EXPERIENCE

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Pai tavytera Indians

To start our journey in understanding the rock art, we must seek those who consider these hills sacred, the Pai Tavytera indians. 

The Pai Tavytera are part of the ethnic group Ñande Pai Tavytera, meaning "the inhabitants of the center of the earth."

As their ancestors did, they believe that the hills where they live are sacred, and that from one of the hills God created the universe.

Not much is remembered before the arrivals of the Spaniards. Some scholars say the Pai Tavytera were the indigenous community that was able to escape the indoctrination of the famous Jesuit Missions. 

Central to the Pai Tavytera religious beliefs, and a focal point of the community, is a wood altar. The altars usually reside in the homes of spiritual leaders or important leaders. The altar is a place where they gather to worship or to discuss matters that are important to their community.

The coexistence of the Pai Tavytera with the Paraguayan society has been a difficult one. Recently, there was a protest against the government for stolen funds that were meant to fund various social programs, during which a sacred Pai Tavyterta home located in a governmental building was burned to the ground. 

These are difficult times for the Pai Tavytera, but they continue to hold on to their stories and traditions. 

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As part of our project we have donated an authentic Pai Tavytera altar to the the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, D.C.
We continue to bring to light the Pai Tavytera's plight of survival, and to record their culture through videos, articles, and social media outreach in Paraguay, in the U.S., and internationally.

I know many people don’t know the reality that we live in, that is why we want to show our culture. That way people can learn that we exist, and that is the most important thing for us.”
— Don Leonido, Pai Tavytera leader of the Ita Guazu Community