NASA LEGACY: weavers
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. During 2018 and 2019, I visited the home of many Nasa women that use weaving as a form of memory, healing and resistance. Many of those women fight against the acculturation processes present in the region by passing to their kids what their mothers and grandmothers have taught to them.
Photographs taken under the "Proyecto Cerrando Brechas" (Closing Gaps Project), led by Blumont Global Development and funded by the Government of the United States.