Monthly Archives: May 2016

“As long as the Tree lives, the people live”: the Encounter of the Eagle, the Condor and the Quetzal

Casey Camp


Today, we would like to close this cycle of posts with poetry and documentaries! In spreading intercultural awareness in the last thirteen weeks, we have been building bridges between the voices and the struggles to defend Water throughout Abya-Yala / Turtle Island. Today is a special day because we would like to share with you the vision behind this project, and the synchronism of last weeks, which has made us think that this is just the beginning. In 1984, the Four Worlds International Institute published The Sacred Tree. Reflections on Native American Spirituality. In the first chapter, we can read the following story:

The ancient ones taught us that the life of the Tree is the life of the people. If the people wander far away from the protective shadow of the Tree, if they forget to seek the nourishment of its fruit, or if they should turn against the Tree and attempt to destroy it, great sorrow will fall upon the people. The people will lose their power. They will cease to dream dreams and see visions. They will begin to quarrel among themselves over worthless trifles. They will become unable to tell the truth and to deal with each other honestly. They will forget how to survive in their own land. Their lives will become filled with anger and gloom. Little by little they will poison themselves and all they touch.

It was foretold that these things would come to pass, but that the Tree would never die. And as long as the Tree lives, the people live. It was also foretold that the day would come when the people would awaken, as if from a long, drugged sleep; that they would begin, timidly at first but then with great urgency, to search again for the sacred Tree. (The Sacred Tree 7)

In the last decades, Indigenous Elders and advocates have been talking about the kinship trails across the Americas—the roots, the trunk and the branches of the Abya-Yala. We believe that all of the protagonists highlighted over the last twelve posts are recovering the vision of the Tree, and that the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace is part of the trails and crossroads of the Tree. Global mobilizations such as 2009 Mama Quta Titikaka, and Idle No More are part of the roots and fruits of the Tree. Current ceremonial exchanges among the Mayan Tatas and Amazonian Taytas are part of the roots and fruits of the Tree.

And this is probably the reason why the same text was used recently in documentary The Encounter of the Eagle and the Condor by Clement Guerra. In this astonishing project, the Elder Casey Camp read the story of The Sacred Tree while Nature spoke through the lens.

Watch here The Encounter of the Eagle and the Condor‘s trailer =>

On September 27th, 2015, the night of the full moon eclipse, with the support of Indigenous Rising, Indigenous Environmental Network, Amazon Watch, Pachamama Alliance, and Rainforest Action Network, native women from the seven directions of Abya-Yala / Turtle Island met in New York and signed an Indigenous Women’s Treaty of the Americas. As we can learn from Defenders of Mother Earth–another piece by Guerra–Elder Casey Camp (Ponca Pa’tha’ta, USA), Patricia Gualinga (Sarayaku, Ecuadorian Amazon), Gloria Ushigua Santi (Sapara, Ecuadorian Amazon), Pennie Opal Plant (Yaqui/Choctaw/Cherokee, USA), Crystal Lameman (Beaver Lake Cree, Canada), and Blanca Chancoso (Kichua, Ecuadorian Andes) became family that day in a gesture of solidarity, creating a cross-border allegiance. A couple of months before the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP 2015), the Indigenous Women’s Treaty of the Americas stated their demands to the world —100% renewable energy, the protection of the web of life, and to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Watch here Defenders of Mother Earth (2015) =>

In tune with these trans-indigenous encounters, our friend Fredy Roncalla from Hawansuyo, sent us four poems by Omar Aramayo, a poet from the Titikaka Lake (Puno, Peru). One of them was entitled “The Water Battle”. And, a day after, Kim Shuck, Cherokee poet and contributor to the Indigenous Message on Water, sent us a poem entitled “War”. Neither of them knew about the synchronism! Immediately, we decided to translate the poems and include them in this sprout/post of the Tree. We hope that you enjoy them as much as we did!

Kim Shuck is a poet and visual artist of Tsalagi and Polish ancestry. Her first solo book, Smuggling Cherokee, won the Diane Decorah award in 2005 and was published by Greenfield Review Press. Her first book of prose, Rabbit Stories, came out in 2013 from Poetic Matrix Press. Kim is a founding member of the de Young Museum’s Native Advisory Board (San Francisco) and curates poetry events all over the Bay Area. She also edits the very irregular online journal Rabbit and Rose =>


By K. Shuck

And in the water war we will

Paint signs of bravery and

Protection onto the

Salmon the

Trout and wade into the

Streams with them and they will

Paint us back in the

War of clear water we will

Insist that water be local and when it

Can’t be local we will weigh the benefit to the

Real costs of lawns in the

Desert or apricots and almonds we will

Seek to understand other people’s

Prayers and what gets flooded by

Dams or drained by canals and

Will consult the birds about the

Wetlands and they might paint us too and the

Consulting board will offer seats to pines and

Sunflowers who defended the people the

Last time and the wolves and beavers who change the

Streams will also be heard and we

Cannot lose cannot


Omar Aramayo is an Andean poet, journalist, composer, and scholar. Since the 1960s, Omar has published experimental poetry, weaving music, visual arts and ancient traditions from the Titikaka Lake =>


