A special (first of its kind) inter-agency Colombian government
project team has been tasked by the President Uribe to work
with the Indians to begin the process of designating the Sierra
Nevada Mountain as a protected Indian and ecological reserve.
One of the cornerstones to the project involves the creation of
9 health / educational outposts that will be built in the Sierra
Nevada Mountains to serve the Kogi, Arhuaco, and Wiwa
peoples. This plan has been carefully designed to maintain the
cultural imperatives of the Indians while still providing them
supplemental health and educations services when they feel
they are needed. The U.S. State Department’s Colombian
Embassy is paying for part of the construction. For our part the
TOMA Foundation has agreed to oversee the acquisition and
installation of medical equipment and supplies for each of the
proposed 9 health outposts/clinics.

In Español
In northeastern Colombia there is a mountain system,
completely independent from the Andean Mountains called
the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Drained by more than 30
river basins, the massif of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
rises abruptly from Caribbean sea to summit ice at 18,947 feet
(5,775 meters) – the highest coastal mountain formation on
the planet. As an island unto itself, this mountain system and
its surroundings encompass a stunning diversity of ecosystems.
There are mangrove swamps, tropical rain forests and open
woodlands, dry scrublands and deserts – and soaring above
all in the clouds and blowing rain, the alpine tundra and
snowy peaks.

By itself the Sierra Nevada is a ecological treasure but what
makes this 8,000-square-mile area so unique is that it is the
homeland of the Kogi, Arhuaco, and Wiwa Indians. Descendants
of an ancient South American civilization called the
Tayrona and numbering perhaps 45,000 today, the Kogi,
Arhuaco, and Wiwa peoples are separated by language, but
share a common way of life and the same fundamental
religious convictions emphasizing peace and harmony, respect
for nature and personal meditation. They believe every
element of nature is imbued with spiritual significance, so that
even the most modest of creatures can be seen as a teacher to
mankind. For decades now they have been diagnosing local
ecosystem changes in the Sierra Nevada as symptomatic of
world global warming.

Until recently these Indians have shunned or severely limited
their interactions with the modern world. However, with the
growing threats to their homeland and culture by farmers,
loggers, drug cartels, and various armed guerrilla groups, they
have begun to work with the Colombian government to
exercise their Indigenous rights enumerated in Colombia's
constitution and formally take back the Sierra Nevada
Mountains as a protected Indian reserve.  


8860 Corbin Avenue, #179,  Northridge, CA 91324    Tel:  818-346-1340

TOMA Newsletter 2008 - Page 2, Sierra Nevada Mountain Project - Page 3, Requirements for Health/Clinic Outposts

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