Project Detail: Palaamüin. North, towards the sea


Swiss Storytelling Photo Grant 9th




Juan C Aldrey


Project Info

Palaamüin. North, towards the sea

Palaamüin. North towards the sea provide an inside look on some of the most complex, private and sacred traditions of the Wayuu culture, a traditional, historical indigenous community known as the people of the Sun, Sand and Wind. Wayuus are the largest indigenous community in Colombia and Venezuela and are known for their strong character and resilience. This project documents how they battle to keep their own culture, traditions and language alive while surviving a socio-economic meltdown

Palaamüin. North, towards the sea is an ongoing documentary photography project that presents the Wayuus. An underrepresented indigenous community based in NW Venezuela and EST Colombia. In Wayuunaiki, their native language, Palaamüin means “North, towards the sea”. The title is a reference to a concern of what the future may hold for this historic community while they are standing up to cultural erasure

Like many indigenous communities around the world, Wayuus in Venezuela struggle everyday. In their case a regional socio-economic meltdown is added, leaving behind a broken health system, malnutrition, dismantled schools where teachers and students fight illiteracy, forced migration, water scarcity, infant death, police and paramilitary harassment, waste mismanagement and all sorts of human rights violations

Historically Wayuus are known for their strength and resilience, gathering the biggest indigenous population in Venezuela (400.000 in 2011) and Colombia (380.000 in 2018). This project documents how, even in their darkest days, I have found light in small groups of culture guardians that are determined to keep their legacy alive. With their help and guidance, these images aspire to present a resilient community that bravely opened their homes to tell their story to the world, sharing their most private traditions and complex moments, building a document dedicated to their lives and memory