Sonic Journey Three: SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of My Mother)

February 14, 2024 Nia Tero Season 4 Episode 1
Sonic Journey Three: SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of My Mother)
Show Notes Transcript

Who’s ready for a little Indigenous joy, knowledge, and inspiration? We’re starting Seedcast Season Four with deep listening, as a powerful way to witness one another.  

Welcome to the rich desert landscape of the Wayuu People on the Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela. You hear more from birds, goats, and cacti in this story than you do people, and when you do hear human voices, they’re speaking Wayuunaiki, the language of about half of Wayuu Peoples, a language currently undergoing a revitalization. This Sonic Journey centers the film SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of My Mother), the story of two Wayuu women teaching the next generation valuable lessons about reciprocity. Even if you don’t speak Wayuunaiki, the rhythms and tones of the elders in the story will no doubt stir in you memories and lessons from your own parents, grandparents, and ancestors. 

SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of My Mother) is a collaboration between director David Hernández Palmar and his mother, Flor Palmar. The film is part of the first season of our sibling initiative Reciprocity Project. Reciprocity Project is a collaboration between Nia Tero and Upstander Project, in association with REI Co-op Studios. 

Host and Story Editor: Jessica Ramirez. Producer: Stina Hamlin. Audio Mix: Ha’aheo Auwae-Dekker.  

Seedcast is a production of Nia Tero, a global nonprofit which supports Indigenous land guardianship around the world through policy, partnership, and storytelling initiatives.

Enjoy the Seedcast podcast on the Nia Tero website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast platforms.

Keep up with Seedcast on Instagram and use the hashtag #Seedcast.

Sonic Journey: SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of My Mother) 
Seedcast Season 4 Episode 1
February 14, 2024

[00:00:00] Jessica Ramirez: It's season four of Seedcast.  

[Reciprocity Project theme music begins with slow melodic singing and drumming]

I'm Jessica Ramirez. We're so excited to share more Indigenous joy, knowledge, and inspiration this year. We're starting off this season by getting quiet and listening, with a three-part series of Sonic Journeys. These are special soundscapes of the Reciprocity Project films that highlight the value of reciprocity and Indigenous Peoples from around the world. In this moment we are in, listening is a powerful way to witness each other. Listen to language. Listen to the Earth. 

[Reciprocity Project music continues, the singing crescendos and ends]

Picture a desert landscape with brown and red dusty earth, sparse with large cacti, and a dry breeze that moves through the air. This land holds the quiet interactions between humans, birds, goats, and the soil. In this Sonic Journey, you will hear how visiting loved ones is an act of caring, loving, and learning; a story of one sister visiting another, and the lesson shared with the next generation. You won't hear a lot of talking in this film. But when you do, people are speaking in Wayuunaiki—a language that is being revitalized by Wayuu educators, and is spoken by half of the Colombian and Venezuelan Wayuu population. 

The Wayuu people are the largest Indigenous population in both Colombia and Venezuela. They inhabit the arid Guajira Peninsula over on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. This is where filmmaker David Hernández Palmar, and his mother and collaborator Flor Palmar, are from. We'll hear from them later in this episode.  

This film was inspired by Flor's memory of visits from her favorite auntie. Imagine the quiet and familiar way family can be with each other. Imagine the way elders play with each other, the way we learn from them, and how they connect and enlighten the younger generations around them in surprising ways.  

[sounds from the film play and we hear something that sounds like rain, alongside birdsong and drumming] 

The film opens with a visual quote by Wayuu poet Ramón Paz Iipuana. It reads: 

“Tradition is like a wise elder. 
As she sits on the road of days, 
She tells future generations what she has lived.” 

And now, the soundscape of SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of My Mother).

[we hear the sound of birds, wind, and footsteps on the dry dirt, and Jasai and Kushematai talking to each other in Wayuunaiki while Jasai throws stones to try to knock a fruit from a cactus]

[Jasai, Kushematai, and Rosa speaking in Wayuunaiki]

[00:03:16] Jasai: Kushematai, get me a cactus fruit. 

[00:03:18] Kushematai: No, I’m playing! 

[00:03:25] Rosa: Why are you two fighting?  

[00:03:27] Jasai: He won’t get me a cactus fruit.  

[00:03:30] Rosa: Why won’t you get her a fruit?  

[00:03:32] Kushematai: Because.  

[00:03:33] Rosa: Are you mad at your little sister? 

[00:03:35] Kushematai: I’m not.  

[00:03:36] Rosa: Knock one down for her. You had one. Why didn’t you give it to her? I think you are mad at her. Hug her! Is your mom home?  

[00:03:38] Jasai: Yes 

[00:03:40] Rosa: Let’s go. How are you my dear sister? 

[00:03:47] Amaliata: You have arrived, come this way!  

I was asking myself: Has something happened to my sister who has not come? Has she forgotten about me, I asked myself. That is why I am so happy that you came over with your harvest. One day you will bring better harvests. When there are better rains. 

[we hear the sound of their footsteps as they walk, and the sound of drums and a flute playing birdlike sounds]

[we hear the sound of a fire burning, a pot being stirred, food being spooned into a bowl, and one of the children speaking; we hear the sound of footsteps and the wind in the trees; one of the women says something, and the sounds of birds chirping continues]

[we hear the papery sound of textiles being pulled across each other while Amaliata weaves them into a geometrical pattern]

[00:05:25] Rosa: It’s true, you know already that the rains have not been very good, a part of the crop got worms. I brought you what was good.  

[we hear the sound of fire crackling, the stew boiling in a pot that is being stirred, and the sound of metal plates being scraped clean with a spoon by the children as they finish eating] 

[00:06:30] Amaliata: Bring your plate over here. Go make us coffee. You come too and bring your plate. Go prepare the food that your aunt is going to take. 

