In the long shadow cast by the murder of Maestra Olivia Arévalo Lomas at the hands of a Canadian ayahuasca tourist, Coshikox (Consejo Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo), the representative body of the 35,000 strong Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo people of the Peruvian Amazon, called the first ever convention of their practitioners of ancestral medicine in the city of Yarinacocha.
They quickly formed a union of healers, rejecting the terms ‘shaman’ and ‘shamanism’ as imports that did not capture the historical specificity of their work; the Shipibo term Onanya (Onanyabo in the plural) was adopted and accordingly, the union was named The Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo Association of Onanyabo/Ancestral Healers – ASOMASHK.
The convention also issued a declaration, dubbed the Declaration of Yarinacocha, calling for a politically conscious and anti-colonialist set of practices that take into account power differentials, economic inequality and the social reality of Shipibo communities, given the enormous foreign interest in plant medicine. Taking a strong stand against spiritual extractivism and in full solidarity with the Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo struggle for sovereignty, we assert our full support for the declaration and its principles. [Read more…]
A year after the formation of ASOMASHK and the Yarinacocha Declaration, and in view of AYA 2019, the 3rd World Ayahuasca Conference held on May 31st in Girona, Catalunya, Spain a Pronouncement of the Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo Nation On the Globalization of Ayahuasca was issued. [Read it here]
The Yarinacocha declaration
The Yarinacocha declaration was issued on August 19th 2018 at The First Convention of Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo Traditional Medical Practitioners. Translation by the Shipibo Conibo Center of NY (read the original Spanish version here).
Pre-occupied that the knowledge of plants and practices of the Onanyabo – Ancestral Healers are being lost and not being transmitted to future generations;
Recognizing the repercussions of colonialism, state-based and Western education, and the invasion of industrialization, which has threatened the ancestral practices and knowledge of Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo Peoples;
Recognizing the great expansion of spiritual tourism in Amazonian territories, and that the international interest comes with opportunities as much as dangers for the on-going development of ancestral knowledge;
Recognizing the importance of coordination and agreements between Onanyabo for confronting the opportunities and for discussing strategies to address the problems of our communities, which have been dramatically highlighted by the assassination of Maestra Olivia Arévalo Lomas;
We declare that:
- Given their history, practice, and methodology, Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo healing and expertise in medicinal plants are anti-colonialist forms of practice and knowledge, able to resist, transform and reconfigure with every difficulty and threat. Thus healers, teachers, practitioners must remain aware and proud to cultivate the anti-colonialist nature of their practices.
- The work of healing and the struggle towards self-determination are not separable. They must move forward on the same path.
- Adopt the term Onanya – Ancestral Healer to replace the common ‘shaman’ and ‘shamanism’, imported terminologies that do not apply historically to the particularities of our culture.
- Suggest that Onanyabo can focus on the training and education of Shipibos youth, especially in the communities, so as to counteract cultural appropriation by foreign apprentices who numerically overshadow local ones since our young populations do not have comparable economic resources to engage in long periods of training.
- Invite Onanyabo, practioners, workers and students (indigenous as well as foreign) to be conscious of the politics of Shipibo sovereignty, and to contribute to the struggle for cultural, economic and social self-determination.
- Propose the establishment of a school, ‘Escuela Meraya’ (in accordance with values of this declaration) that would include education in plant medicine, politics, and art as well as in digital, vegetal and spiritual technologies.
- Will investigate the development of a mechanism by which foreigners taking advantage of indigenous medicine, healing and spiritual labour might be able to contribute to the cultural and political empowerment of Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo Peoples and their path towards self-determination; such a mechanism could include, for example, a tax or contribution for each ‘pasajero’ (foreign patient) to be donated to an organization such as the ‘Escuela Meraya’.
- Invite Onanyabo, to join the Shipibo-Konibo-Xetebo Association of Onanyabo/ Ancestral Healers so that they might coordinate in unity and demand their rights and fair and just remuneration.
This was originally published here at the Shipibo Conibo Center of New York.
Header image includes photo by Dominik Janus.
- The Yarinacocha Declaration of Shipibo Healers, ASOMASHK - January 30, 2020