That can’t be changed by the natives nor by the whites (riowa). The U’wa have chosen the Latin American agenda to spread this letter around the world.
The agenda welcomes them with gratitude.
More than a thousand times and in a thousand different ways we have told you that the earth is our mother, that we do not want, nor are we able to sell her. But the non-native seem not to have understood, they insist that we give up, sell or damage our land, as if the native person were also a person of many words…
We ask ourselves, is it the white man’s custom to sell his mother? We do not know, but what the U’wa do know, is that the white man uses lies as if he were to like it. He knows how to cheat, he kills his own young without even allowing their eyes to see the sun, his nose to smell the grass, and that is something incomprehensible, even for a “savage”.
We know that the riowa has put a price on everything alive, even on the very stone. He trades with his own blood and wants us to do the same on our sacred territory, the blood of the earth, which they call oil. All this is foreign to our customs. Every living being has blood: every tree, every vegetable, every animal, the earth too. This blood of the earth (ruiria, oil) is what gives strength to all, to plants, animals and human beings.
But we asked the riowa, how can we put a price on our mother and how much is that price? We ask them not to get rid of our customs, but to try to understand them more. After all, if the bear is our brother, so is the non-native human being. We ask this because we believe that because they are “civilized”, they may know a way to put a price on their mother and sell her without falling into the shame that a native person would fall into. The earth that we walk on is not only earth, it is the dust of our ancestors; we walk barefoot to be in contact with them.
For the native person the earth is a mother, for the non-native it is an enemy. For us the animals are our siblings, for them they are just merchandise. The riowa feel pleasure with death, they leave as many men lying in their fields as trees cut down in the jungle. We have never committed the insolence of violating the churches and temples of riowa, but they have come to desecrate our lands. So we ask, who is savage?
The riowa has sent giant birds to the moon (Siyora). We tell them to love and take care of it. We ask that they don’t go through the universe doing to each star what they did to each tree here on earth. To their children we ask, who made the metal that built each feather on the giant bird? Who made the fuel that fed it? The riowa must not deceive or lie to their children, they must teach them that even to build an artificial world, the human being needs mother earth. Therefore, we must love and take care of her.
The human being is still looking for ruiria (oil). After each explosion that runs through the jungle, we hear the monstrous footstep of death that chase us through the mountains. This is our testament.
At this rate, there will be a day when a human being exchanges the condor’s mountains for mountains of money. By then, people will no longer have anyone to buy anything from; and if there were someone, that someone would have nothing to sell. When that day arrives, it will be too late for the human being to meditate on his mistakes…
All your economic offers about what is sacred to us, like the earth or its blood, are an insult to our ears and a bribe for our beliefs. This world was not created by riowa or any government of theirs, that’s why we have to respect it! The universe belongs to Sira (God) and the U’wa people only manage it. We are only a rope of the woven fabric of the Ukua (sacred bag to carry coca), but the weaver is Him. That is why the U’wa cannot yield, mistreat, or sell the earth or its blood, nor its creatures, because these are not the principles of weaving.
But the white man thinks he is the owner, he exploits and enslaves; that’s not right: it breaks the balance, it breaks Ukua. If we can’t sell what doesn’t belong to us, don’t take possession of what you can’t buy.
Some white chiefs have been appalled at our idea to carry out a collective suicide as a last resort to defend Mother Earth. Once again they present us as savages. They seek to confuse and discredit. To all these people we say, the U’wa commits suicide over matters of life, the non-native man commits suicide over matters of money. Who is the savage?
The humiliation of the native has no limits: not only does impede us to live, but it tells us how we should die. They did not let us choose how to live, so now we choose how to die.
For more than five centuries we have yielded to white, to their greed and their diseases, as the river bank gives way in summer time, as day yields to night, the riowa have condemned us to live as strangers on our own land. They have cornered us into steep places very close to the rocks where our Cacique Güicaní and his tribe jumped to save the honor and dignity of our people before the fierce advance of the Spanish and the missionaries.
Perhaps once again the white human being violates Sira’s laws, the laws of the earth and even his own laws, but what he will never be able to avoid is the shame his children will feel for the parents who damaged the planet. They took him to its extinction and they stole the native’s land. At the end of the cold, painful and sad night, unlucky for the planet and for the native, the same night that seemed as perennial as the grass, the error of the human being will be such that not even their own children will be willing to follow in their footsteps. It will be thanks to them, to these new children of the earth that we will see the decline of the kingdom of death and life will begin to flourish again. There are no eternal summers, no species that can prevail over life.
Whenever human beings acts with bad intentions, sooner or later they will have to drink the poison of their own glass. You cannot cut down the tree without also killing the leaves. In the well of life, no one can throw stones without breaking the stillness and balance of the water. That is why when our sacred sites are invaded, the end will be near not only for the U’wa, but also Riowa. When they have exterminated the last tribe on the planet, it will be easier to count their days than their genocides. When this time comes, the wombs of their daughters will bear no fruit, and in their increasingly short lives the spirit of their children will not know peace. When the time comes that natives run out of land, trees will also run out of leaves, and then humanity will ask, why? Only very few will understand that every beginning has its end and every end its beginning, because in life there is nothing lose and nothing that is not tied to the laws of existence. The snake will have to bite its own tail to close its cycle of destruction and death.
Maybe we, the U’wa can continue on our path. Just as birds make long trips with nothing on their backs, we will follow our path without holding the smallest grudge against the riowa, because they are our brothers. We will continue to sing to sustain the balance of the earth, not only for ourselves and our children, but also for them, because they also need it. In the heart of the U’wa there is concern for the future of non-native children, as well as for our own, because we know that when the last natives and the last jungles are falling, the destiny of their children and ours will be only one.
If the U’wa can continue on our path, we will not retain the birds that are born and nest on our territory; they can visit their non-native brothers if they want to. Nor will we retain the air that is born on our mountains, it will be able to bring joy to the non-native children. Our rivers will have to leave our lands as clean as they came. The purity of the rivers will speak to the human beings of the world below, about the purity of our forgiveness.
U’wa Community, Colombia