Elizabeth Swanson Andi

Country of Origin: Ecuador

Elizabeth Swanson Andi is a member of the Santu Urku Kichwa community on the Napo River in the Ecuadorian Amazon. She is an indigenous artist, environmental scientist, and storyteller inspired by the land and people who shaped her.

In the Kichwa language there are three words that center Elizabeth’s work— “iyarina” meaning to think by looking at the land and remembering what happened there. “llakichina” meaning to feel empathy, sorrow, and love all at once. & finally “kuyana” the act of reciprocity and giving back. When she looks at the land she not only thinks about what happened there during her lifetime but that of her mother’s and grandmother’s. As she remembers she feels great “llaki” leading her to the action of “kuyana”

Throughout generations much has changed—Her grandparents are kichwa monolingual speakers, when they were young there was an abundance of wildlife, clear streams, and forests. Today her community faces language loss, forest degradation and food and water insecurity. The lives of all those who reside in the Amazon are at risk, and that’s why she is dedicated to protecting her home and amplifying the voices of her people. For the land, for cultural survival, for a future filled with indigenous joy—Allpamanda, kawsaymanda hatarishun. Runa yachay ruku kawsay ñaupakma apashun.

Environment Defenders

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