Eye on the Amazon

Two Decades of Fellowship with the U'wa People of Colombia

  • Aura, EarthRights International lawyer Marissa, and AW staffer Moira prepare to enter a meeting with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
  • Following a presentation at American University in Washington, DC, youth representing indigenous peoples from across the Americas welcome Aura through ceremony and songs. The U'wa have longstanding relationships with the Piscataway Indian Nation, whose ancestral territories are close to Washington DC.
  • Aura and Wayuu indigenous leaders from Colombia strengthening ties with indigenous youth from across Turtle Island.
  • Updating friends at the "Colombian People's Embassy" in Washington, DC, the house of Cristina and Charlie.
  • At the InterTribal Friendship House in Oakland, California, Aura telling the story of how U'wa Werjaya (spiritual elders) moved the oil underground through ritual, hiding it from Occidental Petroleum in the late 1990's.
  • Happy reunion with Martin Wagner of EarthJustice, who helped the U'wa first submit their case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights twenty years ago.
  • Making plans for the next phases of the U'wa Solar Project, with ally organizations GivePower Foundation and Empowered By Light.
  • These are the faces of people inspired by Aura and her whole U'wa family. Amazon Watch staff and board members following our annual gala.
  • On the way to Santa Cruz, we took several minutes to enjoy the California coast.
  • Emotional exchange of gifts with Reggie Shaw, manager of the Terry Freitas Cafe at University of California at Santa Cruz. The cafe is named in honor of the eponymous UCSC alum who made a strong connection with U'wa leader Berito Kuwaru'wa and was killed leaving U'wa territory, along with indigenous leaders Ingrid Washinawatok and Lahe'ena'e Gay, in 1999. May they all rest in power!
  • Aura Tegría addresses the participants at the Amazon Watch annual Gala: Amplify!
"The power of our struggle and resistance in defense of our worldview ... has guaranteed that we have not faltered." Aura Tegría, U’wa representative and lawyer

We are extremely proud to have accompanied Colombia's U'wa people for twenty years.

Last month, our friend and ally Aura Tegría traveled from her home in U'wa territory of the cloud forests of Colombia on a multi-city tour in the U.S. Aura brought with her the U'wa message of respect for Mother Earth and generational fight as indigenous peoples to protect her lands from oil drilling and other resource extraction.

As Aura related in her speech to our Amplify gala: "According to our beliefs, the world is a house that is held up by four fundamental pillars, each of which plays a vital role for the survival of the natural world. It is necessary for us to teach this message to our non-indigenous brothers and sisters. This way their hearts and mindsets – full of greed – will change and not continue harming our Mother Earth. Once the blood of Mother Earth [oil], disappears, there will not be enough money to buy back the life of nature, there won't be any way to bring back the natural harmony, nor for a world to exist in no matter how much money humankind has."

This delegation, like all Amazon Watch work with the U'wa, was carried out in close collaboration with other ally organizations. This tour was a joint effort by colleagues in Mujer U'wa, Colombia Human Rights Committee - DC and EarthRights International. We are also grateful for all the support from Mario Murillo in New York City!

One of the key objectives of the tour was to raise funds for a project the U'wa had prioritized – in this case a new House of Ancestral Wisdom to be built in the growing community of La Salina. To date we have not yet raised our goal of $10,000. You can still help! Please make a donation here.

Thank you!

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