Siripo, Siripuxi, Chiripo, Chiricoa
“There was a being that formed our ancestors, who we called Tsobatsa (Nakón). He made the rivers, the pipes, the lagoons, the morichales, and the wild and fruit trees. When he did all that, he left it as a gift for us to enjoy […], but he also told the ancestors how they should take care of it so that it never runs out. He left us all of that so that we could live well”
OMERO NOKO CHARIRE
Santa María de Irimene / Guafiyal
The last remaining members of the Tsiripu people are located in the community of Guafiyal, near the banks of the Aguaclara pipe. This has been our settlement for the past few years, but we have not always lived here. We used to live in the Pica Pico channel and surrounding areas, to the west of the reserve, where we lived in hiding fleeing the violence of the whites. The intensity of their persecution was such that we did not want to have any more sons or daughters, and we had resigned ourselves to vanishing from history. When the process of structuring the Caño Mochuelo reserve had advanced enough, we decided to move to Santa María de Irimene, a hamlet now abandoned, located just a few minutes toward the Boca de Casanare.
From the 32 people that originally arrived at the reserve, we now have a population of 87 individuals members of 22 families. * Although our population has recovered, we know that we are still at risk of disappearing as a ethnicity. Our language –part of the Guahibo linguistic family like many others in the reserve-, our traditions, our sacred sites, our knowledge of the land, and our access to shellfish sites, which are essential for a mobile community like ours, have been seriously threatened by the irruption of new actors in the lands within and surrounding the reserve. We can no longer freely move around to forage and hunt, but we will always keep the memory of those paths, as well as the memory of our origins.
* Romero Moreno, M. E., Castro Agudelo, L. M., y Muriel Bejarano, A. Geografía humana de Colombia. Región Orinoquia, vol. 1, tomo III (Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Cultura Hispánica, 1993): 120.