K-12 Teaching Resources

The Incas and their Descendants on the Web

One of the web sites featured in the October 1997 Update of the CLACS was LANIC (Latin American Network Information Center) at http://www.lanic.utexas.edu/. This page is a powerful introduction to the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. For this Update, I select some of the resources from LANIC's page to help k-12 teachers integrate indigenous Latin American peoples into their curriculum. What follows is a list containing the URL's and brief descriptions of some of LANIC's links that may serve as your springboard into the growing number of web pages dedicated to indigenous Latin Americans. I intersperse a brief “Possible Application” to offer ideas on how to use the web-based information in your curriculum and classrooms.

In LANIC's page, click on the Indigenous link in the Subject Directory (http://www.lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/indigenous). This page is a catalog of links that represent pre-Columbian as well as contemporary indigenous peoples of Latin America. Here are resources produced by Latin American and international organizations. The links are sorted by region, country, and ethnic group.

To give you a taste for the wealth of LANIC's Indigenous link, I focus on the Incas and their Quechua-speaking descendants of today. The Incas are a fascinating study topic, as they built a well-sustained empire throughout a large territory without the use of writing, the wheel, the telephone, or currency. They accomplished amazing architectural projects built out of large rocks and boulders without John Deere and the cement drill. The Incas also offer us an example of imperialism that differed greatly from the European imperialism of the colonial era.

In LANIC's Indigenous Peoples page, click on The Machu Picchu Library link (http://geog.gmu.edu/gess/classes/students/studgeog411/miked). The Macho Picchu Library is another catalog of links that focus on Peru, Andean Culture, and the Incas. For this Update, I select the following useful links: The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and Andean Links. The Andean Links leads to yet another list of web pages, from which I recommend the following: Huarochirí: A Peruvian Culture in Time, The Inca: Empire, Architecture, and History, Incas, Machu Picchu: How its Secrets Were Kept, The Quipu: An Incan Data Structure, National Geographic: Andes Expedition, and Ice Treasures of the Inca, Cultures of the Andes, So you want to learn Quechua, Andean Lives, and NOVA Online: Ice Mummies of the Inca. I present each of these web pages in a conceptual order, rather than their chronological order as they appear in the catalog lists.

Brief introductions to Inca culture are found on The Inca: Empire, Architecture, and History (http://Othello.localaccess.com/chappell/latin_america/inca.htm) (actually this page discusses religion rather than history), and The Incas (http://learn.senecac.on.ca/~jadelgad/incas.htm) pages.

Machu Picchu is the tremendous architectural complex that the Incas built for refuge from Spaniards. It is a commonly studied topic and many web pages are devoted to it. There are several such web pages listed in the Machu Picchu Library, and most include photographic galleries of this famous ruin. However, some of these web pages no longer have, or do not yet have, their URL on the server. I recommend Machu Picchu: How They Kept the Secret (http://www.gorp.com:80/gorp/location/latamer/peru/machu.htm). Another good page for exploring this ruin and the long Inca Trail that leads to it from the capital of the Inca Empire, Cuzco, is The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu (http://www.raingod.com/angus/Gallery/Photos/SouthAmerica/Peru/IncaTrail.html). Here you find a simulated tour of the Inca Trail that “takes four days” to complete. Possible Applications: Provides a dramatic illustration of the metric system as it applies to distance and heights. Also illustrates the effect that physical geography has on means of communication and transportation.

Another guided tour into ancient Peru is found on NOVA Online: Ice Mummies of the Inca (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/peru). This page provides links to join the expedition that discovered a mummy high in the Andes Mountains. I suggest combining this page with a similar one, National Geographic: Andes Expedition, and Ice Treasures of the Inca (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/mummy). This page takes us on an Interactive Expedition to the discovery of the same mummy. Possible Applications: Integrate the case of the ice mummy when you are teaching about the mummies of ancient Egypt; about archaeology and the methods by which we can learn about past cultures through their material remains; and about religion and cosmology and the role of sacrificial offerings to the god(s). You might also find some of this material useful when you teach about our biological response to mountain climbing given the environment of high altitudes.

