- Organization Name:Acaté Amazon Conservation
- Address:PO Box 15895
San Francisco , CA 94115
The mission of Acaté is to sustain the Amazon Rainforest in partnership with its protectors. Real on the ground capacity-building underlies all of our initiatives whether it be indigenous medicine, permaculture, or sustainable commerce.
Acaté Amazon Conservation's team comprises indigenous peoples, shamans, physicians, social entrepreneurs, permaculturists, and academics with decades of experience in conservation. Each team member brings unique skill-sets and backgrounds, but shares a unifying dedication to sustain one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet in conjunction with the knowledge and well-being of its inhabitants. For our "Matsés Shamanic Apprenticeship & Healing Forest" initiative, key personnel include individuals such as Christopher Herndon, M.D., and David Fleck, Ph.D:
Christopher Herndon, M.D., is President and Co-Founder of Acaté Amazon Conservation. He received his medical degree at Yale University and his residency training at Harvard University. Dr. Herndon has worked extensively over the past decade in some of the most remote regions of the Amazon to conduct research on the medicinal plant knowledge and healing systems of its tribal peoples. He collaborated with shamans in southern Suriname to develop an innovative approach for the integration of indigenous health practices into healthcare delivery. This program received international acclaim as “an extremely impressive example of integration of the two systems of health” and remains enduring years after implementation.
Acaté Field coordinator, David W. Fleck, Ph.D., received a B.S. and M.S. in zoology at the Ohio State University and a doctorate in linguistics at Rice University. He studied Matsés ethno-biology from 1994-1997, focusing on Matsés rainforest habitat classification and Matsés traditional knowledge of mammal natural history. He has studied the Matsés language since 1997, and has written a Matsés grammar, a Matsés-Spanish dictionary, books for the Matsés, and over 30 academic journal articles on the Matsés language, culture, and ethnobiology. He speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Matsés fluently. Since 2008 David has been living permanently among the Matsés with his Matsés wife Dina and two sons Dunu and David Nacua.
Most of our field staff are entirely-based in Peru. Acaté’s Director, William Park, and our office manager, Carla Noain, maintain a modest office in Iquitos, Peru at the gateway of the Amazon. The development and implementation of each field initiative of Acaté, including the Matsés Shamanic Apprenticeship & Healing Forest", is guided by an Advisory Board comprising the current head chief of the Matsés people, former chiefs on the Board for continuity, and democratically-elected representatives. Our team provides support and strategy to help the Matsés protect their independence, livelihood, and ways of life as they see fit.
Over a decade ago, we first engaged with the Matses people in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, one of the most biodiverse regions on our planet. In the formal incorporation of Acate Amazon Conservation in late 2012 and operational launch in 2013, we bring together a team of uncommon scope of experience and vision. Our projects operate at the cutting edge of conservation by integrating culture, health, and ecology into the scope and vision of our mission, recognizing a basic indigenous wisdom that the health of a people, their culture, and environment are interdependent. Acate is uniquely qualified to take on this project due to uncommonly close ties of our field staff to the Matses communities, and our successful track-record in completing critical projects . Acate's programs are developed with a deep partnership with the Matses indigenous elders and communities.
Acate's field coordinator, Dr. David Fleck, lives with his wife and two sons in one of the most remote Matses villages, farming a small jungle garden and living a traditional lifestyle. In addition to almost 30 scientific publications, Dave has co-authored with the Matses an authoritative book on their culture, the most comprehensive dictionary of the Matses language, the first written history of the tribe as told by elder Matses historian Manuel Tumi, as well as several educational materials in the Matses language for their primary schools. But Acate also has a daily presence in the Peruvian Amazon gateway city, Iquitos, working with the Matses that come into the city, thereby providing a much-needed link for their communities to the outside world.
Our collaboration culminated in May 2015 in realization of the first project, the Matses Traditional Medicine Encyclopedia. The Encyclopedia marked the first time an Amazonian tribe has created a full and complete transcription of their medicinal knowledge written in their own language and words. The Encyclopedia includes chapters by 5 Matses master healers and is over 500 pages long. It was fully written and edited by indigenous shamans, the first to our knowledge of its kind and scope. The completion of the first-ever indigenous medicine encyclopedia, written entirely by elder shamans in their own words and language, was received much attention in the media and conservation world. Two established conservation organizations operating in South America publicly announced that they will replicate the initiative with their indigenous partners.
At the tribal meeting in May 2015, the Matses leaders and elders outlined their vision for Phase II, the Apprentices Program, in which each elder shaman-most of whom are also Encyclopedia chapter authors-will be accompanied in the forest by younger Matses to learn the plants and assist in treating patients. The groundwork for the Apprentices program has already been established in five villages through the writing of the Encyclopedia chapters for which a younger Matses was paired to an elder shaman in each of the communities. The full apprenticeship pilot was initiated in 2014 in the village of Esitron under the supervision of master healer Luis Dunu Chiaid. Due to the success of the pilot, it was unanimously agreed by the Matses at the recent meeting that this program should be expanded to as many villages as possible, with priority given to villages that no longer have traditional healers. The second component of Phase II will include medicinal plant integration into our agro-forestry work. This will be based on the healing forest created by one of the greatest Matses healers in the village of Nuevo San Juan and currently maintained by his son Antonio Jimenez. To an outsider, this forest looks like non-descript stretch of rainforest along the footpath to their farms about a fifteen minutes walk from their village. This forest is, however, a constellation of medicinal plants cultivated by the Matses healers for use in treatment of a diverse range of ailments. Many rainforest vines and fungi will not grow in sun-exposed gardens and require rainforest ecosystems for their propagation. The healing forest systems will both hasten Matses communities' ability to treat ailments due to their proximity to village life, and offer a rapidly accessible classroom to the forest flora important in Matses traditional medicine.
- Year established:2012
- Organization type:Grantseeker
- Country of registration:United States
- Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
- IRS Section:501(c)(3)
- IRS Subsection:None
Types of funding being sought (i.e. funding type)
- None specified
Program areas of focus and activity (i.e. funding cause)
- None specified
Geographic areas of focus and activity (i.e. geographic area)
- None specified