Introduction / History
There are two main groups of Indians in the Inca Empire, stretching the length of western South America: The Aymara and the Quichua (also called Quechua). The history of the Quichua can be traced to Lake Titicaca region around the year 1000.
Tradition says the hero of the Quichuas first appeared at Lake Titcaca and gave rulership to four leaders, one of which was Ayra-Manco. Quichuas believe that he brought order and rule to the earth. He also had two brothers who did miracles. After an argument over the possession of a magic golden sling, the brothers left each other, two of them becoming stone statues. Soon Ayra-Manco received a supernatural order to journey to Cuzco, where he built a temple to the sun, made the area his capital, and declared himself to be the first Inca king of Peru -Manco the Ruler.
The Quichua's empire included great temples, fortresses, canals, and mountain roads. The imperial highway stretching along the Andes for a thousand miles from Cuzco to Quito was the equal of any famous Roman road and is still in good preservation.
The wealth of the empire almost surpassed belief. Silver, gold, copper, bronze, and stone was mined and fashioned into tools, weapons, and household implements. Potters excelled in workmanship, variety, and ingenuity of design. Clothing, blankets, and other textiles were woven from cotton and the wool of their flocks. Agriculture had reached high standards, with systematic irrigation and mountain terracing. Great herds of llamas and alpacas were kept as burden-bearers and for their wool.
In ancient times, lands were worked by various Quichua clans, and everyone in the clan, both young and old, helped. After the harvest, one-fourth of the crop was given to the workers and their families; one-fourth to the sick, widows, and orphans; one-fourth to the government; and one-fourth to the religious leaders. Of the half given to the government and religious leaders, a part was kept for famine and emergencies.
Serving in the military was an obligation. Believing in the religion of the sun was also mandatory, as well as the use of the Quichua language.
The Quichua were originally highland Indians. When Pizarro and the Spanish conquerors arrived in the 1500s, the Indians moved down into the jungle to avoid being taken as slaves, although many were captured or killed by the Europeans. They adapted to the rainforests, bringing their extensive knowledge of special plants from the highlands. They also learned how to use the jungle plants and to hunt with a blowpipe. Today, the Quichua are one of the largest groups of indigenous peoples in Ecuador.
What are their lives like?
The modern Quichua is of medium height with a large chest, dark-brown skin, and well-marked features. They are hard working and strong; they live long, healthy lives. The Quichuas love music and song and are fond of church ceremonies which they frequently mingle with ancient rites. A popular custom is to set up altars with flowers along the highway.
Their houses vary by location. Outside of towns, homes are made of stone or wood and thatched with grass. They often have one room, without windows or a chimney. Some have radios, televisions, and refrigerators. In the rainforests, they build their homes along the rivers which serve as transportation, water spring, toilet and bath, and a source of food.
The Quichua's favorite meal is chupe, which is a meat stew with lots of peppers.
What are their beliefs?
The traditional religion of the Quichuas is a mix of Catholicism and Incan animist beliefs. They believe that the natural world and the supernatural world are bound together, and whatever occurs in the supernatural world explains what is happening in the natural world. The Quichua perceive that everything in the world has a force which animates it; this vital force is called samai. Men, animals, plants, mountains, rivers, rocks, waterfalls all have their samai.
Christianity was brought to the area by the Dominicans and Jesuits. By the end of the 1600s, almost all the Quichuas had at least heard about God.
What are their needs?
Alcohol problems are noticeable. Large families struggle to pay for their children's education, transportation, and medical treatment.
Although the great majority of these people have had exposure to religion, only a small percentage have really been taught about the full saving grace of Jesus Christ.
* Pray that the Mestizo church in Ecuador will open its arms and resources to the Quichua church that shares the same country and the same faith.