We Are More Than Meets the Eye


Prior to this research project looking into any indigenous group around the world, I did not know anything about Quechua people of Perú. I had known that Perú had a few indigenous groups, but I knew that many of the tribe members strayed from their practices because of intercultural mixing, so I assumed that there would not be many people to make up the Quechua, which I was wrong about.

What Did I Learn?

The largest indigenous group in Perú is the Quechua. These people are suffering major human rights violations legally, medically, and socially. Because they are poor from being swept aside in the political realm, and do not speak Spanish, they cannot advocate for themselves to fight against mining waste dumping, ridiculous and harmful medical operations, or even obtain health care. They are unable to rid themselves of child malnutrition, fight against domestic violence, and have no access to sexual education. The Quechua people raise alpacas, which is very interesting and funny, and the children are becoming increasingly interested in learned their traditional language and customs.

By studying a new culture, my desire to travel to and work in Latin America as a volunteer, aiding whomever is in need of help, has solidified. I learned that there are more people than we think who wish to revive their traditions and culture, but because of records and majorly decreased numbers of people, it can be difficult or even impossible to learn languages and customs.


My ethnocentrism and critical cultural relativism was put to the test when I learned about the female circumcision, the poverty from uncaring government with no health care, or economic improvement, and the Quechua’s inability to stand against the mining companies destroying them. Within my sources, I noticed ethnocentrism with the topics people decided to cover, or not cover. It was difficult to find many intra-culture stories and sources, so there was most likely quite a bit of relevant (but not necessarily extremely important) information missing.

How Was My Project Ethnographic?

I believe that my research of the Quechua was ethnographic because I collected as much information as I could find with trustworthy resources. It was difficult to know what information was correct and researched, and what websites were reiterated information from other websites. Learning about the Quechua traditions via YouTube was difficult, because in such a poor community, there probably are not many videos being taken, whether they be on phones or actual cameras, however the videos I found contributed to my ethnographic research because I was taking in everything being offered to me.

What Will I Take Away?

At the beginning of the quarter, I did not want to write blog posts for assignments, as I do not care for schooling to be electronic, even though it seems to be switching to this form as technology progresses, and people become more accustomed to using these resources. Using the Pierce College library databases, cultural specific websites such as Cultural Survival, and Perú’s government websites, as well as essentially creating my own mini-website has prepared me for the types of assignments my future professors and employers may require me to use.

¡Alpaca Mania!



This photo displays a Quechua man receiving care from a doctor in the US Navy since Peru does not provide adequate health care, especially to the indigenous peoples. I obtained this photo from the official United States Air Force website after searching for “Quechua people health” through the http://search.creativecommons.org/ and specifying to search through Google images.


This photo features a woman and her daughter walking two dressed up alpacas. I obtained this photo on the Wikimedia Commons website by searching “Quechua people” at http://search.creativecommons.org/ .

A woman and child leading two alpacas through a field. I obtained this photo on the Wikimedia Commons website by searching “Quechua people” on the “free reuse” search engine http://search.creativecommons.org/ .

APA Citations

Tomiyama, Capt. D.  (2008, July 21).  New Horizon. 12th Air Force [Photograph].  Retrieved from http://www.12af.acc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/319919/new-horizons-brings-medical-care-to-12414-peruvians/

van der Sluijs, P.  (2012, April 6).  Mother and child with two alpacas in Peru [Photograph].  Retrieved from  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mother_and_child_with_two_alpacas_in_Peru.jpg

Wikimedia Commons.  (2006, September 1).  Kečua žena u pratnji svojih ljama [Photograph].  Retrieved from  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:QuechuaWoman.jpg

When Will “We” Be Allowed to Live Well?

Pregnancy Limitations

Women of Peru were being unknowingly surgically sterilized between 1990 and 2000. Some women were given the operation  against their will immediately after giving birth. Indigenous Quechua women were especially targeted, being asked to sign for the procedure, not knowing what was going to happen because the documents were written in Spanish, a foreign language. The article stated that “around 300,000 people … have been sterilized” in just 14 years. Victoria Vigo is the only woman in Peru who has been compensated for the national policy action. Even more shocking, according to the director of the Quipu project, a free phone line to voice testimonies, there was a quota of sterilizations that doctors were expected to meet!

