Until the beginning of this century, the entire Ese Ejja population was concentrated on the border between Peru and Bolivia. The first contacts with the Western world seem to occur in the seventeenth century. This type of relationship was maintained until the 19th century and recently, in the first decade of the 20th century, more fluids were contacted from some expeditions of natural scientists and soldiers who explored the Amazon border between Peru and Bolivia. At the end of the second decade of the 20th century, Franciscan priests persuaded a group of Ese Ejja to be part of a mission they ran near Puerto Maldonado (Peru).
This fact begins a permanent relationship between the Ese Ejja, the Western world and large migratory processes. The diseases brought by the whites produce entire epidemics that produce a drastic demographic decline in their population. However, despite this, the characteristics of their culture and social organization continued to be reproduced and only began to change significantly in the mid-1950s, due to the missionaries of the Summer Institute of Linguistics.
Currently the Ese Ejja of the three communities are part of the recent processes initiated by the indigenous organizations of that region. The recognition of their territories, education, improvement of living conditions are their main objectives.
The territorial space occupied by the Ese Ejja indigenous people is characterized by having a humid vegetation typical of a sub-tropical region, with natural forest suitable for agricultural, livestock, forestry, hunting and fishing use. In the lower parts of red and black land, the Ese Ejja sow rice and cassava, also planting sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, cocoa and oranges.
The forest areas accessed by the Ese Ejja have very few natural resources that can be exploited. Chestnut and palmetto trees are scarce. The indiscriminate hunting of loggers. Colonists and others have caused a process of extinction of the fauna of the area.
The culture of this people has undergone notable changes in recent decades. Several of them have occurred due to a gradual abandonment of the itinerant way of life that they traditionally maintained. The communities of Pando are the ones that have been most affected by these changes and, to a lesser extent, the same has happened with the settlements found in La Paz.
The Ese Ejja conceive of four dimensions within their worldview; the first dimension corresponding to the underground world in which unknown people live, the second dimension corresponds to our world. In the third plane dwells the good God or Eyacuiñajji from where the ancestors of the Ese Ejja also come from and finally in the fourth plane are the celestial bodies that are also spirits that have the form of people. Currently, the presence of the Catholic and Evangelical Church is influencing their lives as they venture into the areas of health and education. As for their myths, these are associated with each natural or cultural category that the Ese Ejja grant; thus, Edosiquiana, creator of animals and plants, fulfills a role as a mediator who seeks the balance of energy between humanity and nature.
The economy of the Ese Ejja is based on hunting, fishing and gathering.
Due to the richness of species in the rivers, streams and lagoons, fishing has become the most important source of food for the Ese Ejja people. During the dry season fishing is done in streams, lagoons and ponds; In the rainy season, it is carried out in rivers, using instruments such as hooks, bows and arrows, saloon rifles and harpoons.
In Bolivia, the representatives of the language are found in the regions of La Paz, Beni and Pando. Furthermore, it is divided into two different groups. First, the Quijati group, based in and around the Riberalta region. Second, the Hepahuatahe group found in the Rurenabaque region. We still discover variations and dialects within the language and even more between Peruvian and Bolivian descendants.
mother – enaese
son – Bacua
rain/ water – Ena
tree – Acui
house – Equi
hammock – Quibi
cat – Michi
horse – Mona
chicken – Cachina
food – Bobi
head – Esapa
tooth – Ese
hand – Eme
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