Five hundred years after Columbus arrived in the Americas, some of the people displaced in the aftermath are recovering what they lost in the country named after the explorer himself.
One of the big surprises to emerge from a recent constitutional convention in Colombia was the victory won by the country’s 84 Indian tribes. Henceforth, Colombia will be considered a multi-ethnic nation, with autonomous Indian regions and native tongues recognized as official languages.
Much credit for inducing Colombia’s central government to acknowledge India rights has gone to the Paez Indians, who live today in Cauca Province in Colombia’s southwest.
The Paez once lived on fertile plains bordering the Andes, until Spanish conquistadors drove them into the mountains. But over the past few years, the Indians have begun to reverse that conquest, repossessing their ancestral lands from some of the oldest European families in the Americas.
Narration is by Edward James Olmos, who hosted a series of 13 half-hour Vanishing Homelands specials.