The Iskonawa people are part of the Pano linguistic family. The name Iskonawa comes from the term Iscon which means "bird or Paucar" and Nahua, a term used by several Pano people to refer to their neighbors, the "other" or the "outsider" (bdpi). The Iskonawa people are found mainly in the Ucayali region, specifically between the city of Pucallpa and indigenous communities (mostly Shipibo-Konibo), such as Chachibai and Calleria. Throughout their history, the Iskonawa consider the area around roebiri known as "cerro el cono" of the Sierra del Divisor National Park, as part of their ancestral territory (Rodriguez, 2020).
The Iskonawa territorial reserve was established by the Peruvian government in 1998, with the purpose of safeguarding Iskonawa families in isolation and initial contact. Although an exact figure for the Iskonawa population in the country is not available, the 2017 national census recorded the self-identification of 25 people as members of the Iskonawa people.
The earliest ethnographic records about the Iskonawa people date back to the 18th century, when a Franciscan missionary recounted his trip to the Sarayaku mission. In his writings, he mentions a group called "remos", who are considered to be the ancestors of the Iskonawas and who were eventually assimilated by the Shipibo-Konibo people (Matorela, 2004).
The Iskonawa are mainly engaged in subsistence activities, carried out on a small scale and intended only to meet the needs of their family groups. Among these activities, hunting is a traditional practice of great importance, and is an exclusively male activity that is carried out throughout the year, but is especially intense during the rainy season. Fishing is also considered an activity that is not exclusive to men, but is carried out collectively. On the other hand, agriculture and gathering are tasks mainly carried out by women (AIDESEP 1995).
Another relatively recent economic activity is the sale of handicrafts through the women's artisan association "pawi awin". This not only contributes to the economic contribution to their families, but also strengthens Iskonawa identity and knowledge through their textile creations.
The Xapiri Ground team is working with the Iskonawa women artisans association "Pari Awin" located in the community of Callería. Within the association are some of the artisans that make up the group of women such as Neyra Perez, Edelvina Cumapa, Besti Campos, Dalia Guimaraes and Florinda Castro, who play a fundamental role in the preservation and memory of the Iskonawa designs and in the continuity of their ancestral artistic expression.
The Callería community is located in the district of the same name, between the Utuquinia and Abujao rivers, in the province of Coronel Portillo, Ucayali region. It is estimated that the Iskonawas migrated to this area around 1959. In this location, they share territory with the Shipibo-Konibo people.
Since 2020, Xapiri Ground has been collaborating with the Iskonawa people with the vision of establishing a long-term fair trade relationship. This will allow the craftswomen to continue to develop their traditional art and pass it on to future generations. This joint effort with the Iskonawa people has been made possible thanks to the coordination and collaboration of the anthropologist Carolina Rodriguez Alzza.
Iskonawa art is in a process of rescuing the memory of the graphics, the design techniques, incorporating other elements found from the outside. According to anthropologist Carolina Rodriguez, "The Iskonawas are connoisseurs of different techniques with which they elaborate a series of artifacts that nowadays coexist with the industrial objects they find in the cities" (Rodriguez, 2020).
Iskonawa designs stands out for their zigzag patterns, which in their language are known as "kere kere". Although the elders explain that these designs do not have particularly assigned meanings, they reflect a connection to nature, such as the skin of a snake or the top of a hill.