Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs



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This qualitative study was concerned with the Kichwa values to develop a Kichwa language program for Indigenous children from birth to five-years old from El Centro Infantil Alejo Saes in Quito City. The parents of these children come from the Puesitús Indigenous community located in Chimborazo Province in the south of Ecuador. In the 1950s, these Indigenous Peoples migrated from their community to the city due to the lack of good living conditions and education. During the migration process, they left their Pachamama, the Mother Earth, and gradually began to lose their culture and language, as they were forced to learn the dominant culture and language, Spanish, for survival. These migrant families supported each other in the city through social networks and in new types of jobs - the men in construction and women at the market selling produce. In this new urban environment, the first Puesitús families that moved to the city suffered the discrimination and racism from Mestizo society. Being aware of these social problems, they organized and founded organizations, cooperatives for savings, and Indigenous schools for their children. In 1996, Puesitús Peoples came together to create El Centro Infantil Alejo Saes in Quito City for very young Indigenous children to attend while their parents were busy working in different places. Grandparents and young parents were aware that their very young children were not learning the Kichwa language and were interested in teaching the language to children through Kichwa culture and values. The Puesitús Peoples selected twelve members of the community to participate in this study. My co-participants were young parents whose children attended El Centro and whose grandparents give the cultural views from both generations. Grandparents were interviewed first considering that they had the knowledge and memories of the fundamentals of Kichwa culture from their original community and are still speaking the Kichwa language. The information obtained from young parents interviews and direct observations of grandparents' interviews was compared for similarities and changes of these Kichwa values throughout the years. The Kichwa values that are still practiced in the community and in the city are the following: • Respect for Pachamama, Mother Earth, • Respect and greeting for elders, • Give a helping hand and support, • Reciprocity and solidarity, • The minga, collective work, • Use of Kichwa language, • To wake up early, • To respect the meals schedule, • The spoken word, the story telling, and • Respect for sacred places, for the sacred circle, for Chimborazo Mountain, and for the chuquiragua flower. Puesitús Peoples are also practicing and teaching the Kichwa mandates: • Ama Shua, (Not to rob) • Ama Llulla, (Not to lie) • Ama Killa, , (Not to be lazy), and The Kichwa principles: • Shuk Shungulla, (One Heart) • Shuk Makilla, (One Hand) • Shuk Yuyailla, (One Thought). According to the sovereign decision of Puesitús Indigenous Peoples, these Kichwa cultural foundations will be used as the framework to develop a culturally appropriate Kichwa curriculum based on the significance of Pachamama, Mother Earth, as she is the principal basis where life and cultural diversity occur. This curriculum, together with new teaching materials and methodologies, would be practical resources to teach the Kichwa language and culture to very young children of El Centro Infantil Alejo Saes, The future Kichwa language program would have the participation of the elders as teachers, young parents, and the whole community. The collective challenge would be to speak again the Kichwa language all the time and everywhere to keep our language alive and vital.'


Kichwa, education, language, epistemology, values


LAII, UNM, Dean of College of Education, UNM, Vice-president of Students Affairs, UNM

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Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Advisor

Blum Martinez, Rebecca

First Committee Member (Chair)

Cajete, Gregory