Matsigenka Territory

The territory inhabited by the Matsigenka is considered an important ecological frontier that extends from the eastern slopes of the Andes to the tropical forest zone. This region has great natural wealth and includes protected areas and reserves, such as the Manu National Park, located in the upper and lower Urubamba. Manu National Park was created on May 29, 1973, with an area of 1'532,806 ha (Sernanp, 2020).

It is important to mention that the Matsigenka share their territory with peoples in voluntary isolation and initial contact, such as the Mashco Piro. The latter have a language that is understandable to members of the Yine people and they are in voluntary isolation. There is also a population in initial contact made up of subgroups of Matsigenka.

The Matsigenka in initial contact report that the isolation of some family groups responds to their fear of being captured and sold, in a clear allusion to the humiliations suffered during the boom of the rubber economy in the Urubamba and Manu basins (Huertas, 2020).

In recent years, the sighting and contact with Indigenous people in voluntary isolation has generated numerous questions and concerns about their future, as they are in a state of vulnerability. These groups face risks such as immunological diseases, violent conflicts with external agents (such as illegal loggers, drug trafficking, etc.), which can endanger their survival.

Extractivism and the migration of settlers to the jungle led to the depredation of natural resources, land usurpation, exploitation of Indigenous labor and confrontations between outsiders in the context of the illegal economy. This situation led some Matsigenkas to turn to Catholic and evangelical missionaries in search of medical care and food; others chose to move away and isolate themselves, fleeing from mistreatment. These are some of the Matsigenkas that are in voluntary isolation and initial contact, such as those of the Kugapakori, Nahua and Nanti Territorial Reserve.

This has not been the case for the Matsigenka communities located within the Manu National Park (MNP), but they have not remained socially stable. For the Indigenous population living in and adjacent to Manu National Park, it represents both an opportunity and a challenge. Since the natural protected areas (NPAs) have been created, their inhabitants have found themselves safe from numerous external threats that could have jeopardized their survival, but change also impacts their livelihoods and development expectations (Herrera, 2022).

In Madre de Dios, the Matsigenkas live both inside and outside of the NPAs, of which those found inside Manu National Park are: Yomibato, Tayakome, Tsirerishi or Maizal and Sarigeminigiki, as well as the community of Santa Rosa de Huacaria (which has more than half of its territory inside the MNP) (Herrera, 2021). The communities located to the east and adjacent to the MNP are Shipetiari and Palotoa-Teparo, the Diamante community and Boca Ishiriwe, which share territory with the Harakbut and Yine (Fabian, 2022). Finally, there are also scattered settlements in initial contact in Cumerjali, Sortileja and Alto Yomibato, which are located to the north; in Abaroa, Mameria, Nystrom, Piñipiñi and Amelia, to the south (Sernanp, 2014).