The community of San José de Payamino is a kichwa community of approximately 270 members which has lived in this area for centuries. They still live as hunters and gathers in a semi nomadic way, each family has a house by the river for fishing and growing crops and a house in the village near the school. The community speak their own unique dialect of kichwa, and most also speak Spanish.
Until 2002 the leader of the community was the shaman Juanciano Jipa. After his death in 2002 the community decided to split the power between a president as a political leader and the shaman as a spiritual leader. The president is elected every year among the members of the community.
The village moved sites in 1984, but the current buildings were built (with government donated materials) in 1995. Here you find the school, the health clinic and the meeting room. There is a generator for electricity, which runs when they have gasoline. The Sumaco National Park have recently completed the building of a Park office in the village and the construction of the Junta Parrochia (local council) offices are currently underway.
Bi-lingual education was first introduced in 1968, by the father of Darwin Garcia (project coordinator). Teaching been taking place ever since. In 2004-2005 there were 65 student in primary and secondary school and 26 following a distant learning college course every Friday and Saturday.
The Health clinic was built in 1995. It is equipped with a solar panel, which runs the fridge (when there is an operational battery connected). Otherwise the clinic is very poorly equipped. There is one trained nurse living ½ hour away.