The Wao Welcome Mask in the Yasuni (Full Version)

The Waorani are Amerindians from the Amazonian Region of Ecuador (Napo, Orellana and Pastaza Provinces) who have marked differences from other ethnic groups from Ecuador. The entire Yasuni Biosphere Reserve region is ancestral Waorani territory, which extends from the Napo River on the north and west, down to the Curaray River in the south and eastward into Peru (map). This vast territory, which stretches over 20 000 km2, underlies the current limits of Yasuni National Park and the Waorani Ethnic Reserve Information on Waorani history and distribution prior to the twentieth century is scarce and speculative The Waorani were traditionally a highly mobile, semi-nomadic population of hunter-gatherer horticulturalists. They lived in four warring and widely dispersed groups located on hilltops away from major rivers; the headwaters of the Tiputini River constituted the core of ancestral Waorani territory. Other indigenous groups, mainly the Zaparos, lived along the Tiputini and Curaray rivers in essence surrounding the Waorani. When the Zaparos were suddenly decimated by disease and violent displacement during the rubber boom that hit the region in the late 1800s, the Waorani were able to expand their territory northward to the Napo and southward to the Upper Curaray and Villano rivers. Waorani territory likely reached its greatest extent at the beginning of 20th century . At least two lines of evidence suggest that the Waorani were quite isolated, even from other indigenous groups in the area, for a long time:  1. - Their language, Wao Terero (or Wao Tededo), is an isolated one without known congeners and with only two known cognates at the time of missionary contact in the late 1950s Wao Terero is considered unique in linguistic construction, with no known similarities with Zaparoan phonology or structure. 2. - The genetic homogeneity of The Waorani also points to a lengthy isolation of their population.