Guahibos (connotación negativa), Guaiba, Guaibo, Jivi, Jiwi
“Kaliawiri is the tree of our origin. This tree is a mystery as each branch had a different food or a different fruit. In this tree, we could find all the food from the earth and everything we needed to guarantee our survival forever”
The Sikuani is the largest indigenous group in the Orinoquia with many of its communities located in Colombia, mainly in the departments of Vichada, Meta, Casanare, and Arauca, as well as in Venezuela where we recognize ourselves as the Hiwi people. Each clan has its own mysteries and memories, and our community remembers having reached Caño Mochuelo del Guaviare on a route that passed through Vichada and Meta. 585 Sikuani individuals currently live in the reserve with 140 families located in the communities of Tsamani and Gethsemane and 40 families located in Wanakanü Tómara. Tsamani is located on the banks of the Casanare River while Gethsemane is inland, located on the opposite side of the reserve, closer to the Meta river.
The Sikuani people have been a central part of the multi-ethnic system that made up the indigenous society of Los Llanos. We are related to many other Caño Mochuelo indigenous peoples, especially the Sáliba, and we recognize ourselves as farmers. We were told the Arawak community in Los Llanos, the Achagua, and the Piapoco heavily influenced our adoption of agricultural practices.* However, nomadic practices continued to be an integral part of our way of life. Our elders tell us that although we did not change locations every 15 days or every month, we moved every five or seven years in an orderly, planned, and projected manner.**
Our language is part of the Guahibo linguistic family, and other people even identified us with that name. However, we do not accept than name since it carries a heavy symbolic burden associated with the violence and cultural disrespect that we have historically suffered by the majority of society.
* Queixalós, F., Lenguas aborígenes de Colomba. Diccionarios. Diccionario sikuani-español (Universidad de los Andes, Centro Colombiano de Estudios en Lenguas Aborígenes, 1988): ii.
** María Gaitán, Ordenamiento territorial tradicional (julio 13 de 2007).