Collection Description

Culture Name

Saraguro Quichua

Culture Description

The Saraguro Quichua are the Quichua-speaking people traditionally living in the highland Andean valleys of Saraguro Canton, Loja Province, with significant colonization beginning in the latter decades of the 1900s of the upper Amazonian Yacuambi river valley, Zamora-Chinchipe Province, Ecuador. The Saraguro Quichua maintain a largely subsistence economy based on agriculture and pastoralism, made possible through extensive rural land holdings that also provide the capital basis for maintenance of cultural identity and resistance to change in their traditional system of family and community based sociopolitical authority.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


South America --Central Andes



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number.

There is no single comprehensive ethnography within the collection. The longer works, L. Belote (1978, no. 1), and J. Belote (1984, no. 3) come closest, with emphasis on Saraguro adaptations to their social and natural environments, respectively. Both works provide some deep historical background. The general theme for the collection is one of responses to forces of acculturation that accompany increased involvement in national and transnational socioeconomic systems. Consequently, recurrent themes are acculturation, ethnic stratification and interaction, and ethnic identity and pride.

L. Belote (1978, no. 1) explores the power relations between largely urban and professional blancos (people of European ethnic identity) and largely rural and agropastoral Saraguros. Religion and finance are featured as areas of competition. In the political domain, blancos are dominant, but in the economic domain, Saraguros have considerable independence. The key asset of the Saraguros is land ownership, allowing for a high degree of self-sufficiency and self-determination.

The intersection of real property, outmigration and adaptive change provides the core of J. Belote’s work (1984, no. 3), bringing in kinship and inheritance as crucial factors. Detail is provided on the natural environments where these forces play out in an agropastoral economy, both the temperate highland valley homelands, and a newly settled area on the eastern tropical (upper Amazonian) slopes of the Andes.

Saraguro resistance to assimilation and the development of ethnic identity and pride in the face of [u]specific[/u] external forces for culture change and assimilation is the focus of Belote and Belote (1981, no. 2), and of Macas, Belote, and Belote (2003, no. 4). The former highlights folklore music groups, religious organizations, and the efforts of an Ecuadorian government development agency to modernize sanitation, furniture, textiles and clothing, and agriculture and animal husbandry. The latter concentrates on the impact of national literacy and bilingual education programs, and expands the horizon to migration to other countries.

Specific information on health and medicine can be found in Finerman (2004, no. 5).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

beatas – dedicated (non-indigenous) church women – use "CONGREGATIONS (794)" with "ETHNIC STRATIFICATION (563)"

blanco – ethnic “white,” mostly applied to townspeople; also see chazo – compared to indigenous people – use "COMPARATIVE EVIDENCE (171)"; interactions with indigenous people – use "ETHNIC STRATIFICATION (563)"

cabildo – town council – use "COUNCILS (623)"

chazo – rural non-indigeous subsistence farmer; also see "blanco" – compared to indigenous culture - use "COMPARATIVE EVIDENCE (171)"; relations with indigenous people - use "ETHNIC STRATIFICATION (563)" with/or "INTER - ETHNIC RELATIONS (629)"

compadre, compadrazgo – godparent, godparent relationship – use "ARTIFICIAL KIN RELATIONSHIPS (608)"

chicheria – chicha (native beer) bar, catering almost exclusively to indigenous people – use "DRINKING ESTABLISHMENTS (275)"; also see "ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES (273)"

mayorales – traditional community leaders – use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

minga – use "MUTUAL AID (476)"; also see "LABOR RELATIONS (466)"

mita – requisitioned labor – use "LABOR RELATIONS (466)"

transculturation – from indigenous to non-indigenous identity and vice versa – use "ACCULTURATION AND CULTURE CONTACT (177)"; also see "SOCIAL PERSONALITY (156)", "ETHNIC STRATIFICATION (563)"

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