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THE NATIVE
COMMUNITY
OF 28 DE JULIO
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Percentage of malnutrition
with children: 38%

The 28 de Julio community has 431 members. It is located on the left bank of the Tigre river, an affluent of the Corrientes river and the community is connected to the center of Intuto.

The 28 de Julio community has a high degree of knowledge of the aquatic environment and lagoons. During the mapping of the community’s territory, the native inhabitants showed a deep knowledge of orientation, position and localization of the main environments that form their territory.

According to their own story, they fished with hooks and arrows in the past, now they use traps. While the participants recognize and value the difference in the change of technique, they also point out that by using arrows and fishing hooks, they had to select the size of the fish before capturing it. But now, with the use of traps, they can select all sizes of fish. 

Historically, the community used varbasco, a vine-like plant that dazes fish. Varbasco has now been replaced by railing.

The teaching is passed on from father to son. When the children start accompanying their fathers, they acquire the ability to elaborate different techniques. They also learn how to distinguish fish from the lagoons and the river.

The community is concerned about night raids of boats coming from Iquitos and Yurimaguas, and also worries about illegal loggers.

The community is affiliated to the Federation of Native Communities from the Tigre River (Federación de Comunidades Nativa del Río Tigre -FECONAT). Its organizational structure has a directive board: a chief, deputy chief, secretary and two spokesmen, and community authorities such as deputy mayor, lieutenant governor.

The community often visits the other communities of the Tigre River, in a familiar way. Exceptionally, they also meet with Quechua communities in the Tigre Valley, to socialize during sports competitions.

Members of the community on July 28 are aware of their limitations and their needs and have expressed a desire to improve the community organization.

The public educator, who is also aware of the organizational need, has taken cultural practice into account in order to carry out activities with parents. The characteristics of the educational infrastructure, only it has a classroom, emphasizing that all of the students enrolled maintain their mother tongue, Kichwa2, value still remains because the educator is a bilingual.  The bilingual teacher of the school of the initial level points out that the children only speak their mother tongue at school. This is reflected in tales and stories children tell in class, when the teacher encourages their participation during the pedagogical activities. During recreational activities, children tell the tale of the shavamama, sachavaca, for example, which they have still learned from their parents and grandparents. The story of the tatatau is the tale a bird that sings this way because it has eaten a lot of pepper.

Teaching activities focus on cultural forms of family and communal life. They simulate work within the minga (community work), activities of fishing, planting at the farm, etc. Children tell us about the cuchiquina, a poison that their parents prepare with huaca and pijuayo leaves, and throw into the river to make the fish float in the lagoon, ready to be captured.

The children do not know the medicinal plants; only their parents know and use them. A number of myths and stories still persist within the community, for example: children can be given cutipado. This means their father cannot hunt for monkeys until your baby turns two because otherwise the baby might grow deformed. One of the main factors of change in the use of language is the contact the indigenous people have with the operators of oil companies Pluspetrol Norte and Burlington, who are entering their territory. This has influenced in the learning of Spanish language, and brought about change in the Quechua community; in terms of music, clothing, food, economy and vision of future. One of the worrying aspects is the small amount of students enrolled. Even if the number has been fluctuating, the trend definitely points towards a decreasing number. Only in the district capital Intuto, can students attend secondary school, for which they have to walk almost two hours. On the road, they face risks and dangers; and in the rainy season the road is a limiting factor to attend school.

On the other hand, young men have had more opportunities to complete their basic education, usually in a boarding school located in the city center of Intuto. It was founded as a mixed school in 1977, it was mixed, but by decision of the clergymen Congregation, it became a school for boys only. According to the school’s teacher, 10 to 12 complete their studies. The school is considered as border territory, but without additional benefits in regards to other modalities.

Among the remaining traditions we should mention the abucheo, for instance. Two months after a baby is born, the community performs a ceremony that resembles a baptism where parents share masato(a liquor), aguardiente, candy and cake; or the chasquineo; a sacred candlelight ceremony, during which the future spouses kneel on a white mat and are sworn into fidelity. Among their crafts, jars as well as callanas (a type of dishes) are still in use; mocagua (vessels to drink masato); all these made of clay. These tasks are performed by women, who also weave tissues from lianas, among other materials.

Use of the Forest

The members of the community maintain they only gain profit from their small farms, although they recognize that the use of Camu Camu is an economical alternative for the development of their communities. They recognize that the camu camu fields are directly related to the cochas or lagoons. Among the 8 cochas they know, they mention Cocha Tipishcas, from where the community ventures out on fishing expeditions using local resources. Only 4 of the lagoons the community members mention have camu camu fields: Warmi Tipishka, Puma Cocha, Awaruna and Daniel Cocha.

Residents say that the Tigre River is healthy, in their perception, they don’t have pollution problems, which corresponds to the studies carried out by environmental consultancy agencies.

Some residents feels that the State owns the cochas (lagoons) in their territories, while others feel that the community owns them.

Inhabitants have access to the forest area in the higher mountains after a three hour walk. The forest offers wild animals and fauna that are used by the indigenous people to sustain part of their daily diet. They mainly hunt for huanganas, peccaries, deer, majaz (wild boars), woolly monkeys, ronsocoes and añujes. Even though the inhabitants only mentioned these species, there is a general feeling of being abandoned by the animals, which becomes evident when certain storytellers in the community say “the animals have gone, because now the hunters need more time to chase them… …”

The agricultural production within 28 de Julio is a survival agriculture; its articulation within the market economy is still very limited. Different crops can be found on the small farms: different types of manioc; the yellow variety is harvested periodically while the three-monthly type is only harvested once. Therefore, the latter variety is not often sowed. They also grow sweet potatoes, corn and bananas.

Until today, the Quechua of the 28 de Julio Community preserve the tradition that sowing and harvesting is the task of indigenous women. In ancient times, they only used stone axes and a stick to work on the farm. When the Mestizos started extracting wood, they introduced the metal axe and machete. They have never used industrial fertilizers or pesticides. All families of the community are completely dependent of natural fertilizers such as cleaned vegetation, used as an organic fertilizer, or when the vegetation is burned, its ashes.
Read more information about other APIKET Communities
Apayacu 28 de Julio Alfonso Ugarte Santa María Santa Elena Belén Sargento Lores
INKANATURA, 2013 External Links: Inkanatural Inkanat