After more than 50 years of armed conflict in Colombia, the most recent implemented peace process has proved to be slow and, in some cases, unperceived. Indigenous communities in the north are one of the most affected by the conflict. Their personal intervention to repair their land, and the subsequent human and environmental loss has been considered by the government, however, each communities’ understanding of the interwoven links between craft creative processes and their relation with ecological healing, has not been taken into account by external stakeholders.
In the last three decades, Kogi leaders, have been actively engaged in constant ecological and political activism to protect their ancestral home, The Sierra Nevada, from environmentally harmful developments. They have used their indigenous knowledge as a platform, to raise awareness and understanding among the wider public about how and why some human activities are destructive. Our team has been invited by the Wayu and Kogi indigenous communities in the north of Colombia on various occasions, in an attempt to understand and learn their approach about the craft of material-making from plants, we have noted how their practise is fundamental in the way they communicate their ecological awareness.
The Kogi word Zigoneshi translates: I give you, you give me; we exchange.
For these peoples, land and soil are sacred and all processes, from the harvesting to spinning, knitting and weaving of natural resources are revered as part of the earth’s ecological equilibrium. What humans borrow from the land should be given back in an equal, uncontaminated and respectful manner. They are concerned about the lack of biodegradable natural materials being used in the production of craft pieces in the wider community. Furthermore, with the introduction of industrial polyester yarns some of their traditional material-making practices could be at risk of disappearing as younger generations are less able to source natural fibres.
We have started a project of documentation and knowledge exchange with the Tayku, Kogi community and aim to raise sufficient support to run a pilot programme during 2021-22. If you’re interested to learn more about it or would like to collaborate, fund or participate, please get in touch.