Peru Recognizes Isolated Indigenous Groups to Create Reserve


Peru’s commission for isolated and recently contacted native peoples approved the preliminary studies proving and recognizing the existence of Indigenous Isconahua and Mayoruna peoples, living without ties to the rest of society, in a new proposed indigenous reserve.


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The agreement, approved on Tuesday by the Multi-sectoral Commission on Isolated Peoples, commits Peruvian authorities to establish protection mechanisms for the groups while the process to create the Western Divisor Mountain Chain Indigenous Reserve (SDO), formerly known as ‘Kapanahua,’ is still ongoing.

The area is inhabited by the Mayoruna, perhaps of the Matse, Matis or Marubo sub-divisions; and the Capanahua and Remo, part of the Isconahua people. These groups have been living in relative or total isolation from the rest of Peruvian and Brazilian societies, but some of them have even established permanent relations.

"The Preliminary Exploration Study of the Proposed Western Divisor Mountain Chain Indigenous Reserve was approved! With this study we managed to determine the presence and existence of indigenous people living in isolation and with the necessity of protection."

Their way of life has been impinged on by missionary groups and economic ventures and was especially affected by the rubber industry endeavors, pushing them to the most remote areas of the Amazon jungle or forcing them to join other indigenous communities.

Most of the Mayoruna now live integrated with other indigenous and “western” societies, but a significant part of them still live in total isolation. As for the Isconahua, a part of them decided to establish ‘initial contact’ with the Peruvian government and society, but most of them still live in isolation in their territory. It’s believed that around 240 Isconahua still live in this situation.

The proposed reservation aims to solve legal issues regarding the establishment of the Divisor Mountain Chain National Park, which overlaps 98 percent with the previous Isconahua Reserve, the Yavari Tapiche Reserve, and the newly proposed reserve.

The establishment of the National Park and its “special zone,” which allows extractivist activities, was heavily criticized by indigenous organizations that were already fighting for the recognition of the isolated groups inhabiting there.

"The Peruvian State recognizes the existence of indigenous peoples in isolation in the proposed Western Divisor Mountain Chain Indigenous Reserve."

The new categorization and geographical limits aim to protect the culture, way of life and overall integrity of the indigenous groups and to ban the establishment of any other group or economic venture in the territory, preventing legal or illegal activities such as logging or mining from entering the area.

The agreement is the result of more than 13 years of work and legislation by the Inter-ethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Jungle (Aidesep), aiming to protect the people denominated as Indigenous Peoples in Isolation and Initial Contact (PIACI).

The proposal for the Western Divisor Mountain Chain Indigenous Reserve was presented by the Aidesep in 2005. The proposed area includes the provinces of Requena and Ucayali. The proposal was initially approved in 2013 when the preliminary studies to establish the indigenous reserve began.

Now, it’s up to the Culture Ministry to issue the last decree, recognize the rights of the isolate peoples and formally establish the reserve.


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