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About the Wayuu

The Wayuu people have inhabited La Guajira, the northernmost border region of Colombia and Venezuela, for over three thousand years.  In Pre-Colombian times, they led a nomadic hunting and gathering way of life. After European contact they broadened their economic activities to include herding, small-scale agriculture and participating in the market economy. Among their primary economic activities are the production and sale of traditional arts and crafts such as bags (known as mochilas), hammocks, bracelets, necklaces, belts, scarves, among others.  The women gain respect in the tribe by making quality mochilas and only the most respected members of the tribe are allowed to make the most complex designs. 

 

left:  "Niñas wayuu" (CC BY 2.0) by Mario Carvajal
right:  "Rancheria Wayúu" (CC BY 2.0) by Tanenhaus
 

Tragically at present the Wayuu and their traditions are under great threat. Mining companies and paramilitaries are pillaging their territories. The communities are facing increased poverty and a crisis of cultural identity. Death rates are rising due to contamination from the waste products of mining.   According to UNICEF the Wayuu region ranks as the second poorest place in Latin America after Haiti.

Sostenme la Mirada by fraymifoto, on Flickr
"Sostenme la Mirada" (CC BY 2.0) by fraymifoto

 

We at Wayuu Life are committed to supporting the plight of the Wayuu people and as such we purchase our mochilas for a fair price and we donate 15% of profit back to the local community.  We have recently donated to a local school where the children are in need of many basic supplies.  For more information about us please click here.

For more information about the Wayuu people a great source is the Wayuu Taya Foundation.

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