How a secret tribe hid in the jungle for 2,000 years in ‘The Lost City’

How a secret tribe hid in the jungle for 2,000 years in ‘The Lost City’

AN indigenous tribe hidden deep in Colombia lived off the grid and undiscovered for 2,000 years – until the introduction of tourism.

Now, life has changed drastically for the once self-sufficient tribe living in the jungle near the so-called “Lost City” in the Sierra Nevada.

Elder Wiwa Gabo Moscote, pictured, spoke to The Sun about the changes in the 2,000-year-old tribeCredit: Simon Willis, Kagumu Adventures
The young members of the tribe now enjoy drinking Coca-Cola and beer while exposing themselves to Western touristsCredit: Alamy
Tourists listening to a guide while visiting indigenous landCredit: Simon Willis, Kagumu Adventures
The area has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in ColombiaCredit: Getty

Wiwa elder Gabo Moscote said the introduction of tourism brought trekking camps selling goods to tourists – and a subsequent frenzy for Western products.

Young members of the tribe have been seen drinking Coca-Cola cans – with empty cans found dotted around the jungle.

And they’ve been known to enjoy Western beer, like Budweiser.

Gabo told The Sun: “They see tourists doing it and a lot of people want to do the same. It doesn’t look good, it actually makes us look really bad and it doesn’t help at all.”

read more about indigenous people

Before the introduction of tours, the Wiwa community lived off the land and dedicated their lives to a spiritual connection with nature.

Calling themselves “damanas”, protectors of Mother Nature, Wiwa rejected the ways of modern life.

Spiritual leaders maintained their connection with nature through meditation, chanting and rituals such as chewing the leaves of the head.

But according to Gabo, the tribe’s traditions are changing.

Many tribal members have started wanting to listen to western music and reject their traditional dress, he said.

There have even been cases of tribesmen trying to steal food from tourists.

Simon Willis, a tour guide, said the dramatic changes are a result of the tribe’s exposure to an influx of tourists from the West.

He told The Sun: “You will see some members of the community drinking beer, Coca Cola.

“I’m not sure how deeply ingrained it is – but you can tell they’re Westernized.”

I want the state and government to support the recovery and protection of the Sierra

Wrong MoscoteThe presence of the elderly

Tours of the Sierra Nevada jungle first began in 1982, six years after archaeologists discovered the “Ciudad Perdida” – the Lost City.

The Lost City, an ancient sacred settlement layered with stone circles, was established by the Tayrona people in AD 800 – about 650 years before Machu Picchu in Peru.

The Wiwa, direct descendants of the Tayrona, believe that the lost city was once the religious, political and manufacturing center of their ancestors.

For centuries, they tried to protect it from the public, preferring to keep it as their personal secret – until archaeologists discovered it and opened it to the public.

In the years since then, it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Colombia.

Camps are set up along a dug path cut through the jungle.

And trekking huts are set up between the camps – selling cigarettes, souvenirs, beer, water and traditional tribal clothing to tourists.

Simon said the government has tried to set laws to protect indigenous communities – such as having a set price for tours and only allowing a small number of authorized groups to run them.

As part of the award, the government provides “contributions to track maintenance, contributions to the local farming community and contributions to the local local community”.

Gabo said some of the money goes to pay medical bills for tribal members.

But the introduction of a monetary system has brought another set of problems for the tribe.

“As the community has come more into contact with the Western world, there has been a greater need to earn money, especially now that some of them want to go to the city,” Simon said.

“They are definitely influenced by capitalism.

“With capitalism and everything that exists in the Western world, just having an extra income stream gives you more choices.”

You will see some community members drinking beer, Coca Cola

Simon WillisTourist guide

However, both Simon and Gabo believe that the traditional values ​​of the Wiwa people have remained unchanged.

“Their beliefs in the natural world, the sun, the mountains, the sea, all the natural elements, are the same,” Simon said.

“Their belief in the role of male and female in the natural world remains the same. Their traditions remain the same.”

The Wiwa believe that the mountain on which the Lost City lies is the “heart of the world” for them.

To this day they maintain the belief that when the balance of the mountain is disturbed, the whole world will be disturbed.

As a result, the region is closed every September so Wiwa can perform a spiritual ceremony to cleanse the energy brought by tourists – restoring the natural balance.

Gabo hopes the tribe will not lose its traditional values ​​and beliefs to the booming tourism industry – and wants protection for the Wiwa people.

“There are always beliefs and values ​​and schools that can make you forget half of these ancestral traditions,” he said.

“I want the state and the government to support the recovery and protection of the Sierra.

“The most important thing for me is a cosmovision and a culture that love and love a lot and work for the earth and the world.”

He pleaded with his community to “open their eyes” – and said much more could change if they don’t.

The Wiwa believe that the lost city in the Sierra Nevada was the religious center of their ancestorsCredit: UNESCO/William Diaz
The Lost City, an ancient settlement of layered stone circles, established in 800 ADCredit: Simon Willis, Kagumu Adventures
Despite the introduction of tourism, most Wiwa have tried to maintain their connection with natureCredit: Simon Willis, Kagumu Adventures
Poporo is used to stimulate the active ingredients in a coca leafCredit: Simon Willis, Kagumu Adventures

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *