As part of Fundación Pachamama’s ongoing commitment to strengthen indigenous governance in the Southern Ecuadorian Amazon, a 5 workshop series is taking place between October 2007 and April 2008 with the objective of strengthening and re-appropriating the Shuar Federation’s by-laws so that they reflect their own ancestral vision of the “Good Life” (Penker pujustin, in Shuar).

What is the relationship between the Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as recognized in the Ecuadorian Constitution, and the by-laws of an Indigenous Federation? This was the central question that was considered during a 3-day workshop with the Governing Council and 30 local representatives of the Shuar Federation of Ecuador (FIPSE), as they begin a journey in vindicating their organizational structure and vision. For the Shuar leaders, the answer to this question is that both the Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the by-laws of the Federation exist in order to ensure and promote the “Good Life” of indigenous peoples, on the one hand, and the Shuar people on the other. The new by-laws, known as “Tarimiat Shuara Chichame” by the Shuar people, are understood to be a body of internal agreements that allow the Shuar people to live together according to their own values, principals, and commitments, including the defense and sustainable management of their ancestral territory.

The methodology being used by Fundación Pachamama is focused on working with FIPSE leaders to develop the tools and skills for facilitating intergenerational dialogues about the “Good Life” and what the FIPSE must do to ensure this vision given the changing political, economic, social, and environmental conditions in the region. Thirty Shuar “local facilitators” are currently facilitating local community meetings about how the Shuar pueblo and territory have changed over the last 15 years since the Shuar Federation was formally established (and the current by-laws were approved), as well as what the older, current, and future generations understand to be the Shuar conception of the “Good Life.” One of the most drastic changes has been the increasing pressure on their territory by oil companies, and the simultaneous commitment and clarity of the Shuar to defend their territory, communities, and culture in the face of such threats.

FIPSE plans to present an initial version of its Tarimiat Shuara Chichame during its annual Assembly in April 2008.