By Omar Aramayo

Battle of people

battle of terror

the great battle of horror grabs us with stabs in the back

with kicks with bullets with toxic gases with electric nets

although we just realized it, it started a long time ago

the battle in which the word neighbor is broken eyelash by eyelash

cell by cell

an immense forest seeded with dead bodies from all species

the ocean in which the dead have sat down to have dinner

her servants assure they will bring to her every single living being

the keyboard of life has been broken overnight

a wave of sand rises in the wind

one behind the other

the water has gone with life

the survival of the species in the weight scale of doubt

those who are on the other side spit out in the face of life

the square is missing one of its sides

the circle is missing its equidistant center

intelligence has been used in the wrong way

being human has lost its meaning

its sacred side

has lost itself

the hearts of merchants are empty of god

they lie in their houses in front of their children

they lie in front of their wives

until they take their masks off

and their wives and children get in gear

in the name of wealth, the welfare

the personal finances

the order the power the prestige

someone tries to make us understand that this is in the name of the country

someone pops up in the screen speaking in the name of all

right now it’s necessary to know that we live in a country without tomorrow

the loggers the miners

the makers of big machines of big toxins

the city-factories set up on pirate ships

the bankers the politicians

those who sell everything in this time that everything is being sold

even the life they have sold

they have poisoned the earth

they have thrown ulcers on it

they have thrown dead on the water

the air is now full of monsters

lead flows through the children’s blood

elders die bleeding children are born idiotic

women scratch their sterile woumbs

this is the moment to put a stop

maybe there is still something beyond hope

hope is abandoned in the shores of the sea

like beached whales like birds or fish wrapped in plastic

Body of water mouth of water blue planet

other beings have emerged from the darkness

to kill you in the name of gold

to cut your neck as if you were the sweetest animal

of one stroke

an open pit

give us your word give us your blessing

your transparency where the fish glide

lit by the stars

give us the strength

in this battle of terror

What are you going to do city folk

women from plains and mountain ranges

child from the deserts who was just painted with a moon in the forehead

great lightning eye chief from the mountain

great medicine-men with a vegetal mother

teacher who swims toward the islands

agronomist who has lost the hat of the dreams

what are you going to do at this hour

I want to know I want you to tell us what is your role

you the irascible

and you who are a soul of god

in the great battle for water we are all the same

devil’s lawyer accountant who is cooking the books

you have been caught red-handed

facing bakwards painting a strange graffiti in the walls

lonely serpent eye which whistleling to the sun at noon

how are we going to stop the Dark One

the King Midas covered in gold in the center of a sea of shit

mud sand blowing without mercy

the salt period is coming

traces of the crime are planted everywhere

corpses of the criminals spread as cheap jewelry

hanging dry from their feet in the dust in the wind

the planet has been decimated due to lack of intelligence

of fine love

I want to hear your voice

I want to see your hands your chest

your sane intelligence resonating throughout the skies

so the planets might be touched

and the glaciers be dressed again and the streams be flowing full of health

(Translated by Fredy Roncalla and Juan G. Sánchez M.)

Although both poems paint an upside down world, where pollution and pain make us deaf and blind, both poems also envision a victory, where streams will be heard and glaciers will be dressed again. As Elder Josephine Mandamin asked us in our previous post, the main question remains: “what are you going to do city folk?”

Thank you for your patience and support for the past thirteen weeks. Thank you for sharing and spreading this message.

In humility,

Indigenous Message on Water


Mientras El árbol siga viviendo, la gente vivirá”: el encuentro entre el águila, el cóndor y el quetzal

condor and eagle title

Hoy queremos cerrar este ciclo con poesía y documental! Diseminando este mensaje intercultural de las últimas trece semanas, hemos tratado de construir puentes entre voces y luchas que están defendiendo el agua a lo largo y ancho del Abya-Yala y la Isla Tortuga. Hoy es especial porque vamos a compartir con ustedes una de las visiones que está detrás de este proyecto, además de las convergencias de los últimos días, las cuales nos han hecho pensar que esto es solo el comienzo. En 1984, el Instituto Internacional de los Cuatro Mundos publicó El árbol sagrado. Reflexiones sobre la espiritualidad nativo-americana. En el primer capítulo, encontramos la siguiente historia:

Los más antiguos nos enseñaron que la vida de El árbol es la vida de la gente. Si la gente deambula lejos de la sombra protectora de El árbol, si ellos olvidan buscar el alimento de su fruto, o si ellos se alzan en contra de El árbol e intentan destruirlo, gran pena caerá sobre ellos. La gente perderá su poder. Cesará de soñar y de tener visiones. Comenzará a pelear por nimiedadez sin valor. Llegará a ser incapaz de decir la verdad y de relacionarse con honestidad. Olvidará cómo sobrevivir en su propia tierra. Sus vidas llegarán a estar llenas de rabia y melancolía. Poco a poco la gente se envenenará a sí misma y a todo lo que toca.

(…) Se predijo que estas cosas sucederían, pero que El árbol nunca moriría. Y mientras El árbol siga viviendo, la gente vivirá. También se predijo que llegaría el día en que la gente se despertaría, como de un largo y pesado sueño; que la gente comenzaría, tímidamente al comienzo y después con gran urgencia, a buscar de nuevo El árbol sagrado… (The Sacred Tree 7)

En las últimas décadas, mayores, educadores y activistas indígenas han hablado sobre los senderos de parentesco entre los pueblos ancestrales que habitan las raíces, el tronco y las ramas del Abya-Yala / Isla Tortuga. Nosotros creemos que todos los protagonistas de los últimos doce posts están recobrando la visión de El gran árbol, y el Mensaje Indígena de Agua quisiera ser parte de este despertar. Movilizaciones globales como Mama Quta Titikaka en el 2009, o movimientos trans-indígenas como Idle No More son parte de las raíces y los frutos de El árbol. De igual forma, los intercambios ceremoniales que tatas mayas y taytas amazónicos han establecido en sus peregrinajes por fuera de su territorio ancestral, son parte de las raíces y los frutos de El árbol.

Y esta es probablemente la razón por la cual el mismo texto que citamos arriba fue usado recientemente en el documental The Encounter of the Eagle and the Condor, dirigido por Clement Guerra (2015). En este proyecto, la abuela Casey Camp lee la historia de El árbol sagrado mientras la naturaleza habla através del lente.

