An intergenerational group of five Siletz Indians from Oregon traveled to La Paz, Bolivia, this week for a five-day cultural exchange with Kallawaya tradition bearers and members of other Bolivian indigenous groups. The cultural exchange, entitled “Promoting Language Revitalization and Cultural Heritage among Bolivia’s Indigenous Language Communities,” is co-sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and is supported by a grant from the U.S. State Department Fund for Innovation in Public Diplomacy.
The first half of the exchange brought six Kallawaya medicinal practitioners and textile weavers from the Andean highlands of Bolivia to participate in the One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage program at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, along with more than 120 cultural experts from eighteen different language communities across the United States and around the world, including a delegation of Siletz Indian dancers, basket weavers, regalia makers, and language educators from the coast of Oregon. At the Festival, the Kallawaya and Siletz participants shared their ceremonies, craft traditions, dances, and knowledge systems, as well as their efforts to revitalize and sustain their languages and cultural heritage.
The second part of the exchange brings members of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians to Bolivia for a series of workshops, meetings, lectures, performances, and demonstrations with the goal of introducing indigenous Bolivians to Native American experts on language and cultural heritage revitalization and building relationships between Bolivian indigenous peoples and Native American communities in the United States.
The Siletz group will return home to Oregon on August 24. Stay tuned for a more detailed account of the Siletz-Kallawaya cultural exchange in an upcoming article in Talk Story: Culture in Motion, the Center’s new online publication!