When I learned about Hispanic culture and people during my K-12 experience, it was often from a Eurocentric, one-dimensional perspective. We never really discussed the racial, cultural, linguistic, and complex diversity that makes up Hispanic communities. Neither did we discuss the irony that the “national (cultural) patrimony” that many countries export often is from the very groups that are marginalized and excluded from our history books (think Gitanos/Flamenco music in Spain, or as I’ll later discuss, Afro-descendants & Indigenous Peoples/Cumbia music in Colombia)
Sadly, much like many of my colleagues, it wasn’t until college (and more thoroughly in Graduate School) that I learned about the diversity within Hispanic culture. Because of my upbringing, background, and interests, I quickly took to studying Afro-Latinos. But over time, another interest grew in me: one for the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America.
Why the indígenas?
The Indigenous Peoples of Latin America are one of the most underrepresented groups in Latin America. They are also more likely to suffer from poverty and certain types of discrimination (see video below). Some people think that Indigenous Peoples disappeared with the Conquista of the Americas, but this isn’t true. As of 2010, Indigenous Peoples number 45 million in Latin America, with higher concentrations in Bolivia, Guatemala, & Peru (see document below).
-There are so many ways that Indigenous People have influenced Latino culture and the world. For example, the average Latino, according to 23andme.com, has a percentage of Indigenous ancestry! Of course, this varies from person to person, however, the common blend is Indigenous, African, and European ancestry for most Latinos.
-Indigenous Peoples have transmitted many of their native vocabulary words (and related items) to us. See the list below from this engaging Instagram post:
-Indigenous Peoples have contributed to the worldwide stage of music. Watch the clip below on how Cumbia came about.
Learn More with Your Class
There is a series online, Pichintún, that looks at different children from a variety of Indigenous groups. You can watch with your students and create activities based off of them!
Activities in Class
Check out the following activities to bring Indigenous voices into your classes! Click to learn more!!
Thanks for reading! Continue being agents of change in your classroom!
Un abrazo fuerte,
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