The Incas kept tabs on the people and the products of their empire through the use of the Quipu. The Quipu was not a form of writing, but of recording. It consisted of a complex of woven strings that were tied together in such a way as to record many kinds of information that was useful to Inca administrators. For an introduction to the Quipu, I recommend The Quipu: An Incan Data Structure (http://www.cs.uidaho.edu~casey931/seminar/quipu.html).

Quipus are also discussed on Huarochirí: A Peruvian Culture in Time (http://wiscinfo.doit.wisc.edu/chaysimire). This page is copyrighted by anthropology professor, Dr. Frank Salomon, an expert in colonial Quechua manuscripts and the culture history of Huarochirí. Click on the link Khipus, or Quipocamayos: A Unique Huarochirí Legacy (http://wiscinfo.doit.wisc.edu/chaysimire/titulo2/khipus/quipus.htm) for detailed information about the quipu and its use in ancient Peru as well as in the contemporary community of Huarochirí.

Possible Applications with the quipu: Compare the systems by which the Incas and North Americans record information. What kinds of information did the Incas keep track of, and why? Have the students work with their own set of colored strings to communicate with each other. What systems of string manipulation do they come up with? Is “string communication” ever a better form of communication that is writing? Can students learn to tie knots the way the Incas did? What other kinds of people rely on the knotting of string and rope? Such questions and activities can be integrated into your instructions in math, geometry, social studies, and art.

A particularly good, local resource to consider is the Krannert Art Museum at UIUC. They have a large resource center with a variety of materials available for a 2-week loan period to K-12 teachers. There is one quipu on display in the Krannert's Ancient Americas exhibit. Contact Virginia Erickson at (217) 333-3218 or at verickso@uiuc.edu for details about seeing this exhibit and for exploring the materials in their resource center. The museum's home page is http://www.art.uiuc.edu/kam, and their resource page is http://www.art/uiuc.edu/kam/text/prof.html.

Students can learn about contemporary Quechua-speakers on Andean Lives (http://garnet.berkeley.edu/~dolorier/Gregorio/Gregorio.html). An excerpt from the web page explains, “Gregorio Condori Mamani and Asunta Quispe Huamán were runakuna, a Quechua word that means “people” and refers to the millions of indigenous inhabitants of the highlands of Peru and other Andean countries. Exploited and reviled by local power holders, neglected by the state, and silenced by dominant cultural discourses, the voices of this cultural majority are seldom heard in Peruvian or Latin American literature. For Gregorio and Asunta, however, that silence was broken when Peruvian anthropologists Ricardo Valderrama Fernández and Carmen Escalante Gutiérrez recorded their life stories.” This web page includes several excerpts from the book that Valderrama and Escalante wrote about Gregorio and Asunta. We hear what Gregorio and Asunta think of such topics as the airplane, the train, the Incas, the Spaniards, their work, and their hardship. Possible Applications: Compare the North American lifestyle of students with that of Gregorio and Asunta. How do our views of the world differ from each other? What do the airplane and the train “mean,” and “look like,” to the students? Material from this web page can be integrated into your instructions in literature, the discipline of anthropology, technology and culture, and social studies.

Another facet of Inca and Quechua-speaking cultures is the Quechua language itself. This is also a popular topic for web pages. Quechua classes are offered online, and there are a handful of web pages that discuss the various linguistic aspects of the language. I find two useful web pages for learning about Quechua. One is So you want to learn Quechua whose home page is (http://www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~pah1003/i_HOME.HTM). This page provides links to “the best Quechua Websites,” as well as other discussion topics about this language. Another Quechua website, A Few Words on Quechua (http://www.tezcat.com/~markrose/quechua.html), is a good introduction to the nature of Quechua and who its speakers are. At the end of the page are further links related to the Quechua language. Possible Applications: Introduce some of the grammatical aspects of Quechua while you teach English grammar. Quechua is strikingly similar to English in that the adjective goes before the noun; it is the other way around in Spanish. You can use Quechua to illustrate the role of suffixes that are attached to the same root, for Quechua-speakers depend much on the use of the suffix to create meaningful phrases.

