Until 1962, when a Red Cross delegation arrived, the Saraguros where
completely independent from Western civilization. They lived a self-sufficient
lifestyle dedicating themselves to agriculture (corn, potatoes, various
grains and oca). Their main need was water for their fields which
came from the rains. Their principle fuel was wood harvested from
their own forests. The house where made of wood and adobe. Their clothes
made from the wool of their sheep. It can be argued that the Saraguros
lived in perfect harmony with their environment.
With the incursion of the missionaries, the Saraguros where subject
to a process of colonization. The missionaries inoculated the locals
with Western education, medicine, culture and agricultural styles.
Today, Saraguros maintain their traditional dress (black poncho with
wide brimmed hats), and produce artisan jewelry and clothes made of
The Cañaris have a long and interesting history. They inhabited
the south of Ecuador before the Incas moved in from Peru. The Cañaris
claim a civilization as large as the Reinato de Quito. They traded
extensively with the coast obtaining spondylus for corn. The Cañaris
had direct contact with the Incas and fought alongside them against
the Spanish. The famous Incan temple Ingapirca is actually Cañari
in origin. Ingapirca was the religious and administrative center for
the Cañari civilization.
According to their legends, the Cañaris had
their origin at a time when great natural catastrophes left two surviving
brothers. These brothers arrived to the top of mount Huacayñan
where they were taken care of by a species of papagayo that had the
front of a woman. The brothers married these strange creatures and
had three sons and three daughters from which come all of the descendants
of the Cañaris.
Today, only a few remaining communities survive in
southern Ecuador having been adversely affected by Western influences.