We are motivated by our faith in God and our desire to care for God’s creation.
CSF AT A GLANCE
WHO ARE THE COFANS?
The Cofans are one of the oldest surviving indigenous cultures of the Amazonian rain forest. They live in their traditional homeland on the banks of the large rivers of what is now north-eastern Ecuador and south-eastern Colombia. There are fewer than 1,000 Cofan speakers left, with the bulk of these living in Ecuador. Hunters, fishers, and subsistance agriculturalists, they are famous for their efforts to protect their rain forest home from the oil industry, mining companies, and colonists. They are craftsmen and naturalists, with a deep understanding and appreciation of their environment.
WHAT ARE THE THREATS TO THEIR SURVIVAL?
Oil exploration, colonization, lumber exploitation, and other Western activities have destroyed most of what used to be the Cofans’ homeland. Meanwhile, the culture is threatened by pressures from the newcomers to conform. The majority of Cofans speak almost no Spanish and have no concept of how to handle the legal system of Ecuador.
WHAT IS BEING DONE ABOUT THIS?
Efforts by various Cofans and interested friends through the years have succeeded in getting areas of forest set aside, legalizing communities, developing a basic school system, and setting up ecotourism programs, science projects and other alternatives that fortify both the Cofan culture and economy. These efforts have been formalized with the formation of COFAN SURVIVAL FUND.
WHAT IS COFAN SURVIVAL FUND?
Cofan Survival Fund (CSF) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the survival of the Cofan indigenous culture and its rain forest environment. Its leadership includes Cofan leaders who have spent their lives defending their forests and culture. CSF is registered in California, with legal not-for-profit status at both state and national levels in the US. Its Ecuadorean counterpart, Fundacion para la Sobrevivenica del pueblo Cofan (FSC) shares board members and leadership with CSF and serves as the in-country branch of CSF. FSC is a legally registered not-for-profit organization in Ecuador.
WHO RUNS CSF?
CSF has a board made up of three individuals, all of whom are based in Ecuador.
Randy Borman, president, is the son of missionary parents who was born in Ecuador’s rain forests and grew up as a Cofan in the Cofan community of Doreno. Western-educated, he has used his bi-culturality to help his people survive the impact of massive contact with the outside world. He is the winner of both WWF’s Award for Conservation Merit (1997) and the Field Museum’s Parker-Gentry Award (1998).He brings to CSF his experience of decades of fighting for Cofan lands, rights, and culture, and is presently the Dirigente of Territorios and Economy of the Cofan Indigenous Federation .
Roberto Aguinda, vice president, is a young leader who has occupied various posts within the Cofan world, including President of the Cofan community of Zabalo. He is presently the treasurer of the Cofan Indigenous Federation. He has been active for a decade in everything from local politics to scientific studies, and brings to CSF his extensive experience in dealing with conservation issues in Cofan lands.
Clark Vaughn, chief financial officer, is a ———-what do you want to say?
WHAT DOES CSF DO?
At the moment, CSF is involved in several important projects.
-Land issues (Legalizing, surveying, protecting, and managing in all seven Cofan communities of Ecuador)
-Education (Providing superior educational opportunities for young Cofans as a necessary survival tool)
-Alternative Economic Projects (Providing sustainable and environmentally sound economic alternitives)
-Scientific Projects (Gaining understanding of our rainforest while reinforcing our traditional knowledge)
-Conservation Projects (Projects aimed at recovering losses caused by the outside world)
WHO IS CSF WORKING WITH ON THESE PROJECTS?
We are actively working with several entities, among them:
-The Field Museum of Chicago
-The McArthur Foundation
-Petramaz (a European Union project in Ecuador)
-Nanpaz (an Ecuadorean based-non-profit organization)
-International Organization of Migration
We also receive both individual and corporate support for both specific and general projects.
WHAT ARE SOME IMMEDIATE NEEDS OF THE COFAN PEOPLE?
Our priorities at the moment include:
-Education; we need funding for scholarships and support for our Cofan education program.
-Land issues; we need funding for work in organizing, legalizing and demarcation of ancestral territories..
-Land issues; we need financing to be able to buy back strategic riverside lands near the main Cofan village of Doreno. These lands were lost due to colonization in the first years of colonization in the 70s.
-Transportation needs; we need to be able to mobilize, both as an entity and a culture, to face threats in the various widely spread communities.
-Communication needs: we need funding to complete our communication network within the Cofan communities and achieve reliable communication with the outside.
WHAT ARE CSF’S LONG TERM GOALS?
-To maintain our forests, rivers, and streams intact, and in doing so, to maintain our age-old cultural relationship with our land
-To develop strategies that will provide for sustainable use of those lands while providing decent incomes for our people
-To train a generation of young people to be educated, bi-cultural, tri-lingual, capable leaders who will be able to continue the evolution of our relation with our forests into the next generation.
-To expand upon our experience by helping other indigenous groups to achieve similar successes while protecting their environments.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Tax deductible contributions can be made to : CSF