We were born from the earth – the trees were our home, and the rivers gave us a source to drink from. Many communities were able to grow and expand thanks to this benevolent earth; thousands and thousands of years passed and the earth continues to give and give, like a mother that gives everything to her children, but she became dried and cracked.
Fortunately, some indigenous tribes have managed to survive and have a well-rooted sense of belonging to the earth, water, and biodiversity – the reason is because they have an awakened connection with nature. The roots of their relationship with nature are anchored in their cosmovision (the way to see and interpret the world) and their spirituality. They feel that they are one with the earth, in other words, they are part of the ecosystem, and they don’t want to dominate and control nature.
In Colombia, South America, there are about 90 indigenous tribes. Today I´m going to speak about two of them that have captivated my attention; one, live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and the other group lives in Cauca department.
La Sierra is a massif approximately 16,400 KM2 and 45 km above sea level. According to the beliefs of the people of the Sierra Nevada, the peaks have a special meaning – they are the centre of the world because humanity descended from this place. They call themselves elder brothers, because they have their mission is to take care of the world and to teach us (occidental people) to take care of nature.
To carry out this mission, this indigenous group follows the Mamo. He is the spiritual leader, who has the ancestral knowledge about the laws of life and nature. Thanks to Mamos, the indigenous tradition of how take care of nature has been maintained to today.
The other indigenous tribe that I want to talk about, are the Misak – for them, nature is the mother and spirit that gives life and diversity.
The Misak tribe gives water a precious value – they believe that their ancestors were born from it and believe that the water doesn’t come from the lakes to run towards the sea, rather it filters down into the earth, removes it, and produces landslides, that leaves big wounds in the mountains from which the first people arose.
The Aboriginal people try to teach us that the relationship between humans and nature reside in understanding that the earth is not just a piece of land where we obtain everything. Rather that the earth is a vital space where humans develop all of our daily activities, where our children grow up, where we have all of the meaningful experiences, where we meet other people – we are born from the earth and we come back to her to die.
The meaning of nature for the indigenous people transcends because they feel that they belong to the earth and the earth is full of meanings, traditions and culture, all of the legacy of their ancestors is embodied in this that they call mother earth.
Today these believes are valid and relevant, because indigenous tribes have kept the bond with nature alive – although those believes are far away from our modern word. The indigenous people have the key, it is necessary come back to the beginning, to the ancestral traditions and to remember who we were, it is important to reconsider, rebuild, unlearn and learn again how to love and be one with nature.
- Dagua, Aranda, Vasco, Abelino, Misael, Luis (1998). Fondo de Promoción de la Cultura del Banco Popular., ed. Guámbianos: hijos del aroíris y del agua. Bogotá: CEREC/Los Cuatro Elementos/Fundación Alejandro Ángel Escobar.
- Reichel-Dolmatoff, G. 1965. ‘Colombia: Ancient Peoples and Places’. Thames and Hudson. London
As a person, taking care of nature is really important in her life, and is a passion and every day in every moment I´m thinking how we can take care of water resources, improve recycling practices, etc. Catalina considers the earth like my mother that needs to be respected and protected; for that reason, she feels that one of her missions is help to empower people to take care of the environment and create solid bonds of love between communities and nature.