Unconquered by the Spanish, the remote, approximately 20,000 Kogi people of the Sierra Nevada coastal mountains of northern Columbia (linked to the earlier Tairona civilization) are custodians (“Elder Brothers”)of the Mother/Mother Earth and hold a deep respect for nature and other humans. They believe that earth is being destroyed by outsiders (“Younger Brother”) through industry and greed. Having a strong connection with the “spirit of nature” – believing that all of nature is connected – they live their lives taking care of the environment (we will explore in more detail what this means) and warn that the land and animals are under extreme threat. They have constructed villages that have minimal impact upon the land.
In 1988 the Kogi for a time ended their isolation to warn people outside of their society that the earth was systematically being destroyed. At that time the BBC writer Alain Ereira produced the documentary “From the Heart of the World”, highlighting the message. Since the warning went unheeded, the Kogi have again, more recently, spoken out both in the film “Aluna” – again with the help of spokesman Ereira – and in Ereira’s book, published in 2009, The Elder Brothers’ Warning. (See also “News and Documentaries” on this site.) Though the Columbian government has not passed a “bill of rights for nature”, as have Ecuador and Bolivia, the Kogi people seem to embrace elemental concepts of a natural law, and their values and traditions stem from Pre-Columbian times. This section of the website will delve into as much detail as possible on indigenous people such as the Kogi, as well as the indigenous peoples of Ecuador and Bolivia who have had an impact on the development of the “bill of rights for nature” passed in those two countries.
Wild Law, Cormac Cullinan, Devon,UK: Green Books, 2003.