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Indigenous peoples in the city
4/1/2013
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Bogotá is home to 87 indigenous communities who fight to maintain their ancestral customs that are based on Good Living.

About 20,000 indigenous people live in Bogotá, the Colombian capital of 7.4 million people. Muiska, Kichwa, Ambika Pijao and Inga people are organized in five cabildos — semiautonomous administrative units recognized by the city government. However, there are also indigenous communities or parcialidades made up of Yanacona, Pasto, Tubú, Kankuamo, Iká, Wayuu, Huitoto, Munane, Páez Nasa, Emberá Katío, Waunaan, Kamsá, and Curripaco people, among others.

The Muisca, or Chibcha, people make up 38 percent of the indigenous population that lives in Bogotá and are concentrated in the Suba and Bosa cabildos. The other three indigenous cabildos are the Kichwa, Ambika Pijao, and Inga, all of which are grouped in the Association of Indigenous Cabildos of Bogotá, or ASCAI.

According to information from the Principal Mayor’s Office of Bogotá, the indigenous cabildos are special public entities “whose members belong to an indigenous community, are elected and recognized by that [community], with a traditional socio-political organization whose role is to legally represent the community, exercise authority and carry out the activities assigned by law, its habits, customs, and the internal regulations of each community.”
The indigenous community or parcialidad, for its part, is the group of families “who are identity-conscious and share values, characteristics, habits or customs of their culture as well as forms of government, administration, social control or [their] own legal systems that distinguish them from other communities, whether [they] may or may not have property titles or titles they cannot legally accredit, or whose reserves were dissolved, divided, or declared vacant,” states the web page of the Principal Mayor’s Office of Bogotá.

To ensure that the language, identity, and customs of these peoples are not lost, in 2007 the capital’s municipal government, in coordination with the national government, launched the Initial Education Project for the Indigenous Peoples, through which five kindergartens were implemented for half a thousand indigenous boys and girls between the ages of 14 months and 5 years.

The indigenous kindergartens Wawita Kunapa Wasi (Children’s Home) of the Inga people, in the locality of Candelaria, Uba Rhua (Spirit of the Seed) of the Muiska people of Bosa, Makade Tinikana (To Walk Walking) of the Huitoto people in the locality of Santa Fe, Semillas Ambika Pijao of the Pijao people, in the locality of Usme, and Gue Atÿqíb (House of Thought) of the Muiska people of Suba, offer an integral and differential attention service to boys and girls, with educational processes that create a dialogue between ancestral and western knowledge.

The schools, called malocas in reference to the communal indigenous houses, combine ancestral and western knowledge and are designed to be based on the places and things of the own indigenous peoples, such as chagras (crop fields) and rooms of thought, in addition to traditional resources such as hammocks, clay pots, baskets, ovens, seeds, among other elements that allow the boys and girls to relate to the world through the habits and customs of their people, thus recreating the places where the communities build knowledge.

Additionally, the habits, customs, and ways of thinking of the indigenous peoples are present at these schools through the teachings of agriculture, knitting, ceramics, metal work, music, dance, traditional medicine and language, among other customs and arts. Only about 700 Muisca families survive in what used to be their territory, what Bogotá occupies today.
—Latinamerica Press.


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