Lesson 602 – Ecuador: Native Peoples meet the Oilmen

Revenues from Amazon oil mean prosperity to many Ecuadorans, but the benefits for native peoples of the Amazon are less clear. Chinese oil interests are scouring the ancestral lands of Huaorani people for petroleum. The results are varied and controversial as the Hauorani lands and pristine rainforest are invaded by oil explorers and their machines.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about tensions in Ecuador between native peoples and the oil industry, and potential solutions.

Social Studies Standards

Culture: A, B

Discussion Prompts

  • Why do native Ecuadorans dislike the oil prospectors? Share a few of the specific reasons and tell whether they are justified. 
  • In the video, it is stated, “Ecuador is a small, poor country that depends a lot on oil”. What is the country gaining or losing from the oil revenue and how is the government choosing to use this money to improve the country?
  • How is the theme of change illustrated in this video? What changes have native peoples experienced and what pressures and challenges have arisen?
  • How can the conflict between the government, native people and oil prospectors be resolved? What is the best way they can compromise? Have there been similar conflicts over space and/or values at your school or in your region? If so, how were they resolved? If not, what might be a potential solution?

Lesson Activities

  • Design a welcome guide for new visitors that showcases the city of Quito, Ecuador highlighting its architecture and historical information. 
  • Write either an online encyclopedia entry or a play focused on the ways the Huaorani people live off the land. Include their traditions such as making red dye, canoes, arrows and other daily ways of life.
  • Research the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador and make a fact book that shares 10 facts about the rainforest in this part of Ecuador. Choose specific terminology and visuals for your fact book.
  • Create a letter from the point of view of an oil prospector in Ecuador defending their practices. Then imagine you are a Huaorani elder. Write a response from their point of view addressing the environmental damage and other tensions discussed in the video.


  • airstrip
  • bustles
  • ferocious
  • infrastructure
  • notoriously
  • pacify
  • pristine
  • revenue
  • seismic
  • trek


In the Americas Season 6 Lesson Episode 2