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Spirit of the Huaorani – Photographs by Pete Oxford

“In the end, we will conserve that which we love. We will love that which we understand. And we will understand that which we are taught.”

These words, spoken by Baba Dioum, a Huaorani Indian from Ecuador, reveals his community’s deeply held holistic view of the world. The Huaorani (pronounced wow-raan-ee and means ‘people’ ) live deep in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, but an ever expanding world driven by short term gain has threatened their very existence. Ecuador is a large oil exporter and the Huaorani’s ancestral land holds vast quantities of oil, but they have no rights to the riches beneath their territory.

Photographer Pete Oxford has lived with and documented this intriguing community. He discovers the secrets to their sustainable living, while learning about their unusual diet and cultural rituals. This community of people, rarely glimpsed by outsiders, is presented here in a fascinating and beautifully photographed portfolio which culminated in the recent publication of his book, Spirit of the Huaorani.

Huaorani Indian hunting Large terrestrial game (peccary or tapir) with a lance made from the stem of a palm tree. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indians waiting for light aircraft coming into the Huaorani Indian community. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian, Boya Apika and his child. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian woman fishing with home made net made from chambira palm fibres. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Photographer Pete Oxford with a group of Huaorani Indians. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian carrying home a White-lipped peccary that he hunted with his lance made from a palm trunk. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Photographer Pete Oxford with a group of Huaorani Indians. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indians in motor canoe. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Houses seen from the air; simple structures built directly on the ground with a frame made from thin branches covered with palm leaves. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Houses seen from the air; simple structures built directly on the ground with a frame made from thin branches covered with palm leaves. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indians butchering a peccary which they will either boil or smoke. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian burning the hair off of a peccary before cutting it up to either boil or smoke it. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian with a White-lipped peccary. The women and children are petting the peccary to pay homage to the hunted animal. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian man making poisonous Curare tipped darts. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indians using banana leaves as umbrellas to shelter from the rain. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani eating in their house. The meat is chopped up and placed on banana leaves on the floor. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian woman outside her home made of palm leaves over a frame of branches. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indians walking through forest. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indians making fire. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian child in hammock. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian children playing with pet scarlet macaws (Ara macao). Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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White-throated or Cuvier's Toucans killed for meat by Huaorani Indians. Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian woman with her pet White-bellied Spider Monkey. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian woman making a clay pot. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian woman using clay pot for carrying water from the river. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indians out hunting with their blowguns. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian woman - Dabe Baiwa chopping fire wood. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian women & child, Norma & Romelia Kaiga. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian, Geme Baiwa carrying hunted howler monkeys and coati. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian woman, Ware Baiwa, cooking a woolly monkey. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian woman, Konta Ătamaronko, with stretched ear lobes and painted face. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian, Tage Kaiga, making feather crown. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian, Tage Kaiga, carrying  a woolly monkey he has shot using his blowgun. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani Indian , Ontagamo Kaimo, out hunting with his  blowgun. Gabaro Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani poison blow dart holder made from a piece of bamboo. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani man, Ahua Baiwa, with his blowgun. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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Huaorani man, Ahua Baiwa. Bameno Community, Yasuni National Park, Amazon rainforest, Ecuador, South America.
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