Cabildo Indigena Muisca de Bosa

What is the Cabildo Indígena Muisca de Bosa?

We are descendants from the ancient settlers and originally from Bacatá territory, heirs of the ancient indigenous reservation of Bosa. We recognize ourselves as belonging to the Muisca indigenous folk and we organize administratively ourselves as a Cabildo, being this organization a special public entity recognized by the Ministry of Interior. As native people of the Bogotá territory, it is built the Plan of Life “palabra que protege la semilla’’(Voice that protects the seed) by the Indígena Muisca de Bosa community, there it is done a historical review, a diagnosis and a community projection identified in three phases: the Plow, the seed isolation and the sowing. In this order of ideas, it is presented in a general way the context that is built there:

Map 3 Central Andes Pre-Hispanic Chiefdoms and Colonial Jurisdictions/Provinces

“Our indigenous identity, as well as the other peoples and cultures of the world, is at every turn mutating and evolving. The indigenous peoples, through the historical development we have been incorporating elements from other cultures in our cultural heritage and legacy.

Many indigenous identities have had to blend in using the majority society’s own forms in order to be able to survive and last over time.” (Cabildo. 2001: 18)

Talk about the Muisca folk nowadays brings about several perceptions, ideas and positions on the matter. On the one hand, studies from the academy relate from historical sources of ethnographic data built in the XVI century, which are directly or indirectly from chroniclers, friars or crown officials. Which was useful for starting a corpus of documentation that sought to rebuild the history and some specifications of the Muisca de Bosa community. Nevertheless, it’s important to highlight the problems that this entails, starting from the impartial analysis conducted at that time and the lack of historical depth that doesn’t define the tradition of the community. Presenting the “territorial invasion” as the discovery of a territory that from the traditional perspective was already known, explored and inherited from generations to generations.

Consolidating part of the information collected, it’s identified that the Muisca population was consolidated socially, economically, culturally, politically on the high plains of the eastern mountain range of Colombia, encompassing the departments of Cundinamarca, Boyacá and the southern part of Santander. After the interpretation performed by the chronicler Miguel Triana of borders established due to the presence of painted rocks, he marks the Muisca territory:

“…through the south is the territory of Tibacuy, Pasca, Fusagasugá, Tequendama-Soacha, walking along the western border towards the north we find Bojacá and Facatativá, with access openings extend over the lowlands of Tena and Zipacón. At the north of Facatativá following the western border is Subachoque, followed by Sutatausa. At the northern end of this western border Muniquira, Chipabtá and at the last edge of the highland is Chiquinquira. Upon turning right, heading east are Susacón, Sátiva and Soatá, at the edge of the northeast is Sogamoso, along the eastern border are Ramiriquí and Samacá. And finally, at the southeast corner are Boquerón y Fosca.” (Triana, El jeroglífico Chibcha, 1970, pages 206 – 212) 

Federación Muisca (Triana, 1924)

At this point, it’s important to take into account archeological data that allow us to identify the early Muisca and last Muisca periods characterized by the population growth settled at the highland and with it, the consolidation of center points of political influence in the region, where exchange ties and product circulation networks were strengthened. It’s important to clarify, that the occupation of the savannah took place approximately 16.000 years ago A.C, that is to say, in the archaic period of America; in which gradually starts a sedentary process where the large areas of catchment of socioeconomic resources were become in exploitation and transformation centers, thus, enabling the transition to the consolidation, integration or formation of communities, in this case of the Muisca folk that encompass a socio-political integration and incorporation of technological knowledge.

In relation with the information about the social organization of the Muisca people, it’s presented as a community which has had a system of matrilineal kinship, where the highest authority was called Zipa or Zaque. This authority had a territorial jurisdiction where families or nucleus clans united by a kinship tie formed an exchange system related with the land fertility. All previous, analyzed through what was proposed by José Rozo (1978) in the framework of socio-political organization of the Muisca folk.

Sequentially with the arrival and the journey of General Jiménez de Quesada, it’s identified that each town had the name of its cacique who governed, delimiting the territory and the Muexca community, thus proposing a territorial division in two big confederations Bogote and Hunza, what today is Bogotá and Tunja respectively, as well as the importance of other chiefdoms like it’s presented in the next map.

Understanding that there were dynamics of exchange and relation between the Muisca folk and other communities. It’s identified that the Muisca population was supplied with raw materials belonging to different ecological niches, establishing a solidary system and social networks of exchange, where valuable products of so much importance to the everyday life of the communities were transformed and circulated. Being relevant the fact of illustrate the several knowledge of the cultural and artistic practices, such as: the art, the science, the conception of territory, the mythic-religious beliefs, the iconography, the toponymy, all of these things that evidence and express the traditions immersed in the Muisca territory.

Going deeper in the contextualization of the occupation of the Muisca indigenous community, in what today it’s known as the Capital Distrity and specifically in the locality of Bosa; it’s pertinent to understand that the history of the Muisca community doesn’t refer to a remote past, in which despite of being included in an official circle of the national culture and referred back to a community of the past, evidenced in museums, literature, contemporary art, music, motives and pre-columbian designs, among other things. Currently still, there are cultural and historical bases that show the process of cultural transformation, syncretisms and it will be possible to establish dynamics of acculturation originated in the ancestral territory of the community, initiating the formation of indigenous reservations of colonial origin; of which are pertinent to understand that were socio-political instances owing to the colonization that sought to reduce the populations and control the ancestral dynamics of self-production by the indigenous communities, delivering the ancestral territory to the “conquerors”. As evidence of the above, the map presented below illustrates the territorial division made with the purpose of making official the tenure of lands between 1550 – 1600.


