Kichwa culture is oral.
The stories and histories are told, not written down.
Teaching is done by telling and showing, moving around and practicing.
Not by copying or reading and writing.
People can sit down and be quiet.
It's a skill you need to be able to concentrate on what people are telling you.
They even have quite incredible auditory memory skills since it is the way information has always entered.
They also usually have a beautiful handwriting, are skilled illustrators and artists, and take care of the presentation of their work.
Singing and dancing are other important cultural ways of information input.
The songs tell about history, important people and cultural events, animals, weather, environment and other culturally pertinent facts.
They tell people how to live and act, in the proper way, the Kichwa way.
The dancing also tells stories and histories.
They are highly choreographed to express cultural information with an interesting story that the people will recognize.
It is normal to role-play different important events in people's lives, like marriage, and the audience lives in the story, all through it.
The humor is integral to all this and very earthy.
Jokes, especially about sexuality, are very much appreciated and people capable of telling good jokes are celebrated.
As much as people able to tell a good story, dance a good dance, sing a good song or play good music.
The games played are a practice for cultural skills, like hunting for men or taking care of home and children for women.
About fifty years ago, when most of the elementary schools in the Amazon area of Ecuador were founded, they were mostly religious Catholic schools and only in Spanish.
Why is this important?
Because schools were seen as a vehicle to turn the Kichwas from their savage ways into Spanish speaking Catholic Christians.
Speaking Kichwa was prohibited, school uniforms were obligatory, cultural references were minimized and the punishments were severe.
At the same time, the segregation was the practice.
On one side were the colonial children, the children of mestizos from the Andes, and on other side the Kichwa children from the Amazon, los indios.
The colonos, the so-called white children, ate one meal, with chicken and occasional meat.
The Kichwa children had another meal, without any kind of meat.
The Kichwa child caught speaking in Kichwa, his or her own language, was beaten and told never to do it again.
Worse was if you were found following your cultures savage, pagan ways, communing with demons, as it was called.
The children were taught a limited, stumped Spanish and also limited and stumped reading and writing skills, in Spanish.
And some basic math.
Then they were ready to serve their betters.
Twenty-five years ago Kichwa speaking school system was founded and along it the first non-Christian schools meant for Kichwa children.
There were no University trained Kichwa teachers.
There was no written Kichwa language.
But there was a will to be overcome and succeed.
First Kichwa High School graduates were born.
Then the first Kichwa University graduates.
But there was no work for them.
You could be a lawyer, engineer or doctor, no one would hire you because you still were an indio.
Only way to get hired in the Amazonic region was to work for Kichwa education system or in special community programs for the Ecuadorian government.
Or you could go to the big cities and towns in the Andes and pretend not to be a savage from the jungle.
That is still the image in the Ecuadorian mind.
A naked warrior with his nose pierced and face painted, standing with a spear in his hand and parrot feathers in his hair.
Something other, something to be scared of.
How can you work in an office and tell to your coworkers that is you, or your father, brothers and uncles.
That the picture was taken in your village and your home isn't that far away.
Amazonic Kichwa culture is in a crisis.
So much has been forgotten in the oppression.
So much has been thrown away because of the shame.
And still there is pride and will to continue the ancient ways and live like the grandparents have always lived.
It is a hard way to mix Ecuadorian Spanish speaking culture with Amazonic Kichwa culture.
The modern technology with ancient technologies.
The outside beliefs with the Kichwa way and the outside languages with the Runa Shimita, People's Language.