Indigenous Delegation from Ecuador Visits UNM

September 4, 2014

Five representatives of the indigenous community of Cañar in the highland region of Ecuador are visiting the University of New Mexico (UNM) to discuss the prospect of developing an academic exchange that would benefit the Cañar community and UNM students and faculty through the creation of an indigenous planning and design field school.

On Wednesday, September 10, 2014, the representatives will offer a multimedia presentation and discussion to the UNM community and general public. The five speakers will each discuss their indigenous community and common community development issues. The presentation will be held in the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute (LAII) located at 801 Yale Blvd NE, from 12:00-12:45 p.m. A reception will follow immediately thereafter to welcome the speakers. All are invited and encouraged to attend. For reference, please see the event flyer.

The following individuals comprise the delegation:

  • Dr. José Luciano Velasquez Guamán (an indigenous lawyer by profession; leader of the Organización Cañari de la Sierra Sur; a community leader for indigenous justice in Ecuador; and a lecturer on international treaties and the collective rights of indigenous peoples)
  • Mario Gustavo Campoverde Saeteros (an ecologist; livestock farmer; and leader of agricultural and organic food production organizations)
  • Mary Transito Doncon Morocho (an agronomist/engineer; magistrate; indigenous leader and Ecuadorian government official working with indigenous and rural communities through the Ministry of Policy Management; first indigenous woman to work as Chief of Policy in Cañar Canton; an expert in the rights and policies of the Indian Movement against hte State; and a lecturer on indigenous organizations in Ecuador)
  • Martha Maribel Lema Loja (an indigenous leader from Cañar; lecturer on women's rights and indigenous rights; defender of Cañari women's culture; and a supporter of intercultural bilingual education, women artisans, and musicians, among others)
  • Narcisa Jesus Granda Pizha (an indigenous student at the Intercultural (Quichua and Spanish) School "Quilloac")

The delegates from Cañar are visiting UNM as a result of an earlier visit to the University of Cuenca, Ecuador, in March of 2014 by academics, programs directors and researchers from the LAII and the School of Architecture and Planning (SAAP). During this visit, the indigenous community of Cañar in the highland Andes region of Ecuador hosted the group. The UNM delegation met with tribal officials and members of the community to tour the area and discuss common community development issues. At the core of the conversation were emerging concepts and ideas about the role of identity and community, especially as applied to land use planning and design in indigenous communities.

The current visit to UNM is intended to engage the practitioners and community leaders from Cañar in academic lectures to the UNM community, and to facilitate their interaction with leaders and community members from the greater Albuquerque area and surrounding Pueblos. Topics such as indigenous planning, cultural preservation, biodiversity, tourism, and social change are at the forefront of the agenda. The ultimate goal of this collaborative visit is to establish a formal joint agreement that can lead to future exchanges between the Cañar and Albuquerque communities.

In addition to the LAII, SAAP and iDPi, this visit is supported by El Centro de la Raza and community organizations such as the Center for Socio-Sustainable Systems and La Plazita.