KUETUVY, Paraguay — Enjoying a menu of tapir, armadillo and chicken's feet, a community of Ache Indians in Paraguay's jungle is celebrating the recovery of a small piece of their tribal land and honoring its archers – the best in the country.
"We are the champions at shooting the bow and arrow; this is what the representatives of other aboriginal peoples say," Ache teacher Sinforiano Chevugi told The Associated Press in Kuetuvy, a former plantation that about 45 Ache families occupied 12 years ago. In 2010, Paraguay's Congress gave them formal title to the land.
In 2011, for the country's bicentennial, Paraguay held a national bow-and-arrow shooting contest that was won by the Ache team, a source of pride among the tribe's members and a motive for the weekend celebration.
The Ache are hunter-gatherers whose population of roughly 1,200 is distributed in five villages in eastern Paraguay. Ache de Kuetuvy, the second-largest village, is located in virgin jungle in Canindeyu province.
The Ache's Asiatic features and light eye color have drawn the interest of U.S. and European anthropologists.
Villagers celebrated the anniversary of their arrival in Kuetuvy by slaughtering a cow as well as collecting fruit, hunting wild animals and by cooking up dishes of tapir, armadillo and chicken feet. For dessert, a sweet dish was made from the juice of palm tree trunks.
They also celebrated the recent success of their exports to the United States of shade-grown, organic yerba mate, a drink brewed from the leaves of the rainforest holly tree.
Emiliano Mbejyvagi, president of the national federation of Ache communities, said the money earned from the exports will be invested in improving Kuetuvy.