This is the Home Page of the Tairona Heritage Trust, a small British-based NGO which, since 1990, has been working on behalf of Gonavindua Tairona. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the highest coastal mountain in the world, and the indigenous groups which live on it - the Kogi, the Arhuaco and the Assario - are the descendants of the Tairona civilization which flourished there at the time of the Spanish Invasion. Gonavindua Tairona is the political organisation founded by the the Mamas (priests) of the three tribes in 1987 in order to represent their interests in the face of increasing Western pressures. The three tribes refer to themselves as ‘The Elder Brothers’, and to Westerners as ‘The Younger Brother’

Unlike most South American civilizations, the Taironas lived in relative peace with the Spanish for the first seventy years following the Conquest until Spanish demands finally caused a rebellion which was ruthlessly crushed. Tairona survivors fled up into the mountain to reconstitute their society. Pioneering fieldwork this century was done by Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff from the 1940’s to the 1970’s, but the harshness of the terrain makes the area relatively under-researched. Films, notably by Robert Gardner, David Attenborough and Brian Moser, have been made about the Arhuaco (or Ika), but the Kogi were almost unknown until they agreed to the making of ‘From the Heart of the World - The Elder Brothers’ Warning’, a BBC documentary made by Alan Ereira in 1990. The film contained a strong message of warning concerning the environment.

“Up to now we have ignored the Younger Brother. We have not deigned even to give him a slap. But now we can no longer look after the world alone. The Younger Brother is doing too much damage. He must see, and understand, and assume responsibility. Now we will have to work together. Otherwise, the world will die.”
Kogi Mama

The Tairona Heritage Trust has successfully cooperated with Gonavindua Tairona by raising money for the purchase of their ancient territories. Its work was largely with the Kogi, but the Trust aims to broaden the scope of that work by gathering material concerning all aspects of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and its peoples. Articles for inclusion in the site are invited - please send material for consideration to:-

Tairona Heritage Trust reg. charity no. 1012018
90 Summerlee Avenue
London N2 9QH
United Kingdom

Meet the Tairona



Alan Ereira's book has been re-published by the Trust as The Elder Brother's Warning and is available for purchase here

support the trust

Donors who contribute a minimum of £26 (£27 outside the UK) to the Trust receive a “thank you” DVD of the original documentary 'From the Heart of the World - the Elder Brothers' Warning' in PAL or NTSC format as requested.

Please click here to support the Trust