Patsy Craig and Wake Forest Research Associate Professor in Biology/CINCIA Executive Director Luis Fernandez received a CEES seed grant in 2022 to translate into English the extraordinary book Soy Sontone, an account by Antonio Sueyo Irangua of his memories of having been “non-contacted”. This testimony is the first book that narrates the memories of an indigenous person in a situation of isolation in the Amazonian forests as told by father to son. Transcribed by Hector Sueyo Yumbuyo, Antonio, through Hector's writing, immerses us in the life of the Harakbut recounting the hunting strategies learned from his own father, his preparation for the rites and his relationship with the spirits of the mountain.
This is an exceptional book for a number of reasons. One being that historically indigenous Amazonians have been silenced or muted subjects and their voices have been absent from the media and written history, or otherwise presented by unrelated intermediaries. The oral nature of their cultures, but above all their situation of marginality, have ultimately excluded their vision of the facts from the mainstream narrative. In this backdrop, both father and son resisted a process that decimated the indigenous population and radically transformed their culture.
Soy Sontone is unprecedented because this story is their own and the very form of composition of the book, a narrative from father to son, mirrors the transmission of knowledge in Harakbut society, where hunters were in charge of recounting myths and exploits. Antonio’s testimony includes stories that portray supernatural forces such as the spirits of animals or the visions of the future announced by the forms of fire. Antonio also tells about the years of uncertainty that followed the appearance of the plane or "giant eagle," a time in which many Harakbut died as a result of an evil wind or polluted air and narrates the process of building a new life during the first gold rush in Madre de Dios.