Among the Quechua Indians -- By: John Ritchie

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 103:409 (Jan 1946)
Article: Among the Quechua Indians
Author: John Ritchie

Among the Quechua Indians

John Ritchie

[Editor’s Note: The following article has just been printed as an illustrated pamphlet, copies of which may be secured (also any other publications concerning the work of the Peruvian Evangelical Church) from Rev. Charles W. Anderson, D.D., Box 3496, Highland Park Post Office, Tyler and Woodward, Detroit 3, Michigan. The author’s duties as agent of the American Bible Society require him to travel and limit the time he can give to the affairs of this unique mission with which his life has so long been associated. Since the Peruvian Evangelical Church has no organization or office staff which can attend to correspondence in English, then, friends in the United States are giving spare-time help to circulate information and assist the cause as it may be possible for them. Correspondence nevertheless may be addressed to Mr. Ritchie personally at Apartado 448, Lima, Peru, and an effort will be made by the several cooperating missionaries to answer letters requiring a personal reply. Remittances may be sent direct to Peru by personal check payable at any bank in the United States or Canada, or by cashier’s check payable either by the issuing bank or by the New York paying agent (the last method is preferred).]

The People and Their Land

The Andean Indians who speak the Quechua language constitute by far the largest aboriginal community in the Americas. They live in the highlands of the Andes in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, mostly between the altitudes of 8,000 and 15,000 feet above sea level. Many of their principal market towns in Peru and Bolivia are above 10,000 feet. Their numbers in Ecuador can only be guessed; the figure given is 1,500,000. (As the Quechua Indian in Ecuador is exempt from military service, the annual conscription does not provide any data for a calculation of the percentage in relation to the total population). Thanks to a carefully prepared census taken in 1940 it is known that there are over 3,000,000 Indians in Peru besides as many more near-Indian mestizos. In Bolivia there is no such exact data available, and the total Indian population is estimated at about

1,750,000. On this basis there would be about 1,000,000 Quechua-speaking Indians in Bolivia, besides some 600,000 Aymaras.

These highland Indians should not be confused with the nomadic lowland tribes of the Amazon jungle, nor are they huntsmen like the North American Indians. They are essentially an agricultural people, bound to the soil by all their mode of being, and therefore peaceable, law-abiding and industrious. Centuries of oppression have made them outwardly docile. Some live on the estates of the larger landowners, many live in villages on their communa...

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