Indigenous people and local communities

The term “people” refers to social groups that, even if in the majority of the cases consider themselves as part of a nation, they don’t see a homogeneous national identity but a diverse one, in which differentiated identities build and feel differently about their national belonging.

The characteristics for the identification of the indigenous people in Colombia are:

  • Longstanding permanence, long before the arrival of the conquerors and since immemorial times. In this point, they differentiate from black, afrocolombian, raizal, Palenque and Rom communities.
  • Self-identification as indigenous people: establishes the sense of belonging of the person. An individual is considered indigenous if he does it himself and if he is recognized as such by the community.
  • Social reproduction of lifestyles preserving traditions, habits and practices, which coexist with diverse and contemporary contexts, a sign of the syncretism with other cultures. The cultural identity is dynamic.

Indigenous territories

Are the areas possessed on a regular and permanent basis by a community, bias or indigenous group and those that, although not possessed in that way, constitute the traditional scope of their social, economic and cultural activities (Decree 2164 of 1995, Article 2). The territory is a complex concept for ethnic communities, it contains their daily existence, but also involves the relationship with their deities and their ancestors, from it derives its resources of subsistence but also its integral health and the tradition that gives it meaning to its existence.

The cosmogonic knowledge of indigenous peoples has been the basis of the permanence of the concept of territory, in which the land is recognized for production, food sufficiency, extensive land, where the spatial "ordering" incorporates not only the physical elements of the land. landscape, such as mountains, valleys, trees, and fields of crops, or villages, but also symbolization, sacralization or ordering.

Additionally, the Constituent emphasized the fundamental importance of the right to the territory of indigenous peoples. Without it, the rights to cultural identity and autonomy are only formal recognitions.

Ethnic groups require the territory in which they are settled to survive and develop their culture, which presupposes the recognition of the right of collective ownership over the traditional territories occupied and those that form ancestral territories. To protect the territories of indigenous peoples, the Constitution embraces the concept of collective ownership of land in articles 63 and 329, establishing that the communal lands of ethnic groups are collective property and have the character of being inalienable, imprescriptible and unattachable. Which means that you can not negotiate, or sell, among others.

The Constitutional Court has not failed to recognize that the collective property of indigenous peoples over their reservations and territories has the character of a fundamental right, not only because such territories constitute their main means of subsistence, but also because they are part of their worldview and religiosity.

Traditional authority

The traditional authorities are the members of an indigenous population or community which have, within their own culture, a power of organization, government, management or social control (Decree 2164 de 1995, article 2).

Pedagogical material




Asuntos Étnicos