Chambers, Jane.  (2017, March 28).  ‘I was sterilised against my will’  BBC  Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-39205566

Jane Chambers is a communications expert and producer with 20 years experience at BBC, a highly respected news source who values educating the general and educated public on worldwide issues. Chambers is familiar with Latin America, having written several articles concerning Perú, and having familial affiliation in Chile, making her slightly impartial to scrutinizing the Peruvian government.

Her article on sterilization is very recent and fact based – using numbers, testimonies, and government policies – providing a relevance for my research to find current health issues regarding the Quechua people. Since the article focuses on the story of one woman, it is opinionated, however, the information is well researched. Other sources say the same things about women’s experience with the procedure, validating her evidence. Using emotion and having a clear bias towards this story is not a big problem, as the issue demands a higher sense of emotion than other stories. Chambers specifies that the Quechua people are especially targeted, though she is not member of the indigenous group.

Mining Operations

One idea. Several projects. A lot of health violations. Mining operations  produce pollution and dump waste in marginalized groups, bringing poverty, malnutrition, and disease, especially to the Quechua people. Coal, oil, and gold mining has brought high levels of metals into the drinking water for groups in the Andes. The Quechua have no way to fight against the oil companies since they are not seen as important to Peruvian government, and the government cannot do anything because of the economic benefit from the large companies.

(2016, May 1).  Gold-mining in Peru: forests razed, millions lost, virgins auctioned  The Guardian.  Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/andes-to-the-amazon/2016/may/01/gold-mining-in-peru-forests-razed-millions-lost-virgins-auctioned

George, Christine Marie.  (2014, June 5).  Arsenic exposure in drinking water: an unrecognized health threat in Peru  World Health Organization.  Retrieved from http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/92/8/13-128496/en/

The article which I used from The Guardian did not provide an author. The WHO information had several authors, and C. George, a researcher, was the main contributor. Both of these sources seem to use broad information that is found on several websites I have looked at, neither a specialized area. WHO is a respectable source, not full of bias. They serve to provide well-researched facts for students and researchers. I believe The Guardian to be less respectable than WHO, opinionated and biased, but still reliable for quick information for the general public. Both articles were published recent enough to be relevant and neither uses significant emotion. Both sources refer to the broad area of Perú and the Andes, indirectly referring to the Quechua, none of the authors implying membership of the tribe.

Tradiciones de Quechua or Quechua Traditions

“Quechua Women in Peru Demonstrating their Traditional Spinning” (Video hereStandard YouTube License) is a video of a Quechua tradition. The video features people of various ages showing their ability to spin thread. The traditional practice is brought into modern day, making yarn and thread for clothing. The video was uploaded on May 30, 2011 by phasedweasel, a user who does not have a strong YouTube presence, but seems to possibly be from Latin America, as they are speaking either some form of Spanish or the people’s native Quechua language. This user gives the video an emic perspective. The purpose of the video is for Education, and to display one of the necessary traditions of the Quechua people.

Another tradition that I was able to find is simply speaking the Quechua language. I feel that this video is extremely important because the young people of the group are not being taught their indigenous language. “Quechua 2.0: Revitalizando una Cultura Ancestral” or “Quechua 2.0: Revitalizing an ancient culture” (Spanish video here, English video hereCreative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)). Posted on April 8, 2014 by MicrosoftPeru, – the branch of Microsoft based in Perú – giving the video an etic perspective. The video features a boy from Cusco, Perú talking about how people do not bother learning a piece of their background and history. The video’s purpose is Science & Technology.

Is Health An Automatic Human Right?

