadorian Amazon, tells us about the importance of the Amazon Rainforest and the role of Indigenous organizations that he is part of: Alianza Ceibo and CONCONAWEP. He emphasizes on the challenges that oil extraction has posed for Indigenous peoples in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon and their resistance towards it. Finally, he tells us about the impacts of COVID-19 and how the Waorani nation has coordinated actions and revived Indigenous knowledges to respond to the pandemic.

Napurak Resilience and Ancestral Gastronomy

The Shiwiar nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon have protected their territory from deforestation and exploitation of petroleum. Although they proudly keep their primary jungle preserved, their isolation has been both a blessing and a challenge as they navigate difficult times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

President of NASHIE (Shiwiar nation of Ecuador) Edison Gualinga and Francisco Timias (Director of Territory of NASHIE), explain their long-term plan of resilience to keep their territory thriving with the spirit of Napurak.

With the spirit of Napurak, ancestral agriculture, farming techniques from permaculture, and a revival of ancestral gastonomy with an innovative twist, the Shiwiar face head-on their challenges with strength and ancestral knowledge.

If you would like to support this initiative, you can donate here. Video produced by
Mi Kyung Creative. 

SACHA SAMAY docuseries- breath of life in pandemic times

Sacha Samay is a collective research endeavor aimed at sustaining a dialogue amongst diverse women during the pandemic. This project brings together women from a variety of backgrounds: Indigenous women from the Ecuadorian Amazon and mestizo women from Quito, Chile, and Loja. We show how life, medicine and health are managed during times of emergency, along with the deepening of extractivism and violence in our territories. 

Organizations involved: Women Defenders of the Jungle, Association of Ecuadorian Anthropologists, FLACSO Ecuador, Cine Disidente and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. 

Collective research and production: Lisset Coba Mejía, Ivette Vallejo Real, Marisol Rodríguez Pérez, Natalia Valdivieso Kastner, Celeste Torres Soya, Nathaly Saritama Fernández, Luz Elena Pinzón Sanabria and Renata Mantilla Vásconez.


Despite successive invasions, ecocides and attempts to exterminate peoples and their cultures, the Amazon rainforest continues to be an indecipherable and complex world, from which much remains to be learned. The fight against Covid-19 is one of our historic resistances. We continue to stand and share with the world, with much love and strength, one more story, worth knowing. For our Yakus, for our Sacha, Runes and Supays, we shout to the world once again, we are alive and we will continue fighting to exist.

Chapter 5: "HAMBIK WARMI." 

Plants are beings of power, they provide strength and energy, they teach us that health is not an individual but a collective problem which can be healed through medicinal reciprocity. Confronted with the state’s indolence, women prepare their own medicinal recipes, they offer them to us and tell us how they refuse to be defeated by the pandemic. In this episode, we invite you to learn about healing as emerging from the link between ancestral peoples and the jungle. Pagarachu.

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Sylvia Cifuentes
Sylvia Cifuentes
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