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Ecuador Ethnicity & Culture
(page 6 of 9)

Andes Quichuas
The mountain Quichuas are found in the inter-Andean valleys and in the paramos. They are the most populous of Ecuador's Amerindian ethnic groups.

The Quichuas dedicate themselves to animal husbandry and to raising food crops (such as corn and potatoes) that they have cultivated for centuries. The Quichuas have maintained their language--quichua--which is taught to their children today in rural schools. Also, some Quichua communities such as the Otavalos have developed the textile and artisan industries and their products are highly appreciated around the world. This has allowed them to advance the development of their communities though without sacrificing their tradtions.

Salasacas
The Salasacas live in the Tungurahua province and speak Quichua. Ancestrally, this culture constituted one of the most warlike and strongest group in Ecuador. They originated from mitimae (groups brought to Ecuador from Bolivia by the Incas). They settled in a sandy valley of 20 square kilometers where today 18 communes live with about 12,000 habitants. Located 14 kilometers from Ambato, the capital of the Tungurahua province, Salasaca has been transformed into a cultural and tourist center. The main plaza is used to sell artesanias and ponchos. The weavings generally reflect their daily life and are done totally by hand using centuries old techniques.

The principle activities are animal husbandry, agriculture and the production of textiles and artesanias. In terms of their traditions, the Salasacas have maintained their traditional dress. For men this consists of a white shirt and white pants over which a large black poncho is worn. On their heads they wear a white hat with a red or green band. Women wear dark dresses.

This ethnic group is considered interesting for its social conduct: strong willed and rebellious. They do not want to integrate with Euro-Americans, living culturally isolated maintaining their traditions and customs. The transmission of their history is oral. This practice, from parents to children, is the centerpiece of the social interaction in the family and the community. Community projects are realized by mingas (groups of workers carrying out agreed upon programs) and decisions are made democratically in the local assemblies.

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