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Transforming Gender Roles in the Colonial Andes:

Native Andean Female Resistance to Colonial

Spanish Constructs of Gender Hierarchy
Ashley Reeves

Although past scholars have conducted No aspect of the native Andean woman’s life,
extensive historical research regarding the status or role in society went untouched by
colonial period in Latin America, the woman’s Spanish colonizers. While in the pre-conquest
experience under colonial rule is a topic that is period Andean women enjoyed higher
often neglected in major historical privileges than their European counterparts,
interpretations. Though scholars have recently the imposition of colonialism and the Spanish
begun devoting more attention towards the constructs of gender hierarchies sought to
roles and experiences of women in colonial eradicate traditional Andean gender roles and
Latin America, the colonial experience of norms by any means necessary. Under colonial
native women in the Americas has only just Spanish rule, Andean women could no longer
begun to be seriously studied by historians in own land independently of their husbands,
the past few decades. hold important religious offices, access
This research is intended as a gendered community resources or enjoy the myriad of
investigation into the native Andean woman’s social, political and economic rights that they
experience under Spanish colonialism. This had held for centuries.1 Instead, Andean
gendered colonial perspective is aimed at women, through the Spanish imposition of
analyzing the ways in which resistance efforts foreign gender roles, were systematically
undertaken by native Andean women in disenfranchised and subordinated in colonial
response to colonial gender hierarchies society.
contributed to the greater cultural preservation This study will explore the various
efforts of the Andean people. While this region methods of female resistance to these newly
certainly includes native women of the imposed Spanish gender roles undertaken by
conquered Inca Empire, particularly those in Andean women throughout the colonial
Peru and Bolivia, it is by no means exclusive period. The majority of these resistance efforts
to this civilization. Native women of diverse by native women of the Andes can be
ethnic and cultural groups in the Andes, some classified as “passive” resistance efforts, and
of which remained unincorporated by the Inca constitute actions by which native women
at the time of the Spanish conquest, will also managed to undermine, subvert or manipulate
be included, as their colonial experiences are the colonial system and gender roles to better
equally valuable to a cohesive understanding protect their fading status and power. Though
of women’s roles under the Spanish empire. passive resistance was the method most widely
An investigation into the drastic decline in used by native women during the colonial
social and economic status that native Andean period, there are notable instances of female
women experienced during the colonial period involvement in military rebellions by native
is the central focus of this research endeavor. populations, like the Tupac Amaru rebellion of

1Silverblatt, Irene. Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender

Ideologies and Class in Colonial Peru. New Jersey:
Princeton University Press, 1987. 122.
the late eighteenth-century. Another powerful Andean people were equipped to evade
indicator of female resistance efforts is the domination through their pre-Columbian
incredible resurgence, and at times revival, of experiences with conquest; just as the
native Andean religious traditions that geography of the Andes made struggle
occurred throughout the colonial period. inescapable, it also helped to foster resistance
Native women were often the leaders of these to domination. It was quite common for
traditional cults, and their religious resistance Andean groups that did not wish to be
efforts are perhaps the most long-lasting and incorporated into a larger empire to seek refuge
successful efforts to subvert the exclusionary in the mountains, and during the expansion of
Catholic religion and its ruling patriarchy. the Inca Empire in the fifteenth century, a
These measures of female resistance to the number of semi-sedentary groups fled to the
colonial institution of gender hierarchies can mountains to protect their autonomy. Upon the
be interpreted not only as attempts to salvage arrival of the Spanish in 1532, smaller semi-
pre-conquest female rights, economic sedentary Andean groups once again practiced
privileges and social standing, but also as part this resistance method, seeking to evade the
of a struggle to preserve greater native cultural Spanish in the harsh terrains and high altitudes
and religious institutions in the face of the of the Andes mountain range.2 But while the
Spanish suppression and destruction of geography of the Andes fostered resistance
Andean culture. measures towards the Spanish, geography
The Pre-Columbian Andes alone cannot account for the centuries of
resistance by Andean populations, or the
Long before the conquest of the Inca remarkably high rate of cultural preservation
Empire and surrounding territories by the that exists in the region today even after
Spanish conquistadors in 1532, Andean centuries of intense colonialism. The colonial
peoples were already well acquainted with resistance efforts of native Andean women in
patterns of conquest and domination by rival particular are directly responsible for the
groups. The very geography of the Andes cultural preservation of larger Andean society
region promoted domination, as competition and traditions.
for prime resources and agricultural land in
such a mountainous region was fierce, so that Andean Gender and Cosmology
even before the Spanish conquest, Andean Prior to the development of the Inca
history was littered with a pattern of conquest Empire in the fifteenth century, Andean
and domination. However, it was not the culture, cosmology, and gender constructions
conquest of 1532 that threatened the survival were quite egalitarian as compared to others in
of Andean society, as Andeans had a great deal the Americas. The invasion of a warrior
of experience with such events; the difference society like the Inca, however, hampered the
lay in the fact that Andeans were not gender equality inherent in Andean society, so
conquered by a neighboring group with similar that native women gradually lost previously
values, cosmology, and gender constructions held powers and rights. While women did
like the Inca, but instead by a foreign power experience a marked curtailment of their status
with alien values that were diametrically under the Inca Empire, the Inca understood
opposed to their own. that they could not push women out of
powerful positions entirely, lest they upset the
very structure of Andean society.3 In the

