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Indigenous women role in Latin America

Cacicas, breast sizes, commanders, amazons, warriors, various viceroys are the names that these indigenous heroines received, fighters in the liberation of their peoples in the Spanish conquest, and foreign domination.

Some of the best known are: Anacaona, Gregoria Apaza, Bartolina Sisa, Micaela Bastidas, Huillac Ñusca, Angata, Janequeo Guacolda, Fresia, Tegualda, Lorenza Abimañay, Rosa Señapanta, Margarita Ochoa, Baltazara Chiza, Margarita Pantoja, Gaitana, Ague, Ayunga and many anonymous women who do not appear in books or chronicles.

All of them fought to recover the ancestral rights of indigenous peoples.


Anacaona, Cacique of Jaragua, would have been one of the first of the Latin American continent that faced the Spaniards. After a period of conciliation to avoid a massacre of its people, Anacaona rebelled, being captured in a trap laid by the Spaniards and then hung on the island of Hispaniola.

First in the line of resistance to the Spanish in Colombia were the cacicas Gaitana, Ague and Ayunga, although some collaborated with the conquerors, like the Malinche of Hernán Cortés.

Mapuche Women: 16th Century

Janequeo was a lonko woman, of mapuche-pewenche origin, wife of Lonko Hueputan. His military training and leadership qualities made him gain the support of our nation's military strategists. With the patronage of his lof (community) and the support of his brother Guechuntureo, the Council of Lonko appointed him in charge of the troops of the region.

In a difficult period of the course of the war, attacked the fortress of Puchunqui and after several battles surrendered during the year 1587, defeated the invading troops, with the participation of groups Mapuche-Puelche (Argentine side).

In the Epic Canto, La Araucana, Ercilla mentions the presence of courageous Mapuche women such as: Guacolda and Fresia, who would have thrown her son to Caupolicán, for having been imprisoned by the Spanish invaders in the middle of the sixteenth century, according to the pen of the Spanish writer.

La Tirana: princess kolla

Huillac Ñusca, was a princess kolla that fought to the Spaniards. The nickname of Tirana, won by its fame of treats evil to the prisoners. He rebelled against the conquistadors, but fell in love with one of his prisoners, Vasco de Almeida, and interceded before his fellow rebels so they would not assassinate him.

The Tirana would have become the leader of a group of Incas brought to Chile like slaves to work in the silver mines of Huantajaya, after his father died.

Rebellion Amarista and Katarista: 1780

The Quechua and Aymara women had a fundamental role in the rebellion of the Inca Tupac Amaru and Tupac Katari of 1781, In Peru and Bolivia. The Andean women fought to rebuild the Quechua-Aymara nation, and recover the ancestral rights that were taken away by the conquerors. Gregoria Apaza, younger sister of Tupak katari, Bartolina Sisa, Kurusa Llave, Tomás Katari's widow, Micaela Bastidas, companion of Tupac Amaru, are the Andean heroines.

Gregoria Apaza led the female troops, in several battles, dressed as a man, in support of the young Amaru's army. She was the companion of Andres Tupak Amaru, son of the Inca Tupak Amaru.

Kurusa Llave bravely led the army of Quiswas de Chayanta, to be defeated by the relief forces received by the Spaniards, led by Ignacio Flores.

Bartolina Sisa, called the Virreina, fought along with his companion Tupac Katari in the historic Cerco a Chuquiago, the present city of La Paz where the natives made a human wall to the colonial city. (See Life of Bartolina Sisa)

Micaela Bastidas, of Quechua and African ancestry, fought in the great Amarist and Katarista rebellion. When Tupac Amaru hesitated to advance on Cuzco, after Sangarará's triumph over Spaniards, Micaela urged his companion to march quickly on the ancient capital of the Incas: as Dona Micaela was not a person who was content to give advice only, In the same letter of December 7 (1780) announced to her husband the purpose of recruiting people to be slowly surrounding Cuzco. Whenever the rebellion threatened, or thought it necessary, he led Indian forces.

Recovering the dignity: 1803, Ecuador

Lorenza Abimañay, born in an indigenous household in Ecuador, in the Chimborazo area, followed fighters from her village, such as Rosa Señapanta, Margarita Ochoa, Baltazara Chuiza and Margarita Pantoja.

In 1803 Abimañay, along with Jacinta Juárez and Lorenza Peña, led a rebellion of 10,000 Indians (in Guamote and Columbe, Ecuador) against taxation, with the cry: let us rise up, recover our land and our dignity. The rebellion was suppressed and Lorenza Abimañay was beheaded, along with other indigenous leaders.

God dreams of freedom rapa nui: 1914

Angata, the successor of King Rama Nui Simeon Riroroko, led the 1941 rapa nui uprising, against the abuses of the Williamson Balfour Exploitation Company, which he had leased for twenty years to Easter Island. Angata is known as a rapa nui priestess, who demanded respect from her people, from a dream in which God ordered her to retrieve the animals stolen by that company. (See Angata Dreams)


Black women participated in various forms of resistance, such as magic practices, Afro music, and innumerable rebellions. Guiomar, companion of the negro Miguel, fought alongside him in the first slave rebellion in Venezuela (1552), being proclaimed queen of the cumbe, in the African style. Juana Francisca, María Valentina and Juana Llanos were important protagonists of the rebellion led by the Negro Guillermo in 1771-74 in the area of the Tuy Barlovento, near Caracas, which shook the domain of the great cacao.

Trinidad, Poland and Juana Antonia participated actively in the insurrection of the black Jose Chirino (1796), one of the great rebellions that combined the liberation of the slaves with the struggle independence. Filippa Aranha, black slave of Brazil, rebelled and escaped and went to live to an indigenous tribe of the Amazon where it became cacique of the malalí Indians.

The indigenous history of Latin America is populated by women who became a myth and example of struggle and decision in the recovery of the ancestral rights of the original peoples.