Vea aquí el corto de The Encounter of the Eagle and the Condor =>

El 27 de septiembre de 2015, la noche del eclipse lunar, con el apoyo de Indigenous Rising, Indigenous Environmental Network, Amazon Watch, la Alianza Pachamama, y Rainforest Action Network, mujeres indígenas provenientes de las siete direcciones del Abya-Yala / la Isla Tortuga se encontraron en Nueva York y firmaron el Tratado de las Mujeres Indígenas de las Américas. Como se puede ver en Defensoras de la Madre Tierra – otro breve documental de Guerra – las mayores Casey Camp (Ponca Pa’tha’ta, USA), Patricia Gualinga (Sarayaku, Amazonía ecuatoriana), Gloria Ushigua Santi (Sapara, Amazonía ecuatoriana), Pennie Opal Plant (Yaqui/Choctaw/Cherokee, USA), Crystal Lameman (Beaver Lake Cree, Canadá), y Blanca Chancoso (Kichua, Andes ecuatorianos) decidieron crear una alianza más allá de las fronteras de los estados-nación, y convertirse así en familia en un gesto de solidaridad trans-indígena.

Unos meses antes de la Conferencia sobre Cambio Climático en París (COP 2015), el Tratado de las Mujeres Indígenas de las Américas dejó claro sus demandas para el mundo: 100% energía renovable, hay que dejar los combustibles fósiles bajo tierra, y ante todo la protección de la red de la vida.

Vea aquí Defensoras de la Madre Tierra (2015) =>

Sintonizado con estos encuentros trans-indígenas, nuestro amigo Fredy Roncalla de la revista virtual Hawansuyo, nos envió cuatro poemas de Omar Aramayo, escritor del lago Titikaka (Puno, Perú), justo cuando estábamos redactando esta nota final. Uno de los poemas de Aramayo se titulaba “La batalla por el agua”. Y un día después, Kim Shuck, poeta Cherokee y colaboradora del Mensaje Indígena de Agua, nos envió a su vez un poema titulado “Guerra”. Por supuesto, ¡ninguno sabía acerca de estas confluencias! Inmediatamente, decidimos con Fredy traducir los poemas, los cuales compartimos aquí abajo para ustedes. Esperamos que los disfruten tanto como nosotros. ¡Gracias a Kim y a Omar!

Kim es poeta y artista visual de descendencia Tsalagi y Polaca. Su primer libro, Smuggling Cherokee, ganó el premio Diane Decorah en el 2005 y fue publicado por Greenfield Review Press. Su primer libro en prosa, Rabbit Stories fue publicado en el 2013 por Poetic Matrix Press. Kim es miembro fundador del consejo asesor indígena del Museo de Young (San Francisco) y organizadora de eventos de poesía en toda el Área de la Bahía de esta ciudad. Ella también edita la esporádica revista en-línea Rabbit and Rose.


K. Shuck

Y en la guerra por el agua

Pintaremos signos de valentía y

Protección sobre el

Salmón y la

Trucha y nos meteremos con ellos de

Cabeza en las corrientes y ellos nos

Pintarán de vuelta en la

Guerra por el agua clara nosotros

Insistiremos que el agua sea del lugar y cuando

No lo sea tantearemos el beneficio con el

Costo real de prados en el

Desierto o melocotones y almendras

Buscaremos entender los rezos de

Otros pueblos y qué se inunda por

Represas o se drena por canales y

Preguntaremos a los pájaros acerca de

Los pantanos y puede que ellos tambien nos pinten y el

Consejo de guías ofrecerá curules para los pinos y

Los girasoles que defendieron a las gentes la

Última vez y los lobos y los castores que cambian las

Corrientes también serán escuchados y nosotros

No podremos perder no podremos


(Traducción Fredy Roncalla y Juan G. Sánchez M.)

Omar Aramayo es poeta, periodista, compositor y académico de los Andes peruanos. Desde los años sesenta, ha creado un estilo singular en el que teje poesía, música, artes visuales y tradiciones ancestrales del lago Titikaka.


