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The ancestors of the Achuar people have lived along the Pastaza and Morona rivers for housands of years. In 1992, the Achuar were granted legal title over 680,000 hectares of the 800,000 in total that comprise their ancestral territory. This has allowed the Achuar to manage their natural resources according to their own vision; except for underground/mineral resources, to which the Ecuadorian State still holds title.
The Achuar have a robust governance structure that has allowed them to keep oil extraction and logging out of their territory for 60 years. They continue to practice the
guayusa ritual every morning, drink chicha de yuca throughout the workday, and on special occasions ingest sacred, hallucinogenic plants such as Ayahuasca to encounter Arutam (a jungle spirit), which guides their work and their lives.
The Achuar have shown a strong capacity for managing their territory, and elect vibrant and visionary individuals to hold leadership roles in their 88 communities, 21 associations, and in the Achuar Nation of Ecuador (NAE), the organization representing the Achuar people.
The NAE was established in 2005 to strengthen their guardianship of the rainforest, and to represent the Achuar politically. The Achuar governance model is participatory, with delegates from the 21 associations meeting annually in a congress to hear about the work done by the NAE, to learn about the work done by outside organizations, and to decide the priorities of the Achuar nation for the future year. The congress includes men, women, elders, youth, and other special guests. They also elect new leadership every three years during the congress.
In addition to the NAE, Achuar leaders have also established the Ikiam Foundation, the first Achuar-led NGO working to advance the NAE’s vision and oversee/administer all projects carried out within Achuar territory