Huottüja Foundation


Huottüja Foundation

To ensure that the Huottüja culture, ethnic identity, indigenous knowledge, language, self-determination, territory and traditions are acknowledged, preserved, recognized and respected globally, not only by Governments, but by all peoples.

About the Huottüja Foundation

International non-governmental, non-state and non-profit organization founded by leaders of Piaroa villages located in Colombia and Venezuela. The Foundation is dedicated to the progress, promotion, protection and preservation of Huottuja (Piaroa) culture, customs, heritage, independence, indigeneity, knowledge, language, sovereignty, territory, traditions, and way of life as an aboriginal autonomous people of the Northern Amazon (Guiana Highlands) and Orinoco River watersheds within the countries of Colombia and Venezuela.

Piaroa Nation until the 20th Century

The Huottuja have lived with the Spanish influence since 1758 with the establishment of the San Fernando de Atabapo by Doctor José Solano. The influences that followed were explorers, military forces, missionaries, scientists, researchers and land speculators which began when San Fernando de Atabapo became the capital of the Amazonas territory in Venezuela.

Today this area has been reduced to almost less than half, from 33,000 square kilometers to about 15,000, based on the constant encroachment and unsustainable development objectives of the national government since 1924.

This map reflects the original territory occupied by the Huottuja from prehistory until the 20th Century according to researchers Freire and Zent.

Known as Huottöja, Üwotjüja, Wothuha, most properly written Huǫttųją or Huottüja, also known as the De'aruhua or De'aruwa, or universal phonetics Wötʰïhä or De'atʰïhä; are the "Guardians and People of the Forest."

Geographic map of the Huottuja (Piaroa Nation)

Fig. 1 Regional distribution of the Piaroa
Source: Freire and Zent, Los Piaroa, 2007

Piaroa Heritage & Sovereignty

Since the 1930's the Huottuja people have become subjects of the state under several different national constitutions, with the establishment of Puerto Ayacucho the nation-state government of Venezuela has eroded away the approximately half of our original nation. At one point from the 1950's until 1970's the Piaroa were considered "campesinos" under the owners of large tracts of land.

The shaded area is the understood delineated territory based on how much the government has pushed our back against our territorial region. Under the Indigenous Peoples Laws of Venezuela in 2004 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that the Piaroa behold their sovereign rights to their territory and their right to self-determination.

In 2022, the shaded area will begin the application process for consideration as a World Heritage Site and to receive additional protection under UNESCO. Patrons and sponsors are being sought now.

There are no roads in the traditional territory, there are many unmarked trails and rivers that facilitate travel. To visit the shaded area with a backpack as a guest a person must have a valid passport, make a customs declaration, provide a donation to the foundation, and sign a recreational use agreement waiver. Visas are issued for 30, 60 or 90 days based on the amount of the donation, party size and customs declaration.

Reduced Traditional Territory of the Piaroa

Fig. 2 Traditional (Reduced) Piaroa Territory

Who are the Huottuja?

Historically the Piaroa are known as the most peaceful naturally established society (nation or tribe) in South America, we are on the Peaceful Societies List along with the Amish and the Hutterites who are very well-known for their non-offensive disciplined traditional lifestyles in North America.

Our pacifism and humility has contributed greatly to the illegal entry into the Piaroa Nation and reduction of our territory. Traditionally the Huottüja are a decentralized anarchist society composed of 150+ villages with just as many community leaders.

Locally we are known to other indigenous tribes as the knowledgeable ones and the masters or guardians of the forest.

Resources

The Huottuja of the Catañiapo River Watershed have taken it upon themselves to form organizations, demarcate their territory, run-off paramilitary threats and recover their indigenous heritage notwithstanding the national government. Photo: Lander Altuve, Prensa ULA

Foundation Purposes

The Huottuja Foundation (in formation) is located in the northernmost extreme of the Piaroa Nation because of the economic sanctions and sociopolitical instability in Venezuela since 2013. The foundation is being developed to protect the Piaroa culture, customs, futures and traditions in an uncertain destiny as a people that have been under fire and being torn apart by the government and military with dozens of incidents over the past several years resulting in their marginalization and dismantling of our communities and ways of life which will always remain under threat.

The foundation is established to safeguard our forest based resources, engage communities with international interests to provide ecosystem services, attract commerce for agroforestry products, ensure fair dealing between parties and to allow our members to interact with the international community abroad to create a point of resistance where we can market art, craftwork, medicinal plants, sustainable agricultural production and promote ecotourism using our name.

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About our Website

The information presented on our website is based on accountable and factual investigative research and first hand accounts by both Huottüja natives who have been educated in universities and independent third-parties that have published their work in social sciences, biodiversity, human ecology and ethnocultural studies.

Legal Notice: The Huottüja Foundation reserves all rights to publish or republish text, diagrams, photographs, videos and news articles focused on our ethnic group; all intellectual property including indigenous knowledge, names, terms, words, marks, artwork, crafts, designs, drawings, cooking recipes, medicinal formulas, costumes, clothing styles, trade names and ideas belong exclusively to the Huottüja Foundation and the people of the Piaroa Nation which are protected under law by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Indigenous intellectual property rights relate to the legal rights to protect specific such property, which includes cultural knowledge of their groups, aspects of their cultural heritage in the visual arts, literature, and performing arts, as well as science and traditional medicines. To better understand our legal rights to our artwork, ideas, intellectual property, knowledge, and trademarks please see WIPO Leaflet 12 on Indigenous Peoples.