The Zenú (or Sinú) Indians

There are 2 different histories to the Zenú Indians. The first is the pre-hispanic history, which lasted from 300 B.C. to 1500 A.D. Then, there is the modern history and culture of the Zenú. Today, I wish to focus on the modern Zenú, a group of about 52,000 Indians, which lives in the department of Córdoba, along the Sinú river, on a Reservation known as San Andrés de Sotavento.

The history of the Reservation is an interesting one. It was created during the 1700's and in 1773 it was officially recognized by the King of Spain. However, in 1905, the National Constitutional Assembly dissolved it. In 1969, the Zenues began the fight to reestablish the reservation. In 1990, the Reservation was reestablished and then a few years later it was expanded. This, however, did not happen without the deaths of many Zenú leaders.

Now, with the reestablishment of the Reservations, the Zenues are struggling to recapture their native culture despite the loss of their native language about 200 years ago. They have established CABILDOS to rule the reservation.

They have turned to their artisans and most of the economy is based on their famed SOMBRERO VUELTIAO and other similar crafts made with caña flecha. Unfortunately, the over exploitation of the caña flecha is leaving many areas without the needed plant to increase the production of the artesanías.

Additionally, there is an agricultural base to their economy. With agricultural playing such an important roll, in October of 2005, the Zenú declared that their Reservation (where corn and cotton are grown) will be free of any genetically modified seeds. Their hope is maintain 27 species of native corn.

Here are a few videos about the Zenú and their artesanías (in Spanish) but you can see their homes and the countryside:

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