A recent study, conducted en la Provincia de Cañar, showed that the person with the most descent from Cañaris/Incans had 37% of native genes, although most people ranged from 7%-10%. Today, citizens of el Canton Cañar (a town in the Province of Cañar) refer to themselves as either indígena or mestizo. You may ask, so what classifies you as indigenous or mestizo, do people just get to choose?
The answer is yes and no; it's simply complex. Yes, because people get to choose whether to classify themselves as indigenous/mestizo in the census. And no, because there's physical and societal differences between mestizos y indígenas. Indígenas speak Kichwa (an indigenous language), wear traditional attire, abide by la justice indígena (indigenous justice, check out the link 2 get a glimpse) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNqVwugK1WA , live in el campo (the farm/countryside) because they care for their crops/animals, and tend to believe in ancient medicine. Whereas mestizos speak Spanish as their first language, dress modernly, live in towns/cities, and tend to believe in modern/western medicine.
Now, I must acknowledge that these are generalizations; there are people who identify as indigenous who don't wear traditional attire all the time, don't live in el campo, etc. Just as not all mestizos only speak Spanish, only believe in modern medicine, etc.
How do mestizos y indígenas interact?
Well, they don't, normally. Here's my experience with it…
The moment Pedro (my team leader) told me I would be living with an indigenous family, I was BEYOND excited. I thought: they must live humbly, practice ancient rituals, use ancient medicine, speak Kichwa, and be highly spiritual beings. My idea of what being "indigenous" meant was very wrong. My family is very humble, most of the time. Only my parents speak Kichwa, my 2 sisters don't. They don't practice ancient rituals. They do believe in ancient medicine (Ayahuasca, San Pedro, cleansing with shamans, sweat lodges, etc, which I'm VERY grateful for). And well, their not as spiritual or connected/mindful of the Earth/planets as I imagined.
My first few days were spent in el campo, milking cows, cut grass with a knife, peeling potatoes, etc. It felt so normal, nothing seemed unusual. I even went to an indigenous beauty pageant with a few other fellows, and well to say the least I was around indigenous people a lot.
I hadn't realized that we didn't interact with mestizos, until I started my apprenticeship and my (mestizo) co-worker told me that these 2 groups of people are racist towards each other. Of course, I told him he was wrong; I justified myself by saying that we're all human, and that saying they're racist is a terrible generalization. I totally dismissed his comment, until I met a friend, Cristian, from Cuenca, and he mentioned it again: indígenas and mestizos are racist towards each other. He gave me some examples, and explained it in depth. At that point, I thought, okay, maybe this is true; but still I wasn't convinced; I refused to believe that as a truth, because being racist is not right.
This past weekend, I went to an indigenous festival/concert with my family. I arrived and saw a sea of indigenous people, 80% dressed in traditional attire and 100% speaking Kichwa. I felt kind of awkward in my blue jeans, converse, north face jacket, and dreadlocks. Nobody spoke to me, except my family. That night, my parents introduced me to a family friend, he very hesitantly shook my hand; then, when he said goodbye he hugged my parents and completely ignored me when I went in for a hug too. After that moment, I became more aware of the stares, the laughs and comments in Kichwa when I stood somewhere. My mind started racing, and I found myself overthinking, so I just went to the bus we rented and slept for the rest of the night.
I'm not sharing my experiences to say, yes indigenous/mestizos are racist, or no they're not. Simply, I want to shine the light on the reality that people are distancing themselves from each other, for insignificant reasons. That night, I chose to distance myself, instead of try and make conversation; I didn't even make an effort to rise above the invisible barrier imposed by my mind, I chose to just walk away. That night, I let my mind over rule me. I'm still in the process of awakening and uncovering universals truths. Sometimes, as humans do, I stumble, I get confused, I fall; but I've fallen so much that now I know how to land, so I can get right back up.
Another thing is for sure, everything is happening for a reason, for without darkness we could never appreciate light.
Ya see, I feel and see that the more my love expands, grows, branches out, the less offended I feel by judgment/by people who are working out a particular stage of their consciousness.
The truth is that, we're all one. One family, one flow of energy, illuminated by Padre Sol y Madre Luna, who share the fruits of Pacha Mama. All the barriers/frontiers that we perceive are mental. Truly, we're all souls having a human experience. Once we awaken to this truth, we begin to revolutionize the world from within.
"Everything is energy and that's all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics." – Albert Einstein
This knowing is not outside myself, it's within. It's not something I'm learning, it's something I'm remembering. Todos somos iguales, caminantes en el viaje; separation is simply a concept of the mind, it's not real; it's unconsciousness.
So, who are you really? Are you the 5 letter word you circle on the census? Or a more meaningful being…. Jah bless, much love hermanos!