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How to Cope with COVID-19 using Indigenous Wisdom

Generally, a lot of negative feelings have aroused with the difficult pandemic situation we are currently facing, the uncertainty, threat and many changes in our lives brought by this situation are causing stress and desperation in many people.  Information about this virus and measures to prevent its spread (based on modern medicine) are standardized across modern nations. However, we noticed a lack of information on the perspective of traditional cultures regarding this topic. Ancient cultures have always had a unique insight on different topics due to their worldview and ancestral knowledge and traditions that sets them apart from everyone else’s perspective. We care about our artisans and value and admire indigenous communities; their wellbeing matters to us, so we wanted to know how are they dealing with this pandemic.

We are focusing on indigenous communities from Colombia and our sources include printed media as well as verbal interviews with some indigenous people with whom we work to make some of our products. We feel honoured that our artisans have trusted us and shared how they are coping with the virus; they know that this article will be written and approved the release of this information.

Arhuacos, Koguis and Wiwas

For these three indigenous communities of Colombia made of over 105,000 people, the COVID-19 is the result of how “sick” is Mother Nature; for them when nature is sick, humans get sick since they are both intertwined. They perceived humans as an element of nature, not as owners. They warned us of the need to start taking better care of nature or otherwise, there will be worst problems to come in the future. Also, they advised us to stop calling the virus by its scientific name since it is believed that when we call it or even name, we are attracting it. (Garcia, 2020)

All the indigenous groups will be following the stipulated quarantine but ask the Colombian government to provide them with food during these times. They will forbid the entrance & exit to the community of everyone. Meanwhile, they are conducting rituals showing respect to Mother Nature, asking to please stop the pandemic; they focus on prays to the air element, since this carries the virus and also as this is essential for all human beings existence. All the communities understand the threat of this Virus, and they said that they are afraid of it entering their community since they are a collective society that operates in groups. (Alvares, 2020)

Wayuu

There are about 145.000 Wayuu people in Colombia, they live in an extended territory in la Guajira and represent 20% of the country’s indigenous population. The information about the pandemic came from the Colombian government, this was very vague and it focused on the message of enforcing quarantine to stop its spread. Each clan leader shared this information with their correspondent community in their local language, to make sure everyone understands it well. The Wayuu ask their god “Tata Maleiwa” to keep them safe from any danger.

For the Wayuu dreams are visions of reality and they considered themselves as spiritual warriors. They said that as the pandemic information was spreading, an elder Wayuu woman had a vision about this virus in which she was given instructions on how to combat it. She warned the Wayuu that something dangerous was coming and said they should start drinking and applying some natural remedies known in their culture for their healing properties (see the list below). Most people followed suit since in the Wayuu culture dreams are very important and have proven to work as channels of communication and wisdom. Additionally, the revelation in her dream included that they should dance their traditional dance, throw a red fabric and say: “virus go from here, you are not from here nor these lands are yours”. They should eat roasted corn while celebrating that the virus is gone.

These are the natural remedies from the women’s dream that the Wayuus are currently using:

Malanbo- This is a natural antibiotic that helps to cure headache diarrhea and body pain. They make an infusion and drink it.

Warrara- This is for a regular cold. They make an infusion and drink it.

Vija- This is used as soap when taking a shower. This is believed to be a purifier of the body and help to stabilize our bodies. They make an infusion and drink it.

Zamutapai- This is a natural antibacterial, so they use it to rub their hands, and it is given to kids and elders to hold it in their hands. It is also considered as a sacred token.

Yochon- using all the previous remedies, they make this alcohol beverage that they apply in their bodies and drink it as well during their healing rituals and praying.

Traditional dance in which they ask the virus not to come to their territory. 

 

Unfortunately, the Colombian government is not providing much support to any of these indigenous groups living under the poverty line. As a result, they are really struggling during this time as they start to lack of water and food. They live day to day and being in quarantine for over 3 weeks now means hunger. Plus, this quarantine is likely to be extended… How are they supposed to survive these times?
Our compromise is to try to keep our artisans as busy as we can these days; but, we need to sell their products to be able to afford to buy more from them. Also, we created some fundraising strategies to generate some funds to give them extra help during these times. See below how you can help!

1) Get that item you have been considering to buy from us; we'll donate 20% of all sales to our artisans and 30% of all Wayuu Style sales. https://www.indiartscollective.com/

2) Buy a gift card! This won't expire and we'll donate 20% of all gift card sales. https://www.indiartscollective.com/products/gift-card

3) Donate to our GoFundMe campaign, 100% proceeds will be donated to our artisans: https://www.gofundme.com/manage/helping-wayuu-artisans-during-the-covid19 . 

4) Share our GoFundMe Campaign (link above) so more change-makers can support our cause!

5) Referrals- if you know someone who could like our products, please send it our way.

Thank you so much for supporting our indigenous artisans! 

 

 

Citations

https://santamartaaldia.co/la-enfermedad-del-hombre-es-reflejo-de-lo-enferma-que-esta-la-naturaleza-indigenas-de-la-sierra/

https://santamartaaldia.co/indigenas-de-la-sierra-piden-dejar-de-nombrar-el-virus-para-evitar-atraerlo/