Center Yorenka Ãtame (Wisdom of the forest center)
About the Implementing organization
Name: Associação Ashaninka do Rio Amônia Apiwtxa
Year of establishment: 1993
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Community enterprise or business / Indigenous group or organization / Ethnic minority group or association
The Yorenka Ãtame Center (Wisdom of the Forest Center) was founded by the Ashaninka of the Amônia River on July 7, 2007, in Marechal Thaumaturgo, Acre, Brazil, with the aim to promote debate and mobilize for the protection of the environment. It is an open space for dialogue, exchange and the dissemination of agroforestry skills respecting the richness of cultural diversity. It promotes the exchange of cultural experiences and teachings, stimulates intercultural dialogue and strives for the production and dissemination of approaches for the sustainable management of natural resources.
Through Yorenka Ãtame the Ashaninka are seeking to fulfill the demands that arise in moments when all the different social groups come together. It is during those meetings that the exchange of knowledge takes place. The respect for traditional knowledge and local experiences of the different groups is of high importance to them.
From the very beginning, Yorenka Ãtame has continuously contributed to the exchange of experiences among all stakeholders in the region, i.e. state, country and beyond. The Ashaninka entered into partnerships with the public schools of Marechal Thaumaturgo to make the students aware of the importance of environment protection, which is directly linked to the protection of all beings, bringing indigenous and non-indigenous people together, encouraging a rapprochement and union between the different groups of society, in favor of protecting and enhancing biodiversity.
Forests / Wetlands / Rivers / Grasslands / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing / Pollution prevention, clean up / Invasive species / Awareness and education / Advocacy for land & water rights
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Peace and security / Health / Climate action
Since the creation of the Center Yorenka Ãtame, the Ashaninka reinstated different degraded areas in the Upper Juruá region. Under the coordination of the Ashaninka leader Benki Piyãko, more than one million trees were planted throughout the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo since 2006. By the means of the Center the Ashaninka share their wisdom and experiences with other indigenous and non-indigenous communities. Benki Piyãko is teaching school children, youth groups and other individuals from different communities, such as the Kuntanawa of the Tejo River, and the youth group of the town of Marechal Thaumaturgo. In 2006, he established an indigenous and non-indigenous youth group that accompanies and cooperates with him in the Center Yorenka Ãtame, at the Incra landless settlement (located in Marechal Thaumaturgo) and surrounding areas. Since then, the Ashaninka reached many communities and gained the confidence of the local people, who elected an Ashaninka mayor in 2016.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Through the Center Yorenka Ãtame, the Ashaninka of the Amônia River got in touch with different groups of the regional society (approx. 16 thousand individuals live in the municipality). One of the most important impacts among the population of Marechal Thaumaturgo has been the awareness-building regarding environmental protection since 2007. Many groups visit the Center Yorenka Ãtame to learn sustainable economic alternatives such as bee keeping, small animal breeding, techniques in recuperating degraded areas, growing vegetable gardens, seed collecting, tree nursery, waste management and fish farming. Since 2015, Yorenka Ãtame also offers workshops within the Alto Juruá project, working closely with residents of more then 50 communities of the Extractive Reserve of the Upper Juruá, who participate in different courses about their rights, land monitoring, agroforestry methods, and community empowerment.
The Centre Yorenka Ãtame is visited by groups from all parts of the world. Brazilian indigenous groups such as the Yawanawa, Guarani, Puyanawa, Tukano, Suruí, and Peruvian Ashaninka from different communities already visited the Centre to participate in debates, workshops, cultural exchanges and communal practices. The Centre was also visited by students from Brazil, Germany, and Denmark and people from Japan, France, the U.S., Australia, Russia and Great Britain (among others) as an important reference in environmental protection created by the Ashaninka of the Amônia River. The work of the Ashaninka is being recognized by national and international institutions all over the globe. Their vision of cooperation and collaboration is unique among the social classes on the local, national and international level. There are even plans to expand the Centre to other places such as to the Xingu in Brazil and to French Guyana.
Some indigenous groups demonstrate an interest in establishing a Yorenka Ãtame Center in their communities. The Kayapó Chief Raoni, as one example, showed interest in founding a Centre similar to Yorenka Ãtame for the youth in the Xingu to encourage the esteem for their own culture and wisdom as well as for learning and debating about knowledge in traditional and modern agroforestry. The French NGO Nature Rights plans to implement a Center Yorenka Ãtame in French Guyana to support the empowerment of indigenous communities to combat suicide among indigenous youth, who are losing their identity and self-esteem because of the continued changes in society. The Ashaninka leader Benki Piyãko is currently planning to travel to French Guyana with members of the NGO Nature Rights to discuss with indigenous communities about the creation of a Centre. Moreover, the Ashaninka helped their Puyanawa-neighbors in Acre to strengthen their community, who suffered under the presence of missionaries.
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