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Aluna is a feature-length documentary, released in 2012, regarding the last known civilization from the world of the Aztecs and Incas known as the Kogi and their struggles to live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. They specifically live on one of the isolated mountains that lies on the Colombian-Caribbean coast, a mountain that stands about five miles high. The documentary's narrator, Alan Ereira, visited the same civilization more than twenty years before in 1990 to make a documentary, and the message that he received was very much the same as it is now: we are here to care for the world and will have to change course if we wish to survive. In a lot if ways, Aluna is a sequel to the original documentary, called The Heart of the World: Elder Brother's Warning. What is interesting is that the Kogi play the role of the "elder brother" while the highly civilized world is the "younger brother."
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Aluna carries one primary message with it, that there are deep and vital interconnections between the natural world. Most of the developed world does not seem to understand this concept, but for the Kogi, it is the reason for life on Earth. The documentary claims that instead of listening with our ears, we should be learning with our eyes and see for ourselves because listening to the cries of these ancient tribes has not been working. In order to illustrate how locations ate linked, the Kogi decided to trvel to the mouth of every river along the Colombian-Caribbean coast and unspool a long gold thread, which represents how subtle changes in one system can vastly change another. Alan Ereira decided to take the Kogi to an observatory in England to get a sense of what their thought process is when opened to the idea of discovery. It turned out that their perspective of knowledge may be the opposite of how we traditionally view it. While we commonly think of future generations as being more intelligent than past generations, the Kogi claim that the past generations are more intelligent than future ones.

Ideas For Teaching
High school teachers could easily show this documentary to their students over two class periods. While they watch the film, the teachers may give students a sheet with possible questions to answer and fill out. A second option for learning the material is to simply discuss the film's themes and ideas with the students at the end of the class period after having watched it. A third option is to assign a project that may relate to the ideas of Aluna tha
t is creative and can display the students' knowledge of the material.
At the college level, students would get an equal benefit from having watched the film, and it can easily be taught at all levels of education. Since a lot of the film is filled with foreign dialogue with no subtitles, it may be a good idea for the teacher to suggest to the students what the context is around which they are talking. Some of the dialogue is translated, but much of it is not in sections where it is more visually engaging.

Teaching Resources
Possible Questions:
  • What is Alan Ereira's attitude toward the Kogi's claims of man vs. nature and their tactics of exposing mankind's mistakes in deforestation and excess development?
  • What are the Kogi trying to prove to the developed world throughout the documentary?
  • Why are the Kogi taken to an England observatory for astronomy?
  • How do the views of Western civilization differ from those of ancient civilizations, such as the Kogi?
  • What do the Kogi use to show the connection between various river systems along the coastline?external image Kogi3.jpg

Useful Links
Aluna Website:
Aluna Home Page

A Commentary on the Kogi Civiliazation:
Aluna – A film from the Kogi Indians of Colombia

Created by Ryan Powers