Also known as the Guambiano people, the Misaks live in the Guambía Reserve, located in the municipality of Silvia, in the south-east region of the Cauca department.
The reserve’s size is 18,000 hectares, of which 6,000 are farmland, and 9,000 are wasteland, bushy areas and rocks. They are considered millenary people, descendants of the Pubenences, born in the great Kauka (Cauca).
For the Misak their history is divided in four major periods: the first period, from 1535 to 1600, is known as “the period of initial contact with Europe.” The second period goes from 1600 to 1700, and it is known as “the centuries of reduction under colonial times.” The third period, from 1800 to 2000, is known as “The time for integration” (Mama Liliana Pechene Muelas, 2018). The fourth period goes from 2001 to the present, and it is known as “the years of constitutional recognition and the new land scarcity problem.”
What is our main goal?
The “Sowing Our Knowledge” programme (Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth or CH4IG) has centred its work with the Misak people on restoring and disseminating their Cultural Heritage. This has been done through reclaiming their culinary heritage, fostering traditional farming of autochthonous foods, gathering and disseminating knowledge about traditional crafts and architecture to younger generations, and building an ethnic ecotourism plan to improve wellbeing and sustainability. It includes the following components:
- Recovery and dissemination of the Misak culinary heritage, in regard to the preparation of foods, the utensils used, and agricultural production for culinary purposes, such as the preservation of traditional seeds.
- Boosting traditional farming of autochthonous products of the Guambía Reserve, such as coffee.
- Gathering knowledge about traditional Misak crafts and its dissemination across generations. Crafts include woodwork (stools, toys, drums), pottery (ancestral ceramics) and fabrics for bags (jigras) and backpacks.
- Intergenerational transmission of knowledge on Misak traditional architecture, to contribute to the future construction of the Harmonisation Centre.