Por Omar Aramayo

La batalla de los pueblos

la batalla del espanto

la gran batalla del horror nos toma a puñaladas por la espalda

a puntapiés a balazos a gases tóxicos a redes electrónicas

hace tiempo que ha comenzado aunque hoy recién nos percatamos

la batalla donde se quiebra la palabra prójimo pestaña a pestaña

célula a célula

un inmenso bosque sembrado de cadáveres de todas las especies

el océano donde la muerte se ha sentado a cenar

sus sirvientes aseguran con entregarle a todo ser viviente

el teclado de la vida se ha roto de la noche a la mañana

una ola de arena se levanta en el viento

una detrás de otra

el agua se ha ido con la vida

la supervivencia de las especies en la balanza de la duda

los que están al otro lado escupen en el rostro de la vida

al cuadrado le falta uno de sus lados

al círculo su centro equidistante

la inteligencia ha sido usada en sentido contrario

el ser humano ha perdido sentido

su lado divino

se ha perdido a sí mismo

los comerciantes tienen los corazones vacíos de Dios

en sus casas frente a sus pequeños hijos mienten

frente a sus mujeres mienten

hasta que se quitan las máscaras

y los hijos y las mujeres entran al engranaje

en nombre de la riqueza el bienestar

las finanzas personales

el prestigio el poder el orden

alguien intenta hacernos creer que es en nombre del país

alguien aparece en la pantalla en nombre de todos

es necesario saber ahora que vivimos en un país sin mañana

los taladores de bosques los mineros

los fabricantes de grandes máquinas de los grandes tóxicos

las factorías ciudades montadas sobre barcos piratas

los banqueros los políticos

los que venden todo en este tiempo en que todo se vende

hasta la vida han vendido

han envenado la tierra

le han echado llagas

le han echado muerte al agua

el aire se ha llenado de monstruos

por la sangre de los niños corre plomo

los niños nacen tarados los viejos mueren desangrados

las mujeres se arañan las entrañas estériles

es el momento de ponerles alto

tal vez queda algo más allá de la esperanza

la esperanza está botada en la ribera de los mares

como ballenas varadas como los peces o las aves forradas de plástico

Cuerpo de agua boca de agua planeta azul

otros seres han salido de la oscuridad

a matarte en nombre del oro

a cortarte el cuello como si fueras el más tierno de los animales

de un solo tajo

a tajo abierto

danos tu palabra danos tu bendición

tu transparencia donde los peces se deslizan

a la luz de los astros

a la luz de ellos mismos

danos tu fuerza

en esta batalla del espanto

Qué vas a hacer hombre de las ciudades

mujer de los llanos y cordilleras

niño de los desiertos recién acabado de pintar con una luna sobre la frente

gran jefe ojo de rayo de monte adentro

gran shamán de la madre vegetal

maestro que braceas hacia las islas

ingeniero agrónomo que has perdido el sombrero del sueño

qué vas a hacer en esta hora

quiero saber quiero que nos digas cuál es tu papel

tú iracundo

y tú que eres un alma de Dios

en la gran batalla por el agua somos lo mismo

abogado del diablo contador que llevas cuentas paralelas

has sido descubierto con las manos en la masa

de espaldas pintando en los muros un grafiti muy extraño

ojo solitario de la serpiente que silbas al sol del mediodía

cómo vamos a detener al Oscuro

al rey Midas cubierto de oro al centro de un mar de materia fecal

fango arena que sopla sin piedad

se aproxima el tiempo de la sal

la huella del crimen está sembrada por todo sitio

los cadáveres de los criminales como joyas sin valor derramados

secos colgados de los pies en el polvo en el viento

el planeta ha sido abatido por falta de inteligencia

de amor fino

quiero escuchar tu voz

quiero ver tus manos tu pecho

tu sana inteligencia retumbar por todos los cielos

que los planetas se conmuevan

y otra vez se vistan los glaciares y las corrientes corran plenos de salud

A pesar de que ambos poemas pintan un mundo al revés, en donde la polución y el dolor nos han vuelto sordos y ciegos, ambos poemas vislumbran también una victoria, en donde las corrientes de agua se escucharán de nuevo y los glaciares se vestirán una vez más. Como la abuela Josephin Mandamin nos preguntaba en una de las entradas anteriores, la pregunta principal sigue intacta: ¿qué vamos a hacer nosotros, hombres, mujeres de la ciudad?

Gracias por su paciencia y apoyo en estas trece semanas. Gracias por compartir y diseminar el mensaje.

En humildad,

Mensaje Indígena de Agua

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Hacia los caminos de las Aguas”: de Uchumüin a Wüinpumüin


Kamaach (El Pilón de Azúcar). Foto: Juan Guillermo Sánchez M.


Nuestra invitada hoy es Woumain, la Guajira Wayuu entre Colombia y Venezuela, y su lucha por el Agua y el territorio contra la empresa transnacional de carbón El Cerrejón. Para ello, queremos recomendarles el documental Mushaisha, una pesadilla wayuu de Carlos Mario Piedrahita y Juan Sebastián Grisales (Premio Nacional de Periodismo Simón Bolívar 2014), así como varios textos de escritores wayuu.

Actualmente, los canales de televisión en Colombia, así como las redes sociales en el mundo, pasan documentales sobre la hambruna, la sequía en Woumain, y la muerte de niños Wayuu por inanición. Por primera vez, tal vez en siglos, las personas de las grandes ciudades se están preguntando qué es la Guajira Wayuu. Sin embargo, debido a la delicada situación política y social, los medios de comunicación han fijado una imagen de sufrimiento que olvida la riqueza humana de la nación indígena más numerosa de Colombia. Si bien es cierto que el cambio climático no está permitendo que Jepirachi (los vientos del nordeste) traigan a su tío Juya (la lluvia) para que fecunde a Maa (la tierra), también es cierto que la codicia y la fractura socio-cultural es hoy el resultado de décadas de extractivismo y desplazamientos, en donde no solo El Cerrejón es responsable sino el estado colombiano.

La semana pasada, el poeta y lingüista Wayuu Rafael Mercado Epieyu fue entrevistado en el programa radial de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia “Desde la botica”. Allí, a las preguntas ¿Qué es la Guajira para su comunidad? ¿Qué está pasando en la Guajira? Rafa, gran amigo y colaborador del Mensaje Indígena de Agua, respondió con el siguiente relato:

Nuestro territorio, desde nuestra visión wayuu fundamentada en los relatos ancestrales que se encuentran en la memoria de nuestros abuelos, de nuestras abuelas.

La parte que en castellano se conoce como Alta Guajira, donde se encuentra la Serranía La Macuira, nosotros la denominamos Wüinpumüin, que traduce “Hacia los caminos de las Aguas”. Es ahí, en ese esenario geográfico, donde se encuentra el principio, el origen de la vida para nosotros los Wayuu, a partir del camino de las aguas: Wüinpumüin. Y en ese escenario existen unas deidades que guardan esos lugares sagrados, donde por primera vez brotó la vida, desde el mundo de las Aguas, desde el mundo de Juya, nuestro abuelo. Juya es lluvia, Juya es hombre en Wayuu, y por lo tanto es nuestro abuelo, es El lluvia que conoce el secreto de la vida, en sus principios. En esos lugares sagrados, ahí se encuentran nuestros abuelos, como los animales, el lugar de ojos de agua en esta serranía que se llama Macuira. Entonces la Serranía para nosotros es la serranía madre que cuenta el origen de nuestra cultura.

Y más acá, bajando, donde se encuentra ese paisaje hermoso, donde en todas las tardes y en las mañanas, y en los mediodías de todos los días, es donde se levantan los granos de arena a danzar con el viento que viene del mar, que viene de Palaa, Palaa nuestra abuela, la madre de los vientos. Es ahí, ese escenario, la parte desértica que muestran en los canales, la parte que no hay nada según la televisión colombiana. Para nosotros, ese escenario de danza de vientos con las arenas de la tierra, de nuestra madre tierra, tiene mucho significado, expresa pensamientos primigenios. En las horas de la tarde podemos presenciar y sentir la llegada del viento Rülechi, que viene todas las tardes a caminar del Sur y encontrarse en el cerro que hoy en día se conoce como El Pilón de Azúcar. Este cerro en wayuunaiki se llama Kamaach, el cerro antiguo, el cerro ancestral. Es un escenario en donde se encuentra Rülechi, el viento del Sur, con el viento del Norte, Jepirachi, estos hijos de nuestra abuela Mar, Palaa, se encuentran y dialogan.

