Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Indigenous Resistance

Coming from Santa Marta,it is our 10th day in the beautiful and at the same time misjudged country of Colombia. We have traveled through the plains, Andes and are now settled in the Caribbean! Last night, we had the honor of spending a night with an Indigenous community known as the Waiyuus. One of the most adventurous things that we did and something which I did not expect to enjoy was to sleep in hammocks with the companionship of nature!

This group of Indigenous people have been one of the most resistant and populated in the country. They have about 300,000 members of which 150,000 reside in Colombia and the other half in Venezuela, due to colonization. Their community is a matrilineal society in which the mothers last name is passed on, generation to generation. As we spoke with Rosa, the leader of the clan, she mentioned how they have resisted for many years and continue to do so. Their culture and traditions are yet to be respected and both the government and society continue to ignore their way of living. In 1991, it was declared that the territory belonged to the Indigenous but, the natural resources and everything below the land, belonged to the government. Therefore, Indigenous communities continue to be exploited as well as mother earth. To them, the earth is their mother, the one who gives us life and for those reasons, it is protected and used properly. When natural resources are extracted by big corporations, it is as if they are taking the blood from their mother. It is amazing to see and actually experience the lifestyle of our ancestors and how strong they have been to preserve their traditions.

Speaking to these women and hearing their stories makes me realize how weak minded we are. Our society has transformed our lifestyles into one that is centered around capitalism and materialism. Not only are we damaging our own societies but we are also destroying theirs because we exploit their land in order to achieve our “wants”. At the same time, it is evident that even with all the “riches” of the world, America is one of the most miserable. We are so caught up with brand names and luxuries that we forget to appreciate the meaning of family and mother nature. Appreciate the everlasting things that have always been there for us and give us life instead of commodities that give us pleasure for 20minutes and are later tossed or replaced for an “upgrade”. Just being able to lay down on a hammock and feel and hear the wind around me was one of the most peaceful moments I have ever experienced. This is something that is hard to find in the busy streets of the cities we live in. Why is it that we have to travel miles away to feel an emotion that should be the center of our life? Think about it.

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