NASA LEGACY: ipx fxiçxanxi
Ipx Fxiçxanxi, Apagada del fuego or Off the fire
The Nasa are one of Colombia’s largest indigenous people, who predominantly inhabit the western department of Cauca, a region central to the country’s civil war. The region is dominated by sugar plantations, which are surrounded by the country’s two great mountain ranges. The Nasa claim that the plains were taken from them by force in 1915, and that many were then pushed up into the poorer land of the mountains to make way for the sugar industry owned by the white, wealthy aristocracy that has always ruled the country.
In the last decades, the region became a strategic corridor for the trafficking of drugs onward to the Pacific coast. Drug gangs, militias and paramilitaries have made this one of the most dangerous places in the world for indigenous rights campaigners and environmental defenders. The fundamental cause of the violence in the region is the same as it has been for centuries – land – and the victims are those who defend it.
Nasa people reaffirm and protect their territory on a daily basis, not only through legal means, working or fighting for the land, but also through the defense of their cultural heritage and the celebration of sacred ceremonies like the Ipx Fxiçxanxi, Off the fire, that was celebrated in March 2019 in Tacueyó, a small village in the Cauca region.
The ritual aims to stop all community problems, bad energies, threats to the territory. It is done to harmonize the negative energies that can be found in people, family or community; the ceremony allows to maintain a good coexistence as ancestral people and to balance the relationship between human beings and living spaces.
The ceremony started in the early afternoon when men from the community went to look for wood to be burnt in a big fire at dusk. The fire was lit by Eliserio, a leader of the community, and after hours it was extinguished by all the participants to the ceremony who spit a mixture of chewed coca leaves and alcohol on the flames.
Photographs taken under the "Proyecto Cerrando Brechas" (Closing Gaps Project), led by Blumont Global Development and funded by the Government of the United States.