The indigenous U’wa who live in the foothills and forests of northeast Colombia’s Andes perpetuate all life by protecting it. The U’wa believe that their homeland is where the world began, and that everything—land, trees, river and sky—is alive and therefore sacred.
The Pirá Paraná forms the heart of a large sacred landscape afforded some protection and self-government by the 2,000 indigenous inhabitants. Employing community-driven initiatives has preserved and strengthened traditional knowledge, protected sacred sites, ensured intergenerational cultural transmission, and in the political realm secured indigenous autonomy and rights to administer state resources within Colombia.
For the indigenous peoples living on the steep slopes of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, sustaining the balance of the spiritual and ecological world is their sacred task.