Maps are readily available in many web pages, such as the pages for Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. An overall good way to begin searching for maps is to click the Maps link in the Subject Category of the LANIC web page (http://www.lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/map). The Andean Links page (http://www.andes.org/bookmark.html) also lists links to ccess fact sheets and maps of different Latin American countries (see the bottom of the Andean Links page).

For more information on the topics discussed herein, I recommend the Handbook Latin American Studies page (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/hlas/hlashome.html). This page provides all publications that contain your search word, for example, “quipu,” “Inca,” “Machu Picchu,” etc. Clicking on each reference link provides a summary of the publication and perhaps a definition of the term.

The Update issue of October, 1997, entitled “Curriculum Resources on the Web,” remains an excellent introduction to the best web resources and search engines for Latin American studies. I recommend one more: The University of Iowa Libraries Gateway to the Internet, at http://www.arcade.uiowa.edu/gw/intl/latin.html. This site provides immediate links to such pages as Chicano and Latino Electronic Network, the National Web Site for the Republic of Cuba, Handbook of Latin American Studies Online, and Latino USA.

UPDATE!!! More web resources for teaching about the Incas and their descendants...

FROM http://ladb.unm.edu/retanet/rmd.html
"Welcome to the Latin America Data Base (LADB) web site for secondary educators, Resources for Teaching about the Americas (RETAnet). This site is the result of an educational project funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

RETAnet is an outreach project of the Latin America Data Base (LADB), a part of the Latin American Institute at the University of New Mexico. RETAnet works with secondary teachers, educational specialists, and scholars to make accessible resources and curriculum materials about Latin America, the Spanish Caribbean, and the U.S. Southwest. A vital component of RETAnet is communications technology using computers and the Internet."

<Full_Title> The Andean World Bibliography Source Book
<Type> Book
<Subject> Social Studies
<Region> South America and the Andes
<Materials> Source book
<Grade> 9-12 (9,10,11,12)
<Author> Billie-Jean Isbell, Jean Jacques Decoster
<Date> 1991
<Avail> Loan
<Fee> Return postage
<Org> UConn Center For Latin American and Caribbean Studies
<Address> 843 Bolton Road U-161, Romm 3
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1161
Phone:(860) 486-4964
Fax:(860) 486-2963
<Desc> Scholarly bibliography intended to foster the incorporation of Andean culture and history into existing courses.

<Full_Title> In the Footsteps of Taytacha
<Type> Video
<Subject> Peruvian Musicians and dancers on annual religious
<Region> Andes Mountains, Peru, South America
<Materials> Video
<Grade> 9-12 (9,10,11,12)
<Author> Peter Getzels, Harriet Gordon
<Date> 1985
<Avail> Call for rental or purchase
<Fee> US$35.00 rental; $195.00 purchase
<Org> Documentary Educational Resources
<Address> 101 Morse Street
Watertown, Massachusetts 02172
Phone:(800)569-6621 or (617)926-0491
Fax :(617)926-9519
<Desc> In The Footsteps of Taytacha follows a group of Quecha-speaking musicians and dancers as they leave their remote village in the Andes mountains of Peru and join thousands of other highlanders on the annual religious pilgrimage to the sacred peaks of Qoyllur-Rit'i.Throughout the festival the villagers explain what the ritual means to them both personally and collectively. We see how the Andean highlanders position themselves in a predominately Catholic environment.

