Who We Are
Iyarina is a research station in the Ecuadorian Amazon with primary strengths in the Humanities and secondary strengths in the Life Sciences. It is located in a Kichwa speaking community on the South bank of the Río Napo with extension campuses in the Waorani territory on the Río Nushino and Curaray. For over 20 years Iyarina has housed the Andes and Amazon Field School where over 200 graduate FLAS Fellows (Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships from the US Department of Education) from more than 40 universities have received intensive language training in Amazonian Kichwa, Achuar or Wao Terero.
We envision a future in which many indigenous people can work productively from their biodiverse territories connecting virtually to others who fill positions of leadership in regional universities and government. From there they serve as bridges to facilitate a green economy of exchange with global institutions some of which are also run by people informed by indigenous values. To varying degrees all three groups will have increasingly complex identities which we hope will be shaped and informed by traditional Amazonian knowledge, creativity. Out of this synergism will come solutions to the problems we cannot yet imagine.
To this end, our mission is to foster high quality research and education on the Ecuadorian Amazon at the intersection of indigenous knowledge and science. Together we seek to interpret and preserve the culture and environment of the region and to find practical solutions for a sustainable future.
Name and Logo
The name of the station,"Iyarina," (ee-yah-ree-nah), is a Kichwa word that means to think by looking out at the land and remembering what has happened there; and from this remembering to envision the emerging future. This act of remembering lies at the heart of our efforts to record and preserve Amazonian tradition as a resource for the future. Our logo, the Iluku bird (ee-loo-koo) represents this way of remembering. According to tradition the acts of creation separated Ilucu (Nyctibius grandis) from her lover who became the moon. When the moon comes up she remembers him and cries. When people hear her plaintive sound they too remember the historical separations and sacrifices that have made our present world a habitable and convivial place.
Iyarina was founded by Tod Swanson and Josefina Andi in 1999. Josefina is from the Kichwa community where the station is located. Her husband Tod came to the Ecuadorian Amazon in 1961 where is father served Kichwa, Shuar, and Waorani communities as a physician. After graduating from high school in Quito, Swanson received a BA in linguistics from the University of Minnesota and a PhD from the University of Chicago. In founding Iyarina, Andi and Swanson had 2 goals. One was to better preserve the languages, culture, and environment of the Ecuadorian Amazon by integrating traditional knowledge and the sciences; the other was to provide employment to members of Josefina's extended family and community as an alternative to extraction and migration