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The Ashaninka are descendants of the peoples who inhabited the mountain slopes east of Cusco. They were called Antis, which gave rise to the name Andes, by which the Spanish came to call the entire mountain range. Their presence was recorded in the history of the fall of the pre- Columbian empire. According to the mestizo writer Garcilazo Inca de La Vega, a cousin of Tupac Amaru, the last Inca, he had already been taken in by his Ashaninka allies, in the Amazon rainforest, when he was captured by the Spanish. For the next five hundred years, the Ashaninka resisted successive attempts to subdue them by catechization or enslavement. Their resistance is clearly expressed in their preserved architecture, in the clothes they wear, and in the organization of family houses, separated from each other by an “agroforest” with food crops. This appeared in detail in the accounts of the first Spanish visitors as early as the 16th century. Its area of occupation stretches from the eastern Andes to the state of Acre. On both sides of the border, there are approximately one hundred thousand Ashaninka, with about two thousand in Brazil. When Mirella Ricciardi visited the community of Apiwtxa in 1990, the Ashaninka were fighting for the demarcation and formal recognition of the Terra Indígena do Rio Amônia [Indigenous Land of Rio Amônia], which they conquered in 1992.

All photos belong to the Vanishing Amazon collection, 1990 Mirella Ricciardi / Vanishing Africa Ltd ©

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