The vision for the Wayusa School is to formalize the Indigenous education of the Ayuy Yu clan, not only for the benefit of the local culture, but also for humanity – for a global spiritual movement returning human societies to balance with their lands. The Santi family is advocating an alternative model of development that empowers Indigenous wisdom-keepers to use their land for cultural education and traditional healing projects that hold the potential to transform the way we as humans interact with the land, each other, and ourselves.
The Wayusa School has always existed. For millennia, ancient relatives learned from the elements, sacred flora, and wild fauna how to live in harmony with the Earth. Ancestors discovered how to survive in the jungle, and their revered plant companions taught them how to heal, how to dream, and how to navigate through ethereal realms. Born from a profound relationship with their environment, their songs, stories, and wise counsel emerged to protect and propagate their families. In this profound way, grandparents taught the youth how to listen to the rainforest, and how to honor ancient voices of the Earth. By means of oral tradition, this knowledge has proliferated for generations, guiding and nurturing communities all over the Amazon.
In more recent years, the Santi family’s bountiful homelands and intricately evolved way of life have been threatened by disruption, contamination, and ultimately, extinction. In an age of continuing colonization, the Indigenous education system is under threat. After years of campaigning for bilingual education from the government, in the Kichwa “Comuna de San Jacinto”, the communities were granted some sovereignty over the schooling of their children. In Flavio’s community they created the Juri Juri School (Protector Spirit School). Elders were attending to instruct the children in ancestral skills, traditional stories, and spiritual teachings, along with state curriculum from a school teacher. Due to the Santi family’s leadership in the Indigenous uprising against the oil invasion of the late 90’s, the military destroyed the school and several other traditional buildings in the community. Due to corruption among the political leadership of the Indigenous movement, the registered name of the school was changed, and the name Juri Juri taken for an Indigenous development institute funded by and supportive to the oil companies. Shortly after, Rafael Correa’s incoming government imposed a new Indigenous education program, “streamlining” education for Indigenous nations by closing all the schools in the small communities and creating larger schools in towns and cities.
The vision of the Juri Juri School was reformulated into the Wayusa School – a broader project that would teach the youth but also invite the alliance of international visitors, and international Indigenous networks, creating a spiritual embassy for land-based teachings. The project reclaims stolen sacred sites, and restores them to their original purpose, welcoming all traditions to draw strength from the territory and its teachings and inviting others into exchanges of knowledge. This is a central premise and practice to the Ayuy Yu lineage – to be open with teachings, and healings. To be humble before other knowledge-holders. To share, for the benefit of health and abundance everywhere. The range of skills in the Wayusa School covers a very wide spectrum of wisdom and understanding, which includes arts and crafts, storytelling, music, ancestral games, Indigenous language, medicinal plant identification/usage, hunting and fishing, ethical wildcrafting, food cultivation, ancestral gastronomy, midwifery, and sacred rituals and ceremony.
For the next two years, several land purchases remain pending. The first is a 25-ha tract containing the sacred sites of waterfalls and headwaters of the Pindo river. This would complete the land envisioned for the Wayusa School project site close to the city of Puyo. It consists of a thickly forested corridor along a ridge above the town. It is essential to have this site close to the city to enable access for urban Indigenous youth, and visitors to Puyo. Another necessary purchase is access to this ridge, as currently it is surrounded by colonized farms, and accusation of trespassing can and has been leveled against the Santis for passing through to get to their recovered land. Another purchase is an access-tract to the 1200ha reserve of recovered territory around the Llushin river, named Bosque Eterno de los Niños, ‘The Children’s Eternal Forest’, for the same reasons. This more distant site is essential as a large medicine sanctuary, and a site to take students of the Wayusa School for longer programs, and deeper engagement with the teachings.
The total cost of all the necessary land purchases is estimated as $800,000-$850,000. The current priority is raising $43,000 to recover the 25ha tract above Puyo and combine the various titles of the plots of Tijun Urcu to legalise them as ancestral territory of the Ayuy Yu Ki-Shuar clan.
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE (from Feb 2020) :
Please be advised that independent travel to these communities can be hazardous, especially for women. The cultural reality is one of deep roots and also deep wounds from colonial violence and other forms of oppression, including historical patriarchy.
Women and men should refer to the resource below before considering travel to these areas, in order to be prepared for the risks and also to advocate for safe and transparent conduct between healers and visitors (especially male healers with visiting women).
Please note that the communities affiliated with the Wayusa School project are NOT exceptions to these risks. We have received multiple allegations from different women of being sexually abused by Rafael Santi in a healing context. This individual is a respected healer and elder of the Amazanga community, close to Puyo, but we regard him as a highly unsafe practitioner to work with.
Please get in touch for more advice about how to navigate this issue.
To support a safe environment for those participating in Wayusa School activities, we are committed to the following:
– Transparency in our procedures of facilitated healing and learning
– Clear communication with regards to expectations and outcomes
– A set protocol for participants to provide informed and ongoing consent, with opportunities to request additional support
We welcome all inquiries and feedback, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org