Achuar people who have been living in the heart of the Amazon rainforest for thousands of years. Achuar people who have been living in the heart of the Amazon rainforest for thousands of years. The Achuar people have been living in the heart of the Amazon rainforest for thousands of years. (Photo: MyHeritage)

Genealogists piece together the memories of an isolated Amazonian tribe

MyHeritage's Tribal Quest project chronicles the Achuar people's rich family histories as their future hangs in the balance.

The Achuar people of the Amazon rainforest live under the guidance of spirit – spirit of the forest, the community, the culture. Their lush and sometimes harsh environment is under constant threat from deforestation, drilling and development, but their faith is strong – and their history is sacred.

As part of its worldwide pro bono Tribal Quest project, the genealogists at MyHeritage – a worldwide ancestry company based in Israel – traveled to three remote communities in Ecuador to meet the Achuar people and begin to chronicle their family and tribal histories.

"People living in remote locations with limited access to modern technology don’t have the tools to digitize their rich family histories, and they are often left unrecorded," Sarah Vanunu, a spokeswoman for MyHeritage, told From The Grapevine. "This is the first time these tribes have had their memories collected, their family trees chronicled and their heritage recorded."

Their respect for the rainforest and deep understanding of its ecosystem are woven into the fabric of their day-to-day activities as well as their rich spiritual life. The Achuars' respect for the rainforest and deep understanding of its ecosystem are woven into the fabric of their day-to-day activities as well as their rich spiritual life. (Photo: MyHeritage)

Since launching Tribal Quest, MyHeritage has visited tribal communities in Ecuador, Namibia, Papua New Guinea and Siberia. In the latter visit, the MyHeritage team members were able to build 13 family trees and take thousands of photos and videos of the Nenets tribe, an indigenous migrant culture that herds reindeer through the subzero tundra.

"Throughout all of these journeys, a simple truth emerges over and over again," said Golan Levi, founder of MyHeritage's Tribal Quest Initiative. "Us as human beings, we are basically more united than we are divided."

The Achuar way of life is based on living in harmony with their lush and sometimes harsh environment. The Achuar way of life is based on living in harmony with their lush and sometimes harsh environment. (Photo: MyHeritage)

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Genealogists piece together the memories of an isolated Amazonian tribe
MyHeritage's Tribal Quest project chronicles the Achuar people's rich family histories as their future hangs in the balance.