El taita Byron Piaguaje is the son of the respected Elder Pacho Piaguaje and one of the taitas that is recognized and authorized as an official healer of the Siona ethnic group, master of the vine/yage and of traditional chanting.
The Siona’s are an ethnic group that live along the Putumayo river in Colombia, where the Chuembi and Piñuña river meet.
They are tightly related to the Secoya o Piojé language from Ecuador which is also related to Coreguaje.
They claim to have arrived there from the east centuries ago through the Putumayo river which they call Hot Cane River.
They have been repeatedly affected by countless so called development processes first with the exploitation of rubber, latter with petroleum and gas extraction and recently with illegal coca plantations. The result has been the reduction of their territory an their population estimated currently in less than 400 people.
The healer or “curaca” has a very important role within the life of the community through the ritual intake of Yage. Like so he establishes contact with the five levels and colours of the universe. Health, hunting, fishing, human vital cycle, marriage and the general security of the community depend upon the relationship with the different beings that inhabit these levels and colours.
Special attention within the community is given to personal beauty, traditional hairdressing and the painting of the body. They also handcraft jewelry like earrings and necklaces, being specially important for the “curaca” the 32 jaguar teeth necklace.
They wear in every wrist as a bracelet the aromatic herb called Ma’ya that has got them to be known as the Sioni (perfumed people in Huitoto language).
One of the main characteristics of this ethnic group is that it is considered a very far apart and secluded ethnic group compared to others.