School children have been learning the language and cultural customs of the Huitoto indigenous tribe, a small group from the Amazon forest in southern Colombia, in their classroom in Bogota, an Al Jazeera video showed Tuesday.
“The strengthening of our culture is important. Members of our community have moved to Bogota, and now they want their children to know their culture” said Maria Enetop, an elder of the tribe who helps teach the language to the students.
Indigenous organizations estimate that 80% of the country’s 1.4 million Indians speak a native language – up from around 60% three decades ago when education policies prohibited teaching indigenous languages, according to the Al Jazeera reporter Toby Muse.
“We have a sense of belonging and we don’t want to lose our language. Some years ago many people did not want to learn the languages but today, you see many people trying to learn them,” which he attributes to a growing confidence in the indigenous community.
However, many indigenous languages and cultures face still face uncertain futures because the number of tribes and members has diminished.