Our Story



The Call of Dreams

In the Achuar worldview, the natural world is expressed through dreams.

Every morning, the shamans interpret the dreams of their people and help them understand their path and their role in the place they live. This connection between the material and the spiritual world maintained a balanced coexistence between nature and Amazonian communities until the middle of the 20th century.

However, since the early 1990s, elders and shamans have revealed in their dreams a great threat to life unfolding in the Amazon.

At the same time, corporations that belong to the “modern” world entered the Amazon jungles without considering the effects their actions would cause; they extracted the resources of this land, which in turn seriously damaged the ecological and cultural riches of the Amazon.

Determined to make these corporations stop contaminating their home, the Achuar reached out to certain people from the modern world to show them the consequences of extracting resources and present them with an alternative path to progress. This is how our foundation was born.


Changing the Dream of the Modern World

Upon receiving the invitation from the Achuar people, co-founders of Pachamama Alliance, Lynne Twist and Bill Twist together with John Perkins, undertook a trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon in search of a different vision of the world.

The indigenous leaders shared their wisdom, explained the meaning of dreams in their culture, and the threats that endangered the preservation of their territories. This meeting set clear goals for The Fundación Pachamama to achieve in the future, changing the dream of the “modern” world.

The Starting Point of our Actions is Defined

We started with an initiative called “Sueños” (“dreams”) that involved children from the Achuar community. In their notebooks, they imprinted the dreams that a group of anthropologists and linguists interpreted to give us a direct vision of their ideals.

During the first five years, we created viable alternatives to protect the Amazon and its communities based on their ideology; we mapped the Achuar Peoples’ settlements and defined where our action plan would begin.


The Expansion of our Efforts

Over the years, we have created bilingual intercultural education and health programs for the indigenous communities.

We also created a new economic alternative for the Amazonian peoples: Ecotourism. This initiative is still active and offers visitors from all over the globe direct contact with the indigenous worldview, providing them with experiences that they can share with the whole world.

ince we supported the self-determination processes of the Achuar peoples, our efforts expanded to include more nationalities in the southern Amazon; such as the Kichwa people of Sarayaku and the nationals of Shuar; this is how we established legal bases and worked on strategic litigation processes to reclaim the rights of the indigenous peoples who inhabit the Ecuadorian Amazon.

In that period, one of our biggest battles began (which is not over yet): the fight for the defense of ancestral and natural rights; in the face of the advance of the extractive industries.


Changing a Dream, Awakening the Dreamer

Together with our sister organization Pachamama Alliance, we developed a set of workshops called “Awakening the Dreamer”. Here, participants come together to learn about the value of ancient wisdom, the effects of our way of life on contemporary crises, and the importance of developing environmentally sustainable human attitudes; that are spiritually satisfying and socially just on the planet.

The “Awakening the Dreamer” symposium exists in 78 countries and has brought more than 4,000 volunteers together who have shared this knowledge in homes, churches, businesses, community centers, and government agencies; thus, generating a substantial impact when it comes to the transformation of the dream of the modern world.

We Created Programs for Female Participation and Climate Justice (2008)

Together with strong and visionary women of the Achuar nationality, we develop maternal-infant and neonatal health programs.

With our support, Ecuador was the first country in the world to constitutionally recognize environmental rights. We proposed public policies that recognize and guarantee comprehensive respect for nature and the restoration of its vital cycles. Even so, the transgressions that turn the Amazonian ecosystems into constant exploitation and affect the environment and the peoples still exist.


A Dark Age

On December 4, 2013, Executive Decree No. 16 got established. This decree happened because of the raid occurring at our offices in Quito, led by the Ministry of Interior. The edict controlled civil society organizations and imposed limitations on the autonomous functioning of NGOs.

The objective of this operation was the dissolution of The Fundación Pachamama. Allegedly, our organization carried out “interfering actions in public policies (…) that threaten the internal security of the State and public peace.”

We spoke out against the injustice of our closure and appealed to all national and international entities about the arbitrary decision of the State.

Terra Mater (2013-2017)

After being closed down, no official structure for the Fundación Pachamama remained in the Ecuadorian territory. As a result, our leaders created an organization called Terra Mater, which has been active in the Ecuadorian Amazon since 2014, empowering and fighting for the rights of the indigenous peoples.

Our efforts did not stop during the transition stage. Without abandoning our responsibilities, we spoke out against the unjust closure of our organization while continuing with our projects for the defense of the territories of nine indigenous federations, developing actions focused on the self-determination of these groups within the Amazonian region, and their future planning.


The Reinstatement of Fundación Pachamama

Although the Foundation was closed down by decree N.16, which, per se, violates the fundamental rights of people to organize, associate freely, and for lawful purposes; we constantly maintained legal actions to demonstrate the arbitrary and unfounded decision of the State.

For this reason, during the government of former President Lenin Moreno, four years after the raid on our offices, the recognition of the historical injustice committed against our organization took place and the restitution of our legal status allowed us to continue working as The Fundación Pachamama; this represented a victory for organized civil society rights in the country.

The Sacred Headwaters Alliance is Born

Since ancient times, indigenous peoples and nationalities have formed alliances to face conflicts threatening their territories; this is how the Sacred Headwaters Alliance was born. Together with several organizations and social groups from Ecuador and Peru, we created an alliance that protects over 35 million hectares inhabited by 600,000 people of more than 30 indigenous nationalities and peoples.

This initiative represents a starting point of a process of substantial ecological transformation in the country and the world; because it recognizes the Amazon as a vital organ of the biosphere – which remains in constant danger due to the destructive legacy of the current “development” model – and confronts governments, companies, and financial institutions that see this region as an exploitable and extractive resource.


The Question That Has Guided Our Actions

What Will the Amazon Look Like in 25 years?

For the past few years, our actions have focused on positively providing answers to this question, providing solutions that counteract the damage to nature, and creating an anchored alternative economic system dependent on values of respect for the land and its inhabitants.

A New Model of Innovation and Collaboration Between the Amazon and the Inhabitants of the World

The Sacred Headwaters Alliance hopes that by 2030, communities and nature will thrive within an economy supportive of inclusive welfare. We dream of a protected region that helps reverse global warming and all the consequences it represents.

The Bioregional Plan works as a route to find a universal future. We want to inspire the world’s citizens to live an ecological transition that is just while eradicating practices that value money over life and land.

We are committed to protecting the indigenous peoples and the Amazonian ecosystem. For this, we are constantly searching for people who understand and share the struggle to build a more respectful, resilient, and equitable world.

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