In the 1960s and 1970s, anthropologists began modern ethnographic research in lowland Ecuador and Colombia. At the time, Cofán and Siona people there lived in apparently remote forests with a diverse subsistence economy based on hunting, fishing, and gardening. It was difficult to imagine that traditional indigenous territories often coincided with old rubber outposts, derelict haciendas, missionary stations, and abandoned oil camps. Nor did researchers envision the maelstrom that had taken place fifty years earlier, when native families were forced to collect rubber throughout the western Amazon. It seemed more reasonable to think that they had somehow avoided the cataclysmic impacts of rubber extraction that led to enslavement and ethnocide along the lower Putumayo River. But the story turns out to be much more complicated, as new historical research shows. Since 1930, the resurgence of Cofán and Siona communities presents a compelling story of survival and reconstruction, not isolation. It bears directly on current discussions of ethnicity, citizenship, and indigenous rights in contemporary Amazonian society.

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