Introduction to the Huottuja Foundation

Commissioned in 2021 by authorized community leaders to ensure that the Huottuja | De'aruhua culture, ethnic identity, knowledge, language, self-determination, territory and traditions are acknowledged, preserved, recognized and respected globally, not only by governments, but by all people and corporations. The Huottuja Foundation represents the well-being of 20,000 people over an area of 33,000+ kilometers. US Law recognizes the Huottuja Foundation an Indigenous Authority notwithstanding its state under Title 22 U.S. Code § 262p–4o capable of protection of the territorial rights, traditional economies, cultural integrity, traditional knowledge and human rights of the Special Indigenous Jurisdiction of the Huottuja People.

Foundation Purposes

The Huottuja Foundation (commission) is grounded offshore (across the river) in the northernmost extreme of the Piaroa Nation in Puerto Carreño, Colombia since September 2021 due to the economic sanctions imposed by the United States against Venezuela in 2019 and the sociopolitical instability in Venezuelan government since 2013 with the expulsion of two Indigenous representatives from the Venezuela National Assembly. The executive council of the Huottuja Foundation (Piaroa Nation) includes a tribal and federal judge (2019) and the heads of several villages in Colombia and Venezuela. The foundation's actual non-political administration (think tank) is a decentralized autonomous organization (international in scope) with Indigenous and non-Indigenous diplomatic officers in 12 countries. Experts, investors, sponsors, students and visitors can express their interests in our culture and territory with free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from our foundation with a MoU (memorandum of understanding) or ABS (access and benefit sharing) agreement.

The foundation's primary objective is to provide equipment, funding, materials and supplies to carry out the objectives of the Huottuja People within their territory. The Huottuja Foundation serves as a sustainable development trust for funding initiatives, missions, programs and projects that engage the Huottuja-De'aruhua people living within our territory in meaningful employment or education opportunities that are permanent in nature (5 years+).

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, military and mining interests with dozens of incidents over the past several years resulting in their marginalization and dismantling of our communities and ways of life which remain under constant 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 economic resilience where we can market art, craftwork, medicinal plants, sustainable agricultural production and promote ecotourism using our name notwithstanding the nation-states of Colombia or Venezuela.

Four shamans
The shaman is among the most popular of our traditional community members, they are the keepers of spirits and interpreters of our cosmogony with the natural world. They are responsible for protecting the community from the evil and the grotesque. (Photo: © Hortimio Ochoa 2019)

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, naturalists, 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 half, from almost 41,000 square kilometers 100 years ago, to about 21,000, 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. (See Fig. 1)

Known as Uwottuja, Huottöja, Wothuha, is most properly written Huottųją (Piaroa) or Huottüja (American English), are also known as the De'aruhua or De'aruwa, or with the universal phonetic alphabet Wötʰïhä or De'atʰïhä; are the "People and Guardians of the Forest." There are many different ethnonyms that are both exonyms and autonyms, or endonyms for our people.

The Piaroa international autonomous and sovereign territory is located mostly within Venezuela and overreaches to Colombia since the 1940's. The Huottuja are not native to Colombia, however since the Colombian state was reconstituted in 1991 our tribe holds legal civil jurisdiction there under law, members of our tribe cross from Venezuela to Colombia without passports. The territory has direct access to the sea by way of the source waters of the Orinoco River, the Piaroa nation understands international maritime and admiralty jurisdiction. Our official language is our own most often referred to as Piaroa, Piaroan, or called Guagua, Quaqua, Adole, Ature, Wo'tiheh. Our legal recognition exists with the Colombian and Venezuela governments through their courts in Castilian Spanish, the Indigenous laws of Venezuela (2004) respect our sovereignty and right to self-determination. Our official language for international non-state relations including business, commerce and tourism is English; our activities, negotiations and relations with our host countries are independent activities in the international theater. See our region on Google Maps.

Geographic map of the Huottuja (Piaroa Nation)

Fig. 1 Original Piaroa Autonomous Territory (PAT)
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 (Venezuela has 23 Constitutions since 1813), 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 illegal government claims giving designated owners of large tracts of land.

The shaded area is the understood as absolute self-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, the Colombian Constitution of 1991 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, the Piaroa behold and maintain their sovereign rights to their territory and their right to self-determination. In 2020 the Huottuja established a Special Legal Jurisdiction and a Court in Las Pavas and expelled armed non-state actors from the Catañiapo River notwithstanding the nation-state or military.

In 2022, the shaded area will begin the application process for consideration as a World Heritage Site and to perhaps receive additional protection under UNESCO as a cultural, natural and scientific landmark which it is. Patrons and sponsors are being sought now to establish a Huottuja cultural center crediting sponsors. A portion of this area is dedicated to provisioning ecosystem services, see the distinction on Google Maps.

The De'aruhua are in actuality, those who live and work in the forest (among us), in general it does not refer to civilized Huottuja that have cars, motorcycles and live in the city or more civilized regions of the territorial area.

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 (Reduced) Piaroa Traditional Territory (PTT)
Birthplace of 9 Navigable Rivers
UNESCO World Heritage Site Proposal

Support the Foundation

You can support the foundation directly, become a member or you can support us by doing business with us. Supporters may be funding a social enterprise, an ecotourism start-up, sponsoring agroforestry production, improving agroeconomics, purchasing carbon sequestration rights (forests), restoring ecosystems, creating a local tourism concession, investing in our infrastructure with bonds or dedicating Indigenous parkland.

Our initial international projects will involve community centers, providing clean drinking water and installing sanitation systems in villages in order to establish long-term international relationships with NGOs and to facilitate tourism accommodation.

Tourists are welcome all year, the laws of ecotourism and Indigenous peoples overlap and conflict in Venezuela and generally the law governing tourism is not recognized within Indigenous territories that are self-governed. There are many facts to be aware of when visiting an enclave territory like that of the Piaroa.

Palm thatch building with 1 adult and 3 children in the forest
Typical Huottuja family dwelling, one room with 2-6 hammocks inside.

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. Permalink resources are displayed where required and from our Resources Page.

The website in general is to promote the Huottüja people, help create economic solutions from within communities, promote business, and ensure that our members are treated fairly, legally and never exploited. The foundation and website is based in actions, deeds, facts, treaties and titles and developed to function as an international embassy for the Piaroa Autonomous Territory (PAT).

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 IP, 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, see WIPO Leaflet 12 on Indigenous Peoples. Our website is sponsored and powered by the Non-State Network operated by Globcal International, the website is presented in English because the founders are seeking endowments, funding from charitable tax-exempt bonds, grants and donations from associations, churches, cities, corporations, embassies, foundations, individuals, international non-governmental organizations and other public charities located in the United States and Europe.