Ecuador’s indigenous people chose their new leaders for the next three years.
Last week’s inauguration ceremony was followed by news, TV, and radio stations around the nation.
A huge difference from earlier times when indigenous nations weren’t considered to play any kind of part in Ecuador.
The ceremony was a mix of modern and ancient.
Filled with cultural expressions that used to be prohibited and followed only in secrecy.
The power changed hands literally when the old president, Humberto Cholango, passed the staff of power to the new president, Jorge Herrera, Kichwa from Cotopaxi.
The new leaders were sworn to their position in front of the sacred fire.
|My friend Katy Machoa, Amazonic Kichwa of Napo, the leader for women and families in CONAIE.|
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE)
There exists currently a struggle for people's identity, to regain their rights, here, in the continent, and in the world.
The indigenous people of Ecuador do not believe that this struggle should be violent, as that will not take us anywhere.
Ecuadorian indigenous people consider that as indigenous peoples, as the original peoples of the world, they have their own identity as their only reference point.
The principle of identity, which represents the present struggle of the Peoples of the world, is gaining strength internationally.
When speaking identity it does not refer only to the culture of which we are the bearers, but also to the methods of nourishment, way of life, social organization, the way in which we see the world, etc.
This global perspective allows seeing beyond certain political dogmas that have been imposed upon us.
The indigenous movement, with its search for the principles of identity, could serve as a reference point for the rest of Ecuadorian society, since it is a project not only for us but for everyone.
The indigenous problem concerns all Ecuadorians, the government and the governed.
Now that there is no political orientation, the struggle for identity, to know who we are, to recuperate our roots-if indeed we have lost them could provide the way in which we can walk strongly, and firmly into the future.
Since its formation in 1986, CONAIE has led the Indigenous peoples of Ecuador from relative isolation to a position at center stage of Ecuadorian society.
|The staff of power, the old president Humberto Cholango passes on the power to the new president Jorge Herrera while reminescing about the last three years and the struggle of indigenous people in Ecuador and South America.|
CONAIE is the representative body that guarantees Indigenous people the political voice that has too long been denied them, and that expresses their needs and goals within a rapidly changing world.
In Ecuador, during 170 years of republicanism, it has been wrongly asserted that this is a homogeneous country, made of only one nationality, as the old national Constitution insisted.
That, however, is not the reality.
Many peoples have always lived here, each with its own culture, its own language, its own customs.
Some of these peoples have disappeared, others are in danger of disappearing, and some of us are very much alive.
The indigenous nationalities of Ecuador have always had community and family as the basis of our social organization.
From that base has grown the necessity to form relationships with other communities of the zone, the province and the region.
For that reason they have formed the zonal, provincial and regional organizations.
In order for thier voice to be heard at the national level, they have formed the organization that now represents them, CONAIE, in 1986.
CONAIE represents all of the indigenous nationalities of the country, some organized into provincial organizations, and others not.
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Spanish: La Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador) or more commonly, CONAIE, is Ecuador's largest indigenous organization.
Formed in 1986, CONAIE has pursued social change on behalf of the region's significant native population using a wide range tactics including direct action.
CONAIE is most well known for its organization of popular uprisings ("levantamientos populares") that often include blockading of commercial arteries and the takeover of government buildings.
At the moment of the formation of the organization, indigenous people felt that it had two urgent tasks: land and education.
Along with the resolution of the many land problems that have been waiting for years, the indigenous nations have pushed for the bilingual education program to be organized by CONAIE.
They have succeeded in signing an agreement between CONAIE and the Ministry of Education and Culture that is still functioning today.
In this way they have been able to unify the Kichwa language, and they now want to carry this project further with other indigenous languages.
|New leader for Health and Nutrition, a Salasaka Kichwa, wearing the symbols of indigenous people of Ecuador, the rainbow and Andean cross (Chakana).|
Within the movement that has been carrying on there has been discussions to define terms such as nationality, Peoples, 'campesinos', Indians, indigenous.
The indigenous people have also come to differentiate the meaning of land and territory for indigenous peoples.
The debates are continuing to clarify these concepts.
These discussions have contributed to a growing sense of self- identification, and of pride in belonging to a people.
This is reflected as well in the understanding of the rest of the nation when they no longer, out of ignorance, use pejorative terms such as aucas when referring the Waorani, jibaros when referring to the Shuar, colorados instead of Tsachilas, or cayapas instead of Chachi.
The word Indian is still used in general, but there will come a time when each nationality will be referred to by its own name.
CONAIE represents the following indigenous peoples: Shuar, Achuar, Siona, Secoya, Cofán, Waorani, Záparo, Chachi, Tsáchila, Awá, Epera, Manta, Wancavilca and Kichwa.
|The positioning of a new shuar leader.|
CONAIE is composed of three regional federations:
the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonía Ecuatoriana; CONFENIAE) in the eastern Amazon region or Oriente;
The Confederation of Peoples of Kichua Nationality in the central mountain region (Confederación de Pueblos de la Nacionalidad Kichuas del Ecuador; ECUARUNARI);
and the Coordination of Indigenous and Black Organizations of the Ecuadorian Coast (Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas y Negras de la Costa Ecuatoriana; CONAICE).
CONAIE's political agenda includes the strengthening of a positive indigenous identity, recuperation of land rights, environmental sustainability, opposition to neoliberalism and rejection of U.S. military involvement in South America.
