Walking along the boardwalk of El Coca City is a cultural and scenic experience created through the combination breathtaking sunsets over the majestic Napo River and the story told by handicrafts made from recycled materials from the forest such as seeds to make earrings, necklaces, or bracelets. You can also appreciate the handmade and woven crafts of the different nationalities that are found in Francisco de Orellana canton and maybe purchase a souvenir or two from the Kichwas, Shuar, and Waorani artisans.
Kichwa, or Naporuna, are indigenous inhabitants of the area currently located on the banks of the Napo and Coca rivers. In the 70s, the Kichwa Tenaruna population arrived from Alto Napo and settled in communities on the Loreto road (San Luis de Armenia parish), Guayusa and some on the Auca road. They are the current representatives of a mixture of groups that lived in the Amazon area such as the Omaguas, Canelos, Huitotos, among others who identify themselves as “runes”. Dedicated to subsistence agriculture through family farms, hunting, and fishing, they selling mainly coffee and corn as cash crops. They maintain their traditions and community ties, especially within the “Ayllu” or extended family. Each commune includes between 20 and 100 families with single-family homes, either built with local materials or in cement houses.
The Waorani are the original inhabitants of this region between the Napo and Curaray rivers until the early 70s. Since the 50s, great changes have been taking place in their way of life when they were contacted by evangelical missionaries.
Past tensions and conflicts with the “cowuori” (the others) still weighs on The Waorani’s relationship with other indigenous groups. The Waorani are organized in small, dispersed family groups, located to the south and east of Francisco de Orellana canton, in Inés Arango, Dayuma, and Alejandro Labaka parishes. They are a hunting and gathering people with a current population of roughly 1500 people. In 1999 a portion of Yasuní was declared Waorani territory and is now known as the “Tagaeri and Taromenane Intangible Zone” (ZITT).
Arriving to Francisco de Orellana canton from the southern provinces of the Amazon region, less than 25 years ago the Shuar are made up of 16 communities in the southern part of the Canton, Inés Arango, Taracoa, Dayuma, and La Belleza parishes. Each “Center” Shuar group consists of about 20 families, dedicated to subsistence agriculture, hunting, fishing, and the sale of some products such as coffee and corn. They preserve an important part of their customs and traditions in diet, health, family relationships, and artistic expressions.