Y con estos conceptos que solamente se encuentran en las voces de nuestro abuelos. Pero hoy en día esas voces han sido ignoradas, apagadas, y por eso es que se vende esa imagen de la Guajira desde la visión del blanco. Desde la visión del alijuna [no Wayuu], como no ve cosas que no tiene en su mundo, entonces lo ha denominado como un territorio vacío, sin ningún significado, sino más bien le da ese significado de miseria, de pobreza, pero para nosotros los Wayuu, tiene una riqueza de conocimientos.

Y antes de llegar a la Sierra Nevada [de Santa Marta] está el Río Ranchería. Ahí habitaba la deidad de la fertilidad, nuestra abuela, Perakanawa, pero hoy en día, con los tropiezos y el salvajismo del capitalismo, ha sido destruido su habitat, y nuestra abuela, la deidad de la fertilidad, se ha ido y ha abandonado su lugar. Por eso es que han escuchado seguramente ustedes manifestaciones con el desvío del Río Ranchería [propuesta de El Cerrejón]. Ese Río Rancería era el nido, era habitat de Perakanawa, la deidad, la culebra, la gran abuela, que llegaba y fertilizaba y llenaba de vida a todo ser viviente, desde la hormiga, el árbol más pequeño, el más grande, ahí vivía. Pero ahora con todo el salvajismo del capitalismo ha espantado esa deidad.

Entonces ahí, todo este escenario del departamento [de la Guajira], seguramente si preguntáramos a un hermano Kogui, a un hermano Wiwa, a un hermano Arhuaco, también nos contaría algo parecido….

Escuchar aquí la entrevista completa a Rafael Mercado Epieyu =>

En los últimos cuarenta años, El Cerrejón se ha referido a la Guajira como una “tierra subutilazada”, “vacante”, “baldía”, pasando por encima de 3000 años de historias y saberes que los Wayuu han adquirido en Woumain. En Bajo el manto del carbón, Chomsky, Leech y Striffler (2007) han explicado que el proyecto multinacional de extracción del carbón El Cerrejón comenzó en 1975 y, actualmente, tiene un contrato con el gobierno colombiano hasta 2034. Desde el inicio, las comunidades Wayuu de Chancleta, Patilla, Roche, Los Remedios y Tamaquito, así como la comunidad afrodescendiente de Tabaco, fueron desplazadas.

Notiwayuu - train

Foto: Notiwayu / las2orillas =>

Remedios Fajardo – reconocida líder Wayuu – ha explicado que los Wayuu no solo han sido desplazados de los lugares de extracción en la Media Guajira como Caracolí y Espinal (Municipio de Barrancas donde viván 350 wayuu) a causa de las acumulaciones de basuras y desperdicios tóxicos; sino también de Puerto Bolívar (a donde llega el tren y de donde es exportado el carbón), conocido por los wayuu como la Media Luna (en donde habitaban 750 wayuu para 1980); y más recientemente del parque eólico Jepirachi (controlado por las Empresas Públicas de Medellín), cuya producción energética solo beneficia al puerto mismo de El Cerrejón. Para Fajardo, además de hurgar las entrañas de los cerros, montañas, bahías y cementerios sagrados, lo más grave es que este proyecto desconoce la concepción wayuu del territorio:

Si ellos salen de sus tierras, el resto de vecinos no les permitirá asentarse en sus territorios, les preguntarán: ¿Por qué entregaron las tierras que juya (la lluvia) les dio? ¿Qué vienen a buscar ahora en nuestras tierras? Según la tradición del pueblo wayuu quien cede sus tierras para quedarse sin ellas, pierde status ante la comunidad, y pierde credibilidad para asumir responsabilidades comunitarias. (Bajo el manto del carbón 22)

Señores Multinacionales, la nación Wayuu no está sola, la Guajira no está baldía, y el Mensaje Indígena de Agua se solidariza con los líderes, escritores, activistas y con las comunidades que están defendiendo en primera línea a Woumain! Es tiempo de dejar tranquilo el carbón en las entrañas de Mma.

Hasta la próxima semana.


“Toward the Paths of the Waters”: From Uchumüin To Wüinpumüin


Jepira (Cabo de la Vela, Guajira, Colombia). Picture: Juan Guillermo Sánchez M.

Our guest today is Woumain, the Wayuu Guajira between Colombia and Venezuela, and its fight in defending the Ranchería River and the Bruno Creek from the transnational coal mine El Cerrejón. In order to contextualize this long struggle, we would like to share some literary texts by contemporary Wayuu writers.


Railroad from El Cerrejón Mine to Puerto Bolivar (Bolivar Port). Map: 

Currently, Colombian mass media and virtual social networks are reproducing news and documentaries on Woumain’s hunger, drought, and the deaths among Wayuu children because of dehydration and starvation. For the first time in centuries, the people in larger cities of South America, or where the South American diaspora is, are interested in the Wayuu Guajira. However, because of the complex social and political situation of the region, the mass media has portrayed a broken image, which sometimes forgets the human richness of the biggest indigenous nation in Colombia. While it is true that global warming has prevented Jepirachi (the winds from the northeast) from bringing their uncle Juya (the rain) to fecundate Mma (the earth), it is also true that today’s greed and social imbalance are the consequences of decades of mining and displacement, for which not just El Cerrejón is responsible but also the Colombian government.


El Cerrejón, the largest open-pit coal mine in the world, owned by BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Xstrata/Glencore.Picture: 

On May 5th, the Wayuu poet and linguist Rafael Mercado Epieyu was interviewed in the National University’s radio program “Desde la botica”. To answer the questions “What does the Guajira mean to your community?” and “What is happening in Guajira?”, Rafael, a great friend and contributor of the Indigenous Message on Water, shared the following story:

Our territory, from the Wayuu vision, is founded in the ancestral stories, which are placed in the memory of our grandfathers and grandmothers. The place which is known in Spanish as Alta [Upper] Guajira, where the Macuira Mountain range is, we call it Wüinpumüin, which translates as “Toward the Paths of the Waters”. It’s there, in that geographical scenario where the beginning is, the origin of life, the Paths of the Waters: Wüinpumüin. So, in that scenario there are some deities who keep those sacred places, where, for the first time, life bloomed—from the Waters’ world, from the Juya’s world, our grandfather. Juya is rain, Juya is man in our language, therefore He is our grandfather, He is who knows the secret of life, in its principles. It is in those sacred places that our grandparents can be found, like the animals, the eyes of water in that mountain range which we call Macuira. So, for us, this mountain range is our Mother who tells the story of our culture.