2 Ibid., 197. 3 Ibid., 7.

Andean world, women were acknowledged as incited female resistance efforts that lasted the
integral figures to society, which afforded entire duration of the colonial period.
women an important degree of protection Passive Resistance
under the Inca; the vastly different role of
women in Iberian society, however, allowed The installation of the Spanish colonial
the Spanish to disenfranchise native women system in the Andes brought with it a legal
entirely in the colonial period. system heavily influenced by Iberian gender
conceptions, wherein Andean women lost
The fundamental gender differences valued rights and legal protections that they
between Andean and Spanish society led to the had held for centuries. The Spanish colonial
total erasure of female power and status after system devalued the labor of native women,
the conquest, and provided Andean women both sexual and economic, so that native
with plenty of motivation for resistance in the Andean women were heavily exploited by the
colonial period. In the pre-Columbian era, colonial patriarchy. Native women undertook
Andean women were considered to be partners various measures of resistance to the misuse of
of men in “the business of life”, and the very their labor by the colonial authority, the
foundation of Andean society, parallel descent, majority of which consisted of passive
protected and upheld the power of women in resistance efforts, as it allowed women to
Andean cultures.4 Parallel descent claimed that subvert and manipulate the colonial system
men and women inhabited separate, but while still minimizing the risk of detection. In
equally powerful spheres of influence and the pre-Columbian period, Andeans practiced
power in society, including religion, politics, limited gender division of labor, allowing for
economics, and labor: Andean women were the development of a more egalitarian labor
high priestesses, curacas, who owned land and system.6 The labor of Andean women was
fortunes independent from men, and were equally as respected as that of men, and tribute
highly respected members of society. 5 In requirements to the Inca Empire demanded
contrast to the rights and privileges enjoyed by equal participation in the quota system.7 This
Andean women in the pre-Columbian period, system ensured that the Inca received their
the ruling Spanish patriarchy of the sixteenth- tribute, and that the labor of native women was
century had disenfranchised Iberian women recognized and respected in the system. During
centuries before. With the institution of the the colonial period, the Spanish revised the
colonial system in the Andes, the Spanish Inca tribute system to reflect the economic
usurped Andean gender conceptions with their model of a colony. The Spanish colonial
Iberian conception of gender hierarchies, system was required by the Crown to extract as
seriously demoting Andean women in the much wealth and resources from the Andes as
process. These demotions imposed upon native possible, which necessitated the imposition of
Andean women by the Spanish conquerors harsher tribute and labor quotas. Andean
natives were universally overtaxed under this

