Gathering of indigenous leaders from across Colombia to honor Mother Earth in the Sumapaz wetlands. Photo: Eden Krsmanovic
Indigenous leaders from across Colombia honor Mother Earth in the Sumapaz high-altitude wetland. Photo: Eden Krsmanovic

The Sumapaz wetlands should have lived up to its name as a place of “accentuated peace,” yet for many decades, the only human footprint which traversed this region of native frailejón forests and cold-running streams were kidnappers, using the hanging mist as a cover and ancient footpaths that meander from the Savannah of Bogotá to the eastern plains as a corridor. Far too many passed through the Sumapaz for the wrong reasons.

Today, the region has returned to its peaceful status, with the many sacred lagoons of the Muisca dotting windswept moors. Last month shamans and indigenous representatives from the many com- munities across Colombia gathered at 3,450 meters above sea level to render tribute to this majestic landscape and honor Mother Nature with an ancestral ceremony. In order to preserve their traditions among youngsters, the gathering included more than 100 children enrolled in Bogotá’s Houses of Intercultural Thinking and displaced from the violence. Among the tribes represented were the Muisca, Guambiano, Huitoto, Nasa and Pijaos.

With dances and music performed with a harmonica, drums and maracas, the indigenous children learned about the importance of conservation and preservation: from water, source of all life, to the species that inhabit this mysterious moor, such as the Andean Condor and spectacled bear.