And you go down where that beautiful landscape is, where every afternoon and every morning, and every noon of everyday, the grains of sand dance with the wind, which comes from the sea, from Palaa, our grandmother, the mother of the winds. It’s there, in that scenario, the desertic part that the TV channels show, where there is nothing, according to Colombian television. For us, that place of dancing, between the earth’s sands and the winds, has a lot of meaning; it expresses original thoughts. In the hours before sunset we can witness and feel the arrival of Rülechi, who comes every afternoon, walking from the South to hit the hill, which is known today as El Pilón de Azúcar. This hill, in wayuunaiki, is called Kamaach, the old hill, the ancestral hill. That’s the scenario where Rülechi, the wind from the South, meets with the wind from the North, Jepirachi, both children of our grandma Sea, Palaa. They both meet with each other and dialogue.

And these concepts are only found in our grandparents’ voices. But, nowadays, those voices have been ignored, muted, and that’s why that image of the broken Guajira has been sold by the white men. Because if he does not see the things that he has in his world, the alijuna [non Wayuu] has named Guajira as an empty land, without meaning, giving it a connotation of misery and poverty. But, for us, the Wayuu, the same land is rich in knowledge.

And before one hits the Sierra Nevada [de Santa Marta], there is the Ranchería River. The fertility deity used to inhabit there, our grandmother, Perakanawa, but nowadays, with capitalistic savagery and setbacks, its habitat has been destroyed, and our grandmother, the fertility deity, has gone and abandoned her place. That’s why you have probably heard protests against El Cerrejón’s proposal to change the course of the Ranchería River. The Ranchería River was the nest, the Perakanawa habitat, the deity, the snake, the great grandma, who used to come to fertilize and fill every single being with life from the ant to the biggest tree. She used to live there. But now, all the capitalistic savagery has frightened that deity.

So this is the scenario of the Guajira province. Probably, if we talk to a Kogui brother, a Wiwa brother, or an Arhuaco brother, they would say something similar…

Listen here the complete interview to Rafael Mercado Epieyu (in Spanish)=>

In the last forty years, El Cerrejón has called the Wayuu Guajira an “under-used land”, “vacant”, “empty”, stepping on 3000 years of history and knowledge which the Wayuu nation has built on Woumain. In Bajo el manto del carbón (The People Behind Colombian Coal), Chomsky, Leech and Striffler (2007) have explained that the multinational project of coal extraction El Cerrejón, started in 1975, has a contract with the Colombian government until 2034. From the beginning, the Wayuu communities of Chancleta, Patilla, Roche, Los Remedios, and Tamaquito, as well the Afro-Colombian community of Tabaco, were displaced.

Remedios Fajardo, renowned Wayuu leader, has also explained that the repercussions of El Cerrejón’s projects extend beyond the extraction points of the middle Guajira, such as Caracoli and Espinal, where 350 Wayuu were displaced due to piles of garbage and toxic waste. Puerto Bolivar, furthermore, the train arrives and the coal is exported to Europe and the US, has seen the displacement of 750 Wayuu people. More recently, Wayuu people have been displaced from the Jepirachi Wind Turbine Project, controlled by the Medellin Public Enterprises (EPM), whose energy only benefits El Cerrejón´s port. According to Fajardo, in addition to digging the hills’, mountains’, bays’ and cemeteries’ guts, it’s clear that those projects don’t understand the Wayuu territory:

If the displaced Wayuu leave their lands, the rest of the community won’t permit them to settle in their lands. They will ask them: Why did you give away the lands that Juya, the rain, gave you? What are you looking for in our land? According to Wayuu nation’s tradition, those who give up the land stay landless, lose status among the community, and lose the trust in assuming community responsibilities. (Bajo el manto del carbón 22)

This situation, of course, divides the community, and it ends up being an advantage for the purposes of the multinationals. Meanwhile, with the virtual advertisement of “social responsibility”, “green energies” and cultural programs, as the EPM celebrates in its website, El Cerrejón distracts the attention from the local issues and violates indigenous rights.

Watch here “The Survival of the Wayuu People” by PBI Colombia (2012) =>

As a sovereign response, the Woumain’s literary production is pioneering in the history of indigenous literatures from the Abya-Yala. In March, 2011, the Wayuu writer Estercilia Simanca Pushaina published in her blog “Daño emergente, lucro cesante” (“Emerging Damages, Lost Profits”), a short-story about a Wayuu woman who every Monday crosses El Cerrejón’s railroad with her donkey Mushaisa. The narrator says:

…He [the donkey] and I never got accustomed to the train, and I believe that the people on the other side, in the village, never did either—neither the goats nor the children, nobody in this place. Since I have memory, he [the train] was here, crossing the Peninsula from Uchumüin –South- to Wüinpumüin –North-. People say that he arrives to the sea, and that a big ship comes and takes the coal that the train brought, and then the train returns to look for more coal, digging the guts of Mma, the earth, She who keeps the blood of our birth, and the navels of the newborns. My tata says that the cemeteries of a lot of families are where the train passes, but the train didn’t care because he had to pass that way. The bones could simply be carried from one place to other, and a new cemetery could be built, more beautiful and whiter than the other. But, the train couldn’t make another path, NO! He had to pass that way, and that’s it, you know…, that’s it, the train is still passing everyday and Mondays, in the morning… (read the complete story in Spanish here)

As in all of the posts of the last few weeks, Simanca summarizes an old tension in Woumain, a confrontation between two mindsets, two ways of understanding nature and culture: on one side, the “progress locomotive” and the mining paradigm; on the other side, the resistance of native and peasant communities in defending their territories, their cemeteries, sacred places, livestock, plants, and sovereignty.

