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What is Ayvu Rapyta?

This website is project of mine that I do for my own interest.  I have some strange hobbies and I sometimes like to spend my free time in the Hayden Library of Arizona State University peering over obscure texts about the Native American Indians.  I am fascinated by native languages and love to read about the beliefs of native people in their native tongue.

I learned Guaraní as a Mormon missionary in Paraguay.  In Paraguay I was able to get to know many of the native people and found their ways very foreign but very interesting.  The name of this website, Ayvu Rapyta, is Guaraní and means roughly “the foundation of the word” and is also the name of a book.  More specifically it is Mbyá Guaraní, a particular group of the Guaraní that inhabit the southern part of Paraguay in Guairá and Misiones in Argentina.  I did not know any Mbyá while I lived in Paraguay and the dialect is a little different.  But the book is fantastic and gives the most complete record of Guaraní beliefs and customs I have ever seen.

Ayvu Rapyta was the most difficult book for me to come by.  It is extremely rare and I believe it is out of print.  After I returned to the United States I tried to find a copy to purchase all over the internet but could not find a copy anywhere.  I visited Paraguay again one year later and during the week I was there on vacation I was searching in every bookstore I came across.  I finally found an old copy in a bookstore in Asunción.  Since then I have been sporadically transcribing the book and have made PDF documents available here on this website.  I don’t have the whole thing done but I have several of the most important chapters complete.  I hope others interested in the Guaraní culture and language will enjoy it.  And they won’t have to spend several hundred dollars to go to Paraguay looking for a copy like I did!

I always keep my eye open for interesting American Indian documents.  Some I have found online and collected.  I have also found some others in bookstores and in the ASU library.  I like studying these and transcribing them is a good way for me to dive into them.  It is also a way to share my interests with anyone else as quirky about such things as I am.

Recently, I recently found another treasure in a little hole-in-the-wall bookstore in Colorado.  Since I live in Arizona, I am very interested in the local tribes in the state.  In this bookstore I found a collection of Tohono O’Odham (Papago) and Pima legends in the native language, along with English translation.  Very cool!  It’s called O’othham Hoho’ok A’agitha, compiled by Dean and Lucille Saxton.  I have started diving into it and I’m hooked.  But my Tohono O’odham isn’t very good.  I’ll work on that.  So I’ll try to make some of those passages available online too.

If you happen to have any documents in an American Indian language I would love to have a copy to post here.  Even scanned copies are great.  I hope you enjoy the site.

Todd Decker

The Sacred Texts of the World

This site is under construction.  I plan to make available here several sacred texts from indigenous peoples.