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Helping the Maijuna Save their Traditional Culture and Ancestral Lands

Today, there are only about 400 Maijuna individuals left in the Peruvian Amazon living in four villages in a large area between the Napo and Putumayo Rivers. Maijuna ancestral lands are incredibly biologically rich and culturally important yet this large swath of primary rain forest is currently under siege. Unfortunately, Peru is planning to build a road through Maijuna ancestral territory which would devastate their traditional lands and ultimately lead to the destruction of their culture. The Peruvian government has not properly consulted the Maijuna on the construction of this road nor has it accurately described both its biological and cultural ramifications. The Maijuna are adamantly against the construction of this road and are asking the Peruvian government to alter its path. Additionally, they are also calling on the Regional Government of the Peruvian Amazon to create a regional protected area that would formally protect their ancestral lands and the critically important biological and cultural diversity found there.

Maijuna father and daughter

In response to these and other threats, Maijuna elders and leaders established the Federación de Comunidades Nativas Maijunas (FECONAMAI), a Maijuna indigenous federation representing all four Maijuna communities. Since its inception, the principle goals of FECONAMAI have been to (1) conserve the Maijuna culture, (2) conserve the environment, and (3) improve Maijuna community organization. In short, FECONAMAI is literally fighting for the survival of the Maijuna on a daily basis. To assist the Maijuna in this struggle, The Rainforest Conservation Fund (RCF) has teamed up with FECONAMAI to save their critically endangered culture and their biologically rich ancestral lands. Led by the efforts of RCF Board member and ethnobiologist Michael Gilmore and Apiculture specialist German Perilla, RCF is currently:
1) Assisting the Maijuna in their struggle to stop the construction of the proposed road and create a large Maijuna protected area.
2) Providing material support to help the Maijuna guard their ancestral lands and prevent outsiders from coming in and extracting timber, hunting animals or establishing new settlements.
3) Collaborating with the Maijuna to develop a system of bee-keeping, bee conservation, and sustainable honey collection so that they can earn income without damaging the forest.
Thanks to your contributions, we are able to support and defend the last remaining Maijuna on the planet and their critically endangered homeland. However, we have much work ahead of us if we are to be successful with our efforts, making this new work a funding priority for 2010-11. Please join us in this effort. Your donation to RCF can go directly to help the Maijuna. Please enclose a note or write “Maijuna” on your check.
Thank you,
Dr. Michael Gilmore
February, 2010.

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