The Kichwa people are descendants of indigenous or original peoples who were “Quechuaized” during different historical periods, especially during the colonial period. The result of the introduction of Quechua caused the disappearance of the native language in many villages or, in other cases, the reduction of its use to a few individuals.
The Kichwa indigenous community is the most populated ethnic group in the Ecuadorian Amazon region and the primary ethnicity of the inhabitants of the area around La Selva, although there are also important populations of Huaorani and Shuar indigenous tribes in the vicinity. The Kichwa in the Amazon tend to be agriculturalists and supplement their diet with traditional hunting practices and food purchased from outside markets. They are very adept in the use of medicinal plants and fruit trees, along with the planting and harvesting of yucca (cassava), plantain, coffee and cacao.
Kichwa is the mother tongue and the second language is Spanish, a language left as an inheritance from the Hispanic domination.
This nationality is accustomed to use the chili to put in the eyes of newborn children, children or young disobedient, application that has its basis in the possibility of teaching in the first case to be brave and in the second as a form of punishment, so that they do not return to commit offenses against the community or the people who make it up, For this reason its application should be done by the eldest of the community The woman to plant yucca painted her face with achiote on her forehead in the form of a cross, in her hand she carried the leaves of the forest to bless the yucca stakes, the day chosen for this ritual was Wednesday. After the sowing she should not bathe, comb her hair, nor take the broom, nor wash her clothes with soap; because if she did, the yucca would be damaged when it matured.
It is also customary in the orchard before planting the yucca to perform a ceremony: the women carry out preparatory rituals that include the use of face paints, made with the plant called manduru, in order to get the help of natural forces such as the chacra amu, so that the planting will have a good harvest.
Clothing. Their original clothing was made with materials from the area and animal hides, in the case of women they wore a skirt made of lanchama, pita, and men made of deer leather, long pants with wide enough to the ankle, they did not wear shoes. Currently it has changed, 90% no longer use this clothing and 10% maintain the original clothing, a change that is exercised especially in young people under the influence of nearby cities where they go to study, thus forgetting some of the customs of their people.
The shout, the blowing of the snail, are mechanisms of collective communication with symbolic representation in the daily life of the people. The shout is performed when a leader returns from a commission or when hunters arrive at the hamlet with abundant meat; the blowing of the snail is used with different tonal varieties, in one case the tone represents the death of a member of the community, another tone represents the call to minga, assemblies and ceremonial acts.
The instruments that this nationality uses to sing and dance in their own festivities, in their ceremonies are: Drum, it is made of animal skin and cedar wood, it has pita chambira and wax pipes, the flute made of guadua, the violin and the turtle. In this nationality they still play for the best swimmer in the rivers of the community, the “cogidas”, the throwing of pepas and verbal messages, to these games are added others like soccer and volleyball.
Did you know that! Due to increased exposure to urban Ecuadorian culture in recent decades, it has caused a decrease in the number of Kichwa who wear traditional dress and instead have opted in favor of western style clothing. Most men and young people of working age are fluent in Spanish in addition to Kichwa, while the elderly and women often have only basic Spanish skills and communicate primarily in Kichwa.
At La Selva, we give you the opportunity to interact with a neighboring Amazonian Kichwa family who will welcome you into their home and show you their customs and daily routine when it comes to food, crafts and beliefs.
The Kichwa of Pastaza establish their own institutions, laws and norms to reduce the need for external support, organize themselves and exercise their rights.