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Ethnia Embera of Colombia

Chamí or Embera-Chamí is a Colombian indigenous ethnic group that speaks a dialect of the Embera language: Chamí means “mountain range” and Embera means “people”; the Chamí are thus the People of the Cordillera, as opposed to the Embera proper, who live in the jungles of the plains of the Pacific region, and the Embera-Katío, who inhabit the basins of the Atrato and upper Sinú rivers.

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The Chamí, like the other Embera, have always followed a dispersed settlement pattern. They live in different Andean communities in the departments of Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío.

They are about 350,000 people (2020).

THEIR CULTURE

An important aspect of Emberá life is their relationship with the Jai spirits through their Jaibanás, non-hereditary shamans who learn from their experienced masters about the magical spiritual power from which life, health, subsistence and nature are regulated.

SOME SPECIFICITIES

They conceive of three forms of Jai: those of the water, Dojura, together with the Wandra, mothers of the animals and plants that dwell in the headwaters of the rivers; the Antumiá of the deep jungle; and those of the jungle animals who are transformations of the souls of dead humans.

The Jaibaná’s dealings with the Jai guarantee the fundamental activities of society and the continuity of natural cycles, while establishing the territoriality of the communities. These dealings have a cosmological character insofar as communication and agreements with the Jai regulate exchanges between the different superimposed levels of the universe.

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