A Plea from the Awajún Indigenous People of Peru;

We recently received this letter from Awajún community leaders in Amazons Department, Peru. The Awajún speak for themselves.

English translation:
"We, the indigenous authorities, the leaders who sign below, have met with the community in order to solve the problems in our environment and to somehow also solve the loss of our ancestral culture. The result of the arrival of modern Western education has been a neglect of our heritage and our assimilation into the culture of the outside world, and we realize that the Awajún people are forgetting their own culture. [Bold added for emphasis] However we still have time, and with an effort we can recover a favorable percentage of the old ways by effecting gradual change. In order to achieve the objective we propose the CONSTRUCTION OF AN AWAJUN CULTURAL CENTER, in the Native community of Puerto Tunduza in the Nieva district, with the assistance of Anthropologist Dr. Peter Thomas Lerche as coordinator of the Project, to help recover the Awajún culture. Likewise, Mr. Miguel Ampush Chamikag and his team would be the direct link for any management and communication about the progress of the project. We project that the other communities of the province of Condorcanqui Province will also be beneficiaries as indigenous peoples. Once again we are asking Anthropologist Peter Thomas to represent us as a person who knows our problems and who will help achieve the goals of the Native communities of the Nieva River. We affirm the text of this document with our signatures.
Puerto Tunduza, October 3, 2023"

The cultural center will tentatively be called "Inia Muunta Jeé," which may be rendered in English as, 'House of Our Wise Men'. As the Center will be near the main road connecting the coast with the Marañón (Amazonas) River, it occupies a strategic position. So it will serve the communities in the Marañón and Nieva river systems (or more).

The Awajun:
Awajún/Wampis belong to the linguistic group of the Jívaro. In Peru, the Awajún live in the Departments (or provinces) of Cajamarca, Amazonas, San Martín and Loreto. They are considered to be the second largest group of Indigenous peoples in the country.

Up until the 1940s and 1950s many people lived in the mountains forming scattered settlements along streams and rivers, as was the Awajún custom. Later, often with the encouragement of missionaries, residents migrated to denser nuclear settlements along the larger rivers, which were officially recognized by a 1974 Peruvian law as “indigenous communities”.
Awajún village:

Working with the Awajún:

Since the times of First Contact, the Awajún have felt, justifiably, that they have been left out of the evolution of modern Peru. While access to Western health care has much improved their society, the resultant growth of their population means that they can no longer support themselves via traditional hunting and gatherings. They seek a way forward that will keep their traditions intact.

In this regard, any outside organization must allow them to "call the shots", so to speak.

Unknown Species Investigations:

Residents’ relationships with the Kampankis Mountains are based on a view of the world in which humans, animals, and plants form groups that are linked to each other by shared social networks. The mountains also represent a link with the ancestors, as sites of visionary experiences in search of ajutap/arutam (spirit beings), and a source of inspiration and knowledge with which to face the future. In this way, the Kampankis Mountains are not only a biodiversity-rich cordillera but also a diverse cultural landscape.

Of importance are the number and variety of species possibly unknown to science that exist in the higher mountains.

Our intention is to investigate these reports in order to generate sustainable income for the Awajún by way of scientific and other research trips, in order for them to complete 'The House of our Wise Men' and other future projects that they may devise.

Looking toward higher elevations. We have reliable reports regarding unknown species in these areas that will be scouted as part of our project.

Amazonas Conservation Initiative

We are a collaborative project with Peruvian conservation organizations and eco-tourist companies who are committed to the protection of the rainforest and honoring the traditions of indigenous people.

ACI is led by Peter Lerche, renowned anthropologist, long-term Peruvian citizen, and former mayor of Chachapoyas, capitol of Amazonas Department. Dr. Lerche has already assisted the Awajún to protect as indigenous Awajún lands The Pamau Nain Area at 45,762.21 hectares and Tijae Nain at 38,641.50 hectares.

We are scientists, conservationists, adventurers, photographers and, yes, like yourself... on a Journey.

Project phases and Summary of Funding Requests:

We seek seed money as follows:
Wildlife Survey: $15, 000
Cultural Center $10,000
Total: $25,000 USD

Project Phases:
1. Begin work on initial reconnaissance trip to document existence of unknown species. Fund design of cultural Center.
2. Once project becomes self- funding, further work on both aspects of Phase 1.

And here, the potential site of the Cultural Center in Peru:

Amazonas Conservation Initiative Inc. is a non-profit incorporated in the State of Florida.
“Said corporation is organized exclusively for scientific purposes, such as conducting research, developing new technologies, or promoting education in scientific fields.”
For further detailed information about our work searching for rare and undocumented wildlife, please visit:

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Kit Herring Peter Lerche Davarian Hall
Gainesville, FL

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