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.
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.