4Powers, Karen Vierra. Women in the Crucible of Hispanic period to the present. New York: Oxford
Conquest: The gendered genesis of Spanish-American University Press, 2005. 41.
society, 1500-1600. New Mexico: University of Silverblatt, 1987. 5.
New Mexico Press, 2005. 17. 6 Silverblatt, 10.
7 Ibid., 132.
5Kellogg, Susan. Weaving the Past: A history of
Latin America’s indigenous women from the pre-
system, but Andean women especially were devaluing female labor.10 Labor conditions for
targeted, forced to pay exorbitant amounts of peasants were harsh and unreasonable, so that
tribute to the Spanish, which sparked female tribute payment meant economic destitution
resistance measures accordingly. for native women. The intense supervision by
The tribute expectations of the Spanish colonial officials in the tribute collection
victimized natives regardless of gender, but process did not allow for grand, overt gestures
women were held accountable for their of resistance by Andeans, but native women
husband’s tribute in the event that he defaulted, nonetheless resisted these inhumane labor
an occurrence that became quite common due conditions, albeit in a more subtle manner.
to the inhumane labor demands of the Spanish. The exploitation of female labor by the
The Inca system of tribute collection followed Spanish colonial tribute system led to
gender equality structures, so that only married increased economic responsibilities for
couples were obligated to contribute, as the Andean women during the early colonial
quota was impossible for a single person to period. Men and women were both treated as
fulfill, and the elderly and unmarried were slave labor by the Spanish and forced to work
exempt. The colonial tribute negated the fair in long hours in sweatshops for scant
labor laws of the Inca in the interest of mass compensation, but when husbands fled these
profit, forcing women of all ages to meet high barbaric conditions, they unwittingly placed
tribute demands. 8 The strain of the new tribute even greater labor burdens on their families.11
system was further compounded by the Conditions continued to deteriorate for native
Spanish’ seizure of peasant lands that had been women due to the colonial bureaucracy’s
previously used to fulfill tribute quotas, so that failure to adjust population statistics to account
Andeans were forced to use their family plots for male flight and the decline of native
to fulfill the tribute quota, which left many populations, which prompted a response of
peasants unable to adequately provide for their female resistance.12 Though native flight was a
families.9 To further expedite the process of dangerous method of tribute evasion, Andean
tribute collection, the Spanish devised a system women did escape the crippling labor
of native reservations, or reducciones, during exploitation of their rural villages by migrating
the sixteenth century, which forced large to colonial centers. In a larger town, native
native populations to live in cramped women were free of tribute expectations, and
compounds under the supervision of the were able to establish themselves as relatively
colonial authority. These new reducciones independent market women.13 Other Andean
forced Andeans to abandon their tradition of women opted to migrate seasonally between
endogamy, or marriage within their villages, a rural villages to evade tribute payment; this
practice meant to ease labor requirements. method was so pervasive that sixteenth-
Instead, Andeans had to adopt marriage century colonial records documented the
exogamy, unions outside their villages, which phenomenon, along with the natives’ fear of
made women responsible for double tribute, in returning to their natal villages for fear of
their natal and marital villages, further reprisal.14

8 Ibid., 129, 126. 13Powers, 66.

9 Ibid., 127. 14Ramirez, Susan Elizabeth. The World Turned
10 Ibid., 131. Upside Down: Cross-cultural contact and conflict in
11 Ibid., 135. sixteenth-century Peru. Stanford: Stanford
12 Ibid., 137. University Press, 1996. 35.
The majority of Andean women had rights under colonization. The Andean gender
difficulty simply evading their tribute structure allowed for equal and independent
expectations, however, and instead sought to female ownership of land and other property,
undermine the colonial tribute system through following matrilineal descent, so that elite
reproductive resistance efforts. As victims of Andean women often owned parts of entire
the unreasonable demands of colonial tribute native communities.18 These elite women lost
quotas, Andean women devised various their land rights after the conquest, as Iberian
methods to spare their children the same law did not recognize female ownership,
physical and economic exploitation. Native relegating women to their colonial status as
midwives continued to practice covertly in legal minors, incapable of making independent
small communities, providing Andean women legal decisions.19 Elite women suffered land
with contraceptives, which helped return a theft by both the Spanish and their Andean
measure of personal power to women that had husbands, who took advantage of the
been usurped by the Spanish.15 Andean women unprecedented opportunity to increase their
also committed census fraud to protect their personal land holdings. These Andean women
children from tribute demands, claiming their took both their husbands and Spanish colonists
children as mestizos on baptismal records, as to court, and though very few cases were ever
only natives were required to pay tribute.16 In resolved in their favor, the very act of legal
fear of raising the next generation of slave resistance was of momentous import.20 Elite
labor for the Spanish, some mothers took women further protested male usurpation of
drastic action; in Ecuador, a colonial priest their property in their wills, as an act of final
found evidence that Andean women had defiance to the legal ramification of Spanish
mutilated their infant sons to render them imposed gender hierarchy. Juana Chimbo, a
useless for tribute. Though rare, some Andean wealthy Andean woman, protested her
women took still greater precautions towards husband’s theft of her land in her final will;
protecting their children from colonial labor Juana demanded that her property be granted
exploitation, resorting to abortion or only to her female relatives, because her
infanticide. When one Ecuadorian mother was husband had “no rights whatsoever” over her
caught burying her newborn son alive by the lands.21 A caveat included in Juana’s will
village priest, she claimed that she had killed provides a clear indication that elite women
her child so that “…he would not have to see actively sought to subvert the colonial system
Christians in his lands.”17 While reproductive that robbed native women of their legal
resistance efforts did not directly influence independence and rights. These formal and
labor revisions in the colonial system, they did documented instances of female resistance to
signify an attempt to reclaim female labor their new position in the colonial system is
privileges, both sexual and economic. evidence of a larger resistance by Andean
While the colonial legal system was not women throughout the colonial period, and is
designed to be accessible to native women, indicative of an attempt to subvert the
elite Andean women nonetheless formally patriarchy, both native and Spanish.
protested the loss of their legal and economic Violent Resistance

