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Abstract

María Lionza is an indigenous Venezuelan religion that dates back to the 14th century. Combining Catholic, West African, and indigenous religions it was outlawed from being practiced until 1959. At this moment, María Lionza no longer hides from society, being transferred through means of oral tradition and family kinship, instead, it has built a strong foundation through politics and documented literature. As the pilgrimage has gained popularity and approximately 50% of Venezuelans attend, the state has become more involved. In 1960 the state named Mount Sorte (the location of the pilgrimage) a national park; giving them more authority over the land. However, it was not until the late 1980’s that Mount Sorte was named a national monument changing laws regarding the treatment of the mountain and its inhabitants. Since it has been made a national monument, guards have been placed at stations to keep an eye on the monument, or sacred mountain. In recent years, the state has become more and more involved in the pilgrimage.

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