Domingo Peas is from the Achuar nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Domingo has been working for more than twenty-five years as a leader of the Achuar nation and as a leader of CONFENIAE, the confederation of all indigenous people in Ecuador’s Amazon region.
As a child, Domingo had to leave his rainforest community and move to the city with his mother in order to go to school and get an education. Being away from his family and community was hard on him. And it instilled in him a determination to protect his culture and provide education and development opportunities in Achuar communities.
Along with his uncle, Domingo played a key role in 1991 in creating the first governing organization that united and represented all of the Achuar people in Ecuador. That organization, now known as NAE, helps defend their territory and ensure that their forests remain pristine. It also works to preserve Achuar culture and ensure their right to self-determination.
Domingo learned from his father the importance of making alliances, as that was needed to deal with the internal conflicts and wars of the past. Domingo saw that in order to protect their rainforest and culture, the Achuar would need to make alliances with the outside world. This was the realization that opened the way for the partnership with Pachamama Alliance.
The partnership with Pachamama Alliance started in 1995. Domingo says, “Co-founder Bill Twist became a true friend of the Achuar, and with his team, has created an international connection between the rainforest and the outside world. Before that, the indigenous communities were very closed, now they have opened to the world and have national and international visibility.”
Domingo says that he and the Achuar people feel strengthened by their partnership with Pachamama Alliance and by being a part of a global community of change-makers all working toward the same vision.
Pachamama Alliance has since supported Domingo in many projects in Achuar territory. Domingo helped to create schools inside Achuar communities with books and materials in the Achuar language so they wouldn’t have to travel to outside cities where they could lose their culture and language. Since having Achuar schools, Domingo says he sees that young people value their culture more and see the importance of preserving the rainforest.
Domingo has also worked with others in his community of Sharamentsa to implement sustainable development projects such as a water purification system, solar panels, and an ecolodge and tourism project. The Sharamentsa ecolodge is one of the first projects recognized by Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism as an official Community Tourism Center.
Now, Domingo is playing a leading role in the collaborative effort to permanently protect the Sacred Headwaters region of the Amazon rainforest, which spans Achuar and other indigenous territories in Eastern Ecuador and Northern Peru.
Domingo has had many opportunities to travel globally as a representative and ambassador for his people. He has seen the effects of the modern world’s culture of more, and hopes that this culture can be shifted. “It’s time to think of the common good,” he says. “I hope that in the future, people will work in harmony and understand the importance of the forest and river basins that give life.”
“We should manage our ecosystem and economy, looking for sustainable methods of development. We should be sensitive, generous, and in solidarity. We are not just passengers on Earth. We are custodians and should create a great history so no one could blame us for what we have done.”