|Regions with significant populations|
(Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta)
|Related ethnic groups|
The Kogi (pron.: // KOH-gee) or Cogui or Kágaba, translated "jaguar" in the Kogi language are an Indigenous ethnic group that lives in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia. Their civilization has continued since the Pre-Columbian era.
The Kogi are descendants of the Tairona culture, which flourished before the times of the Spanish conquest. The Tairona were an advanced civilization which built many stone structures and pathways in the jungles. They made many gold objects which they would hang from trees and around their necks. They lived not much more differently than the modern day Kogi do today. Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, the Tairona were forced to move into the highlands when the Caribs invaded around 1000 CE. Threatened by dogs and soldiers alike the Tairona remained in isolation. Regardless, many priests were hanged, women were stolen and raped, and children where forced to accept Spanish education. Later missionaries came and also began to influence their way of life building chapels and churches amidst their villages to train and convert the locals. In the years since the Kogi have remained in their home in the mountains which allows them to escape the worst effects of colonization and aids them in preserving their traditional way of life 
After the Spanish colonization the Kogi managed to survive the endless threats to their culture and now flourish in present day Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
Spiritual beliefs 
The Kogi base their lifestyles on their belief in "Aluna" or "The Great Mother," their creator figure, whom they believe is the force behind nature. The Kogi understand the Earth to be a living being, and see humanity as its "children. They say that our actions of exploitation, devastation and plundering for resources is weakening "The Great Mother" and leading to our destruction.
Like many other indigenous tribes, the Kogi people honor a holy mountain which they call "Gonawindua" otherwise known as Pico Cristóbal Colón. They believe that this mountain is "The Heart of the World" and they are the Elder Brothers who care for it. They also say that the outside civilization is the "Younger Brothers" who where sent away from The Heart of the World long ago.
From birth the Kogi attune their priests, called Mamas (which means sun in Kogi) for guidance healing and leadership. Mamas undergo strict training to assume this role. Some Mamas have been taken from birth and put in a dark cave for the first 9 years of their life to begin this training. In the cave other Mamas and the child's mother care for, feed, train and teach the child to attune to "Aluna" before they enter the outside world. Through deep concentration, symbolic offerings and divination the Mamas believe they support the balance of harmony and creativity in the world. It is also in this realm that the essence of agriculture is nurtured: seeds are blessed in Aluna before being planted, to ensure they grow successfully, marriage is blessed to ensure fertility, ceremonies are offered to the different spirits of the natural world before performing tasks such as harvest and building of new huts.
The Kogi Mamas have remained isolated from the rest of the world since the Spanish Conquistadors came to plunder South America for gold. They rarely interact with the modern world and with outside civilization as a way to preserve their traditional way of life. Outsiders are not allowed inside their ancestral lands. The Kogi Mamas say that the balance of the earth's ecology has been suffering due to the modern day devastation of resources by Younger Brother. The Kogi Mamas in turn believe that their work as 'Elder Brothers' is instrumental in helping to prolong and protect life on earth. In a desperate attempt to prevent further ecological catastrophe and destruction, the Kogi Mamas broke their silence and allowed a small BBC film crew into their isolated mountaintop civilization to hear their message and warning to Younger Brother. The subsequent messages and warnings were voiced in the documentary The Heart of The World: Elder Brother's Warning. After the documentary was filmed, the Kogi Mamas returned to their work in isolation and asked outsiders to not come to their land.
The Kogi soon realized that their message and warning had not been heeded by Younger Brother, and instead as they had predicted many catastrophes occurred and the natural world continued to be devastated at and even more rapid pace. In turn they contacted the same filmmaker twenty years later to give one final message. This became Aluna a documentary made by the Kogi Mamas themselves in which they choose to share their secret sciences with 'Younger Brother' so that 'Younger Brother' can help change the world for the better, as well as give a second warning.
The Kogi have many characteristics that define their culture. For example, all Kogi men receive a "poporo" when they come of age. The 'poporo' is a small hollow gourd that is filled with 'lima' a type of powder that is made by heating and crushing shells to produce lime. The men also continuously chew coca leaves a tradition followed by many indigenous tribes to connect them to the natural world. As they chew the coca leave the suck on the lime powder in their 'poporos' which they extract with a stick and rub the mixture on the gourd with the stick to form a hardened layer or crust. The size of this layer depends on the maturity and the age of the Kogi man.
Kogi men an women all carry traditional "mochilas" or bags which they carry across their shoulders represents for them the earth. Only women are allowed to weave 'mochilas'. Many of the things carried inside a 'mochila' are secret and only known to the owner. Some mochilas carried by Mamas contain sacred traditional objects such as the 'poporo' and coca leaves. In all cases when two or men meet they use the customary greeting which is to exchange handfuls of coca.
Kogi men and women alike have simple ways of dress. The women pick, card and spin wool, and cotton while men do the weaving of the cloth. Clothing for men consist of a tunic and simple pants tied with a string to the waist. Clothing for women consist of a single length of cloth wrapped around their bodies as a dress. The kogi all wear only pure white clothing. They say that white represents 'The Great Mother' therefore the purity of nature.
The Kogi live in a series of villages containing circular huts made of stone and/or mud and palm leaves. Men live in a separate hut to the women and children. Each village contains a large hut called a 'Nuhue" or temple where only men are allowed. In the Nuhue many things are discussed and decisions are made. Divination and concentration also occurs in these temples. Women are not allowed because they believe that women are more connected to 'The Great Mother' and have no need of entering the temple. There are also women priests in the villages.
All consultation are done with Mamas and many of the decisions are based on their wisdom and knowledge. Many Kogi marriages are arranged by Mamas to ensure the most fruitful communities. Marriages are not forced and the buying an selling of women is not permitted even though women as young as 14 can be married have children. The Kogi do not allow the mistreatment of women, and it is not uncommon to find marriages that were not arranged, but the Kogi also disapprove of breaking arranged marriages.
Common crops of trade are sugar and coffee. Many of the sugar plantations are turned into 'panela' a type of Colombian hardened brown sugar. The women do most of the planting of the vegetables but farming is a responsibility of the whole family.
Contemporary Kogi 
The Kogi people live largely in peace amongst themselves and their environment. They use slash-and-burn farming methods; each family tends farms at varying altitudes of the Sierra, producing different crops to satisfy the range of their needs, they also raise cattle on the highlands.
See also 
- "Kogi: Orientation." Countries and Their Cultures. (retrieved 2 Dec 2011)
- Fabre, Alain. Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos. 2005. p. 40. Web. Retrieved 9 Sept. 2011.
- Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress
- Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress as part of the Country Studies/Area Handbook Series sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Army between 1986 and 1998.
- "centre of the world" (the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta).
- Ereira, Alan. (2009). The Elder Brothers' Warning, pp. 1-2. Tairona Heritage Trust London. ISBN 0955981611.
- "Aluna « Molinare". molinare.co.uk. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Justin.tv - Link TV - Chat with Alan Ereira, director of 'From the Heart of the World'". justin.tv. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- Ereira, Alan. The Elder Brothers. 1992.
- "Agriculture: Theory, Practise & the Mámas Role," from "Tairona Culture." Tairona Heritage Trust. 2008. Web. Retrieved 9 Sept. 2011. The article calls the Kogi "swidden farmers," which means "slash-and-burn."
- "The Arhuaco." Survival International. 1969-2011. Web. Retrieved 9 Sept. 2011.