Sacred sites, over 26,000 people, and countless plants and animals, in about 9,000 Ha of a territory now called Huila, Colombia, are involved in a struggle against the construction of the Quimbo Hydroelectric dam Project along the Magdalena (Guacacayo or Yuma River).
After many years of desiring to journey, connect, and build, the opportunity arose to go to Unist’ot’en land as part of the Art of Resistance Tour. The tour came at an important moment, after eight years of struggle against the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project: in that case, bearing witness to how the people’s organization and resistance was not enough to keep the territory from being destroyed. To say that one feels destroyed, depressed, shattered, and traumatized is an understatement.
Before I left for the tour my elders gave me tasks, homework: speak and tell others about us but also learn of other peoples’ struggles and build ties with these other processes of territory defense, and to exchange a small part of our territories in what we call “payment to the territory”. Our time at Unist’oten camp was so centering, balancing, and healing. We shared about our struggles, and with permission from the spokesperson of the hereditary chiefs of Unist’ot’en, their ancestors, their territory, as well as permission from my own territory, elders and ancestors, we exchanged a small part of our two territories.
Our territories are connected – not that they were not before – but that relation with our territory and with each other is now strengthened. Now it is up to us to see how we will continue to weave and walk our resistance.
Freda shared something with me: all of the waters of the world are one, and we as beings made of water are also one with those waters. It is easy to see how all waters are interconnected. Any act against this connection- a dam, mine, or pipeline – is an attack on all of us. We land and river defenders are all in the same fight, the same struggle, what we refer to in Abya Yala (South America) as the Liberation of Mother Earth. Being on Unist’ot’en lands reminded me of how far our relations and connections stretch and the impact of what we are all fighting for. I hope to return soon.
Thank you – Gracias – Pai. ЅRТos Vivos, Pueblos Libres!
words: Jonathan, Beehive Design Collective