Warriors of the Amazon -
Page 6 of 6
Time is still an
ambiguous dimension for the majority of the Huaorani. "How old are you?" is a
completely irrelevant question, as nobody really knows their age, except the
younger Huaorani, that live closer to civilization and go to school.
The jaguar is revered and called "tigre." The Huaorani identify closely with
this majestic animal. Some elderly warriors are believed to have special
powers and are able to transform themselves into jaguar. I met the chief of
a village, an old and revered warrior. I was told he "had tiger" ("tiene
tigre" in Spanish). I thought he really had a pet in his house. It actually meant he had
the power of transforming himself into the animal, and to roam the jungle,
communicating with the animals.
Sidenote: Inside the Huaorani territory, between Shiripuno and Curaray
Rivers there is the "Zona Intangible" (the Off-Limit Zone), an area inhabited
by two indigenous groups that refuse any contact with the outside world, and
choose to live in complete isolation. They are the Tagaeri and Taromenane.
It is believed they number less than 150, and have never been contacted by
the outside world. The few attempts made to contact them have failed, with
the encounters ending up with the death of the intruders (missionaries,
illegal lodgers and oil company workers). This area is declared "intangible"
even by the Ecuadorian government itself, as it is thought that trespassers
will not make it out alive if they are seen by the natives. It is said that
whoever does not respect their wish of seclusion, pays the price with their
life. Even the Huaoranis respect the forbidden area. Some have hypothesized
that the Tagaeri and Taromenane are branches of the Huaorani that separated
from the main group a generation ago, right at the time of the Huaorani's
first contact with the outer world.
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