|Saturday - May 11, 2002
BENKI, the representative of the Amazonian indigenous people ASHANINKA held a speech about the struggle for cultural survival of his people.
Benki spoke about certain religions that claim to be the only possible way to relate with God and achieve salvation. In some cases this attitude contributes to the cultural degradation of indigenous peoples. " we respect all other cultures and religions, but we expect them to respect ours as well."
The need to preserve biodiversity was also a concern: "when mother earth has no life, then we will have neither. So when we need to cut a tree, we plant another in its place. We have to take care of it as if it was our child, respecting nature."
Benki pointed out the resentment about the US patent of Ayahuasca, a traditional drink used for ritual and healing purposes by his people. " ...this shows the lack of consciousness and respect for other cultures ."
Currently the Ashaninka are making efforts to help also other ethnic groups with the preservation of their cultures, discussing with them the significance of preservation.