Tenure of lands, Santa Fe de Bogotá y Aledaños, 1550 – 1600 (Carrasquilla Botero, 1989)

“The indigenous reservation existed in Bosa until 1851, the year in which the Provincial Camera of Cundinamarca decreed the free alienation of the lands that had been granted to the indigenous people. Between 1856 and 1858 the dissolution of the indigenous reservation of Bosa was completed (Puyo) so that the territory passed to individual possessions, of which some indigenous people became in creditors, as well as latifundist landowners, who started to create large estates with the purchase or the exchange of properties with the indigenous peoples”. (Durán, 2005, page 305)

Upon consolidating the socio-political instance of reservation, the indigenous community Muisca de Bosa began dynamics of agricultural production and the conditions of ownership and autonomy were relegated, where the historic data from the Bosa locality indicates that:

From the dynamic of dissolution of the indigenous reservation of colonial origin, it starts a process of transformation where in 1954, Bosa is assigned to Bogotá, generating new spaces of cultural, social, political and economic interaction, incorporating to the comuneros (community members)  in a new work system, situation that made a cultural syncretism in which in a conscious or unconscious way, assimilated their own practices within diverse mestizo dynamics, hence, it’s recently understood as an strategy of ethnic resistance.

In the actual context of the Nation, the questions about the memory and presence of the Muiscas are not few. On the one hand, resuming the official historical posture that proposes that the community was culturally extinct shortly after the incorporation of the Crown; and on the other hand, it’s presented a cultural reality that illustrates the survival over time of the Muisca de Bosa indigenous community in its ancestral territory. Reality which since 1992 starts a process of revitalization of the ethnic identity, generating spaces of auto-recognizement and strengthening of their traditions immersed in practices and dynamics of “the settlers” of the locality.

At this point, the word “etnogénesis(ethnogenesis)  is understood due to the relation between the ancestrally inherited territory and the sociocultural conditions that arise among the descendants of the settlers and possessors of Muisca traditions. After a process of official recognizement of the Dirección General de Asuntos Indígenas (DGAI) (General Directorate of Indigenous Affairs) of the Interior Ministry through official letter 4047 of September 17, 1999, it’s recognized the special character of the Muisca de Bosa indigenous community, thus being, legitimized the Cabildo as a socio-political organization that represents the community.

“…the territorial boundaries are primarily at the rural settlement of the hamlets San Jose and San Bernardino which are localized by the hinterland included in the mouth of the Tunjuelito River into the Bogotá River. Between these two hamlets, some neighborhoods have been built (…) where many families of this community lived. Many families are also settled in other areas of Bosa, (…) and others have moved to other places.” (Interior Ministry, 1999)

The Muisca de Bosa indigenous community, has promoted strengthening and cultural appropriation of the territory processes, through their practices and own traditions, creating cultural resistance spaces against public entities which don’t understand the internal dynamics of the population. Making spaces in which cultural practices own of the community are threatened, afterwards, being more affected by the several urbanistic expansion threatened of Bogotá D.C, that still continue delimiting and making territorial restrictions to the community but also imposing a series of sociocultural transformations. (Castaño , and others, 2020, pages. 31 – 39)

The Clans

It’s important understanding that familiar clans of the Muisca de Bosa indigenous community identified nowadays, correspond to groups of comuneros that have traits in common such as: kinship ties, consanguinity, in some cases are identified through the practice of a job or profession, they reside in a specific part of the territory and are mostly recognized by nicknames.

On average, a clan is conformed by between 60 to 150 comuneros which are made up of all the offspring of grandparents or “elders(mayores), their children and their families, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and the rest of kinship, to sum up, a clan is a great extended family. 

Even though there is no a hierarchy or positions of familiar clans within the current socio-political structure of the Muisca de Bosa indigenous community, a strong participation by several of the most representative members is evident, even, in the election processes of the Cabildo Indígena traditional authorities is possible to see how some of these clans have kept their active participation through representation of several of their leaders. As a matter of fact, some of the grandparents or “elders(mayores) from the clans, have taken different roles or spaces within the organizational structure of the Cabildo like in the Elders Council or participating in different community spaces in order to make their voice heard in topics like lands or collective claims.

The familiar clans also allow the mobilization, participation and visibility of socio-political processes in the community. Sometimes, all the clan members don’t participate in the community spaces, even so, some of the representatives or leaders spread and keep the clan informed about activities and processes which will be carried out. In this way, depending on the participation and representation of a member from the familiar clan, the rest of the clan will support their leader.

Regarding socio-cultural traditions, familiar clans are the first instance of social spreading, transmitting their knowledge to younger generations. Finding that the “elders” of each clan tend to be the first caregivers of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, teaching basic conduct behaviors in individual and community spaces that enable the clan to get along with other clans.

Furthermore, learning basic trades and tasks such as weaving, embroidery, the care processes for a plant or an animal, the transformation of raw material for both artisanal and gastronomic production. In this order of ideas, there are autonomous spaces of learning about cosmogony, cosmovision, and perception of life and death within the community, where through the spoken word (voice), these knowledge systems, rooted in the territory, determine an essential dynamic of family interaction in the community and are transmitted.

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Cabildo Indígena Muisca de Bosa

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