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Meet Floro

Floro leads a team of young Andeans who are using the Quechua Chanka language to preserve, sustain, and share Indigenous ecological knowledge.

The Quechua Chanka language (ISO 639-3/[quy]) is spoken in the central Andes of Ayacucho, Peru by an estimated one million speakers—one of the largest varieties of Quechua still in use. Despite these total native speakers, the numbers of children actually learning Quechua are in decline for many socio-cultural reasons. Existing Quechua-speaking youth regularly face discrimination when moving from their rural communities to urban centers, like the capital city Lima for work or study, causing many to stop using their native language altogether in favor of adapting to Spanish, despite the fact that Quechua is an officially recognized language in Peru. Consequently, there is a real risk that this Quechua language variety will be forgotten, and along with it the wealth of detailed indigenous knowledge on Andean plants and animals—experiential knowledge and community wisdom accumulated throughout centuries of Quechua—speaking communities working in harmony with the land, and local flora and fauna.

Biologist turned language activist, Floro Ortiz and his Atlas Vivo language revitalization team (Paula, Marleny, Renee, Lesly, and José) are all pooling their professional skills to co-create a first-of-its-kind “Living Atlas” multimedia cultural and geographic linguistic database of flora and fauna information in Quechua. This data will be collected by youth trained to do so, who reside in Floro’s own traditional Mayunmarka Quechua-speaking communities. This Indigenous revitalization project will utilize iNaturalist and Living Dictionaries platforms to empower local rural community youth with new skills as well as encourage their interest in learning and preserving their traditional Quechua language variety. Consequently, this eco-linguistic project will help to build bridges of collaboration and solidarity between biologists, linguists, educators, and the local Quechua-speaking Indigenous farmers who can benefit most from this project research and learn how to use these new digital tools to successfully manage the precious biodiversity and natural resource knowledge of their local environment. By connecting researchers and Indigenous communities to share their respective biological and ecological knowledge, this eco-linguistic project also expects to open the door to local, national, and international awareness-building around Indigenous-based solutions to aid in fighting climate change. After this Quechua "Living Atlas" one-year pilot program is completed, the Mayunmarka team looks forward to repeating the process and expanding their work with other Indigenous communities in Peru and beyond.

ISO 639-3/[quy] es el idioma quechua chanka de los Andes centro sureños de Ayacucho-PERÚ, hablado por aproximadamente un millón de hablantes, y es una de las variedades más grandes de quechua todavía en uso. A pesar de este total de hablantes nativos de quechua chanka, la cifra de niños que realmente aprenden su “runa simi” como idioma materna está disminuyendo por muchas razones socioculturales. Los jóvenes quechuahablantes existentes enfrentan a menudo discriminación cuando se trasladan de sus comunidades rurales a los centros urbanos, como la ciudad capital Lima para trabajar o estudiar, lo cual hace que muchos dejen de usar su idioma nativo por completo a favor de adoptar el castellano por ser el idioma dominante en Perú – incluso a pesar de que el quechua es una lengua oficial de comunicación peruana. Por lo tanto, existe un riesgo real de que esta variedad de quechua sea olvidada y, junto con ella, la riqueza del conocimiento detallado originario sobre las plantas y los animales andinos: conocimientos experienciales y sabidurías comunitarias acumulandose en estas comunidades quechuahablantes trabajando en armonía con el tierra, y con la flora y fauna locales, a lo largo de siglos.

Biólogo convertido en activista lingüístico, Floro Ortiz y el equipo de revitalización lingüística del Proyecto “Atlas Vivo” – Paula, Marleny, Renee, Lesly y José – están compartiendo sus habilidades profesionales para crear conjuntamente una base de datos lingüísticos, culturales y geográficos en quechua, como un “Atlas Vivo” único y multimediático de información sobre la flora y la fauna de esa región quechuahablante. Estos datos serán recopilados por jóvenes locales capacitados para hacerlo, que residen en las mismas comunidades rurales de habla tradicional quechua de donde proviene Floro, en la región de Mayunmarka, en Ayacucho.

Este proyecto de revitalización lingüística originaria empleará las plataformas digitales iNaturalist y Living Dictionaries en línea para empoderar a los jóvenes de esas comunidades rurales, con nuevas habilidades y además fomentar su interés en aprender y preservar su variedad de “runa simi” tradicional. En consecuencia, este proyecto ecolingüístico ayudará a construir puentes de colaboración y solidaridad entre biólogos, lingüistas, educadores y los agricultores originarios locales quechuahablantes que también pueden beneficiarse de este proyecto de investigación, y aprender a utilizar estas nuevas herramientas digitales para gestionar con éxito la preciosa biodiversidad y el conocimiento de los recursos naturales de su entorno local. Al conectar a investigadores y comunidades originarias para compartir sus respectivos conocimientos biológicos y ecológicos, este proyecto ecolingüístico también espera abrir puertas para crear conciencia local, nacional e internacional sobre las soluciones originarias que pueden ayudar a resolver la problemática del cambio climático. Al culminar el año de este programa piloto del "Atlas Vivo" Quechua, el equipo Mayunmarka espera continuar trabajando con las comunidades locales, y repetir el proceso expandiendo su trabajo con otras comunidades originarias en el Perú y más allá.

