Photo via tayrona.eu
June 2, 2009
In a world full of noise, the indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, have embarked on a journey that requires the utmost clarity and discernment. Their very existence depends on their own choices and decisions.
Time has passed since the descendants of the Tayrona had to battle the conquistadors tooth and nail for their territory. Three of the original tribes –Arhuaco, Kogi, and Wiwa– managed to preserve their ancestral traditions wholesome while the Kankuamo were assimilated by western influence. Sadly, the threats have not only remained but intensified with time.
The richness of the Tayrona culture is immense, a patrimony of humanity that needs to be embraced and preserved. According to their beliefs, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta –their mother,– is The Heart of the World, and the health of the entire planet depends on its well-being. They call themselves The Elder Brother. Their Mamos (priests) bear on their shoulders the responsibility of keeping the balance of the universe, which is achieved in part by making payments as required by The Law of Origin.
We, The Younger Brother, unaware of the consequences of our actions, are destroying this equilibrium –Yuluka in their native language– by cutting forests, building dams, preventing them from accessing their sacred sites, etc. So concerned are the descendants of the Tayrona about the future of the planet, they have decided to break decades of isolation and reach out to us. They hope that we will hear their message and change our ways.
They have appealed to the government of Colombia, they have sent envoys to the United States and Europe. They have come down their sacred mountain to the noise of our cities to talk to us. Will we change? I don’t know. What I do know is that they are determined. They do not seem scared to face the unknown. To them, the matter is very simple: your actions are a reflection of your thoughts. Change your thoughts and your actions will follow.
Amidst the chaos they have been forced to live in, the clarity of their reasoning amazes me. I only hope that we, The Younger Brother, wake up in time, learn from their message and accompany them on their quest for Yuluka.
To learn more about the descendants of the Tayrona, please visit cafeyuluka.com.
Carmenza Montague is a native of Colombia, South America. Since late 2005, Carmenza and her busband, Sean, have been importing Café Yuluka from Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in an effort to aid the descendants of the Tayrona indigenous community recover and preserve their ancestral lands, a territory of astonishing biodiversity and ancient cultural traditions.