The term "Arhuaco" was coined by the Spanish to refer to the region located on the southern slope of the Sierra Nevada, differentiating it from other provinces such as Tairona and Chimila.
The Arhuaco or Ika people are located on the western and southeastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. They currently live in the high valleys of the Piedras, San Sebastián de Rábago, Chichicua, Ariguaní and Guatapurí rivers, in an area recognized by the Colombian state as an indigenous reserve of collective ownership. Their main settlement is Nabusímake (formerly San Sebastián de Rábago). Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. En la actualidad viven en los valles altos de los ríos Piedras, San Sebastián de Rábago, Chichicua, Ariguaní y Guatapurí, en un área reconocida por el Estado colombiano como resguardo indígena de propiedad colectiva. Su principal asentamiento es Nabusímake (anteriormente San Sebastían de Rábago).
They also share a portion of the territory with the Kogui and Wiwa. The geographical characteristics of the area show it as a river star that has all the thermal floors, from perpetual snow to the warm sands of the Caribbean Sea, which bathes extensive agricultural and livestock areas.
POPULATION According to the census conducted by DANE in 2005, 22,134 people self-identified as belonging to the Iku (Arhuaco) people, of which 51.15% are men (11,321 people) and 48.85% are women (10,813 people). 78.43% of the Iku population, 17,360 people, is located in the department of Cesar. This is followed by Magdalena with 18.36% of the population (4,063 inhabitants), La Guajira with 1.9% (420 inhabitants), and finally Bogotá with 0.42% (92 inhabitants). The Iku people represent 1.59% of the indigenous population of Colombia.
Ika language. (Ika, ijka, iku, arhuacos, bíntukua, businka, busintana)
Arhuaco is a Chibchan language spoken in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. It is estimated that there are 8,000 to 10,000 speakers of this language (Landaburu 2000). Other names sometimes used for this language are ika and bíntukwa. This grammar is a revision, adaptation, and translation of Ika Syntax (Frank 1990). The purpose of this work is to provide a brief description of the language to Spanish speakers and Arhuaco (ika) speakers.
CULTURE AND HISTORY
The history of the Ijka indigenous people dates back to the conquest period when the Spanish incursion in the territory decimated the so-called Tairona indigenous people. Once the pacification campaigns of the indigenous provinces inhabiting the Sierra territory were completed, the precarious situation of Santa Marta during the colonial period allowed survivors a relative territorial isolation that facilitated their ethnic reconstitution process. The indigenous people adopted new patterns of subsistence and residence based on their location in much steeper areas than those occupied by the Spanish years ago.
At the end of the 19th century, the State granted control of the area to the Capuchin missions; thus, under the precepts of Regeneration, the missionaries took jurisdiction of the La Guajira peninsula and the Sierra Nevada, places that were then referred to as "national territories." Simultaneously, the colonizing surges of the refugees of the civil wars also contributed to the construction of the social and economic fabric of the Arhuaco territory.
The Arhuacos are a deeply spiritual people and knowledgeable about their own philosophy, which has a globalizing character. They consider the Sierra as the heart of the world, from which it originated in different stones. They are one of the most dynamic and combative peoples in Colombia, having developed a political organization that has led to successful struggles in the recovery of their traditional territory, the expulsion of Catholic missionaries accused of ethnocide, and the establishment of a bilingual education program.
For each of the ethnic groups inhabiting the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the snow-capped peaks are considered the center of the world. The first men come from these groups and, therefore, are the "Elder Brothers"; all who came later are considered the "Younger Brothers." The difference between the two types of brothers is the knowledge they have about nature; from this perspective, the "Elder Brothers" are responsible for caring for and preserving the world, ensuring that the cosmic cycle has a good development so that diseases do not destroy human life, and so that the harvests are good.
The world is conceived as two pyramids supported on the same base. Internally, it consists of nine worlds, each with its own land and inhabitants. The earth is located on the fifth floor. Towards the top, the worlds are related to light, and towards the bottom, they are related to darkness.
