BEAR BUTTE – This historic spot, long a sacred place of prayer for members of numerous tribes, drew unprecedented celebrants late in July 2018, when a delegation of Teyuna holy people from South America arrived here as part of their first-ever mission abroad.
In the centuries since surviving the brutality of the Spanish Conquest, the Teyuna of Columbia have avoided contact outside their ancestral territory. The Spaniards called them Tayrona, a name that stuck.
Dwelling on the steep slopes leading from the Caribbean Sea to the world-renowned Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, they have succeeded against all odds at maintaining a society of 70,000 members organized to care for what they call the Heart of Mother Earth.
Now, due to ever-greater environmental distress, their spiritual leaders have resolved to go forth and attend to her from head to foot. They must try to restore her health by selecting strategic places to leave offerings or pagamentos, literally “payments”.
“The defense of the land, the air and the water is determined on a spiritual level. If we don’t protect them we human beings become weaker too,” said Kogi Priest Fernando Daza.
He and the other three members of the delegation performed pagamentos at Bear Butte and around the Black Hills once they heard the Lakota words for the Paha Sapa venerate it as the “Heart of All That Is” and saw on maps that the location looks like a heart at the center of the United States.
They told the Native Sun News Today that North America was the first destination on a journey that could take them to every continent. The Black Hills area was one of four points of contact scheduled in the United States and Canada.
“The defense of the land, the air and the water is determined on a spiritual level. If we don’t protect them we human beings become weaker too.”
The delegation is the first of four consecutive contingents, each planning to be a relay in a marathon race to beat foreign fracking, mining companies and coastal megaprojects to control over their homelands and water.
“Coming here might inspire more respect for living in peace with Mother Earth and the Spirit of the Waters and the Sun,” Daza said in Spanish.
The delegation speaks for the four peoples who constitute the Teyuna world: the Arhuaco, Kankuamo, Kogi and Wiwa.
Their hope is to garner sympathy and donations for the purchase and return of their aboriginal domain, because their access to important sources of life has been cut off by development.
However, their pagamentos are not for that alone, rather for the healing of all parts of the earth mother.
“Activating sacred places is important for equilibrium in the world. People just can’t do it alone. When the points of energy are united, they can help,” said delegate Kandymaku Busintana, leader of the Tayrona Indigenous Confederation. “This is a mission to reclaim the land, our mother.”
North America is her brain and the Black Hills is the heart of her brain, according to the Teyuna worldview. A principal goal of the North American travel is “to connect this heart of the brain with the heart of the sierra,” he said.
Many decisions about Colombia are made in the United States and Canada, he noted, continuing in Spanish, “That’s why we’re planting this energy here – so that we, too, will be heard.”
“Activating sacred places is important for equilibrium in the world. People just can’t do it alone. When the points of energy are united, they can help.”
Daza added: “For many years, we’ve been analyzing and thinking about how to connect the Sierra Nevada with other worlds. We are descendants of the land, the water and the air,” he said.
“We have never seen such a failure to protect them. We’ve always known that we have little brothers. Our vision differs from theirs. We do not approve of mining, because our natural law does not allow us to destroy the underground, the flora or the fauna.”
In November 2017, the Colombian Interior and Environment ministries announced their agreement with the Teyuna to expand the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park by nearly 100,000 acres and ban mining on nearly 1.5 million acres.
The accord provided additional protection on paper for the natural and cultural heritage of the world’s highest coastal mountain range.
However, hundreds of Arhuaco and allies took to the streets of Valledupar, in the northern province of Cesar, to demand enforcement, denouncing a policy that by then had led to 183 mining permits and 300 more applications in the Sierra Nevada.
“Not long ago, we dealt with the Colombian government,” Daza mused. Detractors argued political gain motivated the Teyuna demands. “Among humans, we can’t reach an understanding,” he said, explaining the pagamento approach. “With the land and the water, there’s no problem communicating.” he continued.
“The Arhuaco, Kogi and Wiwa are looking at sacred sites. We seek nothing other than to recoup the sacred sites and their links to the water,” he stressed.
Hosted by Dakota, Lakota and Nakota during their stopover here, they found striking similarities between the cultures so geographically distant.
“The essence is the same,” Kandymaku stated. “It’s only the language that’s different,” Daza observed. “We have more commonalities than differences.”
The contact made here was a goal accomplished, according to Mary Gaetjens, who formed the Teyuna Foundation to support the mission. The Teyuna spiritual prowess is highly esteemed throughout the southern reaches of this hemisphere and on other continents, yet not well-known to North Americans, she told the Native Sun News Today.
“I hope, as a country and a community, people will understand the importance of the Teyunas’ sacred service and in turn support our shared community, Planet Earth,” she said.
Earth Law Center (www.earthlawcenter.org) serves as the fiscal sponsor of the Teyuna Foundation. For further information on the Teyuna mission, contact Mary Gaetjens: 510–393–7671, Mary@TeyunaFoundation.Org; TeyunaTour.Org. Contact Talli Nauman at email@example.com