My name is Santy Quinde. I’m a descendant of the Wankavilka Community, Ecuador. My family comes from a Cholo Comunero background – an ethnic identity that describes the current Indigenous population in Santa Elena Peninsula, and from a mestizo/montubio background – an ethnic label that describes the mixed population identity – African, Indigenous (Cayapa), and Spanish – in the Ecuadorian coast.
I spent my college years exploring my mixed-Indigenous identity through Voices of Indigenous People – a student organization that aimed to promote Indigenous culture on campus. As Co-President of V.I.P., I continued the legacy of providing a safe space where Indigenous college students expressed their opinions, concerns, and ideas to the community.
My mother told me stories of my great-grandparents, my ancestors, and my identity as heir of Wankavilka culture. Because of oral tradition and my independent research on Silvia Alvarez’s De Huancavilca a Comuneros, I was able to retrace my ancestral roots to the Comunero communities of Palmar de Data, Playas, El Morro, Jipijapa, and San Antonio.
Silvia spends decades learning that Comunero life in Chanduy, El Real Alto, Santa Elena, and other comunas, are closely tied to Wankavilka heritage. Comuneros practice oral tradition, shamanism, textile weaving, and sustain a minga system in which they practice the gift of sharing, giving, and learning from each other within the limits of their respective communities.
However, Ecuadorian society does not fully recognize the Cholos Comuneros as Indigenous people. They consider the comuneros “mestizos” because they speak Spanish and practice Catholicism. Ecuadorians believe that comuneros have assimilated into the national mestizo identity, when in fact, this is not true. Comuneros explain their acculturation tactic as part of their collective culture in which their ancestors adapted new cultures in every turn of the new era for thousands of years. The first group of people in Santa Elena was the Vegas. Then, the Vegas became the Valdivia, the Valdivia became the Chorrera, and so forth.
Acculturation is a cultural strategy of Comunero identity. They do not surrender their Indigenous identity as they intentionally take on external cultural elements and incorporate them into their collective ethnicity.
This blog will collect information about Wankavilka life, culture, tradition, and history in order to inform the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities our Wankavilka story.
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