I’d wanted to meet the Teyuna for over a decade before I got an invitation. When I arrived to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (SNSM) in Colombia in 2016 my heart expand to meet it. My experience was magical. I went high up into the mountain, was given a name and a mission and Colombia became the only place I wanted to travel to. When a Kogi Elder asked for my help I said yes and a few years ago I founded the Teyuna Foundation.
In January and February of this year I spent time in the front line communities of the SNSM, in the red zone. It was heartbreakingly enlightening.
The Kogi are one of four families collectively known as the Teyuna. The others families are the Arhuaco, Wiwa, and Kankuamo. The Teyuna Foundation supports them collectively because their unity is their strength. Each family has a different aspect of the same mission: Care for all flora and fauna of Earth. There is no hierarchy, but there is a system of protection for the Kogi, the Eldest Elder brothers and sisters. The Wiwa live closer to the base of the mountain and provide a necessary barrier between the industrialized world and the Kogis and they’ve suffered the bulk of colonization for them. The Arhuaco have done their part. The Kankuamo were almost entirely westernized generations ago, by force.
Caring for Earth has become an exceedingly difficult and even dangerous task, but the Teyuna persist because caring for Mother Earth is literally the reason they exist.
Over the years, especially this year, I learned a lot about how to support the Teyuna. My hope is that in five years the Teyuna no longer need the Teyuna Foundation, that their autonomy is restored to the point where they can support themselves, but for now, they desperately need our help. Some communities more than others.
Today, Christmas day for many, falls on the auspicious occasion of Vaikunta Ekadasi in India. Lord Vishnu opens ‘Vaikuntha Dwaram’ (Gates of Heaven) enabling all of life to receive material and spiritual blessings. For the Teyuna, the Sun is on His bench. It means Father Sun is in a deep state of meditation. The spiritual leaders and all members of Teyuna communities are on their benches too, receiving messages about what they can do for us and all life on Planet Earth.
I’ve just sent $1, 800,000.00 COP ($514.48 USD) to a hardware store in Colombia so that the community you see pictured here can run garden hose from a spring high up in the mountain and have clean water to drink. Illegal and legal mining in the area has polluted the river they drink from with chemicals such as cyanide, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, and heavy metals such as mercury, uranium, and lead – and that my dear souls is just the beginning.
If you or someone you know can in honor of our Elder Brothers and Sisters put your hand in theirs and offer a pagamento (payment) for their service to all life, and help them sustain themselves – they also lost all of their crops to drought this year – they would very much appreciate it. Please use this link to donate.