<Full_Title> Apu Condor
<Type> Video
<Subject> Documents the sacred Peruvian "Yawar Fiesta of the Apu Condor"
<Region> Village of Cotabambus, Peru, South America
<Materials> Video
<Grade> 9-12 (9,10,11,12)
<Author> Gianfranco Norelli
<Date> 1992
<Avail> Call for rental or purchase
<Fee> US$40.00 rental; $195.00 purchase
<Org> Documentary Educational Resources
<Address> 101 Morse Street
Watertown, Massachusetts 02172
Phone:(800)569-6621 or (617)926-0491
Fax :(617)926-9519
<Desc> This documentary provides a rare look at the sacred Peruvian "Yawar Fiesta of the Apu Condor" the Fiesta of Blood of the Thursday, February 15, 2007 12:24 RDIANS OF THE FOREST
<Full_Title> Runa Guardians of the Forest
<Type> Video
<Subject> Runa life in the Amazon Rainforest
<Region> Ecuador
<Materials> Video
<Grade> 9-12 (9,10,11,12)
<Author> Ellen Speiser, Dominique Irvine
<Date> 1990
<Avail> Call to schedule rental dates or to purchase video
<Fee> US$50.00 rental; US$175.00 purchase video;
<Org> University of California Extensive Center for Media and Independent Learning
<Address> 2000 Center Street, 4th Floor
Berkeley, California 94704
Fax :(510)643-9271
<Desc> The profound ecological knowledge of native peoples like the Runa-an Indian community in Amazonian Ecuador-offers hope for the future preservation of the rainforests. This unusual documentary explores, with commentary by the Runa themselves, their adaptation to life in the rainforest and their reactions to outside forces that are increasingly impinging on their environment, traditional lands, and way of life.

<Full_Title> Ancient Americas:Art From Sacred Landscapes
<Type> Teacher Packet
<Subject> First Amerindians
<Region> North America, Central America, South America
<Materials> Historical essays, 6 slides with description, classroom activities
<Grade> K-12 (K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
<Author> Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Education Department
<Date> June 1993
<Avail> While supplies last
<Fee> US$10.00 (includes postage and handling)
<Org> Los Angeles County Museum of Art
<Address> 5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90036
Fax :(213)936-5755
<Desc> The relationships between Amerindian peoples and nature are investigated along with expression of history and religious beliefs through their sculpture, painting, textiles, and jewelry. Featured are Mimbres, Olmec, Maya, Aztec, Tolita-Tumaco, Jama-Coaque, and Inca civilizations.

<Full_Title> Women in Latin American Vol. 1:From Pre-Columbia Times to
<Type> Book
<Subject> History of women in Latin America
<Region> Central America, South America, Caribbean
<Materials> Life stories, letters, descriptions, photos, bibliography, and Points to Consider
<Grade> 9-12 (9,10,11,12)
<Author> Majorie Wall Bingham, Susan Hill Gross
<Date> 1985
<Avail> Purchase through Upper Midwest Women's History Center
<Fee> US$12.00 plus 10% shipping and handling
<Org> Upper Midwest Women's History Center
<Address> c/o Hamline University
1536 Hewitt Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55104-1284
Fax :(612)926-2958
<Desc> History of women in Latin America includes: women in pre-Columbia America, a diversity of roles; women in the Maya, Inca, and Aztec; female gods in art, an exercise. Impact of European conquests; the influence of the class system, Machismo/Marianism, the Roman Catholic Church, and the extended family on women's lives. 19th century travelers views, women in the independence movements and adventurers, empresses, and women of power. 167 pages.

From: University of Florida
Center for Latin American Studies
Outreach and Special Projects
P O Box 115530
319 Grinter Hall,
Gainesville, FL 32611-5530
Phone (352) 392-0375
FAX (352) 392-7682

INCA SCRAPBOOK. (1991) by E. &N. Wakan. Pacific-Rim Publishers. 48 pp. An excellent resource for historical and contemporary information on the Inca, this is a simple student workbook on Inca legends, technology, and the value of Inca agricultural products for today's world. Practical activities supplement the material. Middle and High School.

