BOGOTA ( Associated Press) — The ancestral knowledge of four indigenous peoples of Colombia was recognized Tuesday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on its list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The decision to include it in the list was taken from Morocco, where the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee meets to examine 56 candidates. The list seeks to recognize and promote diversity of cultural practices and community knowledge.
UNESCO indicated that the knowledge of the Cogui, Wiwa, Arhuaco and Cancuamo peoples plays a “fundamental” role in protecting the ecosystem where they live, called the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which rises from the Caribbean coast and which Its parts have snow-capped mountains, lagoons and moors in the Altas.
“Since the light of the world was created, indigenous peoples have a mission to care for the earth and save the world,” said Leonor Zalabata, the first ambassador of indigenous origin to the United Nations from Colombia to Morocco . He said, “It is necessary to recognize that our traditional knowledge is as valid and current as scientific knowledge.”
The knowledge system of these Colombian indigenous peoples is based on “native law”, their own philosophy comprising teaching, learning and behavior codes, as explained in a statement by the Colombian government.
Their system of knowledge includes the protection of sacred places, traditional songs and dances, and rituals of baptism and marriage, as well as relationships with plants and animals.
Ambassador Zabaleta explained that the said law makes them feel an intangible sense of soul that connects them with other living beings such as plants or animals that “also have their own soul.”
The inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was achieved by Colombia after a 10-year process with indigenous communities.
The Colombian government believes that joining would promote respect for indigenous peoples.