Public Statement: Kogui, Arhuaco, Wiwa and Kankuamo Indigenous Tribes

Four indigenous tribes Wiwa, Kogui, Arhuaco and Kankuamo live on sacred lands marked by what is referred to as the Linea Negra. The Lina Negra crosses three Colombian departments (counties) La Guajira, Magdalena and Cesar and borders the Caribbean Sea, in North of Colombia. The Linea Negra consists of 348 sacred places and is officially recognised by Decree 1500 (2018) issued at the end of the Santos Government.

Article 1. Objective is to “redefine the ancestral territory of the Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa and Kankuamo Peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, expressed in the system of sacred spaces of the “Black Line -Sheshiza”, as a traditional area, of special protection, of spiritual, cultural and environmental value, as well as establishing measures and guarantees for effective protection, in accordance with the principles and foundations of the Law of Origin… and in Law 21 of 1991 and following the provisions in Order 189 (Auto 189) of 2013 of the Constitutional Court. [1]

Decree 1500 (2018) on the Linea Negra

At the beginning of November 2019 the Indigenous Peoples of the SNSM arrived in Bogota for dialogues with the Colombian Government regarding the importance of the implementation of Decree 1500 and to make an urgent national and international call for people and organisations to support them in defending the Heart of the Earth. An important environmental, cultural and spiritual area for the protection of the Earth. (Tweet: #HeartoftheEarth  #CorazonDelMundo)

Public Statement: Kogui, Arhuaco, Wiwa and Kankuamo Indigenous Tribes

An unoffical translation of the statement in Spanish here

The Indigenous Peoples and Organizations Kogui (OGT), Arhuaco (CIT), Wiwa (OWYBT) and Kankuamo (OIK), represented in the Territorial Council of Cabildos (CTC SNG), DENOUNCE the serious risk of physical and cultural extermination of the Heart of the Earth -Sierra Nevada, and have published the follwing Public Statement:

We denounce the serious risk of destabilisation of the spiritual and material order of the territory of Gonawindua and its system of sacred lands of the Black Line (Linea Negra); and the incalculable and irreparable impact on the natural ecosystem of the Sierra Nevada – the Heart of the Earth. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is threatened by the extractive economic model, and the absence of guarantees to ensure the protection and conservation of the environmental, cultural and economic values ​​of the territory, deepening a systematic violation of our fundamental rights, which would precipitate the physical and cultural disappearance of the four Indigenous peoples, and the survival of the world population of both current and future generations.

We reiterate our mandate and mission bequeathed since Law of Origin, to care for the Heart of the Earth. We have insisted on the importance of caring, conserving, protecting and saving the Heart of the Earth based on the ancestral territorial order. This spiritual order is the foundation of life. The integral function of the Sierra Nevada is based on the maintenance and control of the elements of nature to guarantee order and balance in sacred spaces, as the foundation of life, of cultural permanence and of the government of the indigenous peoples. To maintain the natural balance of the Sierra Nevada the integrity of the elements of land, sea, water .wind, fire, stones, minerals, plants and animals is necessary; associated and linked to the integrity and complementarity of the territory and the ecosystem from the highest snow point to the nine colors of the sea.

We are putting out an urgent call to warn that the Heart of the Earth is at high risk. This is due to the actions of the Colombian State, in ignoring its responsibilities, and failing to pay attention to the problematic issues raised, over various years, in the dialogues we have had. So far, we have received no answers, on the contrary, the applications, concessions and licensing of mining and energy and other megaprojects are increasing. These affect the survival of communities, and the integrity of the ancestral territory of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as a unique ecosystem in the world. That is why today, the protection of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is an issue that concerns all of us, this ecosystem is at risk of disappearing, and with it risks, the increased possibility of the physical and cultural extermination of the Four Indigenous Peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Our duty is to join forces to maintain the balance of the universe and the possibility of life for many generations. We are aware that the impacts of mining and megaprojects are irreparable and irreversible, so we ask, who can create a new and healthy planet, when this one ends?

We re-affirm our mission and policy of care and protection of the ancestral territory demarcated by the Black Line (Linea Negra). This spiritual holistic conception of territory has been the main foundation of our policies and government in our territory. In this concept of territory, the indigenous authorities raised with the national Government the importance of adopting measures that guarantee the integral protection of territory. For this reason, we demand the effective implementation of Decree 1500 of 2018 on the Black Line (Linea Negra), right now, there appears to be no political will to implement it. Added to this, is legal instability due to the petition for nullification of this decree, promoted mainly by those with economic business interests, which is before the the State Council (Consejo del Estado) [1].

We demand that the state authorities at municipal, departmental and national levels, and international bodies, establish and comply with agreements to guarantee the conservation and protection of the Sierra Nevada, and urgently adopt the following guidelines:

  • Respect for, and integrated protection of, the sacred ancestral lands of the Black Line (Linea Negra)
  • Suspension and definitive cessation of granting mining concessions – and megaprojects –in our ancestral territory
  • Sanitation and restoration of harmony in our territory.

Today in the city of Bogota, the Mamos, Authorities and delegates of the four indigenous peoples of the Earth, invite the whole country to together, save the Heart of the Earth.

“We are spiritual and material Guardians of the Heart of the Earth and we will continue fulfilling our mission to save Humanity”     

Maria Isabel VALDERRAMA GONZÁLEZ : trabajo de campo en Santa Marta Mapa_a10


[1] The orignal in Spanish reads: Artículo 1. Objeto. El presente decreto tiene por objeto redefinir el territorio ancestral de los pueblos Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa y Kankuamo de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, expresado en el sistema de espacios sagrados de la “Línea Negra -Sheshiza”, como ámbito tradicional, de especial protección, valor espiritual, cultural y ambiental, así como establecer medidas y garantías para su efectiva protección, conforme los principios y fundamentos de la Ley de Origen de estos pueblos, en desarrollo de la Ley 21 de 1991 y atendiendo lo dispuesto en el Auto 189 de 2013 de la Corte Constitucional.