I think it's interesting to see how change in leadership occurs in other nations. The photo of your friend Katy is beautiful. I'm hoping for nothing but great things under the new leadership.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Jaime, she is really beautiful, as a person and also outside. I'm wishing the best for them also. They were given boots in the ceremony and told to change from the fancy shoes to boots, at that moment, and start working. So a lot depends on them.Delete
I think it's neat to learn about different cultures and your posts always teach me something that I never knew before!ReplyDelete
WOW.. I am impressed that you are so knowledgeable of how they run things. I have read it twice and am still like.. huh.. this is different.ReplyDelete
WOW, you read twice, Aimee, I'm impressed by that :) Thank you! It has been an honor to have been taugth so many things and been let inside the culture. This is the first time I was in the inauguration and there were not many (besides the news media) that do not belong to any nation. At first people were staring at me little but when Katy came to greet me everyone relaxed.Delete
How wonderful that they have formed a group to be heard. I can see how the people as a whole would get behind them and show support!ReplyDelete
Ecuador's indigenous nations are very organized. It is part of their tradition and they are very proud of it. In the last few years people have been starting to support them. They were considered scum and less than humans for so many hundreds of years that the change has not been easy.Delete
This is interesting to read and learn about. I realize how little I know outside of my own country.ReplyDelete
I learn something new everyday-- and this is mine. Thanks for sharing this information about other cultures!ReplyDelete
I am happy to hear what the people of Ecuador are doing to protect their culture and identity.ReplyDelete
I've never seen anything about how the new leaders are sworn in. The fire is an interesting addition.ReplyDelete
So wonderful hearing how they are working for a better future.ReplyDelete
really neat to read this!ReplyDelete
If we do not learn our history, we are doomed to repeat it. If we do not learn the culture, we are doomed to lose it. Great post!ReplyDelete
You are so right, Lindsey. And big part of the fight is not to lose the culture and for the young people to respect their culture and not to want to go with the latin culture that is the mayority here.Delete
That is a cool story. I didn't know leaders were sworn in like that.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing! I'm glad they have new leaders to represent the people!ReplyDelete
The depth of your knowledge on how things run is really impressive. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
YAY for the indigenous people!! That's awesome, and thank you for sharing!ReplyDelete
This was really interesting! Thank you for giving us an inside look into this subject!ReplyDelete
So interesting! Thank you for sharing this culture with us!ReplyDelete
It sounds like things are moving in the right direction. It's really interesting to read about how this all works.ReplyDelete
It must have been fascinating to be there while these things were taking place and reshaping the area.ReplyDelete
I was, and I'm so amazed and honored to be let to be part of all this.Delete
Lots of information in this post to digest. I am glad that the people want to change things in a non violent way. Thanks for sharing this with us.ReplyDelete
It is a very informative post, Pam. I wasn't sure how much information to give but on the other hand, this such an unknown subject that if I just told about the ceremony people wouldn't be able to grasp the context, at least outside of Ecuador.Delete
As usual, great post. Pretty cool to learn how leaders are sworn in!ReplyDelete
This is a very interesting post and i love the pictures,Thank you for sharing this and its great to see How the new leaders are sworn in.ReplyDelete
This is so interesting. Change is good. Here's hoping the new leadership is good for the community.ReplyDelete
This is really interesting. There is something so special about keeping traditions and it is important to keep indigenous peoples' identities and communities flourishing.ReplyDelete
I agree, Emily. Tradition is important and it's great to see how indigenous people here are valuing their traditions more and more.Delete
I'm learning so much about Ecuador from your blog. Keep it up!ReplyDelete
I absolutely love that the culture has been passed on thru the generations. Your friend is so beautiful, I love the photos!ReplyDelete
This is so so interesting, learning about a place so far away and foreign to me.ReplyDelete
This is really interesting information. It certainly is a different process choosing leaders in EcuadorReplyDelete
It's so great to get insights into a culture I know very little about. Thanks for sharing your knowledgeReplyDelete
it's great to get insights into other cultures. It sounds as though things are moving in the right direction.ReplyDelete
I always enjoy your posts. I learn so much.ReplyDelete
I love that the indigenous people were able to band together to have their concerns heard. It's always so interesting to read your posts about Ecuador!ReplyDelete
I love your posts. Such a great and moving experiences!ReplyDelete
This is really great. I love how the new leaders wore sworn into office in front of the Sacred Fire.ReplyDelete
So very cool! I love reading all these stories!ReplyDelete
I love learning about other cultures. So different from ours. Thanks for sharingReplyDelete
Very interesting! I love that I get to learn about this culture thousands of miles away!ReplyDelete
Your friend is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing this. It sounds like exciting times for the indigenous people. I hope they continue to move forward with their new leaders!ReplyDelete
Sounds like times are changing. thank you for sharing this - I can honestly say I enjoyed learning about the culture and what's going on with their leaders.ReplyDelete
It's nice to learn about other cultures. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thank you for giving us this insight on Ecuador. I didn't know a lot of this stuff and I find it fascinating.ReplyDelete
What an interesting culture they have. I love that you share these things.ReplyDelete
Very interesting Joanna, and very well conveyed, the significance not only of the ceremony but the political implications.ReplyDelete
Very interesting. I enjoy learning about other cultures. I like the fact that they are keeping with tradition. We have lost so much tradition in the modern world.ReplyDelete
Wow I learned so much from your post. I like that the ceremony brought together both traditional and modern aspects.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for providing an in-depth look into the lives of indigenous Ecuadorians. I'm so glad that new customs have not made the old disappear. It's a part of their culture, their identity that should not be destroyed. Again, thank you so much for sharing.ReplyDelete
I learn so much about Ecuador whenever I read your posts. The personal stories you tell show me a side of a country I didn't know and now want to see for myself.ReplyDelete
This is a great article. I learned something new just from reading it. I am glad you shared this. It is cool to see the election process in another country.ReplyDelete