Indigenous communities
Jun 21 2013

Preserving the culture: CFCA’s work with indigenous communities, part 2

Do you know your roots?

The spring/summer issue of CFCA’s magazine, “Sacred Ground,” features our work with indigenous communities all over the world.

Read more interesting facts about these communities and how their cultures contribute to their self-identity.

CFCA works with families all over the world offering hope and restoring dignity through sponsorship.

Indigenous communities have been marginalized in many places around the world, which is why CFCA has crossed paths with them.

The indigenous groups CFCA works with represent diverse regions, cultures, races and religions.

“Indigenous communities embody a wealth of wisdom and experience that are invaluable to all of humanity,” said Dan Pearson, CFCA director of international programs. “Like any complex system, diversity makes humanity stronger and more resilient.”

In this second of a three-part series, we present two of the indigenous communities we work with in Latin America.


K’iche’ indigenous community


The beauty of the spirituality of the K’iche’ manifests itself not just in their words and actions, but is physically represented in their bright clothing.

“Our clothing is what our ancestors wore, and our responsibility is to hand it down to new generations,” Pedro said. “This is how we remember and honor our ancestors.”

“The clothing you see tells you that I am a Maya K’iche’ from Chichicastenango; this clothing is unique and it identifies our people.”

Tzutil: a head covering worn during prayer; a sign of respect when talking to God.

Embroidered designs: the embroidery on his clothing represents the moon and the sun, the night and the day.

Rituals of prayer:

“Chichicastenango is a spiritual community,” said Tomas Ventura, a local community leader. “This means that we keep close to God through deep constant prayer. In the churchyard you will see people praying for their family, their crops, their work and anything important to them.”

The K’iche’ people use different elements to signify their intentions during certain prayer rituals.

Flowers:gifts for the Lord

Yellow candles: when praying for work and well-being

White candles:when praying for purity of the spirit

Blue candles: when thanking God for his blessings

Green candles:when praying for nature

Pink candles: when praying for good luck

Red candles: when praying for the sun and daylight

Black candles: when praying for the moon and darkness

K’iche’ Cultural traditions and market days

Many tourists flock to Chichicastenango’s famous colorful market.

The cobblestone streets in front of the parish church add to the town’s unique flavor.

You will find anything from live animals to handicrafts to fresh fruits and vegetables. Vendors put up wooden tents to display and to sell their goods.

SOUTH AMERICA: Cochabamba, Bolivia

Japo K’asa indigenous community

  • The Japo K’asa community is located high in the Andes mountains of Bolivia, more than 70 miles from Cochabamba.
  • Some community members decorate for the feast of the patron Saint Santiago with lights, dancing, cooked lamb, confetti and streamers. Many other cultural traditions have sadly been lost over the years.
  • This community produces potatoes and quinoa. From the potatoes, they produce chuño (dehydrated potatoes).
  • Most of the traditional clothing the people wear is bright, colorful, made of wool and usually includes detailed embroidery.
  • Many wear white hats made of llama wool to keep their heads warm in the cold mountain air.
  • Men wear wool jackets with different designs and wool llama pants.
  • Before it was a custom that the women and men spun the sheep’s wool for clothing, but traditions have faded and much of the clothing is now purchased at the market.
  • Women typically wear Aguayos, a type of cloth featuring colorful stripes and other designs. Women often use them to carry children and take products to the market.

Sponsor a child, youth or aging friend from Latin America to help support CFCA’s work with indigenous communities.

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