250 in Ecuador
100 in Peru
|Regions with significant populations|
|Quechua, Spanish, Záparo|
The Sápara (formerly Zápara or Záparos) are a South American ethnic group indigenous to the Amazon rainforest, along the border of Ecuador and Peru. They once occupied some 12,000 mi² between the Napo River and the Pastaza. Early in the 20th century, there were some 200,000 Zapara. From the year 2009 on the Ecuadorian Zápara call themselves Sápara. The official name is Nación Sápara del Ecuador (NASE). It means Sápara Nation of Ecuador. The president of this nation from September 2009 until September 2013 is Bartolo Alejandro Ushigua Santi also known as Manari Kaki Ushigua Santi or Manari Kaji Ushigua Santi. The Sápara Nation was officially registered by CONDENPE – the Council of Development of the nationalities and peoples of Ecuador – on September 16, 2009. The new name and organisation are results of a unification process with other indigenous communities which called themselves Záparos or Záparas as well. There was a conflict between these different groups about their real authentic ethnic identity in the last years of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. With this unification this conflict seems to be solved. CONDENPE confirms as well officially the legal status of autonomy or self-government of the Sápara Nation of Ecuador N.A.S.E. and confirms their territory between the rivers Pindoyacu, Conambo and Alto Corrientes (Upper River) in the province of Pastaza. It is confirmed as well that the head office of NASE is the city of Puyo, Pastaza.
The name Sápara is also a result of the fact that the alphabetic character Z does not exist in the alphabet of the Sáparas. This is an information of Bartolo Ushigua Santi from December 10, 2009. He wrote that this fact is a result of investigations about the grammar of the Sápara language made by the Sápara Board of Education Bilingual – Dirección de Educación Bilingüe Sápara (DIENASE). They found out that the alphabet of the Sáparas ended with the character W.
They ate palm hearts as their main vegetable and they fished the many rivers of their jungle home. Using blowguns and bamboo darts, they hunted tapirs, peccaries, wood-quail, and curassows. They did not hunt spider monkeys because they believed them to be their ancestors. The 20th century demand for rubber lead to the destruction of much of their jungle (and the animals who lived in it) and the enslavement of the people. The men were forced as slaves to cultivate rubber. The women and girls were raped and forced into sexual slavery.
Their numbers dwindled precipitously to the point where there are fewer than 300 remaining and only a handful who speak their native language. Most speak Quichua, some speak a patois of Kichwa and Záparo. The oldest surviving Zápara is a woman, about 70 years old, Ana Maria Santi. She refuses to drink alcoholic chicha or to eat spider monkey meat, which most Zápara now hunt and eat because they can get no other meat. To Ana Maria, this seems cannibalistic. "When we are down to eating our ancestors, what is left?" She and her family live in the hamlet of on the river, home to some forty people, about a seventh of what remains of their nation.
- In 2001, their population numbered no more than 300 (200 in Ecuador and 100 in Peru), of whom only five, all aged over 70, still speak the Záparo language.
- Anne-Gael Bilhaut, 2011, El sueño de los Záparas. Patrimonio onírico de un pueblo de la Alta Amazonía, Quito (Abya Yala & Flacso Ecuador)
- The Oral Heritage and Cultural Manifestations of the Zápara People. Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, UNESCO.
- Alan Weisman, The World Without Us.
"Talking with Fish and Birds – The Záparo Indians in the Ecuadorian Jungle", documentary, a film by Rainer Simon (1985 Golden Bear at the International Berlin Film Festival and GDR critics' award for the feature film "THE WOMAN AND THE STRANGER"), Director of Photography: Frank Sputh, Germany 1999, 43 minutes, A Simon/Sputh-Production, www.franksputh.agdok.de
A Message of Bartolo Alejandro Ushigua Santi – the president of the Sápara Nation of Ecuador – in Spanish with the title “Becario Zapara ONU 2007 – Ecuador” you can find in YouTube, June 2007, 2 minutes
- German state TV documentary featuring Zapara in detail.