Please take just a moment to think about how much you personally value the vanishing ancient knowledge of indigenous elders. Is the preservation of their wisdom a priority that you would want to support?
Kutakachi Taytamamakuna Kawsay is a cultural preservation and education project of the foundation that respectfully empowers Otavaleño kichwa runa elders (taytamamakuna) to share their wisdom and stories with us.
The success of this project will depend on the financial support of people like yourself who already understand that indigenous traditions and knowledge are invaluable to the world. With your help, we can spread words and images from Cotacachi to other parts of Ecuador, the United States and beyond!
Respected elders of the communities met with local indigenous cultural activist and photographer Rafael Perez Anrango. In their native Kichwa language, they told Tayta Rafael moving stories from their own lives.
They shared with Tayta Rafael truly inspiring stories of resistance, survival, courtship and joy. Educators, musicians, potters, weavers, indigenous rights leaders and yachaks (shamans) all shared defining moments of their lives.
Just as we might expect for ourselves, the elders first gave us their consent to be photographed and their images put on public display. With advance notice, they selected their favorite items from their wardrobes and then posed themselves for the photographer as they wish to be seen by others. Each photograph reveals the personality and character of the storyteller.
SAMPLE QUOTES FROM TAYTAMAMAKUNA STORIES
“I studied with religious teachers who helped me understand that we had rights and that education would be a way to fight for them. We began to organize, and that was threatening to the mestizos, especially the landowners, but also the authorities. Even the church came down on us, branding us Communist thieves. That was when we began to fight for the right to a road. We were declaring war against all the injustices and against those who boasted that they had all the institutions on their side.” – Mama Rosita Cabascango
"When I asked Segundo Bonilla to provide me with that harp, I gave it every effort until the first song came out and that made me feel a happiness I had never imagined. Now, I hope that people will cherish this art while I am alive, as no one will return from the grave to cheer them up with these unique melodies. This art is in decline and apparently it will soon become extinct along with the few artists who still practice it with a lot of love." Tayta Emilio Guandinango
"As for spiritual issues, we have been removing ourselves and being insensitive to nature and ancestral knowledge. Before, when severe droughts came to us; the children were taken to the mountains to areas where the sacred sites are found. There we would shout to Tamyamama (Mother Rain) to give us life and that was done through the rain." - Tayta Santos Muñoz
"There was always time to playing during the day, but later when it was time to go home, we had to collect firewood. This was complicated and dangerous becuase it was the forest of the hacienda owners, When they disovered us, they took everything from us, even when we had only the collected dry leaves of eucalyptus that fell with the wind. We understood it was a crime to pull a thick branch from the trees. In those days we felt that taking such risks was our destiny, although that did not prevent us from being afraid of the misfortunes that many people like me suffered." -Mama Hortensia Taya
How might the written transmission of knowledge from wise indigenous elders of the Andes at this critical time in our history contribute to regional and global solutions?
In the past, runa have relied on the oral transmission of their knowledge to younger generations. In our project, their stories have been written three languages: Kichwa, English and Spanish. In this way, their knowledge can be widely disseminated through gallery exhibits, books and other media.
Our first step is the opening of the photo exhibit at our Cotacachi office on Saturday May 22 from noon to four. The public is codiall invited to this free event. We will be in full compliance with Cotacachi's COVID health regulations.
The next step is to raise enough donations to print the photos and stories in small books to be distributed free throughout Cotacachi’s communities and schools. We also plan to move the show to other gallery spaces within Ecuador and the United States.
In addition to the above, the Foundation is providing support for equipment and technology to support Tayta Rafael’s important contributions to the preservation of runa culture.
HOW CAN YOU HELP SUPPORT THIS PROJECT?
If you prefer not to use Go Fund Me for your donation today, there are other ways to help. If you are in Cotacachi, of course you can drop off your donation at the Foundation office during the exhibit opening on Saturday, May 22 from noon to four p.m. or at another time by appointment. You can order prints of the photos during the exhibit and the proceeds from those sales will help the foundation cover project expenses including better compensation for the photographer. If you are in the US, you also send a check to Wichana Foundation 17 N. Cottenet Street Irvington NY 10533. All donations are tax-deductible in the US and large donations can be processed through a bank transfer if you wish.
From our hearts we thank you! Shunkukunamanta yupaychanchik.