Since the massive displacement caused by the rubber boom and slave trade in the late 19th century, the Siona nationality in Ecuador has been split into three regions: Aguarico, Cuyabeno and Putumayo, with each facing a myriad of threats to the survival of their territories and cultures. Their population numbers approximately 400 people sparsely settled in several communities. The Siona communities of the Putumayo region, Wisuya and Buenavista, are ecaorganized, resistant to extractive industries, and firm in their vision for conserving their territory and maintaining their ancestral culture. The last remaining Siona taitas, or shamans, live in these communities. Yet for years oil companies on both the Ecuadorian and Colombian sides of the border have utilized relentless pressure and deceitful tactics in an effort to gain access to the Siona’s oil rich territory. Further south, the Siona along the Aguarico live in a 20,000-hectare plot surrounded by oil operations, African Palm plantations, colonist land invaders, and roads. And to the east, within one of the world’s most biodiverse rainforests, the Siona of Cuyabeno lost their ancestral territory to appropriation by the Ecuadorian government and now primarily work as guides, porters and cooks in a tourism industry owned by outsiders. This influx of tourism, while providing income to local Siona, has precipitated rapid cultural loss, including the loss of the Siona language amongst youth.
Digital Democracy is supporting the four Siona communities in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve who are organizing to monitor poaching, deforestation and other illegal activities within the Reserve. Dd’s role involves training and technical development in mapping and monitoring technologies, while Amazon Frontlines and Alianza Ceibo provide ongoing local accompaniment and strategic support to the community teams and their leaders. In the Aguarico area, Dd is supporting and strengthening the work and evidence of the Siona guardia in Cuyabeno. Mapeo is being used as a tool to gather evidence of new poaching activities, or other land invasions or illegalities.