Combining Traditional Knowledge and Science
The Iyarina team is directed by Tod D. Swanson and Josefina Andi with a loyal staff of Kichwa community members who have worked together for over 30 years, most of whom are members of the Andi Ayllu, Josefina's relatives. Beginning in the year 2000 They began teaching intensive summer Kichwa and later Achuar and Wao Tedero Language classes for American graduate students funded by Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships from the US Department of Education. In time it became the go-to place for most PhD candidates working on the Ecuadorian Amazon. To date some 240 FLAS Fellowships to graduate students from over 40 universities have been awarded for the Andes and Amazon Field School. In the early years a number of prominent scholars came as visiting lecturers including Frank Salomon, Norman Whitten, Regina Harrison, Lev Michael, and Dennis McKenna. Dennis introduced Juan Ruiz to the team. Juan is a storied Forestry Engineer with vast experience in Amazonian forest management.
The alumni of this program are now the leading future of teaching and research on the Ecuadorian Amazon. Prominent among these was Janis Nuckolls. Early Kichwa teachers included Nina Kinti Moss and Luz Maria de la Torre. The early years of the Field School created a magnet around which other key players coalesced. Pieter Muysken spent the summers of 2017, 2018 and 2019 in residence contributing greatly to our work. During these years Swanson and Nuckolls focussed their research on better understanding the Kichwa social relation to nature. This led to the integration of top traditional experts from Pastaza, Luisa Cadena, Delicia Dagua, Estela Dagua, Eulodia Dagua and Bélgica Dagua joining the team. This, in turn led to the creation of a top configuration of resources on traditional indigenous forest knowledge which included a top working team as well as videos and articles.
In 2017 David Manuel Navarrete, Associate Prof of Sustainability joined our team with grant that allowed the creation of two extension campuses in the Waorani Territory Gomataon on the Nushino and Geyepare on the Curaray. David later found other funding to work on a solar canoe. About the same time Prof. William Balée of Tulane began collaborating with the Iyarina, invited by three alumni who had become his PhD students. Drawn by the Iyarina infrastructure in indigenous knowledge a team led by PI Lori Richardson with Lee Dyer and Swanson as Co-PI's were awarded a 5 year NSF, Rules of Life. In 2020 Robert Bellucci a retired artist from the Bay Area made generous donations to create the Kwasarik Sacha project which seeks to create ahiper productive food
Elizabeth Swanson Andi
President, Audio Visual Storyteller, Project Coordinator.
Pamela Tapuy Grefa
Executive President and Business Manager
Co-Founder, Director of Kitchen Staff
Associate Prof. Arizona State University; Senior Scholar, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. Member UN Science Panel for the Amazon
Belgica Dagua Toqueton
Andowa & Kichwa Nationality
Elodia Dagua Toqueton
Andowa & Kichwa Nationality
Elder and leader of Iyarina's Gomataon extension. Environmentalist and Waorani sovreignty activist.
Ahuani (Betty) Enomenga