Research Projects

The Achuar Project

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD

Dreaming for the Community Amongst the Indigenous People of the Amazon

Status: Complete

Through this project, we aimed to learn new ways of bridging Western rational and objective ways of knowing with indigenous intuitive and unitive ways of knowing. IONS contracted Achuar students as research assistants in this dream sharing project, to coordinate and transcribe the collected materials. The research goals were  to understand the dream sharing processes of the Achuar and Huaorani Indians of the Ecuadorian Amazon and to examine ways in which consciousness circulates through a culture of discourse that both reflects and creates social order.

The objectives were 1) to document the role of dream-sharing, 2) to identify ways in which each individual’s dreams are interpreted by the group, and how consensus and shared meaning is established, 3) to examine culturally meaningful themes and how these tribes construct the relationship between inner and outer experience, especially in light of the rapid cultural change, 4) to analyze how these tribes convert subjective experience into collective action, 5) to learn what the Achuar and Huaorani peoples see as important components in our efforts to create a new dream for the people of the North which will support their maintaining a healthy rainforest home.

The focus of the project was to provide a detailed description of the Achuar view of reality through a study of dream sharing practices and use of plant medicines. The goal was to gain a clear understanding of how night dreaming and visioning with plant medicines interfaces with Achuar daily life, how it changes over time, who uses the dreaming and visioning practices, who does not use them and what this tells us about the worldview of the Achuar.

Key Collaborator(s): Pachamama Alliance, Universidad Amazonica en Puyo

We would like to acknowledge the following for supporting this project:  Harriet Crosby, Sharon Huggs, and Sandra Wright, Dreaming for the Community Amongst the Indigenous People of the Amazon

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