Between 25 and 29 September 2022, the IV Indigenous Ayahuasca Conference, organised by the Yorenka Tasorentsi Institute (IYT), took place at its headquarters located in the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo, Acre Brazil, on the banks of the Juruá River. The meeting was attended by 389 people, of whom 244 were indigenous and 145 non-indigenous.
Among the main themes addressed during those five days were: the protection of the territories of life in the Amazon and their relationship with the world; the challenges faced by current generations to maintain the culture of their peoples; the ethics that legitimise or not the ways of sharing indigenous medicines; the legal aspects and the responsibility of attention on the commercialisation and granting of patents; the new fronts of action that require an articulation between spiritual leaders; the importance of sacred spaces for spiritual practices; the valuation of exchanges and the sharing of experiences, among others.
The conference culminated with a communiqué, the Charter of the IV Indigenous Ayahuasca Congress, which you can read and download below, in which indigenous leaders express their concern about “the commercialisation of biodiversity and the expansion of ayahuasca and associated medicines among non-indigenous people, now and in the future”. The letter states firmly and unambiguously that “the spirituality of indigenous peoples is not for sale”. For this reason, the Amazonian indigenous peoples identify “the need for clear contracts and increased attention to commercial activities related to indigenous traditional medicines”. At the same time, they will not hesitate to take legal action to defend the plants and cultural attributes of indigenous peoples: “We are concerned about the misuse of our names, our words and our traditional dress. In these cases, we demand the enforcement of legislation on cultural appropriation and the development of new instruments for intellectual protection and image rights”.
Below you can read the summary and the Charter of the IV Indigenous Ayahuasca Conference in Spanish or download the original document in pdf: Apresentacao_CARTA-IV-Conferencia-Indigena-da-Ayahuasca.
IV INDIGENOUS AYAHUASCA CONFERENCE
The IV Indigenous Ayahuasca Conference, organised by the Yorenka Tasorentsi Institute (IYT), took place from 25 to 29 September 2022 at its headquarters in the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo, Acre, Brazil, on the banks of the Juruá River. It was carried out by the IYT and the Organisation of Indigenous Peoples of the Juruá River (OPIRJ), and was self-financed with resources raised by the institute itself, together with partners who collaborate with the agendas put forward by the indigenous peoples.
Between the third and fourth conferences, there was great articulation between peoples and partners, which contributed to highlight the participation of representatives of 35 indigenous peoples from Brazil and other countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Canada, indigenous organisations, institutional partners, researchers and other non-indigenous guests. The peoples present were: Apolima-Arara, Huni Kuĩ, Jaminawa-Arara, Kuntanawa, Nawa, Noke Koi, Nukini, Puyanawa, Shanenawa, Shawãdawa, Yawanawá, Apurinã (Pupykary), Manchineri, Ashaninka, Ashaninka del Alto Perene, Yanesha del Puerto Yunnako, Nomatsiguenka, Ashaninka and Machiguenga del Río Apurimac-Cusco, Yaminawa, Marubo, Yepá Mahsã-Tukano, Anishinaabe, Arhuaco, Tubú Hʉmmʉrimasa, Inga/Unión de Médicos Indígenas Yageceros de la Amazonia Colombiana (UMIYAC), Kichwa de Sarayaku, Kofan, Jiaki, Wixárika, Potiguara, Omágua Kambeba, Shipibo-Konibo, Yanomami, Guarani Mbyá, Siona. There were some 389 participants, of whom 244 were indigenous and 145 non-indigenous.
The topics discussed deepened the issues that have been debated since the first conference, as well as others that contributed to the excellent reflections made throughout the event. Among the main topics addressed were: the protection of the territories of life in the Amazon and their relationship with the world; the challenges faced by current generations to maintain the culture of their peoples; the ethics that legitimise or not the ways of sharing indigenous medicines; the legal aspects and the responsibility of care on commercialisation and granting of patents; the new fronts of action that require articulation between spiritual leaders; the importance of sacred spaces for spiritual practices; the valuing of exchanges and the sharing of experiences, among others.
The experiences presented by each indigenous people indicated a diversity of ways to address diverse and often common issues, demonstrating the importance of this space for dialogue and exchange.
As a result of the intense debates and reflections, the “Charter of the IV Ayahuasca Indigenous Encounter” presents positions and warnings, points out concerns and priorities and, above all, calls for dialogue with respect.