Floro's Background

Floro is Peruvian and Quechuan, belonging to the Indigenous rural community of Chungui, located in the central Andes of Peru. He is interested in the conservation and sustainable use of the natural and cultural resources of my community. As a professional biologist with a specialty in zoology, Floro's task within the Mayunmarka Quechua LIVING ATLAS eco-linguistic project is to validate the information obtained on local fauna. Applying the principles of citizen science with local Indigenous communities, Floro will compile scientific eco-linguistic, geographical, and traditional Indigenous information in order to integrate it into the public policies of Peru, so as to highlight the value of Andean culture. Later on, he hopes to complete a doctorate program based on this Indigenous knowledge from my community.

Floro's Collaborators

Paula is an analyst, intercultural project manager, linguist, translator, and communicator. Being a polyglot and polymath, she explores current and emerging fields of knowledge to facilitate, in-person & virtually, collaborative solutions integrating values of transparency, solidarity, intercultural awareness, and diversity. Paula's participation in the Mayunmarka Quechua LIVING ATLAS will be focused on managing the project to its first year milestone objectives and beyond, as well as to support the ongoing documentation of the intercultural eco-linguistic and bio-ethnographic data obtained through participatory citizen science and community observations and interactions. "As this eco-linguistic LIVING ATLAS project progresses, I hope to deepen my own understanding of how Andean values of reciprocity, cooperation and the symbiosis of humans with the Earth, is informed by local cosmovisions and linguistic constructs, to productively model inclusive and collaborative community values around which everyone in our world can rally, in order to guide future common good actions for everyone on our planet."
Marleny is from the rural community of Quicapata in the district of Carmen Alto in the province of Huamanga, in Ayacucho, Peru. She is a professional biologist with a specialty in ethnobotany and economic botany. She respects and values ​​nature, which is why she is interested in learning about the interrelatedness of traditional Indigenous peoples with nature. For the Mayunmarka Quechua LIVING ATLAS eco-linguistic project Marleny will be contributing to the identification of the flora located and used in the Chungui community. "This eco-linguistic research will allow for the collection of information on traditional indigenous knowledge and natural resource use linked to the quechua local native language. This project will also make it possible to highlight, value and protect the biocultural heritage of the Chungui community. I also hope to learn more about the indigenous wisdom of the Chungui people in relation to their interaction with their environment."
Rene is a native speaker of Quechua, from the Chungui district, La Mar province, in the Quechua-speaking ancestral region of Mayunmarka, in Ayacucho, Peru. His interests include the conservation of the species of the Orchidaceae family (orchids) and other flora located in mountain forests. His is also interested in knowing more about his ancestral land and the local flora. As an environmental engineer by profession, Rene has a Diploma in Ecosystem Recovery, with environmental impact studies and other courses related to the conservation of biological diversity. He joined the Mayunmarka Quechua LIVING ATLAS eco-linguistic project to be able to contribute in the identification of the plants used by the Quechua-speaking community of Chungui. He is looking forward to getting to know the Quechua names of more local species of flora, as well as their traditional and cultural community uses.
Jose is a Quechua native from the Indigenous rural community of Chungui, in the province of La Mar, which is part of the Mayunmarka Quechua-speaking Andean region, in the department of Ayacucho, Peru. He works as a teacher of Primary Bilingual Intercultural Education at the "José Salvador Cavero Ovalle" School of Higher Education Pedagogy in Huanta. He also worked for many years as a teacher and director in primary schools in Chungui. As an Indigenous communicator, he is an official translator of the Quechua language, currently working in the office of CHIRAPAQ-Center for Indigenous Cultures of Peru, as head of the Indigenous Children & Youth Program. His professional interests include activities that promote the conservation, enhancement and revitalization of my mother tongue, Quechua, and also Matsiguenga, which is the other native language at the edge of the jungle in his region. For this eco-linguistic project Jose will be contributing to the written record of Quechua according to current linguistic standards. "This revitalization project is important to the world as a lasting indigenous linguistic registry, in order to promote the revitalization of current Andean cultures and languages, as well as their study, research and active use into the future. I am proud that my community is the primary source for the development of this transcendental project. And I hope to learn a lot too, especially at the intersection of Western scientific knowledge with the perspective and knowledge of indigenous peoples."

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