Siekopai Nation: An Historical Win for the Indigenous Movements

There is a world full of stories that are hard to hear. Yet, sometimes, they take incredible turns and potentially set an example for the future.

Such is the case of the Siekopai Nation: an indigenous population that, to date, counts around seven hundred people who struggle to reclaim access to their ancestors’ lands. Located in the Amazonian forest between Ecuador and Peru, the Siekopais have been forced to confront the violent colonization of their lands from various sources, ranging from the border war between the States to the lack of legal recognition of land ownership.

Specifically, the struggles of the Siekopai have revolved around three main areas: Kokaya in Ecuador, Wajoya in Peru, and Pëkëya. While the territories of Kokaya and Wajoya continue to present challenging issues for the Siekopai Nation, after a long process the Ecuadorian Tribunal of Sucumbíos issued a historic ruling in November 2023.

After being prevented from inhabiting their homeland since the 1940s, the Siekopai Nation has been granted the right to land ownership and administration, as well as the right to public apologies.

The indigenous population has indeed been dispossessed during the border wars. Furthermore, the Ecuadorian state legally established such dispossession in 1979 when unilaterally creating the Cuyabeno Natural Reservoir in Pëkëya. The Siekopais will now be able to enter and administer their land, but most importantly, they can cherish their profound connection with nature and reconnect with their ancestors.

The ruling is a historic victory not only for the Siekopai Nation but also for indigenous populations worldwide who are currently struggling to have their rights recognized.

Cover image: Sit-in in front of the National Court of Justice in Quito, Ecuador. August 30, 2021. Photo: Ribaldo Piaguaje.