The Indigenous Nations of Colombia
Colombia is a very diverse country. It has a huge variety of animal and plant live and it features terrain ranging from mild Caribbean coasts to rugged mountains. Its people are just as diverse as its natural resources. Colombia has almost 90 indigenous nations speaking 180 different languages. These different nations have a big impact on Colombia’s rich culture and history.
Before Europeans settled in Colombia, indigenous groups ruled the land. After the explorers settled, most of these groups were assimilated into a biracial mestizo culture. However, some indigenous groups chose to hold themselves apart. Today, thirty percent of Colombia’s land is home to indigenous people. It is estimated that about one million are still living in Colombia.
In 2009, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was signed. This document outlawed discrimination against indigenous tribes and also gave them protection under the law. Based on this, tribes were allowed to stay on their own lands under the protection of the state. With all of this legal protection, tribes are still facing hardships. Twenty seven of these tribes are in danger of disappearing because they live in areas prized by drug smugglers and oil prospectors. Armed conflict has forced man to flee and dramatically change their way of life.
There is still one area that travelers can visit to get a sense of how the indigenous people live. Nabusimake is an Arhuaco Indian village set in the wilderness. While there are no accommodations for tourists, it is possible to stay with a local family and experience the hospitality of a totally different culture.