Please read this wonderful article by Robert Llewelyn, “Across Colombia by train, with García Márquez”, published in Political Newsletter Counterpunch. (December 26-28, 2014) =>

A year after “Emerging Damages, Lost Profits”, on March 7th, 2012, the Wayuu poet Miguel Ángel López-Hernández, also known as Vito Apüshana, published an open letter entitled “Señores Multinacionales” (“Mr. Multinational”) in the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, in which he also refers to this rivalry between the “progress locomotive” and the ancestral knowledge:

We know that our spirituality, which you call romanticism, is the worst enemy of business; that’s why we don’t expect you to agree with us, we just want to make evident the proportion of your thirst for profit, the size of your disasters, and the final disproportion of your responsibilities.

We compare the weight of your shiny names with the effects on the lands you will devastate: Greystar Gold = stone dust of Santurbán; El Cerrejón = Ranchería River’s steam; MPX (Brazil) = hollow of the green Perijá (Guajira); Anglo Gold Ashanti = sterile slopes of La Colosa (Tolima); Muriel Mining Corporation = poisoned waters of the Cara Perro Hill and Ellausakirandarra (Chocó); Brisa Group = wound in the Julkuwa Hill (Dibulla); Endesa (Emgesa) = Magdalena River’s hunger in El Quimbo (Huila)… among many others.

Large-scale mining is the creature that you have created to support the motion of the world, which, because of its infinite growing, will end up devouring itself, and then, the planet will collapse; the terrible creature who we fight and will fight with rogations of belonging, and songs of collective continuity by the rural inhabitants… songs interweaved from the Inuit’s ice in Canada to the Perito Moreno glaciers in the Tierra del Fuego. To this creature, we’ll say “No”, we’ll say “No more!” And our spilled blood, maybe, will be the last frontier. (Read the full letter in Spanish here)

Apüshana goes beyond Guajira, and sends his message against “the creature” in other latitudes of the Abya-Yala / Turtle Island. His argument puts together the local issue with the global need (post-racial?) for the survival of the humanity.

One month after this letter, Vicenta Siosi Pino, Wayuu writer from the Apshana clan, published “Letter from a Wayuu woman to the Colombian President” in the Colombian newspaper El Espectador, a text that traveled the world in defense of the Ranchería River, the only one that crosses Woumain (published also in the Indigenous Message on Water). Through the mass media, Siosi’s letter generated a national and international attention on the devastation it would cause El Cerrejón’s project of change the course of the river.

The same year Siosi wrote his letter, the poet and linguist Rafael Mercado Epieyu dedicated some poems to the El Cerrejón struggle. In “El tren no sabe detenerse” (“The train doesn’t know to stop”), Woumain is permanently deformed, and She cries while her children cough and the stubborn train, “the progress locomotive”, continues its noise and hurry:

¡shalerein! ¡shalerein! ¡shalerein!

That’s how the noise of the train feet sound

¡tününüin! ¡tününüin! ¡tününüin!

That’s how the earth’s whine sounds under its weight

¡ojo´o! ¡ojo´o! ¡ojo´o!

One can hear the Wayuu cough

Because of that black fine dust that the train emits

They breathe it, drink it, and the children’s skin melts

– Goats should not cross here,

the train does not know how to stop –

Those are the words written in their signs.

¡ja ja ja!

If the old Wayuu don’t know how to make those written words speak

Neither do the goats.

The land of the Wayuu is deformed,

now they are disgraceful to her.

They are well with the richness of its Guajira land.

That’s what people say to them.

Lie, we all know it!

Just a few days ago, due to the resistance of the Wayuu nation against the changing of the course of the Ranchería River, and because of the company’s rush to exploit a mineral that is loosing its power in the macro-economy of the global production of energy, El Cerrejón proposed to change the course of the Bruno Creek, tributary of the Ranchería River, but the response of the community was immediate (read the Manifesto in Spanish).

Dear Mr. Multinational, the Wayuu nation is not alone anymore. With this post, the Indigenous Message on Water shows solidarity with the leaders, advocates, writers and the communities who are defending Woumain in the front-lines! It’s time to leave the coal underground, in the Mma’s guts.

Until next week when we’ll close this cycle of thirteen posts!


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“For generations to come”: Josephine Mandamin and the Great Lakes

Josephine Dazhkanziibi

Josephine Mandamin, Walter-walker. Dazh-kan-zii-bi (Thames River), London, Ontario. April 6th, 2014


Today, we would like to pay homage to Josephine Mandamin, Anishinaabe grandmother and water-walker, who has been our inspiration for this blog and the Indigenous Message on Water community. In remembering her teachings, we would like to recommend the documentary Waterlife by Kevin McMahon (2009), and the video interview Sacred Water Walks by The Great Lakes Commons (2015).

Watch here the trailer of Waterlife in where Kevin McMahon features Josephine’s story as an inspirational example for action:

On April 4th, 2014, we picked Josephine up from Billy Bishop Airport, Toronto’s island airport in Lake Ontario. She was flying in from Thunder Bay. We went with Paula Marcotte, one of the members of the coalition who organized the Water Film Festival: Right or Privilege?. We took the ferry to the Island. It was raining. The seagulls were bobbing on the water.

After months of trying to contact Josephine, we finally got her email and, in less than a week, everything was set for her visit. “Manda” in Anishinaabemovin means wonder, and “min” means seed. Grandmother Josephine carries in her last name one of the Anishinaabe expressions to name corn, the wonder seed. Josephine is from the fish clan and, as a woman, she feels the responsibility to take care and protect Water.

Thus, in 2003, she had the idea to start walking, with her sister, around the Great Lakes. Her intention was to create awareness among the indigenous and non-indigenous communities who surround the Great Lakes, which are at risk because of the chemicals dumped by farms, sewage systems, and the mining industry. Josephine truly believes that Water is our Mother, and that’s the reason why, in the last 13 years, she has walked more than 17.000 kilometers, sharing the message of her ancestors with people of different ages and origins (follow her journeys since 2003 to the present here).

