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The Lican Antai of the Atacama

The Lican Antai people of the Atacama Desert have persisted for 12,000 years in the oases, valleys and gorges of the Andes. Dominated by the Inca in the 15th Century, their language, Kunza was believed extinct after the arrival of the Spanish. Today they are reviving the language in the small towns and settlements where the Lican Antai or AtacameƱos hold on to their ways of life, using the scarce water and sparse terrain by keeping their livestock - llama and alpaca - both as pack animals and for their meat, hide and wool.
Stewards of water in one of the driest and harshest environments on earth, the Lican Antai are a model for the rest of the earth as global climate change and the rest of humanity bring heartbreaking tragedy and perplexing challenges to the Atacama. A place of unrivaled clear skies, international observatories have long mapped the skies here. San Pedro de Atacama, the main town of the Atacama is an ancient settlement where pre Inca fortifications, and the nearby old…

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