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Visionary Indigenous University: We need to travel

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Together with the Inga people of Colombia we are collaborating on the creation of an Indigenous University. I am a Swiss artist who met the Inga community on a fieldtrip in their territory. Their leader, Hernando Chindoy, asked me to help them create a unique kind of institution for higher education. 

The Inga are a peaceful, talented community living in beautiful territories between the Amazonian lowland and the Andes. The region has been isolated by the armed conflict for decades. They are fully aware that for their survival and the maintenance of their forest environment, it is vital to offer a future to their young generation.

Since our first encounter in the summer of 2018, we have made great progress by creating an education team among the community, connecting with scholars in Bogota and across the world who want to partner with this visionary project, and research for the architecture is on the way. We will soon have a website “Devenir Universidad” which documents the process.

In the Fall of 2019, we had a kickoff meeting in Mocoa with a good number of Indigenous social and spiritual leaders to discuss the nature and format of this University. The vision is to bring their indigenous knowledge system in conversation with modern science and technology. The program will focus on forest ecologies, plant medicine, and agroecological production to generate a sustainable local economy. It is a pioneering project that could become a model for other communities in Colombia and across Latin America.

Short break during the Mocoa Meetings in October 2019

The Inga, also called the Guardians of the Earth, are known for their profound knowledge of medicinal plants and their local ecologies. It is an invaluable knowledge that would die with the disappearance of these communities and their history. This would be a terrible loss and a real threat to the survival of the forest they care for.

That’s why we want to give this process of creating the Indigenous University a great boost!

The conceptualization needs to be a collective process in the community. It is their life project. To be inclusive, over the next 18 months, the Inga Education Team is organizing eight workshops in different locations of their territory and two cities with a strong Inga population. It is important to meet in person, as some communities are quite remote and disconnected from the internet. For this, we need to raise funds so that the Inga community can hold the workshops and support members with travel and accommodation costs. This will make the project a sound collective and sustainable endeavor. We think long-term. At the end of the 18 months we will submit the concept and final proposal to the Ministry of Interior and apply for an official University license.
It has been an exciting, inspiring and at the same time difficult two years, interrupted also by the pandemic which puts a massive strain on the mobility and income of the Indigenous people. 
The funds will be cover travels and accommodation for 8 workshops requiring domestic travels for 12-15 people each. We count CHF 2,500  per workshop, adding up to CHF 20,000 in total. The first workshop will happen in November and we try to host one every 2-3 months. Most of them will run through 2021.

The purpose of the campaign is :
- to assure that the project survives these particular difficulties related to Covid-19;
- to help advance the project in a collective manner proper to indigenous customs;
- to make sure the young indigenous generation doesn’t have to leave their territory;
- to guarantee that their forests can be maintained according to their millenary wisdom;
- to gather support and spread the purpose and value of this visionary education project.
A huge thank you to everyone! Abrazos a todos!
Ursula Biemann & the Inga Education Team
and the Fundraising Team


  • Ernst Logar
    • CHF25 
    • 3 yrs

Fundraising team (4)

Ursula Biemann
Ivan Vargas
Team member
David Rodriguez-Mora
Team member
Team member

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