Angel Conservation
CULTURAL IDENTITY
While technological civilizations withdraw further and further from the responsibility of caring for our fragile planet and seek barren worlds in infinite space, the most coveted natural resource, the wisdom of the elders who have existed for a millennium by the simplest means and with the most profound connection to the world around them, remains unexplored.

In the case of the Kamarakoto, the same principle that allows them to remain intricately connected to the natural world reflects in every one of their cultural expressions, for example:
  • The paintings on their bodies and faces created to protect them from the spirits that live in the mountains, or when fishing, to attract specific kinds of fish.
  • The magical songs they sing to heal sicknesses, which they believe are a result of a split between body and spirit.
  • Their respect for the moriche palm, which they call "tree of life", because it gives them materials for their baskets, shoes and roofs, and two of their favorite dishes: hearts of palm and moriche worm.
The cultural identity of the Kamarakotos, along with the few other indigenous civilizations that still maintain their primordial identities intimately tied to their physical context, is in danger of extinction or of complete assimilation by contemporary civilization.

Fundación Etnika / Angel Conservation aims to research, organize and divulge the culture of the Kamarakotos with two fundamental objectives in mind:
a. To support and aid them in their quest to reclaim their cultural identity, which is ingrained in the minds of the elders of the tribe.
b.

To regain what our own civilization has lost: the sense of oneness and reciprocity with our physical context and the wisdom that derives from it.

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE RE-ORGANIZATION OF THE CULTURAL IDENTITY OF THE KAMARAKOTOS
Five requirements are of utmost importance in the re-organizing of the cultural identity of the Kamarakotos:
  • To identify and document the history of the tribe which, to their knowledge, has never been researched or written down.
  • To gather and document the essential elements of their culture in a clear and cohesive way that guarantees its perpetuation and to insure the passing down of the knowledge to the future generations of the tribe.
  • To integrate the essential elements of the Kamarakoto culture into forms of sustainable tourism — the only available source of income for the Kamarakotos at the present time.
  • To compile and propagate among the Kamarakotos the history of the explorers, photographers, writers and scientists who penetrated the area of Angel Falls for the first time in a systematic way during the mid 20th Century, and who broadcast the treasures of their discoveries to the world. The Kamarakotos know next to nothing about the objectives, procedure or outcomes of those expeditions in their land, or of the personalities who realized them.
  • To combine the two histories — the history of the Kamarakotos and the history of the explorers of Angel Falls — into one coherent history, understandable to the Kamarakotos as well as to the international community. This process will prove to be invaluable in the restructuring of the cultural identity that the Kamarakotos project to the outside, as well as enriching the limited view contemporary societies have of what has been designated as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Etnika Foundation / Angel Conservation aims to compile and research the information necessary to achieve the re-organization of the cultural identity of the Kamarakotos by means of a process where the Kamarakotos themselves will compile the information and participate in its documentation. With this objective in mind we are proposing several programs.
 
PROGRAMS INITIATIVES
The Cultural Programs proposed by Fundación Etnika / Angel Conservation are divided in two stages:
Stage 1:
  1. Video documentation.
  2. Art and music workshops.
  3. Publication of an historic book.
  4. Publication of "River of Gold" by Jimmie Angel’s niece – Karen Angel.
  5. Documentation of a collection of artifacts.
  6. Compilation and delivery to the Kamarakotos of written, photographed or otherwise recorded material about their culture and history.
Stage 2:
  1. The creation of a Cultural Center in the Kamarata Valley.
 

WOMEN OF THE FALLS - ESSAY

“Women of the Falls” is an experimental documentary. It follows Hortensia Berti, a Pemón woman, as she goes from village to village in the Amazon jungle, asking the elders of her tribe about her great-grandfather, Chief Alejo Calcaño.

As a child Calcaño was chosen from among the Pemón children to be raised and educated in the white man’s world, later to return and teach his people. He left a series of teachings the Pemón live by, which have never been written down and are dying with the elders. These teachings were meant to save the Pemón culture from being absorbed by the outside world.

The Pemón inhabit the oldest rock formation on earth, where Angel Falls, the highest waterfall on earth, is located. It is a magical and prehistoric terrain of monolithic mesas jutting out of the jungle floor, carved into a myriad of caves, laced with waterfalls. The caves are sacred for the Pemón, although today, they have become adventure tourism sites.

Hortensia manages a camp for tourists, at the foot of Auyántepui, which houses Angel Falls. In her interactions with people of faraway places she finds the history of her people written down and documented by explorers, photojournalists, anthropologists – people her tribe watched passing by, welcomed, portaged their expeditions, but never had the means to understand their quests or activities.

The film is structured as Hortensia’s letter to the world. On the one hand, she tells the world about her culture, her people, her land, and her great-grandfather. On the other, she tells her own people the stories she has heard from the elders about her great-grandfather, about their history, and about the cultural elements of their culture that are disappearing, as well as the stories she has gathered from visitors from around the world. She puts together a puzzle of information where each culture has its place and the Pemón heritage is rescued and honored.

As the film progresses, Hortensia becomes involved in the making of it. By the end, she is sitting at the laptop computer speaking her voice-overs into the software, headphones on, deft on the keyboard, embodying the bridging of cultures, an ambassador of her people to the world.

 

To date this documentary has been virtually privately funded with contributions from individuals. In order to expedite its completion we would be pleased to invite individuals and indeed organizations to contribute to this extraordinary piece of history in the making.

Who can I contact? Contact information can be found by going to the home page and clicking on “Support Our Efforts” or “Contact Us”.

 
 
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