June 2020 Newsletter
17 June 2020
Thank you so much to all of you who have been donating generously to the Trust over the last few weeks. We hope you are all well and gradually emerging after lockdown into what they are now calling the ‘ new normal’ which seems to mean a gradual resumption of a limited range of activities at whatever recommended distance your country advises. It has been a terrible period in world history but let's hope countries can continue to slowly open up again with a better understanding of how precious our natural resources are.
Whilst we have been locked up in our homes quite a lot has been happening with the Kogi in the Sierra.
1. Food Campaign
You will see from our website and social media platforms that we have recently launched a food campaign to help the Kogi people who have retreated into the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to isolate themselves during the pandemic and they have closed off their lands to outsiders.
They are staying safe by not coming down the mountain and not travelling between Kogi villages to prevent getting any infection. As a result, the variety and amount of foods that they can grow and acquire has been drastically reduced, a situation exacerbated by a series of wildfires in March which affected many parts of the Sierra. Government assistance has also been limited.
The Kogi are therefore in need of money to purchase food and they also need medicines and protective equipment to carry out safe deliveries and face any possible complications. Their indigenous organisation, Gonawindúa Tayrona, has established a safety protocol for delivery of these aid packages to 14 key Kogi villages, from where supplies can be distributed to family groups.
The Tairona Heritage Trust's food campaign has been set up to fund the acquisition and distribution of these essential supplies so if you have not already done so please donate as generously as you can to this urgent appeal. The Mamas for their part have been working for several weeks at their 'hot spots' or ezuamas to use their knowledge to try and bring an end to this global emergency and restore the ecological imbalance.
You can donate here: https://www.taironatrust.org/how-to-help/donate or use the other donate buttons on our website. Thank you! We will ensure that your money reaches Colombia safely and is put to immediate use.
2. Protests against illegal building work
In early June Gonawindua Tairona issued a formal complaint that illegal construction work was taking place at one of the special sites along the Black Line, around the mouth of the river Ancho.
It had already caused serious damage and threatened the ecological stability of the whole area (and beyond). This site formed a vital part of their ancestral territory and was supposed to be protected by the government. We understood that the work was being carried out in order to build an eco hotel(!). The Kogi called for this to stop immediately and for the Minister for the Environment to visit the site to assess the damage.
We were then pleased to report that once this violation of indigenous rights was drawn to the attention of the authorities, the work was immediately suspended as the builder was found not to have an appropriate licence. So this is great news and means that government protection for the Kogi ancestral lands is actually working! Thanks is also due to support from the German Ambassador in Colombia, half a million protests on social media and pressure from various prominent journalists and organisations like our own working together to support the OGT. So well done everyone - we must keep up the good work
3. Medicine Festival
The Kogi Speak - Indigenous Heritage and the bigger picture of the pandemic.
Our film ALUNA is being screened by MediCinema as part of the Medicine Festival later this month. You can watch the film from 12 noon UK time on Wednesday 24th June 2020 on the festival website.
You will need to register for the live and interactive Q and A zoom call afterwards at 8 pm UK time) which is limited to 1000 participants. It is also on Facebook and will be free of charge with donations to the Trust welcome. The film will remain live to watch again for 24 hours on the festival website or of course you can access it again on Youtube or on the THT website.
Here are all the links which are now live:
In the Q and A our own Alan Ereira, historian, author and director of Aluna and Mama Senchina a half Wiwa, half Kogi mama will be speaking about Covid-19 in the context of the Kogi indigenous heritage. The Mama works with Muisca descendants restoring their songs and teachings and has been identifying esuamas throughout central and south America. The Muisca are descendants of the ancient indigenous peoples that inhabited the mountains of Central Colombia before the Spanish conquest who relate to the Kogi culturally.
The event will be hosted by Oona Chaplin, ( Avatar ) who is also the granddaughter of the great silent movie actor Charlie Chaplin and great granddaughter of the American playwright Eugene O'Neill. She will be accompanied by Colombian musician and sound healer Anthar Kharana. So do watch Aluna again and join in the Q and A - it's a great line-up!
4. Cultivating Water
Obviously the Cultivating Water project that we told you about in April has been on hold for the time being but we hope to have more news about that in the next few weeks.
That's all for now folks - take care and stay safe.
Tairona Heritage Trustees