Declaration by the Indigenous Peoples of the World Ayahuasca Conference 2019

Picture credit: Jethro Tanner

The third World Ayahuasca Conference, held in Girona, Spain, was a magical gathering of scientists, shamans and artists. The conference heard hundreds of talks across dozens of disciplines, complete with music, art and workshops.

What stood out for many was the representation of indigenous peoples at the conference. The Western ayahuasca movement has been guilty of cultural insensitivity in the past, and this promises to be a continuing problem as the globalization of ayahuasca spreads. So hearing from ayahuasca elders, and having their voices at the forefront of the conference, was high on the agenda.

The Indigenous Declaration

At the closing of the conference, representatives of a number of Amazonian cultures made a statement about the threats to their habitats, and the need for sensitivity around the Western use of ayahuasca.

The signatories of the declaration were members of the Ashaninka, Awajun, Huni Kuin, Inga, Kashinawa, Puyanawa, Sapara, Shipibo and Yawanawa peoples of the Amazon Basin, and the regional organizations COICA and UMIYAC.

These are the main points of their statement, in summary:

  • Denouncing government actions in Amazonian territories that lead to the destruction of the land, the removal of human rights, and the deaths of environmental activists.
  • Demanding an end to construction projects that would destroy Amazonian ecosystems, such as the Transoceanic Railroad.
  • Recognizing the struggle that indigenous women face in highly misogynist societies.
  • Honoring ancestral knowledge, particularly of the original practitioners of ayahuasca.
  • Rejecting indiscriminate commercialization of ayahuasca.
  • Rejecting unethical ayahuasca practices that go against the teachings of Amazonian wisdom keepers.
  • Calling for a gathering of Amazonian spiritual authorities.
  • Calling for the creation of a global alliance to fight climate change, and protect the basic rights of the Earth and all living beings.

The statement is endorsed by ICEERS and Amazon Watch, and was a highly meaningful and well-received way to end the World Ayahuasca Conference 2019.

What Does This Mean For Us?

The points of the statement are wide-reaching and straightforward, but may leave us wondering how we can implement them in our lives.

On a wider societal level, this means understanding how our behaviors are impacting the Earth, and what we as individuals and local communities can do to address the climate crisis.

Specifically regarding ayahuasca, this statement is relevant to us Westerners in how we conduct ourselves around ayahuasca and other sacred plant medicines:

As the psychedelic plant medicine movement grows, we will find ourselves encountering these issues more starkly, and we will be forced to evolve.

It’s better that we start listening to indigenous voices now, than have to catch up further down the line.

About Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith is a biologist and writer who has been working in the psychedelic community for several years. Twitter: @rjpatricksmith

2 Comments

  1. Francesco! on September 10, 2020 at 5:50 am

    Everything is nice In this article and finally more correct but after all this reading you guys need to acknowledge that your adverts selling all these westernised products it’s really indiscriminate ayahuasca commercialisation, you guys are the first need to stop!

    • Patrick Smith on September 13, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Francesco, thanks for your concern, and we believe that it’s important we receive this criticism where it’s deserved. We believe that we only advertise products that come from indigenous peoples who are fairly reimbursed for their medicines. Sacred reciprocity is very important to us. If you’d like more information please get in touch through our contact form.

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