The ancestral and spiritual longhouse of the Murui-Muina, the Maloka, houses multiple families who cook and hang their hammocks in separate spaces. It is where the men chew coca and tobacco and where the women prepare sweet yuca, and where the elders gather to discuss and manage the affairs of the community. It is also where the dance of the Yadico (the Dance of Unity) takes place. In this process, which takes 15 days to prepare and lasts through the night, the Murui endeavour to heal the tensions and disagreements that arise within and between their communities. Resentment and discord are dissipated and the community re-weaves its harmony.
At the same time, the whole community gathers to strengthen and heal its intimate relationship with the natural world, and transmits the ancient wisdom and practices to their children and young people.
As one leader says:
We dance to achieve harmony with nature. In this sense, we bring the spiritual world closer to our people. The dance masters are knowledge-keepers who have an understanding of the environment and its changes; when they summon a dance, they are doing so for the health of our people, because these dances cure the illnesses that are present in our territories.
We dance to share our knowledge with our children and youth. These dances serve the purpose of uniting the people and families that are dispersed in our lands, thus strengthening solidarity and harmony in our communities.
Around 1,100 Murui-Muina people live in 5 settlements (resguardos) along the Caquetá river. Although their rights are officially recognised, deforestation is creating huge threats to their efforts to preserve their culture and way of life. Legal and illegal gold-mining, cattle ranching and the illegal drug trade are increasingly invading and fragmenting the forest on which they depend for water, food and healing herbs, while their young people are drawn into working for drug cartels and mining operations.
The fate of the forest, and the fate of the Murui-Muina people are intimately bound.
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- Heirs of the Boa: a short documentary film that highlights the Yadico dance of the Murui-Muina people
- Colombian Television Programme ‘El Buen Vivir: Thinking and Acting Well’ (featuring the Murui people at 16:30)
- El Buen Vivir: a multiplatform project of the National Commission for Communication of Indigenous Peoples, CONCIP (Spanish: Comision Nacional de Comunicacion de los Pueblos Indigenas)