They are located in the north and south slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the part corresponding to Guatapurí, in what is known as Maruámake of the Arhuaco de la Sierra reservation; The majority of the Kogui population lives in the departments of La Guajira, Cesar and Magdalena.
The population is estimated at +/- 10,000 people.
Although there is no consensus on the pre-Hispanic history of the former settlers of the Sierra Nevada, it is clear that by the time of the conquest there were several distinct ethnic groups scattered throughout the territory. After the strong impact of the attacks, the indigenous survivors were forced to settle on the plain. However, many of them fled to the Sierra and regrouped.
The kogui have a pattern of mobile residence as they own several estates on different thermal floors. Once a week they move to the villages where they construct circular bohíos grouped around the house maría, masculine ceremonial house.
Their social organization is based on the family unit, consisting of husband, wife, single children and their daughters married to their respective spouses. They are organized in patrilineal and matrilineal lineages, the first denominated Tuxe and the second Dake. The children belong to the paternal lineage and the daughters to the maternal lineage. Each segment of the lineage is attached to a village and a ceremonial house. Generally the son receives the inheritance of the father and the daughter of the mother. Likewise, men own the land and livestock, and women own the poultry.
The Mama is the central figure of the system of representation of the kogui, as well as the highest authority in the social hierarchy. Between the breasts also exist different positions, where the Takina, Makotama and Seishua are cataloged in the highest rank. Members of the Kogui hierarchical system are commissioners, responsible for monitoring compliance with the rules.
At the political level the so-called Governor's Council - a person named by the breasts - represents them before the majority society. Today, this Governor's Cabildo is head of the Gonawindua Tairona organization whose function is to channel relations between the Kogui people and the State.
Each family has two or more plots, with agriculture being its main economic activity. The Kogui village has several economic satellite areas dedicated to agriculture and livestock. These are exploited by means of a vertical system of ecological adaptation in the mountainous zone, thus achieving diversity of products within its plots and thermal floors.
The basis of their diet is bananas of various kinds, among which the smoked banana or "holo holo" which can be stored for several days. The surpluses of bananas and tubers are sold in villages at low prices. As for sheep, wool, pigs and poultry, considered symbols of wealth, they are intended for commercialization, as is the cultivation of organic coffee.
Until a few years ago it was common among the Kogui to crop rotation, a situation that has changed because of the pressure of the settlers.
Arango y Sánchez. Los pueblos indígenas de Colombia 1997.
Dane: Censo 1993 -Proyección 2001-
Coronado C., Basilio. Historia Tradición y Lengua Kogui. Editorial Presencia Ltda., Santa Fe de Bogotá, 1993.
Correa, François. Sierras Paralelas, Etnología entre los Kogi y los U‘wa, en: Geografía Humana de Colombia. Tomo IV, Vol., 3, Santa Fe de Bogotá, 1998.
Pérez, María Luisa. Normas del sistema verbal de la lengua kawgian. Tesis de maestría. Posgrado en etnolingüística, Departamento de Antropología, Cela. Universidad de los Andes. Bogotá, 2001.
Fundación Hemera - Etnias de Colombia
Los Pueblos Indígenas de Colombia en el umbral del Nuevo milenio – DNP – Departamento Nacional de Planeación