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The Indigenous Lifestyle

Essay by review  •  March 10, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,537 Words (7 Pages)  •  931 Views

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The Indigenous Lifestyle

Growing up Gregorio Condori Mamani, an Andean did not enjoy the luxuries of a typical childhood. Gregorio had no parents and was raised by many people as a child. From living with his Grandmother to working at tender young age and living with the many different masters he worked for, Mamani's life was demanding and difficult. After two wives and his deceased three year old son, he met his last wife Asunta Quispe Huaman. In Asunta's childhood her family caught a fever that killed her father, brother, sister and Grandmother. After her loss of much of her family, Asunta ran away from her abusive mother to another town finding various jobs. During Gregorio's and his wife Asunta lives, a journey through their Andean lives is traveled through their autobiographies. The Mestizos, during Gregorio and Asunta's time, were taking control and exploiting indigenous people like Gregorio and Asunta. Gregorio, as a teen, was forced to join the Peruvian infantry and was treated badly for being a "cholo" or Indian. After the army he went from shack to shack always struggling to afford rent, and never had a stable job. Through their distinctive culture, religion, and ethnic identity, Gregorio and Asunta have maintained themselves as indigenous people.

Gregorio and Asunta stay indigenous through their culture. Culturally Gregorio and Asunta stayed rooted as indigenous people. When an indigenous Andean is hurting often times, Andeans visit healers to stop the pain, "He took out a little flask of water and bathed him with it, and his sores began to dry up" (Gregorio 1996: 78). Culturally, indigenous Andeans believe healers can help with physical and mental pain. The healers can heal the indigenous people's problems back to health. Their unique belief of curing themselves through healers distinguishes their identities as indigenous or native people. Language plays a vital role in indigenous people's lives as their verbal way of expressing their cultural. While in the Army, Gregorio and other Andean soldiers were forced to speak the Spanish language, "There in the army, those lieutenants and captains didn't want us to speak the runa tongue. They'd say: Dammit, Indians! Spanish!" (Asunta and Gregorio 1996:52). Yet Gregorio continued to speak his runa language. Ultimately he did not lose his cultural language. Language is what connected to him to his runa community and if his language was lost his cultural identity would be lost as well. Gregorio's ancestors were killed because the Spanish wanted them to read and write, "The paper talks, they said. Where is it talkingÐ'... and so they had our Inka killedÐ'...why would the Spaniards say if our Inka was to return? Such was life" (Asunta and Gregorio1996:57). The Spanish really resented the Inka's refusal to read and write to the extent in which the Spanish killed many Inkas. Despite the Spanish's effort to kill the Inkas Gregorio says his life is living proof of what the Spanish did not want; indigenous people such as himself. Gregorio and other Andeans are living evidence that the Spaniards did not kill all Inkas. Through the Inka's traditional culture, Gregorio continues to speak runa and communicate through his culture not through paper but through his run language. In order for Andeans to stay indigenous only through their culture can they achieve indigenous lifestyles.

With strong pious backgrounds Gregorio and Asunta remained close to their religious beliefs. The Spaniards and Mistis have overtaken their land yet they could never take away the religion Gregorio and Asunta strongly believed in. The people living in the Andes like Gregorio and Asunta worshiped the Pachamama otherwise known as Mother Earth. Indigenous Andeans worshiped mountain deities referred to as "Apus". Syncretism means the coming together of different cultures from two or more cultures. As the Spaniards colonized the Indians, their religion began to combine with the Indians beliefs. Syncretism is practiced through an annual affair; a pilgrimage to the mountain shrine of Quyllur Rit'i. A rigorous five mile hike up the mountain, thousands of Andeans come to worship and pray to mountain spirits, a rock, and the Lord Jesus Christ. On the way up the mountain songs are sung for fertility for humans, animals and alpacas. Also the sacrifice and killing of a "pawlancha" (symbolize half human and half man) occurs in the pilgrimage. Gregorio's faith in the indigenous Lords was apparent when he gave his second wife Josefa a hundred soles for a trip to pray and visit Lord Pampamarca; instead Josefa used the money for new clothes and never made it to the Lord Pampamarca. Gregorio believes, "Since she had forgotten the Lord Pampamarca on his day while being right there beside him, she fell ill a few weeks later. That's how the Lord of Pampamarca punished her" (Gregorio 1996: 75). Gregorio's devotion in the indigenous Lords is clear as he feels that the main reason his wife fell ill and died was because she neglected to see the Lords they worship. In the Andeans traditional religion it is sacred and important to visit their Lords. While visiting a shrine Gregorio noticed the difference between the new and old generation, "Nowadays the Lord of Huanca's shrine is scary and enough to make you crazy. Everything is money, money, money, and the cars and trucks swarm here like ants" (Asunta and Gregorio 1996:31). Gregorio recognizes his religion, unlike the new generation who is encompassed by money, cars, and other material things. He feels the indigenous people are being lost and corrupted by these material

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