Accepted Paper:

The Napo Quichua search for cultural identity  


Aleksandra Wierucka (University of GdaƄsk)

Paper short abstract:

The Napo Quichua group from northern part of Ecuador use education for imparting cultural identity on their young generation through the work of a small indigenous foundation that provides local people with ways to build strong cultural consciousness and exercise it in small local school.

Paper long abstract:

Education is a very strong tool for gaining cultural identity. The knowledge about cultural heritage might change the course of history for small scale communities. In many cases it is the young generation that loses its identity as the old knowledge is forgotten or considered unworthy. Drawing on the fieldwork done in Ecuador between 2007 and 2012 among Quichua people in Ecuador this paper focuses on the project of small indigenous foundation that works towards strengthening children cultural identity through education. The children in local Quichua primary school learn from Spanish books that promote Western cultural patterns. The main aim of the project is to create an elementary book for the school children that would promote Quichua cultural values and traditions. Quichua Indians had their first contact with Western culture more than 400 years ago. Their culture is largely assimilated, but there are some remnants of traditions even if they are not practiced on a day to day basis. Today children learn from Spanish, Ecuadorian handbooks and very often are not interested in the traditional knowledge. Creation of the elementary book based on Quichua myths and traditions will let the younger generation appreciate the traditional knowledge. The elementary book for first and second grade of the primary school will be a great help in developing strong cultural identity in the young Quichua generation. The paper will discuss the project, its influence on the local people's cultural identity and the drawbacks that the project is facing.

Panel P049
Indigenous people and their culture: struggle for identity and survival?