Taytay Celestino (above, age 78) told us this riddle before heading outside to the potato harvest. “Which young lady has beautifully braided, shining hair and many layers of tattered skirts?” Answer at bottom of page!
Celestino remarked that few people remember such riddles anymore. Riddles are just one form of Quechua folk wisdom that is disappearing as its speakers abandon the countryside.
Last year our team video-recorded over thirty interviews with Quechua speakers ages 18-78+ in rural South Bolivia. Our conversations revealed resilience and resourcefulness in the face of drought and discrimination. Herders and small farmers in the rural Andes possess a wealth of knowledge about living close to nature. But survival is hard. Many send their children to live in cities, only to find their language and lifeways are scorned. Youth are pressured to forget their mother tongue and abandon country ways. Help us build a time capsule of rural speech so that communities can recover pride in their heritage.
Here’s how it works: a pair of educators - one of whom is always a native speaker of Quechua - visits a rural community and gains permission to video tape conversations. We transcribe, translate and archive them at AILLA* - to be used today and tomorrow by speakers and learners of Quechua, by teachers and others who study language.
Our group is distinguished from others by our efforts to return meaningful results to the communities and teachers where the Quechua language makes the most difference.
I’m excited to ask you to share in this project - please, send a donation today to help us grow the collection.
Dr. Susan Kalt and Project Yachay Q’ipi (Wisdom Bundle)have accomplished the following:
- Created a video bank of rural Quechua speech for current and future generations to access electronically - help us pay indigenous researchers to grow the collection!
- Created elementary classroom curriculum materials in the Quechua language for rural teachers to use - help us expand these materials and run teacher training and community workshops on how to use them!
- Put over $5000 of recording equipment in the hands of over 40 Andean educators and graduate students and offered workshops on language documentation and research– help us conduct follow-up support with these partners!
- What will my donation be used for?
To pay Andean people at their going local rate to record, transcribe and archive interviews, develop curriculum materials and workshops promoting the local Quechua language.
- Is my donation tax deductible? - Currently, no.Large grants will be managed by a reliable Andean non-profit.
- Can you use frequent flyer miles or in-kind equipment donations?Yes.
About Us:Project Yachay Q'ipi [Wisdom Bundle] joins North and South American linguists and teachers in an effort to preserve and revitalize the language and culture of rural communities in highlands Peru and Bolivia. Associates include faculty, students and graduates of the Program in Intercultural Bilingual Education for the Andean Countries at the Universidad Mayor San Simón in Cochabamba, Bolivia (ProEIBAndes). Dr. Susan Kalt, founder of Project Yachay Q’ipi has been visiting rural Bolivian and Peruvian communities since 2000. A professor of Spanish at Roxbury Community College, she received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities Documenting Endangered Languages Program (USA), Foundation for Endangered Languages (London) and created the collection “The Speech of Children from Cusco and Chuquisaca” at Univ. Texas’ Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America. For more info, visit MamaSusan.org
Answer to the riddle: the qhiwiña tree, with its delicate leaves and ragged layers of bark! See photo above