Tijun Urcu (Walks Alone Mountain)
This mountain constitutes a low ridge overlooking the town of Puyo – original territory of the Puyuruna clan heads, including Virgilio Santi, Rafael’s father, Flavio’s grandfather.
These territories have been colonized since 1947 when the Salesian mission was granted legal title to the lands around Puyo, rapidly changing from a small trading post into a town. The Puyuruna families were moved into a newly created indigenous reservation downriver of the Puyo, named Comuna Campesina de San Jacinto de Davila, “Peasant’s Commune of Saint Jacinto of Davila.” The church sold many of the lands to settlers, and began to profit greatly as the price of land rose in and around the growing town.
This ridge is a gateway to the “Wayusa Trails” of the Ayuy Yu clan – ancient pathways through the Andean foothills that link the original clan territory of the Huasaga river to the Puturuna territories of the Putumayo river. Generations of shamans have journeyed these trails for vast intertribal gatherings in Puturuna territory. There are wayusas planted along these trails as guides, and titles to gifted territory. There are wayusas on this ridge over 700 years old, planted by the Ayuy Yu grandparents.
This ridge holds headwaters and wellsprings of the Puyo and Pindo rivers – the central watersources for hundreds of indigenous communities downstream. They are teaching sites, where certain spirits reside, who participate in initiating youth, healing the sick, and generating the abundance of the land. This ridge also contains a set of caves, areas of gold deposits, and two waterfalls – sacred sites that have been tended by the clan for generations.
Wanduj (floripondio) medicine was planted at the waterfalls by Flavio’s grandfather – the renowned leader, warrior and healer, Virgilio Santi. Virgilio received visions in the 1970s instructing that Flavio must recover these sacred sites.
175ha of this ridge have been recovered through fundraising efforts over the last six years. 120ha was purchased in 2010. 30ha was purchased in 2016. 25ha was purchased in 2018. 25ha remains to be recovered.
The ridge is now a mixture of first and second growth forest. Some of the lower tracts were set to pasture at certain points over the last 70 years. Since recovering the first 200ha, the wangana peccary herds have begun to return, and in June 2017, for the first time in 70 years, Flavio and a number of other hunters from Amazanga community were able to harvest game from that part of their territory.
This site will constitute the central foundation of the Wayusa School – as it is local to the town, with relatively easy access. This is essential as an accessible sanctuary and teaching site for local indigenous youth, and international visitors to Puyo.
Industrial prospecting on the unrecovered 25ha site has indicated extensive gypsum deposits, coveted by Chinese industrial contractors working in the area.
A theme of local land politics in Puyo is that ex-military men often pool their retirement funds to purchase land from settler farmers. They choose sites favourable to industrial development, i.e. with mineral deposits, or logistical resources such as water. Their aim is to “flip” the land within a few years, selling at a large profit to industrial developers. Many of these men move within the circles of the economic and political elite of Puyo, and pull strings to get industrial contracts approved, and to get their land favoured for projects.
This site is in danger of the same fate. The current owners remain sympathetic to Flavio and his goals, and have agreed a price with him for final sale by September 2019, otherwise, in need of money, they must sell to the land flippers.
It would be a disaster to see the sacred sites contaminated and destroyed. And a great shame to have an industrial project neighbouring the Wayusa School.
Please donate now to save the sacred sites!