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THE QUECHUA NATIVE COMMUNITY OF SANTA MARIA DE PROVIDENCIA Back to APIKET

Boys and women are more apt for harvesting because they can enter very tight places. They only participate during the holiday months, that coincide with the times of harvest.

Casa asentada en la ribera del Tigre de la Comunidad Providencia.

The native community of Santa María de Providencia has 154 members. It is located in the District of El Tigre, Loreto Province in the Department of Loreto. The community borders with the communities of Santa Elena and Intuto. It is located on the right bank of the Tigre River; 10 minutes from the town of Intuto (the district capital).

The community has a double-sided pedestrian road that connects the whole community with the town of Intuto. There is no minimum sanitary infrastructure (not even a health promoter) and the community has to go to the Intuto Hospital. They don’t have water sewer and energy service. Also, there is no communication system or community service. FONCODES (a state fund) has installed photovoltaic energy systems (solar panels) with the families of the community.

The Providencia community hails from the upper basin of El Tigre (Ecuador).In the search for a better life and a more profitable use of resources, the community decided to travel south a little further, and found good land in this area to carry out their productive activities.

The community has managed to be recognized as an indigenous community of Quechua ethnicity, but they have failed to meet the title of territory, because of the lack of know-how of the community leaders in terms of how to start the administration of this matter. The community is organized by a directive board: the Apu (local chief), Deputy, Secretary, Treasurer, Attorney and two spokesmen. In addition, they have communal authorities such as a municipal agent and Lieutenant Governor, as well as a sports club.
 

Decisions are made in the Communal Assembly. More than 80% of the residents attend the assemblies, and 20% does not participate because they are absent while they are hunting, fishing or working in oil companies. In general, authorities are unaware of the roles and function they can play to drive the development of the community. Women are not included as denizens of the community assembly. If they do participate, they can express their opinion but not decide. Only when their husbands are absent from the communities, they can opinionate and decide.

Un grupo de niños nos acompaña en la visita y nos muestra uno de sus juegos.  

Santa María de Providencia is recognized as a Quechua Community, although its members see themselves as indigenous. About 50% of the families are losing the habit of speaking in their native tongue. In many cases, only adults speak or know the language, only few children and youngsters speak their own Quechua language.

 

There are two teachers, whom could be called ‘multiteachers’. The community has two classrooms with a good infrastructure built by FONCODES (Peruvian Government). Students concluding their primary level enroll in Intuto Secondary school, which takes a daily 10-minute walk.

Forest Exploitation

The territory of the community is characterized by lowlands: flooded areas on the banks of the Tigre River, middle and high shoals. The shoals2 are covered by forests, crop fields, and small farms. The crops can be used for up to 5 years, after which they are used again for agricultural purposes.

  Planta Pico de Loro. Planta Cacao Rojo

Fishing activity is mostly concentrated in the tipishcas or small cochas (lagoons)in the territory, or on the banks of the same river; fish usually used are catfish, fasaco, bujurqui, yahuarachi. Fishing is only for consumption, because there are no commercial fishermen in the community. Fish population is small, and diversity is minimal. The community members perceive this, but at the same time, they don’t devote their selves to it as an important activity. As all the inhabitants of rural areas, the community members notice that there are few fish, some of them are very scarce, and others have disappeared.

Fishing is a job that can be done by men, women, and even some children from the moment they handle the canoe well enough. The community has not ventured into the marketing of fish. Community fishing is only performed to feed members involved in mingas (communal services) and for families to prepare their daily meals.

Another branch of activities is the hunt for daily food. In the forests belonging to the community different types of boars (huangana and mangana that feed on cassava).

Camino asfaltado entre las comunidades cercanas al centro urbano de Intuto.

Hunting for trade is done in the Reserved Area of Pucacuro, which takes about 15 to 20 days, and is performed exclusively by men. On rare occasions, the women accompany the men, but only to cook, clean and prepare the wild meat.

The natural flora of the community is composed of natural Camu Camu fields 3 that grow crops between November and March. The members sell these fruits to intermediaries who pay them very little. The forest harbors wood with a high trade value: moena, cumala and tornillo wood. Other woods and species are used for the construction of houses, canoes and paddles. From the forest, they also obtain leaves from Pona and Irapay palms, which are used to elaborate crisnejas (vegetal tiles)to roof houses. Aguaje and Ungurahui trees can be found in the flooded forests. First, the trees are felled and then their fruits are sold in Iquitos. This extraction activity is done by both women and men. Some specialized activities are only performed by men, such as canoe/paddle making; cutting and transport of wood, and the felling of palm trees. Women weave the crisnejas, pick the fruits and weave crafts with buds, roots and leaves from the forest.

Like the other native communities of the Tigre River, the Santa Maria community values the exploitation of camu camu as an economic development alternative for the community, but some inhabitants are discontent and mistrust intermediaries.

The harvest of camu camu is performed by men and women. Children are more apt for harvesting camu camu because they can enter very tight places. They only participate during the holiday months, which coincide with the times of harvest.

Hojas de palmeras preparadas para usarlas como teja.

The community members feel that there are few animals, little wood and leaves in the area. The extraction of aguaje is a commercial activity. In the aguajal or aguaje field one can find other valuable species such as Huasaí, Chambira, Shinamillo, Ungurahui. The red-blue Shambo is the variety of aguaje for which the families receive the highest amount of money, but in their part of the forest there are more red Shambos. 

Santa María de Providencia has not received a lot of technical support from institutions, state or private organizations, so its inhabitants worry about the loss of natural resources. They expect to enhance their techniques and learn how to formalize their extraction activities to avoid confiscation by the state. The agricultural production is the most important activity within the community. First and foremost, they produce bananas, then yucca for masato (a traditional drink) and yellow corn. On the farmlands, one can find fruit trees such as cocona, caimito, shimbillo and pijuayo trees, as well as a big variety of other agricultural products. It is destined for trade and well represented on the market. Both men and women work in agriculture, from the grazing of the forest until the harvesting of the produce. The women are in charge of maintaining the banana fields.

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