2015 - 2020
The Kichwa people of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest have always held a physical and spiritual connection with the jungle and its Supreme Beings in order to maintain equilibrium within their world. They believe in the Kawsak Sacha or Living Forest. The Kawsak Sacha is based on the idea that the jungle is a living, conscious and rights-bearing entity in which all elements, including the plants, animals, humans, rivers, wind, stars, etc., are alive, have a spirit and are interconnected. If one aspect of this is damaged, it will trigger a chain reaction affecting all other parts of the jungle. Thus, the Kichwa take from the jungle only what they need to survive and nothing more. They believe that protecting their home is fundamental not only to their own survival, but to that of humanity.
At first glance, this story may appear too insignificant to affect life on the planet at large, but not according to the worldview of the Kichwa. The Kichwa people believe we are all part of this big and complex organism that we call Earth. Everything that affects the Kichwa affects all of us. Everything is connected. In the times we live in, implementing this philosophy to our everyday life could mean the difference between extinction or survival.
In emphasis of this connection, the Sarayaku have used social media to become cyber-activists: they spread their environmental message and connect with supporters across the globe via a satellite Internet connection. The community is convinced that by sharing their life in the jungle, they will inspire people around the globe to implement different strategies in the fight against climate change. They want to get known internationally, not out of vanity but rather because in this way it will be much harder for the government or big oil companies to disappear them. Nevertheless, this Internet connection with the “outside world” is a double-edged sword and has resulted in an ever- greater presence of Western culture within their everyday life.
This series is part of the SecretSarayaku.net transmedia project, made with the active participation of several members of the community, which acts like a jungle of information where Western contemporary knowledge merges with the knowledge of this ancestral indigenous community.