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Learn how UNESCO promotes the revitalization of three indigenous languages in the Peruvian Amazon

The Ikitu and Kukama Kukamiria languages are endangered, while the Taushiro language is critically endangered with only one speaker left.


Every May 27, Peru celebrates the “Day of Indigenous Languages.” This date has commemorated the official recognition of indigenous languages by the Peruvian State since 1975. In Peru, 48 languages are spoken (4 Andean and 44 Amazonian), of which 40 have official alphabets, and 21 are at risk of disappearing.

According to UNESCO’s World Atlas of Languages (AML), the majority of the languages in serious danger of disappearing are the ones with less than 100 thousand speakers, being 10,000 people the minimum number required for the intergenerational transmission of a language. Out of the 7,000 languages that are spoken all around the world, almost 2,500 could disappear. Since 1950, 250 languages have already disappeared and the number of speakers continues to decrease.

“With each language that disappears, a part of human life goes away with no possibility of return. Not only a vehicle of communication is extinguished, but also a culture, a repository of knowledge, a system of thoughts, a way of seeing the world, a system of family relationships and values and a force of citizenship” – Guiomar Alonso Cano, UNESCO Representative in Peru.

In this context, and within the framework of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Languages (IDIL 2022-2032), an initiative led by UNESCO, the Office of UNESCO in Peru implements a project for the Revitalization of Ikitu Indigenous Languages, Kukama Kukama and Taushiro in the Peruvian Amazon. Of which the first two are in danger of extinction, while the last one is in a critical situation of extinction with a single speaker.

This initiative has been developed in partnership with AMARUMAYU, a movement of the AJE Group that works on the development of sustainable value chains with products from Amazonian communities. Likewise, being developed with the technical assistance of the Ministry of Culture of Peru in the communities of San Jorge, San Antonio and Intuto, which live in areas adjacent to nature reserves in the Loreto region.

The Project is part of the actions of the Pact for Culture 2030, a platform that seeks to develop strategic alliances with the private sector and international organizations in favor of cultural rights and sustainable development.

As is known, cultural and linguistic revitalization is the process by which try to reverse the extinction of a language. Languages reflect the cultures that speak them and allow knowledge, wisdom, stories, and emotions to be transmitted from generation to generation. Ensuring the transmission and development of languages directly contributes to a country’s sustainable development.

The Process: Activities and Development

In the first phase of this Project, sociolinguistic diagnostics of each community were conducted, as well as participatory workshops to develop signage in the native language and stop-motion animated videos that highlight not only the native language but also the ways of seeing and understanding the relationship of communities with their environment.

In the native communities of San Jorge and Intuto, sessions were implemented to learn the Kukama Kukamiria and Taushiro languages, respectively. These actions have been made possible by strengthening the capacities of five revitalizers who have been able to lead linguistic and cultural revitalization processes in their communities.

Additionally, work is underway on the publication of a book about the Taushiro language and culture. This project includes information that the Ministry of Culture and other institutions have collected since 2016, and the participation of national and international researchers of this language, as well as Amadeo García, the only fluent speaker of this language.

The joint work for the revitalization of indigenous languages between UNESCO, the AMARUMAYU movement of the AJE Group, and the Ministry of Culture of Peru will continue throughout 2024 and 2025, strengthening local capacities for the leadership of strategies that promote the transmission and learning of their indigenous languages to ensure that these languages remain a living part of Peru’s cultural heritage.

About the Pact for Culture 2030

Pact for Culture 2030 is a multi-stakeholder platform that brings together private sector companies, international organizations, and civil society to contribute to sustainable development and the exercise of citizens’ cultural rights through the appreciation of our cultural diversity in compliance with national sector policies and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). You can learn more about the Pact at [link].

The indigenous languages revitalization project was born within the framework of the Pact for Culture 2030, where the AJE Group is a founding member.

About UNESCO’s Global Strategy

The International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL 2022-2032) led by UNESCO presents a unique framework to collectively convene a broad range of stakeholders to align their efforts. Hence, the need to develop a Global Action Plan that sets the foundation for joint action, outlines the strategic approach, defines key measures, provides guidance on implementation, monitoring, and governance structures, and suggests measures that UN system entities, governments, indigenous peoples’ institutions and organizations, including grassroots communities, civil society at large, academia, the private sector, and other stakeholders should adopt to achieve the main objectives of the Decade.

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