Hills for painting

  • Hints for a worldview in La Lindosa Plateau

Chiribiquete means “hills for painting” in Karijona language, also a term identifying the largest natural protected area in Colombia but not only in reference to this huge territory with its painted hills on the north, area of influence for Karijona people. It’s a term being also recently used to designate all painted hills over the north and west lands beyond the National Natural Park (NNP), historically inhabited by dozens of different native cultures.

In this short entry we want to draft a couple of feelings around the adoption of Chiribiquete`s name as a symbolic extension further away from the 17.000 sq. mi. of the protected area.

Mural Nuevo Tolima
Main Mural in Nuevo Tolima

NNP’s expansion and UNESCO World Heritage Site’s (2018) declaration created a global attraction. Lots of people desiring to explore this kind of locations, unexplored, full of endemism and riches in biodiversity. In order to avoid affectations by any kind of visitors, they declare the Park as an intangible area using dissuasive slogans such as “Knowing without going” or “The best way to protect is not to approach”.

The only way to reach somehow this site is offered by overflying a specific area in a monitored exercise in order to enjoy the landscape from the air. This practice has been interrupted with the pandemic and many of us are waiting to see when and how it’s going to be relaunched.

It’s laid down that the airport for the overflights must be exclusively the San Jose del Guaviare´s one, probably the only one with the appropriate infrastructure in the surroundings of the NNP but also with the aim of stimulating the emerging regional tourist activity in Guaviare. For wich they argue the similarities existing with Serrania de La Lindosa’s landscape, ecosystems and archaeologic findings.

It seems to be a natural order of matters in where you set a visit area encouraging its development meanwhile you confine another one in need of protection.

However, the connotation and distinction of NNP Serrania de Chiribiquete have created a prominence that sometimes sets the cultural territory of Serrania de La Lindosa aside in terms of dependence or subordinated link.

If we refer about Serrania de La Lindosa area using expressions like “Chiribiquete’s Gate”, “Tangible Area for the NNP”, “Chiribiquete Cultural Tradition”; when we subordinate La Lindosa’s name after Chiribiquete’s one; when we link both territories; we are combining two spaces, certainly with proximities and similitudes, but also with lots of differences from social, anthropological, historical, environmental perspectives.

In a simple internet search using “Paintings” and “Chiribiquete” words, search results will stand out pictures of Serrania de La Lindosa, from where they have declared the NNP’s annexation to UNESCO sites. Con-Fusions mainly promoted by governmental organizations and media.

This practice has proven to be in benefice for touristic sector. It has succeeding in leveraging its raise by using the word Chiribiquete in promotional slogans towards La Lindosa. A way to offer some kind of “approach” to a space supposed to be intangible for common people.

We wonder if it’s not the same scheme when we promote the beauty of colored rivers in La Lindosa with a strategy “based” on nearby Caño Cristales renown.

Professor Virgilio Becerra, a researcher of La Lindosa area, has expressed this concern from the perspective of rural communities’ identity, affected by recent history. Communities involved in resignification processes with the land they have been intervening over the last century.

In addition, anthropologist Natalia Gomez Muñoz, puts forth coloniality in researches by denouncing the use of the word “discovery”. Epithets like “The Sistine Chapel”, “The Rosetta Stone”, “The Shakespeares” of the Amazon and so many other Eurocentric analogies have recently appeared in the media referring to very oldest cultural manifestations.

In such a composition of a wide range of cultural and natural elements we can drought an autochthonous identity, taking roots in recent settler’s history. People who recognize in those mysterious vestiges a huge symbolic impact.

With research results in La Lindosa and the development of tourist activity, we look forward to accomplish this territory being promoted with no other references than those locally created in these moments of social recognition.

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