A long history of harmful contact with missionaries, rubber traders, merchants, slaveholders, and colonizers has had devastating effects on Warekena culture. Among those enslaved for rubber extraction were shamans, the men charged with keeping the tradition and memory of the past alive. As these holy men died, they took with them the secret practices and sacred ceremonies of their culture.
Ritual and Tradition
Today, the Warekena visit neighboring Wakuénai shamans in the Guainía in an effort to revive some of the traditions. One such revival is the ceremony in which youths are initiated into the teachings of the Creator Nápiruli, who taught the people the essence of being Warekena. Young men prepare for this rite of passage by painting their bodies with a red vegetable resin called chica, which symbolizes the blood of Nápiruli.
Traditionally, the Warekena utilised available materials such as clay from the river, wood, and plant fibers, dyes and resins to make the things they needed, though many artisanal practices have been discontinued.
In order to survive, Warekena dedicate their free time to slash-and-burn agriculture. Their lands, similar to other groups in the region, are located in the San Miguel channel region.
Many Warekena families migrated toward the Orinoco, the Atabapo, and Puerto Ayacucho as a result of colonization and violent exploitation by rubber traders between 1913 and 1948.