The new century brings new challenges as Indigenous communities struggle to achieve a balance between preserving their way of life while embracing influence from the modern world.
Meet Urco Miraño, an isolated Yahua community located 4 hours by boat up the Napo River in the Peruvian Amazon. An example of a self-sustainable community. Home of 81 families, of 605 people.
Residents only travel to the near by city of Iquitos if it is absolutely necessary. "If you don't have money, in Iquitos you do not eat. Here, we have everything we need." tells me a Yagua leader while helping to prepare masato for this week's mingas.
A minga is a call for the community to collaborate on a project. This week, men will work together to clear bushes and knockdown trees to make room for the farming grounds needed for a new family while others help prepare food and masato for everyone. Masato is a traditional alcoholic beverage prepared by crushing Yuca and fermenting it in a pan for days. Each community holds the secret to their own recipe.
The village has an infirmary, a kindergarten, a primary school, a high school and a vocational school currently under construction. It contains a fish farm as well as many plantations and an organic garden attended by the students. Teachers pass on their native language to the younger generations and the community has even created a Yagua museum to preserve their culture.
By the end of today's minga, the community will gather at the end of their village to dance and play their instruments to the setting of the sun and well into the night as the kids roam free and play in the village center.