Abel Rodriguez, an elder of the Nonuya people, an indigenous group from the mid Caquetá River in Colombia, receives the Principal Prince Claus Laureate 2014 award for his outstanding work as a botanist, an artist and his knowledge and understanding of the Amazonian ecosystem.
Abel has been part of the local research program of TBI Colombia for many years. He began in the 1980s as a guide for researchers, where he had the opportunity to explain multiple aspects of the local flora to the scientists. In the 1990s he moved to Bogotá, due to an increase in the armed conflict in his territory. There he began to draw and paint the plants of the Amazon and their relations with the ecosystem. Through his work he has produced detailed studies on the variety of reeds and lianas, palm trees, timber and non-timber trees and cultivated plants in the forest. He has also illustrated the various seasons in the forest: the annual cycle in flooded forests, mature forests, and in maloca plants. Last year he illustrated a non-existing tree, the tree of life, which narrates the origin of food for the indigenous people of the mid Caquetá River.
Abel Rodríguez is honoured with this award for perpetuating and communicating the Nonuya’s holistic knowledge of the Amazon basin environment; for transforming orally transmitted knowledge into poetic art that transcends the ethno-botanical genre; for countering dominant paradigms in the arts and sciences and demonstrating the relevance of indigenous knowledge in thinking about environmental sustainability; for revealing the indigenous worldview as a source of knowledge for the common good, drawing attention to the skills, talents, heritage and rights of indigenous communities; and for stimulating intercultural exchange in a context of violence and discrimination.