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Amado Villafaña Chaparro (Arhuaco)

Photographer and filmmaker Amado Villafaña Chaparro is director of the Zhigoneshi Indigenous Center of Communication, located in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, an environmentally critical area. The center is focused on documenting and communicating indigenous concerns and world views using visual media. It is a unit of Gonawindúa Tayrona, an organization founded by three of the region’s indigenous groups—Kogi, Arhuaco and Wiwa—to recover ancestral lands and to secure their cultural survival in a region threatened by development and by political violence. Working with producer Pablo Mora, Villafaña was one of three directors of Who’s Threatening the Water in Zhigoneshi’s 10-part series Elderly Words. The series explores the traditional religious authorities’ knowledge of ancestral spiritual and environmental practices that have maintained the ecological balance of their territory. Members of Zhigoneshi have developed a Web-based platform www.corazondelmundo.co for their photographs, films, and cultural magazine.

Work featured: Elderly Words: How Did We Do Elderly Words?, Elderly Words: Who's Threatening the Water?