The Cuillurguna or “twins” narratives are the most extensive and defining stories in Napo Quichua mythology. Culture heroes, the twins effect the “miracles” and transformations that came to define this pacha, or “world.” This chapter expands the discussion of the twins by looking at three additional narratives, the bird-of-prey tale and two tellings of the mundopuma, or “world jaguar,” story. It shows that the recurrent pattern in the cycle of the Cuillurguna stories is their role as creative and artful world makers. The Cuillurguna are not only ushayuk, or “powerful,” but they are also the mythological founders of Runa self-determination, the ability of a people to create and control their own destiny, and to adapt to changing historical and environmental conditions. This mythological message has been a part of indigenous life in this region for centuries, and it has helped the Napo Quichua people to adapt to various oppressive regimes throughout their history, a history that has been defined by adaptation to new circumstances as well as violence and struggle.
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