In addition to the written material, visual and audiovisual records were also made, with the aim of creating reference materials for the study and dissemination of this issue as one of the key points of the indigenous rights agenda.
The V Indigenous Ayahuasca Conference is planned for 2024.
We invite you to read the “Charter of the IV Indigenous Ayahuasca Congress”, approved by the final plenary session held on 29 September 2022.
Charter of the IV Indigenous Ayahuasca Congress
We, Indigenous Peoples: Apolima-Arara, Huni Kuĩ, Jaminawa-Arara, Kuntanawa, Nawa, Noke Koi, Nukini, Puyanawa, Shanenawa, Shawãdawa, Yawanawá, Apurinã (Pupykary), Manchineri, Ashaninka, Ashaninka del Alto Perene, Yanesha del Puerto Yunnako, Nomatsiguenka, Ashaninka and Machiguenga of the Apurimac-Cusco River, Yaminawa, Marubo, Yepá Mahsã-Tukano, Anishinaabe, Arhuaco, Tubú Hʉmmʉrimasa, Inga/Unión de Médicos Indígenas Yageceros de la Amazonia Colombiana (UMIYAC), Kichwa de Sarayaku, Kofan, Jiaki, Wixárika, Potiguara, Omágua Kambeba, Shipibo-Konibo, Yanomami, Guarani Mbyá, Siona, gathered at the IV Encuentro Indígena de Ayahuasca, held from 25 to 29 September 2022, at the Yorenka Tasorentsi Institute in the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo, Acre, Brazil, under the coordination of the Yorenka Tasorentsi Institute (IYT) and the Organisation of Indigenous Peoples of the Juruá River (OPIRJ), after intense discussions, hereby
*We affirm that Ayahuasca is the thread of life, an ancestral knowledge that has resisted colonisation and remains alive in the culture of several indigenous peoples, its guardians since time immemorial. We stress that indigenous teachings are an inspiration in the face of the changes needed to protect life on the planet and to revise the very idea of humanity.
*We call for the recognition and respect of all our territories: physical, material and immaterial, the demarcation of indigenous lands and respect for the knowledge that sustains them.
*We emphasise that the spirituality of indigenous peoples is not limited to healing the body and mind of individuals, but is a vehicle for healing, protection and communication with the territories and all the beings that inhabit them, our ancestors, their stories, songs and dreams. Thus, we care for beings in all their life forms.
*We question ourselves about the challenges and opportunities of the current moment in which we live in the world. We draw attention to the role of young people in strengthening the knowledge of indigenous medicines with responsibility and creativity. We regret that young people cannot have the same intimate relationship as our grandparents, we know that we have deep pains to heal collectively and we pay homage to our ancestral medicines for their power of healing, teaching and communication with the territories.
*Violence against women is a symptom of the colonial disease in our territories. In this meeting, marked by the strength of their presence, we commit ourselves to lovingly care for and defend the integrity of our children, youth, mothers and grandmothers, taking a stand against any violation of their rights. We also commit ourselves to care for our elders, our elders.
*We assess the impacts on the cultural, political and ecological dynamics of our communities of the commercialisation of biodiversity and the expansion of ayahuasca and associated medicines among non-indigenous people, now and in the future. We are aware of the importance of reforestation and the conservation of indigenous medicines.
*We will promote exchange between indigenous peoples in order to exchange experiences and orientations on the ethics of care and food, respect for principles, the conservation of our different ways of life, the management of ecosystems, the strengthening of collective rights and the struggle for an end to violence against our cultures.
*We will promote exchange with indigenous peoples who seek ayahuasca as a means to reconnect with their own spiritualities and medicines, with the guidance and teaching of experienced indigenous spiritual leaders. Despite territorial differences and distance, ayahuasca speaks the language of each people and revitalises each culture.
*We will promote the exchange between the indigenous spaces and organisations that were present at this conference, in order to get to know each experience better and to articulate joint actions. We will gather the experiences of the indigenous institutes and centres that already exist in order to discuss our practices and challenges, in line with the internal reflections of each people or community on the ways of using medicines.
*We will promote new meetings on the use of indigenous medicines.
*We are concerned about the misuse of our names, our words and our traditional dress. In these cases, we demand the enforcement of legislation on cultural appropriation and the development of new instruments for intellectual protection and image rights.
*We reflect on the construction of a code of ethics that can suggest legitimate ways of sharing indigenous medicines with the non-indigenous world, in accordance with the teachings of the elders, combined with diplomatic work in the name of justice and the well-being of all humanity.
