Recent legislation in Colombia based on the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage has made the rescue of intangible cultural expressions a priority in the country. Safeguarding cultural manifestations implies an integral understanding of communities, territories and the interaction between cultural agents. TBI Colombia’s experience with local communities has been key in the implementation of this policy with the Ministry of Culture.
In 2014, TBI Colombia developed the project “Strengthening the capacity for the management of intangible cultural heritage in indigenous, rural and campesino communities” in a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Culture. Our experience in developing participative methodologies and research in local communities was used to promote an understanding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage policy at a local and regional level and for the formulation of strategies for the identification, documentation and management of more than 36 safeguarding projects in seven provinces. (For more information: www.pcilocal.com)
In 2015, as a follow-up to the process mentioned above, TBI Colombia developed activities for the strengthening of the intangible cultural heritage of the Ticuna people in the Colombian Amazon, for the protection and safeguarding sacred sites and for building capacities of cultural agents in Intangible Cultural Heritage projects.
The aim was to contribute to the protection and safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Ticuna in the frame of a tri-national strategy for the attention of frontier ethnic groups with Brazil and Peru. The project included the documentation of how different communities from the Amazon Trapezium understand their cultural heritage. For this purpose, TBI Colombia promoted a methodological approach to document rituals, historical and mythological references, traditional cuisine and cultural material from the Ticuna communities in this area of the Colombian Amazon.
The activities were developed in partnership with the National Natural Park Amacayacu, Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Leticia and Natutama —an NGO working with traditional knowledge related to the forest and its resources.
Among the actions developed by the Ministry of Culture aimed at protecting and safeguarding indigenous people, it is of high relevance and importance the recognition of the traditional territory and the management of sacred sites. In fact, the Ministry of Culture is preparing guidelines to feed a national policy for the protection and management of these areas in the different indigenous ethnic groups of Colombia.
TBI Colombia contributed to the understanding of sacred sites by documenting the local visions of four Colombian indigenous groups on the traditional territory and their definition of sacred sites. The aim was to support local research related to the territory, which includes themes such as the creation of the world, the management of the territory and the relationship of the spiritual owners and sacred sites. The strategy included the development of local cartography projects, exchanges of experiences between the ethnic groups and the elaboration of a set of recommendations to support the Ministry of Culture’s feedback to the public policy about sacred sites.
Based on the achievements in 2014, TBI Colombia designed a certificate course about the appropriation and management of the Intangible Cultural Heritage directed to public employees in the cultural sector. The content and methodologies, developed by leading experts in the field, aim to enable participants to understand the notion of intangible cultural heritage and to get acquainted with the debate about this matter at the international, national and local contexts.
The process also developed a digital library with various materials and guidelines that may serve as reference to the different actors of the provinces and municipalities engaged in developing local safeguarding plans of the cultural manifestations in their regions (see: www.herramientaspci.mincultura.gov.co).
Further a publication with different experiences regarding the implementation of the policy of intangible cultural heritage in the country was published. With the aim of raising awareness about the different experiences of promotion and safeguarding ICH and emphasizing on the most valuable and striking methodologies. The methodology used by each case and presented in the publication can be useful and provide inspiration for those interested in approaching or get acquainted in this field. (see http://herramientaspci.mincultura.gov.co/portfolio-items/12353 - Actions and options for safeguarding cultural heritage: a compilation of experiences).