ARDILIA Digital Archive of the Indigenous Languages of the Amazon


Digital Archive of the Indigenous Languages of the Amazon

Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Amazonia Campus

ARDILIA is a repository of unpublished audiovisual materials in indigenous languages of the Amazon region. It was initiated in 2022 at the Amazonia Campus of Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL) in Leticia, with the support of the digital infrastructure of UNAL’s Institutional Repository. The overall aim of the archive is to publish anotated audiovisual materials from as many Amazonian languages as possible on an online, publicly accessible platform. The archive initiated with audio recordings from three languages: Murui (Witoto),  Magütá (Tikuna) and Miraña, that were kept in analogous media (cassettes). The projection of the archive is to continue with the digitization of analogous recordings from other languages, which are currently kept in the personal files of many researchers (Indigenous and non-Indigenous), frequently in inadequate storage conditions and susceptible to deterioration and loss. Making them publicly accessible is an invaluable service for the speakers of these languages and for scholarly research. We aim for the open-access ARDILIA Archive to become a reference for the Amazonian languages, well beyond the Colombian borders.

Access to ARDILIA:

Initial collections

Murui: Palabra de consejo de KɨneraɨHipólito Candre (Kɨneraɨ’s Word of Advice). This collection contains 63 recordings of the okaina-murui elder Hipólito Candre (Kɨneraɨ), of the Kɨnerenɨ clan of the Igarapaná river. They were recorded by the anthropologist Juan Alvaro Echeverri and the biologist Olga Lucía Montenegro  in 1992 and 1993. Sixteen of these recordings are the basis of the texts presented in the book Tabaco frío, coca dulce, which received the Award for the Rescue of Oral Tradition (Colombia, 1993), and was re-edited in 2008. In this collection are the audios of those 16 texts, plus another 47 recordings, together with their transcriptions and translations. This collection contains the original recordings of this elder’s word of advice on the care of the cultivated plants, the education of the young people, the proper use of ritual elements and many other teachings that are essential for the new generations.

Murui: Discurso de la sal (Enokakuiodo)Discurso de la sal (Discourse on Salt). The discourse on salt speech consists of 22 recordings in the Mɨnɨka dialect of the Murui language (uitoto/witoto/huitoto) about the meaning of salt in the formation of the world and of the human being in the mother’s womb. It was recorded by Oscar Romualdo Román Jitdutjaaño (Enokakuiodo), in a work together with the anthropologist Juan Alvaro Echeverri between 1995 and 1998. The Murui word ɨaizaɨ ‘salt’ refers to the alkaline salts of vegetable origin, which are used by the Murui and other neighboring groups as a mixture for tobacco paste (yera ‘ambil’). But, in a symbolic and spiritual sense, the concept of ɨaizaɨ-sal refers to the fertilizing power present in all living beings and is the basis of the principles of formation of human beings and the management of their relationships. (See the book: Ɨairue nagɨni: Aiñɨko urukɨ nagɨni, Aiñɨra urukɨ nagɨni = Halógeno – Halófita: Sal de vida).

Colección Museo Etnográfico Magütá de Mocagua (Tikuna). The collection consists of a set of 130 cassettes, recorded from 1991 to 2006, by the Insituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF), under the direction of Hugo Armando Camacho and his team of Magütá teachers Sergio Ramos del Águila (Dawegukü rü nuegukü), Roger Fernández (Chochuekü), and María Auxiliadora León, among others. This collection also contains the cassettes recorded by Dr. Wachiaü̃kü Abel Santos Angarita, as well as other researchers. The collection has been cared for and preserved by Abel Santos and is part of the sound heritage of the Magütá Ethnographic Museum, which is located in the community of Mocagua on the Amazon River in Colombia. The collection records the voices of magütá elders, who share their knowledge through songs (wiyae), lullabies (wawaë), narratives (nachiga), lexical lists, games, ritual chants of the puberty ritual, and more. The collection is currently in the process of being uploaded.

Neeba GwajkoArchivo Neeba Gwajko (Miraña). The Neeba Gwajko collection contains the cassettes recorded by Luis Gwajko Miraña, an illustrious singer of the Miraña people, during the 1990s and 2000s as part of his initiative to safeguard the Miraña culture and word of the annatto clan (Neebaje) for future generations. The cassettes of this collection were kept by his nephew Elio Guillermo Miraña. The collection is currently in the process of being uploaded. This collection includes songs from the rituals of Apʉjko majtsi (now called Illo majtsi, dance of preparing cultivated plots), Tʉrɨ majtsi (charapa dance), Yaarigwa majtsi (dancing board, formerly called Amejka majtsi, war dance), Ba’ja majtsi (maloca inauguration dance), I’chʉba majtsi (heron dance), and Ʉjkʉtso (fruit-gathering dance). The collection also includes mythical narratives (ʉʉballe), and recordings of songs performed by children from the school of Puerto Remanso (Caquetá River), where Neeba Gwajko was a teacher. The collection is actually in process of being uploaded.

Project team

Abel Antonio Santos (Wãchiaü̃kü ‘Nest Weaver’). BA in Linguistics and PhD by Universidad Nacional de Colombia. He is a Magütá teacher, activist, and recognized leader, who has worked in the documentation, research, and cultural empowerment of the Magütá people for the last twenty-five years.

Elio Miraña (Nʉjpayko Naave ‘Shadow of Water’). Indigenous researcher and leader of the Miraña people. He is thoroughly devoted to the documentation and revitalization of the Miraña language and preserving the legacy of his culture.

Alejandro Augusto Prieto Mendoza (BA and MA in Linguistics, PhD student at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Amazonia Campus). His area of research is verbal art documentation, anthropological linguistics, and ethnomusicology.

Juan Alvaro Echeverri, PhD in anthropology, Full Professor at the Amazonia campus of Universidad Nacional de Colombia (CV: