NASA LEGACY: sek buy
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 Sek Buy, performed each year during the Summer solstice, when an offering is made to father sun and the Nasa New Year is received.
On June 20, traditional food and beverages are prepared to be shared at dawn and for the cleansing of the participants. At night, people dance until they receive the first rays of sunlight that cover in warmth the territory. As this is a day of strength, the dance takes the shape of a spiral rolled in and out; this is because when the Nasa are children they have to be rolled out to strengthen the seed of life. In that way, the Nasa remember how they learned to be adults.
The Sek Buy is a ritual of the Nasa community and families to gather, offer, give thanks, revitalize, and clean the bad energies that have accumulated throughout the journey of mother earth (Uma Kiwe) around father sun (Sek).
Photographs taken under the "Proyecto Cerrando Brechas" (Closing Gaps Project), led by Blumont Global Development and funded by the Government of the United States.