Tulia's Artisan Gallery gives back to indigenous-run organizations in Colombia dedicated to the revitalization and preservation of indigenous knowledge and traditions including the Maach Den Foundation and the Teyuna Foundation.
The Teyuna Foundation exists to share the teachings and practices of Native American Indians with individuals, organizations, and networks focused on stewardship of the Earth, ecological protection, and planetary consciousness.
Spiritual leaders of the Arhuaco, Kankuamo, Kogi, and Wiwa people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia, have become increasingly concerned about the health of the planet. They’ve lived in the Sierra for eons and rarely ventured from the home they consider The Heart of the World, but feel it’s critical for them to do so now to spread their message of Earth Stewardship. To learn more, watch the documentary film, ALUNA.
The Maach Den Foundation, is dedicated to cultural preservation of the Wounaan Nonam people. Their projects include artisan workshops, preserving traditional medicines - especially in midwifery, and providing emergency medical supplies to remote villages. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation has transitioned to distribution of food, face masks, and e-learning hardware for over 30 families.
The Wounaan are indigenous to the rainforests of the Pacific coast of Colombia and Panama. In Colombia, about 9,000 are at risk of cultural extinction due to forced internal displacement.
Forced to Leave Home. Wounaan live under constant threat by illegal armed groups still active in the Colombian Pacific coast. Colombia has the largest displacement situation in the world with nearly 8 million internally displaced citizens. Indigenous and Afro-Colombians are disproportionally affected by this displacement. Over a third of Colombia's indigenous groups are at risk of cultural extinction due to displacement and human rights abuses.
Photo courtesy of Piers Calvert
Master Makers: Despite these challenges, the Wounaan are master artisans. The men are expert wood carvers and the women are known for their basketry, recognized as among the most beautiful in the world. Their signature fiber is the new shoots of the Chunga Palm Tree. When dry, the fiber has a brilliant & smooth shine. They are the artisans behind our collections of woven jewelry, bangle bracelets, children's bracelets, palm seed rings, and home decor folk art.
Take a Deeper Dive: For more information about displacement in Colombia and the Wounaan, check out these story boards created for our art exhibit "Wounaan Folk Art: Preserving an Indigenous Colombian Tradition".