Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is proud to share with us a photo of their special celebration earlier this month in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of northern Colombia, adjoining the Caribbean.
Liliana Madrigal, co-founder of ACT, shared: “A purchase of 383 acres of coastal land considered sacred by the Kogi indigenous people was made possible through a partnership between ACT, the Colombian Ministry of Culture, and the Gonawindúa Tayrona indigenous association of the Kogi. Such investment is a first for the Colombian government, which also established a new Colombian category of protected area for the land, a site of ‘national and cultural interest.’ On May 5, various government ministers, local leaders and around 50 Kogi spiritual leaders gathered for the official transfer of land to the Kogi, who now will work to incorporate it to their indigenous reserve. This accomplishment is highly significant not only for the Kogi, but for all indigenous groups seeking greater public awareness of the crucial importance of sacred lands to the perpetuation of their culture.”
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Traditional sacred sites of the Kogi people are managed by the mamos, or spiritual authorities, who make offerings on these sites according to traditional calendars. However, not all sacred sites of the Kogi are in their reserve: some lie outside of it and are seriously threatened by development, extraction, and commercial industry pressures. In the process of recovering these sites in order to develop their ancestral practices in line with their traditional cosmology, the Kogi, in an interesting public-private partnership supported by the Colombian Ministry of Culture, the Colombian national rural development agency INCODER, and the Amazon Conservation Team, bought the property Jaba Tañiwashkaka located at the mouth of the Jerez River in the municipality of Dibulla, department of La Guajira.
By decision of the Ministry of Culture #2873 of November 13, 2012, the site was declared a site of national cultural interest, a new category of protected area in Colombia that protects the land where the sacred site Jaba Tañiwashkaka is located. On May 5, the transfer of this land will be formalized in a traditional ceremony, with the participation of mamos, local communities, and institutions involved in the acquisition process.