The Wayuu are an old native tribe that lives in the northern peninsula of Colombia and Venezuela.
Most importantly, they have managed to maintain most of their cultural heritage for hundreds of years. In short, through preserving their language and their strong weaving traditions, they have survived in the midsts of colonization and globalization. Moreover, the language, Wayuunaikii, and culture of the Wayuu people come from the ancient Arawaks. These Caribbean ancestors gave the Wayuu community a foundation for their art and societal system.
The Wayuu tribe lives in the desert and mostly sustains itself through fishing, agriculture, harvesting sea salt, goat herding, and weaving. Wayuu Women pride themselves on being entrepreneurs and extraordinary artisans. They support their families and provide for their communities through the development of fashion forward products such as Wayuu Mochila Bags. Through fashion, they have found a way to flourish.
Nevertheless, Wayuu communities face detrimental hardships. First, they lack the essential resource, water. Also, Wayuu communities have been losing some of their agricultural knowledge. Thus there is a food crisis throughout the region. Currently, many of the Rancherias or Wayuu settlements, do not count with the resources to sustain their people.
Others in the outside community take advantage of the Wayuu’s current situation. Many times, local merchants and business owners pay them low wages and treat the unfairly. All in all, these problems end up affecting the most vulnerable in the community. The Wayuu have one of the highest Infant Mortality Rates in Colombia. It becomes increasingly important to know the local people of La Guajira and personally assure the products are acquired under Fair Trade standards.