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Indigenous People of Latin America


Official language of the Incan Empire. Indigenous Languages ... International Day of Indigenous Peoples. Celebrated August 9th, declared by the UN in 1994. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Indigenous People of Latin America

Indigenous People of Latin America!
Some Indigenous Populations
  • Quechua
  • Tzeltal
  • Mayan- 6 million today
  • Lancandon, Guatemalan

The Lancandon Maya-indigenous peoples of La
Selva Lacandona in Chiapas, Mexico 500 members
"We are not myths of the past, ruins in the
jungle or zoos. We are people and we want to be
respected, not to be victims of intolerance and
racism." --Rigoberta Mench'u Tum, winner of the
1992 Nobel Peace Prize.
Hach Winik (True People in their language)
  • Lived in the Rainforest for Hundreds of years
    able to avoid Spanish colonization
  • Perhaps direct decedents of the classical
    civilizations of Palenque, Yaxchilan and Bonampak
  • Oral tradition in story telling classic Maya
  • Remained isolated until 1950s when threatened by
    deforestation and massive migration
  • "For a people whose mythology describes the
    whole earth as covered with jungle, to destroy
    the jungle is to destroy their world." --Didier

Recent deforestation only a few kms.from the
Lacandon community of Najá.
A verdant crop of "fertilizer" beans in the
organic garden,Casa de la Cultura, Lacanjá.
Modern communities
  • By the 1970s, the Lacandons had resettled or
    been relocated by the government to three
    principle settlements Lacanjá Chansayab, in the
    south and Najá and Metzabók (Mensäbäk) in the
    north of the Lacandon Rainforest
  • New towns the evangelists found it easier to
    pursue the conversion of the Lacandons to
  • Roads first started to reach the communities in
    the late 1970's and now there is electricity in
    all three villages. With the new traffic and
    television outside influences have come flooding
  • Combination of traditional beliefs and modern
    influence ie. In the event of illness, some may
    choose to placate the gods with ceremonies in the
    god house and then go to the clinic for western
  • Acceptance of certain elements ie. Some drive
    cars, modern dress, practice Christianity, use of
    modern weapons to hunt

Adjusting to Modernization
  • Increase in Tourism Ecotourism park that will
    include the Bonampak ruins, the Lacandon
    communities and parts of the Monte Azules
    biosphere reserve. April, 1997, the road
    construction and other services planned for this
    project are neared completion
  • Sell traditional products to tourists visiting
  • La Casa de la Cultura offer the communities a
    way of maintaining and strengthening those
    aspects of their culture that they, as a
    community, most value. Gain greater understanding
    of themselves in context of the contemporary

The Tzeltal People
  • Central highlands of southern Mexico, in the
    Chiapas region
  • 70 of indigenous population in Chiapas
  • Mayan origin, syncretic religion of Catholic and
    indigenous elements
  • Famous for craft work- weaving, spinning, etc.

  • Spoken in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Ecuador,
    mainly in Andean regions.
  • Mainly unwritten, spoken in rural settings
  • Around 8 million people speak Quechua
  • Official language of the Incan Empire
  • Tukuy kay pachaman paqarimujkuna libres
    nasekuntu tukuypunitaj kikin obligacionesniycjllat
    aj, jinakamalla honorniyojtaj atiyniyojtaj,
    chantaqa razonwantaj concienciawantaj dotasqa
    kasqankurayku, kawsaqe masipura jina, tukuy uj
    munakuyllapi kawsakunanku tian. All human beings
    are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
    They are endowed with reason and conscience and
    should act towards one another in a spirit of
    brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal
    Declaration of Human Rights)

Indigenous Languages
There are hundreds of indigenous languages still
spoken today in Latin America, although there
were probably as many as 1,750 before the
beginning of the European invasions (Sherzer,
1991). Campbell (1997) reports between 550 and
700 languages for the whole region, citing
sources from the mid-1990's.
Educational Disadvantages
  • In Guatemala, for example, illiteracy is about
    60 among indigenous people.
  • 50 of the population speaks a Mayan dialect, yet
    Spanish is the national language.

  • Poverty indigenous people less affected by
    macroeconomic trendspoverty gap has deepened in
    this decade
  • Education indigenous peoples continue to have
    fewer years of education than non-indigenous
    ones. ie. Bolivia, non-indigenous children have
    10 years of schooling versus 6 for indigenous in
    Guatemala, the years are 6 versus 3.
  • Health less access to basic health services, low
    insurance rates and high levels of malnutrition
  • Labor discrimination in work place receive less
    wages than non-indigenous peoples

Guatemalan Indigenous Rights
  • Among the nations which have suffered the most
    widespread human rights abuses, unpunished
    atrocities, murders, terror and fear, is
    Guatemala. The recent historical events in
    Guatemala have fragmented the culture of the
    Mayas in many places. Displacement, refuge, exile
    are daily facts of life in my country. However,
    these things have also allowed us to learn
    something more in our experience of the world. In
    Guatemala today, there are some very courageous
    women who are making a stand, indigenous women,
    who are leading the struggle! We believe the war
    in Guatemala is no disgrace for the Mayas. It's a
    disgrace for the people of Guatemala
  • - 1978- In Panzos, a crowd of Qeqchi
    protested the seizure of their lands this led to
    a massacre of indigenous people.
  • 1980-1984 Oppressive military actions towards
    indigenous people- 250,000 refugees flee to
  • 1979- Rigoberta Menchu joins the Committee of
    the Peasant Union, founded by her father. As an
    advocate for Indigenous rights, she was awarded
    the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

Evo Morales Bolivias New President
  • First Indigenous President in Bolivia to be
  • Trying to help economic crisis and curb poverty
  • Cuts his own presidents salary by 1,800 per
    month to pay for more schools and doctors
  • Nationalize gas companies, tax the wealthy
  • Head of coca growers union

International Day of Indigenous Peoples
  • Celebrated August 9th, declared by the UN in

International Decade of theWorld's Indigenous
Peoples December 1994, United Nations proclaimed
  • Low human capital high poverty rates

  • About Quechua Culture
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  • Rigoberta Menchu
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  • Mayan Culture
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  • Rosario Castellanos
  • http//
  • World Bank- Latin America Indigenous People
  • lthttp//