Today assimilation threatens the Kukama’s cultural survival and with it, the Amazon’s environmental balance. Peru’s Ministry of Education lists the Kukama language as “endangered”. Only elders like Don Jose still speak it and within a decade this vibrant language and all the cultural wisdom it contains could disappear. If the younger generation rejects or forgets the old stories and rituals, environmental knowledge and protection mechanisms could also be lost. Watch indigenous youth rap and sing in their own languages:
Homage to “Mama Ilda”
“To lose the word is to have died while still alive. When an indigenous elder dies, full of wisdom, many things are lost. But not all is lost,” writes Leonardo Tello in homage to Ilda Ahuanari, a Kukama language teacher and elder with Radio Ucamara who died with symptoms of COVID-19 in May 2020.