[we hear the sound of dishes clanking together as Amaliata gathers them from the children who bring them to her, then the sound of Kushematai packing a woven bag with food; a goat bleats in the background, and we hear chickens softly clucking] 

[00:07:03] Rosa: You are big now and you have to take care of your grandmother. I’ve been seeing you running and jumping about.  

[00:07:13] Amaliata: This one doesn’t listen to me, it would be good if you give him advice, my sister, before you leave. That grandchild as well.  

[we hear the sound of dishes as Amaliata and Rosa take their cups of coffee off a plate that Jasai brings them] 

[00:07:24] Rosa: Oh my child how good, you brought me coffee. I will come again. 

[we hear the sound of goats bleating and birds in the background, and the sound of footsteps in the dirt as Jasai runs and chases them; the goats continue bleating as she gathers them, picks them up, and puts them in a wooden pen] 

[a flute begins playing a quick tune] 

[00:07:59] Amaliata: I will miss you, my sister. It’s been so long since you’ve visited.  

[00:08:02] Rosa: When will you come visit me? 

[00:08:05] Amaliata: One day I will visit. It’s time to go!  

[00:08:09] Rosa: Sure it is! My children, I’m leaving.  

[00:08:13] Amaliata’s children: Goodbye.  

[we hear the sound of footsteps as Rosa walks back towards the house] 

[00:08:26] Rosa: Well my children, I’m leaving.  

[00:08:27] Jasai: Goodbye grandma!  

[00:08:32] Kushematai: Here. [Kushematai hands Jasai a long stick with cloth bound in a ball around one end for knocking fruit down from cacti] 

[we hear the clicking sound of cactus needles from the cloth-wrapped stick pressing against the cactus fruit, while Jasai attempts to capture a fruit and bring it down. Kushematai takes the stick and helps her, popping the fruit off the cactus with a woodsy crunching sound] 

[00:08:58] Jessica: Oh, that was so nice to listen to. And understanding that it was a collaboration between mother and son, the fact that David brought his family into it, there's such beauty and intergenerational reciprocity in this soundscape. We caught up with David when he was in Venezuela caring for his mother, Flor. 

[00:09:17] David Hernández Palmar: To our relatives out there who are telling stories—whether it's through crafting a fabric, or like, they are doing poetry or any other form of expression—for every story you tell, you're postponing the end of the world, but also you are honoring the gift given by ancestors of telling stories. I cannot think of any more healing way to be closer to ancestry, but also to heal. 

And to propose other futurisms where all lives can fit, but also can, you know, sort out and thrive. That would be my invitation for storytellers of the world. I have such a responsibility of bringing joy, but also bringing lessons.
 [00:10:11] Jessica: What really stood out for me? He says, “For every story you tell, you are postponing the end of the world and also honoring the gift given by our ancestors of telling stories.” I think this is just so profound and really powerful. And similarly, his mom shared the important role that David carries for his people.  

[Flor Palmar begins speaking in Spanish] 

[00:10:48] Translator: David is the one member of our family that travels a lot who's been around the world, and he's in charge of carrying the Wayuu word forward.  

[Flor continues speaking in Spanish] 

[00:11:03] Translator: I didn't tell him to do it, but he's made to spread the word of the Wayuu.  

[Flor continues speaking in Spanish]

[00:11:14] Translator: Thank God that he is this way in keeping him safe.  

[Flor thanks David in Spanish] 

[00:11:21] Translator: Thank you, David, for being who you are. 

[the sound of a quick, bright flute begins to play and continues in the background] 

[00:11:27] Jessica: Thank you to the cast: Flor Palmar, Daisy Camargo, Yeliza Uriana, Cristian González, Keiber Camargo, and Keider Camargo. SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of My Mother), was filmed in the Wayuu Community of Majali, Wounmainkat, Abya Yala. Original story by Flor Palmar. Additional editing and screenplay adapted by David Hernández Palmar. Director of photography and editor, Duiren Wagua of the Guna Dule peoples. Assistant editor, Sauli Pillay. Reciprocity Project Theme Song by Jen Kreisberg. Reciprocity Project producers: Adam Mazo, Taylor Hensel, Tracy Rector, and Kavita Pillay.  

[flute music ends, and the Seedcast theme song “Rooted”, by Mia Kami, begins] 

Thank you to Upstander Project and REI Co-op Studios who partnered with Nia Tero to create all the films in the Reciprocity Project. Watch this film and more at To learn more about Nia Tero, visit us, And please check out Seedcast on Instagram at @niatero_seedcast

This episode was produced and edited by Stina Hamlin. The story editor was me, Jessica Ramirez. Audio mix by Ha’aheo Auwae-Dekker. The executive producer of Seedcast is Tracy Rector. The senior producer is Jenny Asarnow. Seedcast producers are Ha’aheo Auwae-Dekker, Stina Hamlin, Julie Keck, and me, Jessica Ramirez. 

Additional narration by Neda Ortiz Sundt. Fact-checker Romin Lee Johnson. Nia Tero social media by Nancy Kelsey. Transcripts by Sharon Arnold. Seedcast graphics by Cindy Chischilly. Seedcast theme song is “Rooted”, by Mia Kami. I'm your host Jessica Ramirez. Find us in two weeks for another Sonic Journey episode. 

Bye for now. 

Theme song “Rooted” by Mia Kami:Like the wind we still move, like the waves we rise high, like the sun we never die. No staying quiet, we stand united, we are rooted to the ground, can’t tear us down. We’re here to stay…