Kogi Message of Peace

MamosThe KOGI, Lost Tribe with a Message of Peace
By Luis Mejia (L CONDOR)

Around 20 years ago I saw an amazing video called from the “Heart of the World.” It was about a unique Indigenous community that lived in Northern Colombia who say they are keeping the world in balance. I was so impressed because they are still living with the same spiritual values and traditions of their ancestors, but the ecological warning the Kogi’s shared touched a nerve.

I was born in Bogota, Colombia in 1959 and came to the US in 1960, so I never had a chance to really understand my roots and my Colombian heritage. When I saw how the Kogi lived I was determined to find a way to meet them. The only problem was they don’t like tourists and getting into their land is very difficult, not to mention that today there is para-military control, a FRAC guerrillas army that has riches beyond description and senseless killing. 40 year civil war that has no end in sight.

In May 1995 I moved to Brazil to work for Ford Motor Company to promote an internal communications campaign called Ford 2000 in Latin America. Then I spent 1 year at the World Headquarters in Detroit working in the International Public Affairs covering Asia, India and Latin America. Life was good but deep down I had a need to understand my roots. In April of 1997, I went to Colombia on a business trip and met some people who had just returned from the Sierra Nevada where the Kogi live. I was having major synchronicities about the Kogi and my heart kept feeling I needed to find a way to communicate with them.

In June of 1997 a lifelong dream came true for me. I had just took a leave of absence from my job at Ford and decided to go to an Indigenous conference in the Amazon region of Colombia. It was called the “2nd International Gathering of Priest and Elders of the Americas.” When I arrived I started helping with the logistics of the conference. We were expecting about 300 elders from more than 13 countries. That event changed my life and I made a promise to my Kogi brothers that one day I would return and help them out. I have been back to the sacred mountain 7 times and each time the situation gets mote intense.

This past summer ( April-Sept 2006) I have been living in Bogota planning the final details of the Kogi film and media campaign. I had a chance to go to the Sierra and meet the elders in charge and understand th real needs of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the people suffering there.

The campaign will have 3 key objectives:
* To raise awareness of the critical situation the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is in and the humanitarian crisis of the Native Peoples including the Kogi, Arhuaco and Wiwa.
* Bring medical supplies and smiles to Children and Hospitals in Santa Marta and Bogota. Partnership with Airline Ambassadors www.airlineamb.org
Create Music 4 Peace- Concert for Harmony,

Funds raised go to buy land and communications equipment –Juanes, Carlos Vives, Santana will be invited. Partnership with Daniel Pearl Foundation, Harmony for Humanity www.danielpearl.org

The civil and drug war going on in Colombia right now has taken a toll on the native population and people are being killed without justice and deep fear. The Kogi and all the tribes in the Sierra are asking for help and the time has come to hear the call.

A little history …..

More than 500 years ago the Kogi fled high into a sacred mountain in Northern Colombia called the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the Spanish had arrived and the message was not good. They believe the Sierra Nevada to be the “Mother” and the “Heart of the World.” The Sierra Nevada, in the shape of a pyramid is where the Andes chain begins or ends, depending on your perspective. If you look at the Andes, the Sierra is the crown chakra or top most part of South America. It is like a spinal column and the sacred mountain is the 3 eye. The Kogi are unique among the world’s Indigenous cultures because they were never conquered by the Spaniards. They are said to have memory of the beginning of time and remember the rampage the conquistadors brought to their region in 1498.
In 1988 the Kogi allowed a BBC journalist Alain Ereira to film a documentary about their culture. This was a historic event. No western journalists have been allowed to return and the Kogi remained silent observing the ecological destruction they have seen from their mountain-top. Very few Colombians dare enter into their territory and few know they exist.
In June of 1997, I was invited to visit the Kogi. This created a bond of friendship and trust. They are now ready to share their next warning and message to the “Younger Brother.” We are the “Younger Brother” who are destroying the Earth and causing an ecological imbalance that may affect future generations to come.

Who are they?
The Kogi are the direct descendants of the Tayrona civilization. The Tayrona culture flourished in Northern Colombia around 1,000 AD. They left behind stunning gold artwork, stone and pottery artifacts and an amazing network of brick roads covering the Sierra Nevada. Kogi society has changed little in the past five centuries. They survived as a culture because the Kogi focus all their energy on the life of the mind as opposed to the life of a body or an individual. Fundamental to that survival is the maintenance of physical separation from their world and our own. The Kogi do not allow anyone into their land. They are very protective of their sacred space and the dense jungle is not kind to tourists.

As of 2006, it is estimated there are 12,000 Kogi’s left.

Where do they live?
The Kogi live in the higher regions of the Sierra Nevada. Many self-sustaining communities are on the Western part of the Mountain accessible through Valledupar, which is located in the State of Cesar. The Sierra Nevada is the highest coastal mountain in the world only 26 miles from the beach. It is located near the Equator, which means it has no seasons. Day and night are of equal length all year round. It has every eco-system in its 17,000 km2 area. The highest peek is the Pico Simon Bolivar at 5,775 mtrs. So in this mountain area all the eco-systems of earth are present creating a mini earth. From the sea the mountain goes straight to snow capped peaks.

Why are they unique?
The Kogi represent the most complete surviving civilization of pre-Columbian America. They are not hunter-gatherers or a wondering tribe. They are a nation whose fields have been continuously cultivated for more than a thousand years.
The Kogi believe they are the “Elder Brothers,” the guardians of life on Earth. Through their mind power and meditation they keep the world in balance. They live in “Aluna,” an inner world of thought and potential. They are now concerned because their Mountain is dying.
Everything about their history and religion is passed down through oral instructions and their lives are run by the spiritual leaders or Shamans named “Mamas.” The Kogi Mamas are chosen from birth and spend the first nine years of childhood in a cave in total darkness learning the ancient secrets of the spiritual world or Aluna. They are the priests and judges who control Kogi society. All major decisions and shamanic work is done by Divination. All is the world of Aluna, so the Mamas see a reflection of the physical world first in the spiritual world. If Aluna is the Mother, then the Kogi listen to the Mother by divining. This lost technique of divination is what keeps the Kogi world in balance and order. The Mamas are worried that the “Younger Brother” has not heeded the first warning. If the Sierra Nevada or the Mother dies, the world will also die.
Of unique importance is that the Kogi are a peaceful tribe that have never killed one of their own and rarely intermarry. They never grow gray hair and have no facial hair. They can spend 9 days awake without sleep during their ceremonial rites.
They are now beginning to learn Spanish because they realize the importance of communicating with the outside world. They also need to understand the Colombian Government’s laws regarding the Sierra Nevada, which was named a Historical Heritage by UNESCO and a National Park by the Colombian Government.

This past Oct, 2006 we formed an alliance with the UNPD in Bogota and will be helping raise funds and awareness for a campaign to buy their sacred land back.

The Kogi have a lot to teach us. Are we ready to listen?

More info on our web at www.tribalink.org

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