“Trinkets and Beads” Quotes

“When the missionaries came, things changed. The oil companies came after the missionaries because they made it less dangerous to come and exploit the resources.”

Moi, Huaorani leader

“All my life I wanted to see the Bible, God’s carvings as they call it, the New Testament, cut through a culture where they never had it…. They did not consider themselves naked, and had no shame….”

Rachel Saint, missionary

“We came here to a naked tribe believing in demons and witchcraft and sorcerers and this controlled their whole life. Now, in this part of the tribe at least, there are Christian communities and the New Testament has really been dedicated, written in their own language. And we have a few readers in almost every clearing now.”

Rachel Saint

“We have everything here. I laugh more here. And it’s more peaceful.”


“The missionaries said to the companies, ‘We have civilized them…. So for a percentage, we can stop the killing and control them.'”


“I didn’t believe in God, but now I do, because Rachel Saint came here and civilized us and now we wear clothes.”

Babae, Huaorani clan leader

“We were fine before. We knew we could drink the water. But now the oil companies have polluted the rivers and there’s nowhere to drink like before.”

Delphin, Cofan leader

“Before the oil companies came we were organized and united. Then Maxus arrived through the missionaries… They offered material things. Schools and healthcare. Some of us fell for it a bit, but the majority of communities got together to fight and complain to Maxus.”


“I can’t speak for other oil companies. All I can do is speak for who we are and what we stand for. And we don’t intend to break promises…. We don’t intend to change the people’s culture. That’s not our purpose. Our role is to, if we had to leave tomorrow, then they would be able to live as they want to live before we came… What we want and what the Huaorani want in terms of minimizing encroachment on their land is synonymous.”

William Hutton, Maxus Oil Co.

“Do you think that was a fair trade?”
U.S. Embassy representative:
“That’s how we got Manhattan, you know, with trinkets and beads.”

Alicia Duran Ballen, daughter of Ecuador’s president:

“The ‘rainforest’ is a term which I really don’t know where it came from. It’s a term that was coined by somebody, for some reason. Perhaps the National Geographic. But it’s the jungle. And the jungle is the jungle is the jungle sort of thing.”

Alan Hatly, Consultant to oil companies

“If we can make a comparison between the oil industry and when Christopher Columbus arrived 500 years ago. Just the same. He brought some mirrors, necklaces, some fancy things. Same thing…. Now the difference is that instead of Spaniards, it’s the oil companies. We cannot pinpoint Maxus. No. We can say all the oil companies …. “

Giovanni Schiavone, Consultant to Ecuadorian Government

“Oil companies do not go into an area – whether it be the Oriente in the jungle in Ecuador or whether it be China or Wyoming – and set out to destroy the environment, nor to corrupt the people, nor to destroy whatever, the forest or whatever. Oil companies go in usually with an effort to spend as little money as possible, to find oil as quickly as possible and to come out with a maximum profit.”

Alan Hatly, oil company consultant

“Now we are trying to go back to the way we used to live, in many communities. We Huaorani now want a calm life. If we don’t, the Huaorani will disappear. That’s the reason we’re getting organized. Because we’d like to continue living like our ancestors.”


“Why do rich countries come here? People from the richest and most populated countries come to the poorest to take its resources, to take and negotiate, to live their life better and leave us even poorer. But we are richer than they because we have the resources and the forest, and our calm life is better than their life in the city. We must all be concerned because this is the heart of the world and here we can breathe… So we as Huaorani, we ask those city people: Why do you want oil? We don’t want oil.”


Last Updated Spring 2002