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Waorani Women Handicrafts

Save America’s Forests originally became involved in our campaign to protect Yasuní because of its extraordinary biodiversity, the highest in the world, and because of the immediate threat to the forests from many oil companies. Then we became involved with the Waorani, and joined together in the fight for their culture and their right to live in and to protect their forest.  
Waorani Bracelet
Quickly, we saw that one of the keys to protecting Yasuní is to provide an alternate income to the Waorani, instead of income from oil, which Waorani are largely dependent on. Though they receive very little from the oil companies relative to the value of the oil that has been extracted from Yasuní, nevertheless, the Waorani's largest portion of income does come from the oil companies which extract oil from Yasuní. Most of this money is spent on services for the Waorani, such as paying teachers in the communities, and the secretaries and accountants in the Waorani’s NAWE office. Therefore, there is very little cash available as disposable income for most Waorani. They are usually without cash, and will readily ask friends or visitors to buy them a meal, help out with a medical crisis, or provide money to pay for gasoline for the motors on their canoes, or a bus ticket, in order to allow them to travel to or from their forest villages. The Waorani are rich in culture and natural resources, but poor when it comes to enough cash to carry on basic tasks necessary to interact with the industrialized world, such as transportation, health and education of their children, etc.  
If you would like to obtain one of these handcrafts,
and help the efforts of the Waorani
to protect their Amazon forest,
Save America's Forests
Waorani Women Making Handicrafts
The Waorani experienced first hand the devastating effects of oil development in their forests, from pollution-caused illnesses to forest destruction. Most of the Waorani oppose more oil development, yet they have been tied financially at the hip and have been entirely at the mercy of the oil companies, who were in collusion with the successive governments of Ecuador.  
  Waorani Necklace
Recently, the Waorani began increasing ecotourism, which is now bringing tourists from all over the world to visit their unique, fascinating, and ecologically critical forests. This has begun to generate a small, but significant, disposable income for some of the Waorani in the forest communities. Clearly, we could see that getting more income from non-oil sources was critical to the Waorani’s strong opposition to new oil development in Yasuní.  
  Waorani Women Weaving
The Waorani have also begun to sell woven handicrafts, made using their traditional skills as artisans of the forest materials: weaving fibers, berries and dyes from plants and trees into beautiful and useful works of art, as bags, necklaces, belts, bracelets, and more. We had made one time purchases of Waorani handicrafts when we visited Yasuní in 2006, and later when Waorani visiting the U.S. sold us a whole box of Waorani handcrafts.  
  Waorani Cell Phone Bag
Save America’s Forests was given the opportunity to give major support to the Waorani women’s handicrafts in the fall of 2007. Manuela Ima, our friend, and presidenta of the Waorani Women’s association, AMWAE, asked if we would purchase more of the women’s handicrafts for the whole of next year. I agreed and we purchased our first shipment one month ago. In addition, Manuela and AMWAE asked if we would help underwrite the cost of AMWAE’s “Women’s Handicraft Workshop” to be held at the village of Ńoneno. We agreed, and the AMWAE workshop was held in October 2007.  
  Waorani Women Artisans
Look at the Waorani Women's Workshop page to see pictures of the women making the handicrafts.  
  Waorani Bag
Save America’s Forests will distribute the Waorani women’s handicrafts this year in the United State. We hope this will help supplement the income to the women in the Waorani villages, an important step forward in making the Waorani economically independent from the meager income they now receive. Because their crafts use only common, natural materials found in abundance in the forests of Yasuní, this business is truly ecologically sustainable, and will cause no harm to Yasuní’s ecosystems.  
If you would like to obtain one of these handcrafts,
and help the efforts of the Waorani
to protect their Amazon forest,
Save America's Forests
202-544-9219 9


Click Here to Return to Handicrafts Home Page

Click Here to Learn More About the Waorani and Other Indigenous People Of Yasuni

Click Here to See the Biodiversity Animal and Plant Profiles Section


Read the letter from the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
Read the letter from Scientists of the Smithsonian Institution
Read the letter from the Scientists Concerned for Yasuni National Park

Read the letter from Leading Scientists, including E.O. Wilson and Dr. Jane Goodall
E.O. Wilson Lecture and Slide Show in the U.S. Senate
Dr. Jane Goodall's Press Conference and Lecture in the U.S. Senate
Dr. Peter Raven's letter to the Senate endorsing the Act to Save America's Forests

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