Sometimes it seems that we, as travelers, take things for granted. Like the “freedom” to just waltz into almost any country or town or, in this case, village. Too often we fail to try to comprehend the effect our presence might have on a foreign culture. While we snap pictures with reckless abandon, a people’s lifestyle is affected. And finally a group has decided to do something about it. According to the Daily Mail, the indigenous Ticuna Indians, who live in the Colombian Amazon jungle, have put their foot down to outsiders.
They live in a village called Nazareth, close to the Amazon River. Last year they had 35,000 tourists visiting the region famous for its monkeys, pink dolphins, and piranha fishing. The population of around 800 is about 80% Ticuna Indians. Although the area has been officially off-limits for two years, visitors have been making their way there anyway. From now on though, anyone venturing to Nazareth will come face to face with guards armed with their traditional sticks.
Image: adrimcm / Flickr
One of the guards, Juvencio Pereira, said,
What we earn here is very little. Tourists come here, they buy a few things, a few artisan goods, and they go. It is the travel agencies that make the good money.
Villagers are afraid that if outsiders continue to visit they will lose their culture. Pereira further said,
We don’t like it when they ask members of the community about our traditional knowledge and the medicines we possess. If we don’t preserve (our culture), in the next 30 years it will all be finished.
The 35,000 visitors is a five-fold increase in tourists over the past eight years. Anyone wishing to visit the region will need to obtain special permission from the assembly of the inhabitants.