WINNER PHEN AWARD PHOTON GRANT 2018

MISHA VALLEJO

“Sarayaku Secret”


“The Sacha Runa are supreme beings that protect the jungle and whom we venerate because they practice a way of living similar to ours” – explains Doña Corina, one of the most respected elders in the Kichwa community of Sarayaku, located in the Amazon rainforest. Its philosophy, called Kawsak Sacha or Living Forest, affirms that all the elements in the forest, such as plants, animals, humans rivers, wind, stars and others are alive, have a spirit and are interconnected. What affects one of them will affect everyone. This is why the Sarayaku take from the jungle only what they will consume and nothing more. For them the protection of their home is primordial for their survival and they carry it out with the help of these supreme beings.

The Kichwas are an ethnic minority whose ancestral knowledge hasn’t been totally recognised either by the state or by western society. Their lifestyle is different and is generally perceived with prejudices. Mi idea was to portray the community in a horizontal way, leaving behind paternalisms and idyllic views. In this way I celebrate their existence, their beliefs and the symbiosis between traditional and contemporary cultures.

Nowadays, oil extraction interests constantly menace ancestral territories in South America, Sayaku included. This is the main reason why these stories that explore the ancestral worldview need come to light.
This will allow us to have a better idea of contemporary indigenous cultures, will generate empathy in the viewer and, in this way, will hinder their disappearance.

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