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Aché Djawu (The Aché Word)

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The Aché indigenous people in Paraguay has had a challenging past and present with much of this difficult history stemming from land rights issues. During the 20th century, the Aché suffered through a tragic genocide, and went through a targeted removal from their lands, which resulted in thousands of deaths, refugees, and kidnappings that dwindled their population to only 350. However, they have been slowly rebuilding and continuing their struggles to protect their territory. Now totaling approximately 1500 members across six communities in Northern and Eastern Paraguay, their rich history and culture often is overshadowed by these dark days in the Ache's recent history.

For the past five years, Tamara Migelson and other local multimedia artists, filmmakers, and designers have been accompanying these Aché communities by documenting their daily way of life and traditional customs. They helped establish the Center of Culture and Communication, which has produced a series of documentary films, books, and photography exhibits that has helped show a different side of the Aché people to the rest of the country. Members of these communities took a great interest in telling their own stories, and now with the availability of internet in each of the six communities: Chupa Pou, Kuetuvy, Arroyo Bandera, Ypetimi, Puerto Barra, and Cerro Morotí, there is an opportunity for the Aché to take a more participatory role in producing this material for a national, regional, and global audience.

Puerto Barra Community – Photo by Francisco Kandegi

The project will identify several young people from each of the six communities to take part in intensive skills-building workshops in the use of blogs, digital photography and video, as well as social networking. The workshops will take place in the capital city of Asunción, and the hope is that these young people will eventually become local resources for others when they return home. They will tell the stories of their communities, record stories from their elders, and provide news about some of the ongoing social challenges facing their people. In addition to being able to communicate with a wider audience through digital media, these six communities will also be able to connect with one another despite being separated by hundreds of kilometers in order to share their struggles and celebrate their successes.