The Sierra is considered a human body, where the snow-capped peaks represent the head; the lagoons of the moors, the heart; the rivers and streams, the veins; the layers of earth, the muscles; and the grasslands, the hair. With this foundation, all the geography of the Sierra is a sacred space.
The Mamo is the central figure in the Kogi representation system. He is the intermediary between celestial forces and men. His wisdom and knowledge allow for a balance between the forces. For them, the end of the world is approaching because the "Younger Brothers" are not interested in protecting nature.
All the towns in the mountains consider themselves descendants of the first "parents," which is why they are called the "Elder Brothers." The four groups have both patrilineal and matrilineal lineages, meaning that sons belong to the paternal lineage and daughters to the maternal lineage. Nuclear families with matrilocal residence (the man settles in the wife's house) are established and then they settle on their own land.
The head of the social structure is represented by the figure of the Mamo. The social hierarchy of the people is embodied in him.
Among the Mamos, there are hierarchies, where the Takina, Makotama, and Seishua are of the highest rank. The Mamo is primarily a man of knowledge.
Regarding political organization, the Mamo also heads the structure above the councils. They, the Mamos, are the ones who make decisions and exercise justice. They have assistants - commissioners, senior sergeants, and junior sergeants, through whom their decisions are executed. However, in recent years, the structure has been changing, and the councils have been gaining greater relevance.
Currently, the Arhuaco are not a homogeneous group. Some sectors have developed the preservation of their traditions as a socio-political strategy, while others have adopted characteristics of mestizo society such as clothing and language. However, the different sectors of society continue to actively participate in political decision-making and other aspects of their culture.
Unlike the Kogi, the Ika people practice livestock farming, specifically of cattle and sheep, as their main economic activity. Their diet is complemented by agriculture, with coffee being their main product. In the cold lands, they cultivate potatoes, arracacha, sweet potatoes, garlic, cabbage, and onions. In the temperate areas, they grow beans, avocado, corn, pumpkin, sugarcane, plantain, coca, tobacco, and cassava.
The agricultural cycle is similar to that of the Kogi, starting with the clearing and burning of forests, which is done by men from December to February. From February to April, women help prepare the land and sow crops. Harvesting takes place from August to November. Until a few years ago, crop rotation was common among the Kogi, but this has changed due to the pressure exerted by armed actors who have gradually occupied the Sierra.
The Ika people's main economic activity is livestock farming, specifically of cattle and sheep, while they also engage in agriculture. One of their most important crops is coffee. In the cold lands, they cultivate potatoes, arracacha, sweet potatoes, garlic, cabbage, and onions. In the temperate areas, they grow beans, avocado, corn, pumpkin, sugarcane, plantain, tobacco, and cassava. Farm work is mainly done by men, but women help when necessary, in addition to their household chores.
LEVEL OF VITALITY: Seriously endangered. The Arhuaco language belongs to the Chibchan language family. The term Arhuaco was coined by the Spanish to refer to the region located on the southern slope of the massif, distinguishing it from other provinces such as Tairona and Chimila. The term was later generalized to refer to all indigenous people in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta who survived the conquest until the 19th century.
All the towns in the Sierra consider themselves descendants of the first "parents," which is why they are the "Elder Brothers." The four groups have both patrilineal and matrilineal lineages, meaning that sons belong to the paternal lineage and daughters to the maternal lineage. Nuclear families with matrilocal residence (the man lives in the wife's house) are established, and later they settle on their own land. The head of the social structure is represented by the figure of the Mamo. He embodies the social hierarchy of the people. Among the Mamos, there are hierarchies where Takina, Makotama, and Seishua are the highest ranking. The Mamo is first and foremost a man of knowledge.
Regarding political organization, the Mamo also heads the structure above the town councils. They, the Mamos, are the ones who make decisions and administer justice. They have assistants – commissioners, sergeants major, and sergeants minor – through whom their decisions are executed. However, in recent years the structure has been changing and the town councils have been gaining more relevance.