Quechua Concerns

The Quechua are an indigenous people who reside in the Andes of South America from Ecuador to Bolivia, mostly in Peru. I am interested in Latin America, Peru, and this group of people because I plan to join the Peace Corps or an organization like it to help abroad in underdeveloped or in-need communities. Latin American culture has always been an interest to me, as a few of my family members are from Central and South America. I want to experience a piece of my background, as well as help areas that need it. The Peruvian government is not able to sufficiently provide health care services for its people. The lack of available caregivers, resources, and the push to take away public programs will drastically decrease the current two-thirds of Peruvians who have access to (but do not necessarily use) medical care, and even less people who belong to the Quechua population (Cultures and Their Countries). Child malnutrition and mortality rates are significantly higher in the Andes region, affecting the Quechua because of the difficulty to farm as well as the state of poverty (Peru Support Group). Having access to health in the form of care as well as goods is necessary for survival. Traditional medicine may treat small or native illnesses, but the spread of new diseases, malaria, and HIV/AIDS requires the medical services not provided by the government. Reproductive health services are few in Latin America, and even less common for Indigenous women. Sexual health education, pregnancy complications, dangerous abortions, and domestic violence are a few things which the Quechua community does not have adequate access to for aid (Women’s Health).

Location, Location… Location

map-south-america-2           ace9269cb839a5ccdadd366e45dfad20           280a-image2bquechua2blanguage

Latin America – Latin America is a continent with a lot of diverse history. Indigenous people still exist in the countries, however, European influence has majorly decreased that number over the last ~300 years. South America also has a diversity of land: coastal, mountain, grassland, and jungle.

Andean Highlands – A mountain range from stretching from Ecuador to Bolivia. “Quechua” is the term for the language spoken as well as the group of people scattered throughout the region. Extra geographical info

Struggling for Health Rights

From the Global Health and Development slides, I was impressed to see that in defining “health”, it is stated as “not merely the absence of disease”. I think that this is extremely important that WHO include it in their Constitution because health is the environment of all beings, body, mind, and surroundings. I was extremely surprised (yet not at all) to see that in 2002, the CDC determined that cancer was the second leading cause of death in the U.S., yet lung cancer by itself was the ninth leading cause of death worldwide, and there was no other cancers on the top ten list. It is astonishing to understand how unhealthy the United States are and to realize that there are no intentions to change our situation. I was also shocked to learn that in 2002, one billion people did not have access to safe water, and to consider whether that has increased or decreased is concerning that humanity can let humanity live like that.

Mining on the Guajira Peninsula: Wayuu Communities Fight Against Coal Extraction

September 2016


The Wayuu people of the Guajira Peninsula in Venezuela, South America are facing destruction of their lands, consumables, and health due to persistent mining companies. Coal exploitation is making the water supply undesirable, and “undrinkable” with harmful levels of metals, as well as the release of harmful carbon based substance from burning wood, and the spilling “toxic oils and [other] liquids”, which are also contaminating the air along with with “7 million tons of sulfur per year”. The destruction from the (coal) mines has left the Wayuu people with more poverty, less education, and has forced entire villages from their homes.The Wayuu people want  to stop new mines from being started, but the government does not support them because of the financial advances the mines bring and the power the owners have.

Peru: Force Oil Company to Clean Up Spills

January 10, 2014


In the Amazon Rainforest, the town of Nuevo Andoas, Peru, South America faces an environmental emergency due to tons of toxic waste dumped by the petroleum industry. Their water supply is contaminated with several metal deposits and oil spills, yet there are no plans to clean this up. The Quechua know that they are forced to surround themselves with this water contamination, drinking, cooking and raising food with it, washing in, and wearing it. There is no alternative, no choice but to accept that they will contract disease, cancer, and even brain damage from such a necessity with nothing being done to protect them.

Nuclear War: Uranium Mining and Nuclear Tests on Indigenous Lands

September 1993


Many Native American tribes suffer from the mining operations of U.S. and British companies. The Lakota tribe in North Dakota is forced to deal with the U.S. Department of Energy and its operation to mine the gold and other mineral deposits from the Black Hills contaminating the water and soil. Due to these actions, the tribe is threatened with pregnancy complications, cancer and other diseases. Along with these illnesses, other reservations experience birth defects, leukemia, and even deafness. Because of the economic benefits of mining, the U.S. refuses to end this or compensate fairly for the damages to humanity and the environment.

There were several challenges I encountered while completing this assignment. One was finding articles solely about an illness that I wanted to write about. Another was reading through and finding the relevant information to summarize because the length of them made nearly everything seem important. The biggest challenge was finding articles that I would be passionate enough about to read completely and continue to think about ways to summarize them, especially since I wanted to keep a central affect. I feel that I was successful in finding articles that were similar to tie them together, yet different enough for them to be interesting.

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