The land is ancestral, it is the house that has seen eras and times pass, it has had to adapt to the whims of human beings, and it has shouted in many ways that we look at it, and feel it, but we do not. For indigenous cultures, the earth is the mother
According to figures from Colombia 2018, ethnic populations are equivalent to 13.6% of all citizens. Specifically, the Embera amount to a little more than 41 thousand people. The Womanpost.com spoke with two indigenous women from the department of Chocó to delve into the recognition that their culture gives to the land.
For the Embera community, "the land is that gift of "Ãkôre", a gift from God, to have a beautiful existence in a lifetime," is how Ilsa Banuvi Caízamo, a young indigenous woman from the department, begins her admiration for the land of Choco. And she continues with a simile, “Many times the elders have made us reflect on the similarities that the earth has with women. The earth has within it, rivers, and waters that also give life. Inside women flow rivers of oxygen, blood and of course, we give life and form children.
“In our territories, we do not harm the earth, the importance of the planet is valued since we have ancestral knowledge. We have five worlds like the same position of the fingers of the hand. It begins with the thumb, the “Ãkôre Ejua” -the world of God, followed by “Angotorro”, and the finger that we call “heart” is where the one we inhabit is, the imperfect, “Embera ejua”; follow the divine world, “Yãmbera” and the little finger, “Amukuraa”. Ilsa points out that when damage is done to the earth, for example, mineral extraction or tree felling, the other worlds are affected since an imbalance is generated and that is why the care of Mother Nature is the defense of these precious worlds.
Ilsa is an indigenous leader of the Embera Dobida people of the municipality of NuquÍ, of the indigenous community of Puerto Indio Río Chori, Jurubira Chori reservation of Alto Baudó. A judicious young woman who seeks to fight for young people above those sad socioeconomic realities and violence in many forms that this region faces.
The Women's Program of the Permanent Roundtable for Dialogue and Coordination of the Indigenous Peoples of Chocó recognizes 14 forms of violence (psychological, political, economic, physical, sexual, structural, and racist, among others) and add to mother earth, should be contemplated since illegal mining is permanent, but as Ilsa states, “legal mining is also an attack on life, not only for us but for all human beings. With these practices we feel defenseless in the department”.
Another approach that this 23-year-old, an accounting student in Quibdó, points out is that all these bad practices against Mother Earth generate famine. “We no longer see little fish in the rivers for our food, we no longer have anywhere to go to collect our food (corn, cassava, plantain, rice, etc.). We need to take care of resources to survive. We all need an economy to survive, but let's find another way to live with the planet without finishing it. We need to help it flourish." Many questions with this situation, but when you think about this same calamity due to the damage to the planet and the locomotive of "civilization" that has affected many regions in other countries, Peru, Central America or Brazil, it is to rethink how to straighten the path.
On the other hand, we spoke with Astrid González Guaurabe, from the Sabaleta indigenous reservation, located in the Carmen de Atrato municipality, three and a half hours from Quibdó. She lives in this city and is a worthy representative of the Embera Chamí ethnic group and from where she is part of the Fedeorewa Indigenous Organization.
We indigenous people identify with Mother Earth, that is, our mother in our Dachinave language, because "Nave" is life. The land gives us food, water…it is like mother's milk, that food to live and grow”.
And in that memory of the benefits of the gifts of the earth, she makes a call to "stop exploiting the beauty of mother earth, gold, water, coal, and minerals. Mother Earth gets sick with so much evil from the human being and when she feels tired, she wakes up with fury, with avalanches, landslides, and so on. The earth must be cared for and pampered."
In her dissertation, Astrid presents an interesting panorama “We take care of the forest, we don't drill it, we don't cut the forest because animals live there, it provides us with food and that ecosystem allows us to cultivate. We also take care of the rivers because there we discharge our energies and other animals live”.
But in Chocó there are many external problems that affect the environment, and Astrid reflects sadly, “illegal mining with the exploitation of gold, the beauty of the department, but it is also our sadness since he lives poisoned. We ask that there be no more illegal mining that damages mother earth or illicit crops, nor do we want foreign people who attack the reservations because there are many illegal armed actors who do not want our land free”.
Finally, this Embera Chamí leader reflects on the importance of strengthening agriculture so that all indigenous people and peasants can grow their products, their needs are met, and food is shared with those who do not harvest the land.
Will the look of the planet from indigenous communities make us reflect?