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 Waorani campuses 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.
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.
The mission of the Andes and Amazon Field School is to provide quality in-country education on the Ecuadorian Amazon in a safe and comfortable setting. Each summer we bring together a top group of academic and indigenous experts for 8 weeks of learning and research. Together with students we seek to interpret and preserve the culture and environment of the region and to find practical solutions for a sustainable future. During the rest of the year Iyarina serves as a base for individual graduate thesis field work, funded faculty research projects, Fulbright and sabbatical research.
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, Iluku (ee-loo-koo) the represents Iyarina as this act 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.