The Wayuu are an indigenous tribe that inhabits the semi-desert of La Guajira Peninsula between Colombia and Venezuela. They are one of the few remaining matrilienial groups worldwide, with women playing the most important role in Wayuu life; children bear the mothers' last name, and females are regarded as family and cultural leaders.
The Wayuu, however, are facing increasing displacement. In addition, new environmental pressures, namely a drastic decline in rainfall over the past two decades has made it all but easy for this tribe to survive. As a result, the economic role of women, who dedicate themselves to weaving, is growing significantly.
Nativo Soul has been working with over 15 Wayuu artisans and strives to empower the women by bringing their products to the global market and provide women leaders with an opportunity to explore sustainable entrepreneurial activities centered around their cultural weaving traditions. By working directly with the families, we can ensure that with every purchase, money and opportunity are going directly back into the communities.
Wayuu Mochilas: The elegant and well-known Wayuu mochilas are 100% handmade and represent approximately 10-15 days of work by a single artisan depending on the intricacy of the designs. The original Wayuu mochila included symbolic geometric shapes and patterns referred to as KANAAS that represent the elements of the natural environment found in the everyday life of the Wayuu people. This weaving tradition has been passed down through many generations of Wayuu women and is the ultimate expression of Wayuu culture.
Due to recent popularity, there have been many cases where "mochilas" are manufactured in China. Although this may be a quick way to achieve the "mochila look," the bag will not be authentic. Price wise, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember 10-15 days of work is more costly than factory reproductions.
The Embera are a mountainous indigenous people from from the Pacific coastal regions of Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador. Despite the growing popularity of the Embera’s stunning jewelry adornments, the Embera still suffer from displacement and are forced to leave their home villages. Many women of the Embera Chami tribe will often live together with their children in small living spaces in larger metropolitan cities in search of income.
Nativo Soul has partnered directly with two Embera communities in Colombia. By working directly with the families, we are able to ensure that with every purchase, money and opportunity is going directly back into the communities without any middle man.
Embera Seedbead Jewelry: The recognized Embera neck adornment is called Okama which derived from the Embera belief that women “wear the weight of the world on their shoulders” and takes 4-7 days to complete a single neck adornment by a single artisan. Each Okama, as well as other adornments such as earrings and bracletes, embody the Embera’s ancestral stories and their spiritual connection to Mother Earth. This art-form is the ultimate expression of Embera tradition and culture.
The Misak are a Western Andean mountain people residing in the Guambia reservation in the department of Cauca, Colombia. Just as many other indigenous tribes in Colombia, the Misak have also been significantly affected by Colombia’s armed conflict resulting in the lack of economic stability and academic opportunities.
Nativo Soul has partnered with a Misak community outside of Bogotá, Colombia to implement initiatives towards economic and educational advancement within the Misak community by building businesses centered around their skills as artisans.