Currently, the Arhuaco are not a homogeneous group. Some sectors have developed the rooting of their traditions as a socio-political strategy, while others have adopted characteristics of the mestizo society such as dress and language. However, the different sectors of society continue to actively participate in political decision-making and other aspects of their culture. Read more here: https://www.ecured.cu/Arhuacos_(etnia_de_Colombia)
Photo collected from the Indigenous Peoples website.
Their housing pattern is relatively mobile, depending on the possession of two or three "farms" in different places on the reserve. They build round or rectangular houses, roofed in thatch. The towns where the population congregates frequently have a male ceremonial house around which the houses are located.
Las casas varían según el clima en tamaño, forma y materiales de construcción. Puede ser una sola casa para todos llamada Maloka o varias chozas que se distribuyen en forma de círculo. El centro de la vivienda siempre será el fogón donde se cocinan los alimentos y sirve como punto de reunión de la familia y la comunidad.
RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS
The Arhuacos are deeply spiritual, believing themselves to be descendants of the first "parents," considering themselves the "Elder Brothers" and calling others "Younger Brothers."
The wisdom of the Mamo and his knowledge allow maintaining the balance between celestial and human forces.
As part of their traditions, they cultivate tobacco and coca leaves, which they consume crushed inside containers called poporos and mixed with lime or ashes to alleviate hunger and fatigue from long hours of work or travel. For them, the coca leaf has an ancestral power that they strive to maintain, as this crop in Colombia is considered illegal.
The Arhuacos are not very bellicose and defenders of peaceful coexistence among men and with the forces of nature. They advocate respect for nature as a way of maintaining the balance of the forces that inhabit it.
The men's mochila contains the 'poporo,' a gourd, which the men work on perpetually during all waking hours. It contains lime powder in its belly, prepared from seashells collected from the coast.
The men chew toasted coca leaves from the time of their initiation until adulthood, but it is forbidden for women, although only women collect the fresh leaves. Men are never seen without their poporo.
For the Mamos, the poporo represents the unity of men and women in creation, Mother Earth and Father Sky.
Working the poporo is a complex ritual, consisting of many dimensions and levels: the pumpkin receptacle represents the female, the Mother, and contains the lime. With a stick, the male element, the lime is retrieved and taken to the mouth while chewing coca leaves.
Photo taken from Página Etnia del Mundo
Coca leaves, not considered addictive, are a mild narcotic chewed by most traditional Andean cultures to suppress hunger and allow them to go long periods without sleeping.
With this mixture, they work on the outer edge of the gourd, slowly forming a bulbous light green residue.
This is how they respectfully 'write' their thoughts and memories in contemplation, conversation, and the poporo.
Las mochilas, las cuales buena parte de la producción es para uso personal, ya que son una parte fundamental de la indumentaria propia, cada vez gana más penetración en el mercado de artesanías típicas del país. Los hombres fabrican la totalidad de la ropa y parte de las telas, aunque se utilizan actualmente géneros comprados.
PROCESS OF MAKING ARHUACAS MOCHILAS
Shearing the sheep: This task is performed by both Arhuaca men and women. The wool is cut with scissors. The most common colors in sheep are: brown, gray, white, and black. And there is a color called "ram," which is a reddish hue resulting from a cross between a sheep and a ram from the Guajira Peninsula.
2. Washing the wool: This activity is done with soap commonly used for washing clothes, often at the riverside. When washing, the wool is exposed to the sun to dry.
3. Carding the wool: After the wool dries, the whole family, including grandmothers, mothers, fathers, daughters, young people, girls, and boys, gather to card the wool.
4. Spinning the wool: This task is done with the help of the spindle, which is the instrument used to spin the wool. This object is a fundamental and personal tool for each woman.
5. Folding in two: After all the wool is spun, two balls of equal size are made, and they are joined in two. The wool is then crocheted using the spindle.
6. Starting the mochila: The mochila starts with a knot and stitches in two, a process called "growing," which gives breadth to the weave and consistency to the base of the mochila so that it does not shrink until it reaches the desired diameter.
