The Last Generation
One of the charming factors about being in Cuenca is the Indigenous People and the various and sundry apparel they wear. Each area has a traditional costume and appearance right down to the hat color and style. You can stand near the Parque Calderon on Saturdays and see a myriad of color explosions scurry past as they seem to always be in a hurry. Lately I have noticed though that the majority of these individuals are female and of a more mature status.
The traditions are at serious risk, as the majority of the males and especially the younger generation have turned to western garb. I also think that the locals associate specific stigmas against the Indigenous peoples and cast them in lower income jobs such as street pedaling of fruits, candies and plants or flowers.
It is sad to think that this colorful and creative garb will soon be a thing of the past. One can’t help but express remorse at this prospect. I would guess that 80% of the Indigenous women that still maintain the appropriate wear and clothing are older than 50. Some are resorting to begging, as I am positive they cannot find employment and left to fend for themselves. I have seen only a couple of men that dress in their historical garments and they are mostly from the same clan.
I sincerely hope that the Ecuadorian people can address this situation and begin to help these endangered sects of people. It may already be under way, but I have not heard whether it is a funded program or not, at this time. I truly hope that before its is too late someone or some agency steps in and helps these people out or it will in fact be the last generation and I would guess at the end of 30 years this attire will be a thing of the past.
Hopefully you can experience this wonderful tradition before its too late. Take a trip to Cuenca and I promise you will see many Indigenous women dressed in their traditional apparel. Saludos mi amigos!
Posted By September 7, 2013
Interesting observation, but maybe as younger indigenous people move on to 21st century job skills—most of which require learning to use a computer, the old style garb just doesn’t make the transition and seems just as anachronistic as if we were to wear hoop skirts or cravats and stays. One of the un-silver linings of the global village is the loss of everyday indigenous dress in many cultures, not just Andean indigenous peoples. On the other hand, if maintaining indigenous ways means being dependent on subsistence farming, who are we to tell young people that is a shame they’re not dressing like grandma.
It would be interesting to see you in a hoop skirt! Just my take on things. Thanks for leaving your thoughts and hope all is well!
What a double bind situation. Indigenous people conforming to what … Its a no win situation either way. This makes me sad actually. A really good post but such a dilemma to synthesise.
It makes me very sad and that is why I wrote the post. they are just shadows waiting for time to pass them by.