Thursday, May 05, 2011
Los Wayuú of La Guajira
The Department of La Guajira, with its capital Rioahcha, is located on the Northern most peninsula of Colombia. It is an arid, desert region. It is hot and dry! The area is home to several indigenous groups among them are the Wayuú (also sometimes referred to as the Guajiro).
The approximately 144,000 Wayuú are divided into matriarchal clans -- each clan consisting of several families, all with a common ancestor. These clans often fight with each other. They live in small groupings of huts -- called Caseríos -- which are located far from each other to avoid the mixing of animal herds.
The Wayuú believe that there is life after death. This life is somehow related to the bones of the deceased. Therefore, great care and ceremony accompany the burial. After 2 years, the bones of the deceased are exhumed and placed in a pot which is then reburied.
In Manaure, the Wayuú mine salt, which they have done since before the coming of the Spanish.
Here is an interesting look into the Guajiros -- from a Time Magazine Article in 1951. It talks about their tradition of paying recompense for wrong doing in sheep -- definitely worth a read.