The Wayuu live in small settlements called rancherias which consist of five or six houses. Within theses rancherias, the Wayuu people preserve a way of life that has been passed down through generations and remains almost completely untouched by modern culture.
The Wayuu are organized in Matrilineal clans and Wayuu children take on their mother's last names. Within Wayuu communities women are the cultural leaders and the centre of the family unit.
One of the most traditional activities of Wayuu life is weaving, a tradition that has been passed down through generations and carries the heritage of all the Wayuu ancestors. The joy of weaving for the women of the Wayuu is that it can fit around their other day to day activities, enabling them to create products in order to generate an income while also concentrating on the family.
Within wayuu communities, respect between women is commanded through the quality and intricacy of the mochila designs. Only the most respected members of the communities are allowed to weave the most complex designs.
Sadly, this traditional way of life and Wayuu traditions are coming under threat. Wayuu communities are resisting mining companies and paramilitaries for the right to remain on their lands and in their rancherias. The communities are facing increased poverty and crisis of cultural identity. According to the Unicef, the Wayuu region is the second poorest place in Latin America after Haiti.