As she says in the video interview Ojibwa Grandmother Recounts Walk Around the Great Lakes (2008), as a result of her walks, new generations will know that there are grandmothers out there who are protecting Water. Josephine has understood that each lake has its own teaching. Lake Superior, for example, is the Mother of the lakes. Lake Michigan keeps the remains of the ancestors, such as rocks/grandfathers, that stand in a circle, and trees that stand in specific ways. Lake Huron is a unifier: it taught Josephine that there should be a man beside a woman during the walk. Lake Ontario is heavier than the rest of the lakes because of its pollution. “And we have to start doing our work!” Josephine repeats.

Watch Ojibwa Grandmother Recounts Walk Around the Great Lakes =>

On April 4th, 5th and 6th 2014, Grandmother Josephine Mandamin was our guest-speaker at the Water Film Festival: Right or Privilege? “If it’s for the Water, we have to do it!” she told us. During those three days, before and after the films and talks, she carefully read our anthology. We were really excited by how happy our compilation made her. One afternoon she shared with us the following words, to be included here in our blog:

… to protect Water, we have to connect with Her physically, mentally, and spiritually. In the mornings, before anything else, before even going to the washroom, we have to offer a pinch of Water to Mother, the Earth, pray for it, and then drink a sip. This is my uncle’s teaching: you have to give before you take (…) Many times I have had to cry for the Water. She is a Mother, but she can’t feed her children if she is polluted. You have to be a women to understand what to feed a child means.

Her teachings reminded us immediately of some texts from Indigenous Message on Water such as Mona Polacca’s, Sandy Beardy’s, Vito Apüshana’s, and the paintings by Achu Kantule. Josephine’s insistence of women’s role at this time is also present in the recent video interview by The Great Lake Commons, in which Josephine urges women to lead their communities in the protection of Water:

We have to take care of Mother, the Earth, and that’s what we are doing now, taking care of our Mother, the Earth, especially now in this age when she is really suffering, she is being polluted, she is being prosecuted, she is being sold, you know, all these things are happening to Her, it’s happening to us, women. So, I think about how these days women have to start thinking about bundles. We have to rethink about how important it is. So, we have to really know who we are as women, that we are very powerful women. We can be very instrumental in how things are changing… (video interview Every Step is a Prayer. Sacred Water Walks)

Watch video interview here, Every Step is a Prayer. Sacred Water Walks =>

We built together the Water Film Festival: Right or Privilege?, thanks to the Indigenous Message on Water and The Council of Canadians, The Latin-American Canadian Solidarity Association, Western University Indigenous Services, and London Museum. Around 300 people participated in the weekend’s events and local organizations such as Wellington Water Watchers shared their own fight to defend the Guelph’s aquifer from the transnational company Nestlé.

Watch here the clasic Bottled life by Ursula Schenell =>

Josephine was direct with the audience: “And, after these reflections, what are you going to do?” Following Josephine’s question, there was an important moment of reflection on our own responsibility with Water in our daily lives. As Mike Nagy, director of Wellington Water Watchers, reminded us: it is not enough to reuse, reduce, and recycle. We also need to refuse!

Thank you, Josephine, for your teachings!

Until next week.


“Para las generaciones por venir”: Josephin Mandamin y sus caminatas por los Grandes Lagos

Josephine y Juan

Josephine Mandamin, caminante de los Grandes Lagos, y Juan Guillermo Sánchez, co-editor del Mensaje Indígena de Agua, en London, Ontario. Abril 6 de 2014.

Hoy queremos ofrecer un homenaje a Josephine Mandamin, abuela Anishinaabe, caminante del agua, inspiración para mantener nuestro blog y la comunidad del Mensaje Indígena de Agua. Recordando sus enseñanzas, también queremos recomendar el documental Waterlife de Kevin McMahon (2009), y el video de la entrevista Sacred Water Walks realizada por The Great Lakes Commons (2015).

Aquí el corto de Waterlife, en donde Kevin McMahon presenta la historia de Josephine como un ejemplo para la acción =>

El 4 de abril de 2014 fuimos a recoger a la abuela Josephine Mandamin al aeropuerto de Toronto, ubicado sobre una de las islas del lago Ontario. Viajaba desde Thunder Bay. Fuimos a recibirla con Paula Marcotte, uno de los miembros de la coalición organizadora del Festival de Cine por el Agua ¿Derecho o privilegio? Tomamos el ferry. La lluvia no cesaba. Las gaviotas estaban bailando sobre el agua.

Después de meses buscando cómo contactar a la abuela Josephine, unos días atrás habíamos conseguido su correo y en menos de una semana todo estaba arreglado para su visita. “Manda”, en lengua Anishinaabemovin significa sorpresa, asombro, maravilla; “min”, semilla. La abuela Josephine lleva en su apellido una de las expresiones Anishinaabe con las que se nombra el maíz, la semilla sagrada. Josephine es del clan del pescado y, como muchas mujeres Anishinaabe, siente que su responsabilidad es cuidar y proteger el agua.

En 2003, tuvo la idea de caminar junto con su hermana alrededor de los Grandes Lagos y ríos del este de Canadá y los Estados Unidos buscando crear conciencia entre las comunidades (indígenas y no indígenas) que circundan estos cuerpos de agua, amenazados hoy por las sustancias químicas de la industria agrícola y la minería irresponsables (ver la memoria de sus caminatas desde el 2003 hasta hoy). Con la convicción de que el Agua es nuestra madre, en los últimos trece años Josephine ha caminado más de 17.000 kilómetros llevando el mensaje de sus ancestros, los primeros días solo con su familia y en los últimos años con cientos de personas de todas las edades y orígenes.

Ver Ojibwa Grandmother Recounts Walk Around the Great Lakes =>

¡Gracias, Josephine, por las enseñanzas y las caminatas!

Hasta la próxima semana.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,