Territory

CAÑO MOCHUELO IS...

94,670 hectares of plains

Here there are 14 communities from 10 indigenous ethnicities living together in the Orinoquia along with the rivers, mountains, and savannas, with animals and plants, with spirits and enigmas.

 

 

CAÑO MOCHUELO IS...

A river star

Water is our element. We have the Casanare River to the north and the Meta River to the south and numerous smaller channels, creeks, lagoons, and moriche palms. The two great rivers come together, feeding the Ariporo River and the Aguaclara stream, which cross the heart of the indigenous reserve. On the eastern tip, at the edge of the department, 47 kilometers from the Venezuelan border, the Ariporo meets Casanare, and Aguaclara meets Meta. Then Casanare meets Meta before continuing its course to the Orinoco. This was the route our grandparents always navigated without thinking about borders or boundaries and that is now beyond the reach of our children and grandchildren.

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Graphic illustration by Andrés Chaparro Caño Mochuelo Indigenous Reserve: a multicultural and biodiverse territory.

Click on the picture for an enlarged view

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CAÑO MOCHUELO IS...

A story

Thousands of stories. Home to almost 3,300 girls, boys, women, and men. We belong to the land, and the land belongs to us. This land has made us, and we have made it. Some indigenous peoples have historically survived by hunting and gathering in a territory that was once abundant, while others are agriculturalists by tradition. But all of us, without exception, have woven the territory along paths that intersect in time and space. Each town, with its knowledge and rituals, its language and writings, owns the fruit of its expertise and the product of its arts and crafts.  Each group with its own identity, contributing to the great indigenous society that existed here before the colonists arrived and, before them, the missionaries. Ours is a society of brothers-in-law, nephews, uncles, sons-in-law, and parents in-law working together to preserve our traditions. All living under the Law of Origin, passing down our cultural practices from generation to generation, guiding each town’s ordering, management, conservation, and respect for nature. We are what remains of the original indigenous peoples of the Orinoquia, an intangible heritage of humanity.

CAÑO MOCHUELO IS...

A crossroads

In our territory, cultures have been found and have been estranged. The reserve is a living story that we build every day, made of many stories. It is a puzzle, like the history of America, and especially of the plains and the jungle. Our ancestral routes extend over more than three million hectares covering the departments of Guaviare, Vichada, Meta, Casanare, and Arauca, and extending into Venezuela.

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CAÑO MOCHUELO IS...

Pain

In the end, many of us arrived to Mochuelo seeking refuge. Here in the Llanos many things have happened that most Colombians do not know ... and that they should know. We have been victims of the armed conflict, like so many others in this country, but before that we were persecuted, displaced and exterminated for our land. "Guahibiar", "cuibiar", that is how the colonists used to call it when they went hunting indigenous people, as a synonym of civilizing, only until a few decades ago. * Over time, our ancestral territory has been filled with big estates and farms and our population has decreased drastically, to an extent in which tribes here in the reserve today are facing the possibility of total physical and cultural disappearance. In 1974 the Caño Mochuelo reserve was declared in favor of five tribes: "Cuiva, Masiguare, Tsiripú, Sáliva and Guahibo" (Wámonae, Maibén-Masiware, Tsiripu, Sáliba and Sikuani). With the INCORA Resolution No. 003 of 1986, the reserve obtains its legal status in benefit of nine tribes: "Cuiva, Guahibo, Saliva, Tsiripú, Masiguare, Mariposos, Amorúa, Piapoco and Wipigui" (Wámonae, Sikuani, Sáliba , Tsiripu, Maibén-Masiware, Yamaleros-Yaruros, Amorúa, Piapoco and Waüpijiwi).

CAÑO MOCHUELO IS...

A fight

For the survival of cultures that today are at risk of disappearing; for the right to travel the ancient routes and paths, and to visit the sacred spaces of each town beyond the borders drawn to protect us from a hostile environment; for the right to practice and pass down to our children the knowledge and traditions, the languages and stories, and beliefs and rituals of our peoples. It is a fight to overcome overcrowding and famine through the expansion of the reserve. Today we all depend on agriculture, but the available land represents only 15% of the minimum area required by each family, according to the Family Agricultural Unit of this region. Caño Mochuelo is part of the fight for the dignity of indigenous peoples and the material recognition, not only formal, of the Colombian nation's multiethnic and multicultural character.

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CAÑO MOCHUELO IS...

An opportunity

To protect the territory, to protect not only our cultures but all the natural wealth of this region that, like so many others in Colombia and the world, have suffered because of human actions. It is an opportunity to rediscover and strengthen other ways of living and cultural practices that contribute to sustainability, not through experimentation or innovation, but through a legacy of traditions received by each people in their origin. It is an opportunity for indigenous peoples who have demonstrated for thousands of years that one can live in harmony with nature through culture. Caño Mochuelo is an opportunity to find new forms of intercultural coexistence between farmers and indigenous ways of life that contribute to the conservation and restoration of the natural areas of the Orinoquia. 

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* Ortiz Gómez, F, “Nómadas en el oriente colombiano: una respuesta adaptativa al entorno social”. Maguaré, no. 17 (2003): 279.

 

** Instituto Colombiano de Desarrollo Rural, Acuerdo 132 de 2008., “Por el cual se señala para cada región o zona, las extensiones máximas y mínimas adjudicables de los baldíos productivos en unidades agrícolas familiares, de que trata la Ley 1152 de 2007”.