RECENT HISTORY

recent-history

The Achuar continued to live in extreme isolation from the outside world, and their territory was considered “terra incognita” until the late 1960’s.

  • Until the end of the 19th century, the approximately 5 million acre region of the Amazon basin, which is today occupied by the Achuar of Ecuador and Peru, was only occasionally visited by small numbers of brave missionaries, joined infrequently by the odd explorer and intrepid naturalist.

  • The latter half of the 19th century saw the growth of the rubber industry in the Amazon basin, but because of its inaccessibility and remoteness the Achuar’s territory was not affected, and the Achuar avoided the enslavement that decimated other indigenous populations.

  • In 1941, however, war broke out between Ecuador and Peru and the Achuar, whose territory sat astride the Ecuador-Peru border, found themselves divided into two “nationalities”. But for the most part the Achuar continued to live in extreme isolation from the outside world, and their territory was considered “terra incognita” until the late 1960’s.

  • Between 1968 and 1970, Catholics and Evangelicals began to enter Achuar territory with an evangelizing intent. Although the missionaries met with limited success in their quest for souls they did initiate a process of increasing intercultural contact that would slowly begin to change the Achuar’s’ way of living. For example, it was the Catholic missionaries who suggested to the Achuar that there might be some advantage to living in small villages, which is how many Achuar live today.

  • Since 1991, the majority of the Achuar in Ecuador belong to a political organization called FINAE (Federation of Ecuadorian Achuar Nationalities). Today, the organization is called NAE and the Achuar people that NAE represents are organized into 16 regional associations that contain a total of 83 communities and approximately 8000 Achuar people.