Encompassing 6100 km of some of the most biologically rich lowland rainforest in the world, the Huaorani Ethnic Reserve has been a battleground of ideals for the past half century. Trapped somewhere between the ancient world and the modern, the Huaorani people have been the poster children of conflict between big industry and traditional values and the subject of mainstream religion versus ... read more
indigenous knowledge. Speaking a linguistic isolate, the Huao were hunter gatherers until their first contact with the modern world in the 1950's. Since then, their way of life has seen an onslaught of Christian missionaries and Texan oil barons seeking to bring their souls, culture and territory into the 21st Century. Today, while still supporting oil extraction and missionary influence, the territory is recognized by the Ecuadorian government as a discreet cultural reserve that is largely self-governed. Bisected by the Auca road running south from the town of Coca, today's Huaorani live in settled villages around oil airstrips, deep in the Amazonian forest. Other sub-groups, including the Tagaeri, the Huiñatare, the Oñamenane, and two groups of the Taromenane – have rejected all contact with the outside world and continue to roam more isolated areas.