FABULAS Y MITOS DE LOS INCAS. (1989). H. Urbano & P. Duviols (eds.). Madrid: HISTORIA 16. 199 pp. This publication consists of two little known texts written in the 1500s by Catholic priests and describes the religious practices of the Inca. College level Spanish speakers.

DECADE OF CHAQWA: PERU'S INTERNAL REFUGEES, The (1991). R. Kirk. Washington, DC: The U.S. Committee for Refugees. 40 pp. Documents how the war between Peru's security forces and Shining Path guerrillas has left 200,000 people displaced in the country. Grades 11-12 and college.

WHERE LAND IS LIFE (1990). Maryknoll World Productions. VHS video (28 min.). For the indigenous peoples of Peru's altiplano, the rugged land around Lake Titicaca is more than soil. Through centuries of conquest and exploitation, the Quechua and Aymara people have held on to the concept of the Pacha Mama - Mother Earth. Today they reclaim the land as their birthright and rediscovering traditional methods of agriculture. Grades 7-12 and college.

INCAS REMEMBERED. (1985). The Jarvis Collection. VHS video (60 min.). Centuries ago, the Incas performed brain surgery, built irrigation canals, made agricultural discoveries still used today, and were master builders. These wondrous people ruled half of South America before falling to the Spanish Conquistadors. This video takes students from the Incan Empire to contemporary Peru through the perspective of the Incas. Grades 7-12 and college.

AYMARAS OF BOLIVIA, THE . (28 mins.) 1/2" 7th -l2th grades. Maryknoll World Video Library. Maryknoll, NY. Documentary prepared by Maryknoll missionaries which introduces viewers into the culture and traditions of theAymara and Quecha peoples of the Altiplano. Much of the video is an exchange among the missionaries regarding aspects of Aymara life., but there are also insights into a culture being impacted by the forces of modernism.

ALPACAS: AN ANDEAN GAMBLE. (1987). Grassroots Development Video Series. VHS video (28 min.). The video finds the peasant community of Aquia in the Andes of Peru betting on its future by repopulating its communal highlands with alpacas. The animals make a 1,000-mile trek from southern Peru to their new Andean home. However, their celebrated arrival is just the beginning of an unfolding development story. Grades 7-12.

Traveling suitcases

Traveling Suitcases are artifact collections reflecting daily life in specific countries and regions. Teachers may use them as a learning center, letting students handle items and discuss their uses. They are popular for displays during international fairs and Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 - Oct. 15. The teacher's guide includes an annotated contents list, country information, maps, teaching guidelines, additional resource lists, sample lesson plans, an evaluation form, and a mini catalogue of items in the Resource Library that pertain to that specific country. Common to all suitcases are collections of national symbols, such as maps, flags and currency; artifacts from the agriculture, commercial and service sectors of the economy; handicrafts and newspapers. The descriptions of the individual suitcases below mention items that are a strong point in that particular case. Items are packed in a small trunk, 18 x 12 x 12 inches. All grades.

PERU TRAVELING SUITCASE: Contains a number of samples of food items used in the Andes. Also has a wide selection of children's textbooks, a math game for elementary students, and Sunday newspaper supplements for children.

ECUADOR TRAVELING SUITCASE: Has a selection of handicraft items with descriptions of how they are used. It also contains a jigsaw puzzle of the provinces and their capital cities.

BOLIVIA TRAVELING SUITCASE: Includes a small package of political propaganda from the 1993 elections. It also contains Altiplano, a simulation game that helps children understand issues of diversity in the highlands of Bolivia. The book, Children of the World: Bolivia, (available from the Resource Library) may be ordered with the suitcase to use with a lesson on the totora reed boat included in the case.

I hope this Update on web-based resources helps you integrate Latin American peoples and cultures into your curriculum and classrooms. Please contact me for any comments and suggestions. I would very much enjoy hearing from you.

Nan Volinsky, Outreach Coordinator
October 1998