Tagaeri, Huaorani People of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin

Tagaeri, Huaorani People of Ecuador’s Amazon Basin

The following excerpt is from Field Notes, Sinchi Sacha Foundation, 1992

The Quichua call them puca chaqui, and the mestizos, patas coloradas: both designations mean “red feet.” In fact they are the Tagaeri, members of the Taga group, the only Huaorani who are still truly free.

Unlike other Huao sub-groups, the Tagaeri still refuse to have any contact with strangers, preferring the isolated existence they have maintained for centuries. The only attempt to approach them was undertaken on July 21, 1987 by Monsignor Alejandro Labaca and Sister Ines Arango, both from the Catholic Capuchin mission on the Napo. They hoped to convert the Tagaeri and convince them to allow oil company personnel to enter their territory. That intent led to the death of both missionaries. The Tagaeri subsequently abandoned their homes and disappeared into the dense forest, following the Huaorani tradition of a life of complete symbiosis with the forest which has provided them with sustenance for millennia.

There was no further news of the group until one day, five years later, when a Huao from the Quemperi group came to see me. “I know where they are, I saw them from the plane, when I came back to Puyo last time.” The following day we flew over the area in a small plane. The forest looked untouched, as though no human being had ever set foot there. We flew through some turbulence, where thick clouds blocked our view. “You aren’t going to see them,” the pilot shouted, trying to make himself heard over the noise of the engine.

Then, as so often happens in the Amazon, the sky suddenly cleared and we could see the forest again and, to the right, a lovely rainbow. “Dayme,” said our Huaorani companion, “its a sign that we will have good luck!”

And on the bend in the river, we saw a large plot of cultivated land… and a house! The scene was fascinating because as the Tagaeri — there they were! — moved in toward the house and looked-up while doing a Huaorani war dance with sharp lances made of chonta, the Huaorani in the plane began their own war chants and shouted threats from above. The house we saw must have been recently built because the leaves of the roof were still green. A harpy eagle flew around the house.

The sight of that sacred bird took us thousands of years into the past. We had penetrated a virgin world, a world suspended in space and in time, where past, present and future come together, following the mysterious rhythms of the tropical forest itself.

Related Pages

Provider Spotlight

Free Galapagos Trip Planner at Galapagos Islands .com – easily plan your Galapagos vacation online, find great value, and a wide selection of customized Galapagos cruises and vacations.

Galapagos Tour Experts – Adventure Life Specialize in luxury Galapagos cruises, and land-based Galapagos tours. Adventure Life can help you design the perfect trip to Ecuador. As seen in Outside Magazine, NatGeo, and the New York Times.

Voyager Galapagos Tours haS excellent Galapagos cruise deals & last-minute offers, and land-based Galapagos tours (aka Island Hopping).

Galapagos & Ecuador Insiders use their local expertise to assist you in planning the perfect Galapagos cruise or Ecuador tour for your precise budget, needs, and interests.

Latin Trails craft customized journeys to the Galapagos Islands, the Ecuador mainland, the Amazon rainforest, and Peru. They operate the highly-rated Galapagos cruising yacht: Seaman Journey and the day tour yacht the Galapagos Hopper.

Andando Tours – Pioneers in Galapagos tourism. Two generations of sailing and shipbuilding showcase unparalleled knowledge in creating the most unique Galapagos Cruises. Owners & Operators of S/S Mary Anne & M/Y Passion.

Gulliver Expeditions – Learn more about our Ecuador ToursPeru ToursEcuador Climbing Expeditions, Galapagos Land Tours, and Machu Picchu Tours. Gulliver Expeditions offer fantastic travel experiences since 2005.

Surtrek Galapagos Cruises – has offered exceptional custom-designed trips to the Galapagos for over 20 years. They now bring their brand of off-the-beaten-path trips to other countries in South America such as Peru’s Machu PicchuBolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flats, and Chile’s Atacama Desert.

ViaNatura – provides excellent value Galapagos cruises on the Monserrat yacht, a luxury cruise experience on the Hermes yacht, and a variety of tours in Ecuador and Peru.

Exclusive Galapagos Cruises, part of the EQ Touring group – specializes in private Galapagos yacht charters. They can help your group find the perfect yacht that matches your needs at a price negotiated by a true insider who has been doing charters in the Galapagos for decades.