*We affirm that the spirituality of indigenous peoples is not for sale, but can be shared with a profound ethic aligned to coexistence, to teachings, to ways of relating to the territories from which our knowledge is born. And when this happens, the existing legislation must be respected.
*We will continue the process of creating the Council of Indigenous Spiritual Leaders, to improve what we have already done. The council will have as one of its premises to be a guiding and mediating body with the non-indigenous world, capable of aggregating and spreading the message of peace and protection of life, with the commitment to guarantee respect for indigenous knowledge, sciences and medicines.
*We identify the need for clear contracts and greater attention to commercial activities related to indigenous traditional medicines.
*We note the importance of incorporating new social technologies of project management to qualify the effective use of resources and funding processes in the communities.
*We highlight the importance of having specific sacred spaces for ceremonies, where a prior spiritual cleansing is carried out, because in this way we strengthen cultural and spiritual practices in harmony with the beings of the place, both in the villages and in the urban indigenous communities.
*We are inspired by the experiences of creating spaces for the integral formation of young people who can act in cultural, economic, political and spiritual processes, as well as learn about medicines. We will prepare children to defend their territories and encourage the learning of their mother tongues and other cultural elements of our peoples, so that they can think critically and creatively about their connection to their ancestry.
*We consider that the protection of plants and animals is linked to the food sovereignty of our peoples, always in an integrated way with school and other community actions, according to the reflections of each community.
*We will seek to approach a dialogue between indigenous traditional medicines and non-indigenous medicine, so that they are recognised and valued, with the indication of integrating them into the public systems of physical, emotional and mental health.
*We will seek ways to protect the abundant riches of our territories, uniting as sister peoples with security and autonomy, allying ourselves with non-indigenous partners who work in true dialogue with our thoughts of living well. We see this union as a way to overcome the crimes against the memory and cultures of our peoples.
*We are attentive to the context of the borders between the different countries that surround our territories in continental Amazonia, to the challenges posed to our articulation as brother peoples, because for us, our territories have no borders. Tropical forests are life systems that also extend to other territories, and the commitment to their balance implies making our original knowledge visible. We will face local situations of diverse threats to protect the land and the forest and we need support to access the necessary technologies to record and control encroachment on the territories.
*We reinforce the need to weave alliances between the peoples of this border strip and to carry out an ethno-zoning of all indigenous lands.
*We affirm that the separation of knowledge into areas and the differentiation between molecules, substances, plants and products does not correspond to indigenous thinking about the spirit and life of the beings that heal us. We warn about the dangers and serious consequences of the death of our territories, the misuse of our medicines and cultural appropriation. We highlight the importance of prior and informed consultation, the violence of the extractivism of our knowledge, biopiracy and we position ourselves against the threats of exploitation and exclusion of our peoples.
*We warn that threats to life and territories do not only come from loggers, miners and drug traffickers, as they can also be camouflaged in beautiful narratives of non-governmental organisations, companies and missionaries. Therefore, our leaders and wise men must be protected.
*We call on indigenous and non-indigenous technicians and academics to combat misinformation, lack of awareness in institutions, cultural appropriation and misuse of our medicines. We ask them to be bridges for the revision of old paradigms, the creation of new models, legal advice, the elaboration of instruments, public policies and institutional dialogue, based on our demands, with respect for cultural identities, indigenous sciences and respect for their research and teaching methods.
*We will confront the criminalisation of ayahuasca in its use by indigenous spiritual leaders outside their territories of origin, because we are all one family.
*We demand the immediate release of people arrested for transporting and consuming ayahuasca in countries such as Mexico and Spain, in cases where our leaders are being denounced as criminals and traffickers of illicit substances. We stand for the autonomy of native peoples to treat their traditional medicines.
*We do not accept patents on ayahuasca and other indigenous medicines, and we do not authorise any appropriation for the development of commercial products that do not recognise our rights to the associated traditional knowledge. We commit ourselves to fight to break these illegitimate patents.
Remark: The term Ayahuasca does not replace the terminologies presented by each participating people, such as Kamarãpi, Uni, Huni, Dispãnī hew, Tsĩbu, Yage, Gaapi, Caapi, Hayakwaska, among others. However, since the first Conference it was agreed to use this term generically, encompassing all other nomenclatures.
Yorenka Tasorentsi Institute, Marechal Thaumaturgo-Acre, Brazil, September 2022.
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