“I live Gathering the People Together: Song to Chullu Mangu Woman (Russet-backed oropendola.”

Singer: Eulodia Dagua

Recorded and translated by Tod Swanson



Chullu mangu woman

Chullu mango woman

I live gathering the people together

Chullu Mangu Woman

On the slope of the hills

I travel just to travel

Making myself heard loudly


From wherever they hear her

Why is she travelling (here) they ask

It must be chullu mangu woman

Why travel here?

Why don’t you make them travel farther back there?

It is the Chullu Mangu Woman

She makes them travel here to spoil things

When they hear her far away

Who is making that sound over there?

Could it be a ghost that sounds like that?

She can make any sound be heard!

Chullu mangu woman!

The one who travels far.

Original text in Pastaza Quichua (Canelos Kichwa).



Chullu mangu warmiga,

Chullu mangu warmiga gayari

Runataga layari tandachiga tiani gayari

Chullu mangu warmiga

Urcu quinritami

Ñucaga purinigaj purini

Ashca uyarisha purini


Maimandalla uyasha

Imataya caiga puriunga nisha paina nijpiga

Chullu mangu warmi mangaya

Imataya purichi

Ima washa mana purichingachu

Chullu mangu warmimi

Caita waclipurichingaya

Carumanda uyacpi

Pita uyangaya chimanda

Ayachu uyanga

Imataya uyangayari

Chullu mangu warmilla

Caruta purichiutaga.

“I live Gathering People Together:  Oropendolas as Symbols of Leadership”

Tod Swanson, 2011

When they are away from their nesting trees oropendolas range across a large territory in what biologist call mixed species fruit eating flocks.  That is, they move through the forest looking for fruit trees in the company of numerous other species of  fruit eating birds.   Within these mixed flocks some species stand out as leaders: particularly oropendolas, toucans and violaceous jays.  Other species follow the lead of these birds and seem to be attracted by their calls.  They seem to feel safe, feeding calmly as long as they can hear the calls of these lead species.


Oropendolas are famous for their ability to copy the call of almost any other bird or animal.  They learn to mimic the calls of other birds that feed with them.  When they mimic the songs of other species these species come to the oropendolas.   This gives the oropendolas the ability to call together many other species  which them follow them on their foraging journey.  The oropendola’s ability to attract and hold together a diverse community of birds can be compared to a leader who holds a community together through eloquent and persuasive speaking.


In Amazonian thinking eloquent speaking and singing are qualities of a samayuj. A samayuj is a socially skilled person whose power resides in their “samay” or breath.  The oropendolas’ ability to speak the languages of so many other species is taken as evidence of its social power or samay.

A further testimony to the power and experience of the oropendola is the fact that they travel far.  Amazonian samayujs gained their power from the many places they had visited. In the old days samayujs from the Amazonian headwaters undertook periodic long journeys downriver to Iquitos and up the Andes to Quito as they journeyed they made pacts acquired compadres and gained power from the different places they visited.(ricsina, Purina).  The oropendola is comparable to these samayujs because of its habit of traveling long distances before returning to the nesting tree.