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The Forerunner

Tribal Members Visit Earth Summit

By Editorial Staff
Published October 1, 1992

By Bruce Olson

BUCARAMANGA, Colombia (FR) – Representatives from Colombia’s Motilone tribe, Fidel Waysersera and Roberto Dácsarara, recently returned from the celebrated Río de Janeiro Earth Summit, radiating smiles of accomplishments at their arrival in Bucaramanga’s airport.

Waysersera and Dácsarara are the first indigenous university graduates from Colombia’s northeastern jungle tribes. Both are proud descendants of the Barí (Motilone) family. The two Motilone representatives spent fifteen days in Río, meeting other representatives from all continents of the planet earth, savoring languages, racial features and people they never knew existed.

This experience was a tremendous confirmation of the missionary call of God on their lives: “to go forth to every part of the world, and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation.”

They first met with Brazilian jungle tribal peoples of numerically small populations brought to gigantic Río – a sophisticated metropolis with more than five million people. Waysersera and Dácsarara encountered tribal counterparts adorned with parrot feathers, their bodies decorated in bright natural vegetable paints in red and blue hues. All were dancing, expressing choreographic treasures from their cultures. Newspaper photographers, delighted at the spectacle, asked Dácsarara, “Where are your feathers?”

Dressed in simple suit and tie, he responded: “I have come to discuss and champion indigenous land rights as contemplated by Western law. And I have come to declare solidarity with the protection of the environment, the concern of this Earth Summit. I left my feathers and loin cloth hanging in the rafters of our palm thatched community house. When I return to Phatuitribara (Colombia), I’ll enjoy dancing with the wind blowing through my hair. But now that I have come to the city, I dress as everyone else. We have come to look for solutions to problems.”

The Brazilian tribal people understood what Dácsarara was saying. Later, they reappeared in Western slacks and shirt. They became intent to learn from the Motilones how they might protect their habitats from the overpowering land settlers and maintain their communities’ health by simple application of basic concepts in preventive medicine. The Motilone tribe has become a model of progress in these areas.

When the Motilone delegates were to leave Brazil, their counterparts, representing tribes from all over South America insisted on a second meeting. Several Brazilian Indians were to visit the Motilone territory in August. A missionary effort is being born from within the Motilone church to reach beyond the borders of Colombia. At present, the Motilone tribe compose 30 missionary teams among non-evangelized tribes of northeast Colombia.

The newspapers of Bucaramanga recently applauded the tribe’s dedication to the bringing of practical applications of science for tribal improvement. Yet the Motilone missionaries have not introduced solutions for problems that do not exist – an all too common problem in the legacy of foreign missions.


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