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Environment / Sustainability

Helping Peruvian Indians conserve their land, culture

January 21, 2011
by Melinda Swenson

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, a Colorado State graduate student will share her story about the very unusual project she participated in last summer in the Amazon jungle. Fuhrmann spent months helping organize a workshop for Shipibo Indians to learn technical skills to demarcate their communities' boundaries.

Four communities of Shipibo Indians learned how to operate GPS receivers and compasses so that they could mark their communities' boundaries.

Tuesday, Jan. 25
Lory Student Center
Room 215

The Shipibo Indians of Peru live primarily in the Amazon basin and are a community of artisans, hunters, and fishermen.

Not long ago, four Shipibo communities in the central Peruvian Amazon contacted Colorado State's Center for Collaborative Conservation, Department of Anthropology, and Village Earth and asked for help — they were interested in determining and marking the boundaries of their land. 

Loggers destroying forest land

"They're having a problem with illegal loggers," says Angie Fuhrmann, a graduate student in the Anthropology Department and a fellow with the CCC. "The loggers are bulldozing their way into the jungle and taking out the big mahogany trees."

The loggers are trespassing onto Shipibo land, destroying natural resources, and threatening the Shipibo's culture and livelihood.

Illegal colonization

"People from the Andes, in particular, are using the roads to move into Shipibo territory, find a piece of land, and claim it as their own," says Fuhrmann.

In response to the Shipibo's appeal, Fuhrmann put a grant together to fund a project that eventually resulted in a collaboration between CCC, the Anthropology Department, Village Earth and the Shipibo community itself. 

Workshop results in Coalition for the Protection of Shipibo Land

The Shipibo community attended a multi-day workshop where they learned how to use GPS receivers and compasses, discussed land-titling processes, and spent time in the field practicing their skills.  As a result, they have joined together to create the Coalition for the Protection of Shipibo Land in the district of Masisea, and are working on demarcating over 150 miles of boundary lines in the dense Amazon jungle. 

The Coalition for the Protection of Shipibo Land is working on demarcating over 150 miles of boundary lines in the dense Amazon jungle.

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, Fuhrmann will give a presentation about her experiences working in the Amazon jungle with the Shipibo tribe and how GPS and compass technologies can be used for tools and land demarcation. The talk is part of the Center for Collaborative Conservation seminar series.

About Angie Fuhrmann

Angie Fuhrmann is a graduate student in the International Development Studies program and spent the summer of 2010 in Peru coordinating the multi-day workshop.

She previously lived in Mexico and Nicaragua and worked on conservation projects with indigenous communities during and after her undergraduate studies.

Next seminar, Tuesday, Feb. 15

The next CCC seminar will feature Gregory Pierce, CCC Fellow, Department of Anthropology, on Feb. 15, noon to 1 p.m., Lory Student Center, Room 215. Pierce will discuss "The vitality of ice and bone: A cultural model of climate changes and livelihood transformations in Dolpo, Nepal.”

The Center for Collaborative Conservation (CCC) is part of CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. Village Earth is a local non-profit consortium for sustainable village-based development that is connected to CSU through the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Contact: Stacy Lynn
Phone: (970) 492-4199