Wámome, Cuiva, Cuiba, Kuiba, Chiricoa
Wámonae means "Our People" in our language, which belongs to the Guahibo linguistic family. We are also known as Cuibas, an indigenous people closely related to other groups in the Caño Mochuelo Reserve, including the Maibén-Masiware and the Tsiripu, among others. We have always been walkers, covering an area that encompassed a vast region of Los Llanos in the current Vichada, Casanare, and Arauca departments. There are recent records of our people's communities in areas bordering the Lipa, Arauca, and Capanaparo rivers. A couple of decades ago, it was presumed that nomadic groups still traveled through the Capanaparo savannas, between Colombia and Venezuela. We were part of the system of indigenous peoples that inhabited the Orinoquia before the colonists’ arrival. There is no consensus on whether this could have been a response to the pressures generated by the increasingly deep invasion of Western culture during the 16th century, or if the Cuiba were initially nomadic hunter-gatherers who gradually occupied the fertile lands of the great rivers to practiced horticulture as we do today on the banks of the Casanare river in the community of Owl.*
We were one of the first people to settle in the Caño Mochuelo Reserve and, like many other towns in the reserve, we were victims of horrendous terrorist attacks, constant persecution by white people, and victims of massacres such as that of La Rubiera, bringing us to the brink of physical and cultural disappearance. Our clashes with settlers who were already present in our territory worsened around 1966 when we settled in Mochuelo. It was at the end of that decade that other towns began to arrive in the region, and the process of territorial recognition by INCORA was organized during the following ten years. The 1978 census found the population of Mochuelo included 156 men and 139 women. Today, there are a total of 918 individuals from 256 families with 215 families living in Mochuelo and 41 in Mardue.
* 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): 127; Ortiz Gómez, F, “Nómadas en el oriente colombiano: una respuesta adaptativa al entorno social”. Maguaré, no. 17 (2003): 278.