7. Mochila strap or hanger: It is made with the same colors of the threads used for the mochila. When the strap is finished, it is joined to the body of the mochila, and the product is completed.
As in many cultures and ethnicities, clothing becomes a symbol of hierarchy, identity, and status to identify each role and age within communities.
Among the Arhuacos and Koguis of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, from the moment of birth there is a clear differentiation of the roles that babies will assume depending on their gender. The Mamo, at the baptism, gives the boy a macana stick to be a good worker and the girl a small mochila and a spindle to be a good weaver. In addition, he places a "aseguranza", a kind of thread bracelet that serves the purpose of protecting them from diseases. These elements will accompany the indigenous person throughout their life and even in death, as they are buried with them when they depart from this world.
During early childhood, boys and girls wear a long, sleeveless white tunic. But when puberty arrives, along with physiological changes, there are also changes in status and therefore in the type of clothing.
Young men wear a pant or kursuno and two types of blankets that, when crossed, form a tunic that they tie at the waist with a wide cotton sash, all of this together with two mochilas that cross over their chest. And they will only wear the tutosoma, a cone-shaped hat that will be given to them in the initiation ritual.
Meanwhile, girls wear a dress made up of two cotton blankets and many more colorful necklaces than in childhood, along with a mochila where they keep their weaving tools. In the higher areas, they wear a poncho or ruana to protect themselves from the cold.
To get married, the man must live and work for his future father-in-law for one or two years. If the marriage does not take place after this period of time, the man receives compensation for his work. The Arhuacos consider neighboring communities as "little brothers".
"The spiritual leader or Mamu lives separately from the family and is responsible for resolving the community's legal problems and providing religious advice. There are 42 separate Arhuaco communities that are consolidated under the Tayrona Indigenous Federation.
AUTHOR: CARLOS GARIZABALO HOYOS
-Arango y Sánchez. Los pueblos indígenas de Colombia 1997.
-Dane: Censo1993-Proyección 2001-.
-Fundación Pro Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Proyecto de Cooperación Colombo Alemán. —Plan de desarrollo Sostenible de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, 1997.
-Romero y Lozano. Sendero de la Memoria Un Viaje por la Tierra de los Mayores, Santa Fe de Bogotá, 1994.
-Uribe, Carlos Alberto. —La gran sociedad indígena de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta en los contextos regional y nacional.“, en: Encrucijadas de Colombia Amerindia, Ican, Santa Fe de Bogotá, 1993.
-Uribe, Carlos Alberto. “La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta“ en: Geografía Humana de Colombia, Nordeste Indígena, Tomo II, Instituto Colombiano de Cultura Hispánica, Santa Fe de Bogotá, 1993.
-Fundación Hemera – Etnias de Colombia.
-Recuperado de: Todacolombia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iNHmKXPrK4&feature=emb_title Los Arhuacos en la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta – Nabusímake – EL MUNDO DE JALED
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TF6xNDoiNJM La resiliencia del pueblo arhuaco en Colombia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt76Zs7yQT4 Palabras del Mamos- Rios de entendimiento.
Los Arhuacos o ikas se localizan en la vertiente occidental y sur oriental de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. En la actualidad viven en los valles altos de los ríos Piedras, San Sebastián de Rábago, Chichicua, Ariguaní y Guatapurí, en un área reconocida por el Estado colombiano como resguardo indígena de propiedad colectiva. Su principal asentamiento es HYPERLINK “https://www.ecured.cu/index.php?title=Nabus%C3%ADmake&action=edit&redlink=1” \o “Nabusímake (la página no existe)” Nabusímake (anteriormente San Sebastían de Rábago).
As of 2005, their population was reported to be 22,134 people who self-identified as belonging to the Iku (Arhuaco) people, of which 51.15% are men (11,321 people) and 48.85% are women (10,813 people).
Their language is Ika. (Ika, ijka, iku, Arhuacos, bíntukua, businka, busintana). Arhuaco is a Chibchan language spoken in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.
In terms of political organization, the Mamo also heads the structure above the cabildos. They, the Mamos, are the ones who make decisions and exercise justice.