18 Anton, 38.
15 Powers, 178. 19 Silverblatt, 119.
16 Ibid., 178. 20 Silverblatt, 120.
17 Ibid., 178. 21 Ibid., 121.
While there were limited instances of high repute in the rebel army. Curaca Tomasa
organized resistance by native women during Titu Condemayta was a rural leader that served
the colonial period, there are still fewer as a field commander in the uprising, and
occurrences of organized violence against the received her orders directly from Tupac
Spanish patriarchy with high levels of female Amaru, an indication of her high status in the
involvement. Whereas occasions of passive movement.24
resistance were usually conducted by The presence of native women in the high
individuals, and were directed at the covert command of the rebel army represented the
subversion of the colonial system, instances of survival of dual leadership, an Andean
organized violence required mass participation conception of gender parallelism in authority
and took decades to foment. The most positions, which managed to outlast the brutal
notorious violent uprising in colonial Andean eradication efforts of the colonial gender
history was the Tupac Amaru Rebellion of structure. A sizeable proportion of the soldiers
1780-1782, an event that utilized the mass in the movement were also native Andean
unrest of huge native populations with military women, and though they did not occupy
precision.22 For two centuries, native Andeans prestigious positions like Micaela Bastides and
had suffered extreme losses of social, Curaca Tomasa, they supplied the soldiers with
economic, and religious status, and after an weapons and fought alongside the men in
extended period of continued abuses, native skirmishes with the Spanish.25 The Spanish
groups were prepared to reclaim their lost forces were especially disturbed by the masses
rights through violent means. The uprising was of female soldiers in the movement, and the
led by Tupac Amaru, a native Andean that gruesome public executions of the high female
claimed to be the rightful heir to the fallen Inca command illustrate the gender inversion that
Empire, and who pledged to eradicate the these women represented to the Spanish
oppressive colonial system through military colonial system. While rare, the high female
force.23 Women not only participated as involvement in the Tupac Amaru Rebellion
followers in the rebellion, they also held illustrated the continued resistance efforts of
prestigious military positions in the rebel native Andean women to the colonial gender
forces. Tupac Amaru’s wife, Micaela Bastides, hierarchy.
served as a military strategist, absentee general
and troop commandant in her husband’s Religious Resistance
absence. Micaela was reported to have Resistance to the religious changes
personally led five thousand native soldiers instituted by the Spanish with the introduction
into battle against the Spanish, and was of Catholicism during the colonial period was
remembered by a captured Spaniard as being an especially contentious point for Andeans.
as “cruel a monster” as her husband in Both the Andean religion and Catholicism
obtaining information from captured Spaniards were structured around their respective gender
on enemy movements. Female curacas, or structures, so that the high religious status
regional leaders, who had been dispossessed of enjoyed by Andean women the prior to the
their titles by the colonial patriarchy also conquest was replaced with subservient
flocked to the cause, and enjoyed positions of religious role of Iberian Catholicism. The
higher status of women in Andean society was
22Stavig, Ward and Ella Schmidt (eds.). The Tupac 23 Ibid., 19.
Amaru and Catarista Rebellions: An anthology of 24 Ibid., 92, 65, 89.
sources. Indiana: Hackett Publishing, 2008. 61. 25 Ibid., 98.
directly reflected in their religious roles and Inti, which established the superiority of the
positions, which the introduction of Inca patriarchy over women in religion. This
Catholicism directly challenged. Andean religious control did have its limits, however,
religion followed the model of parallel descent, as the aclla system inadvertently established a
so that worship and authority positions were female “leadership hierarchy” within a male-
divided equally along gender, providing native centric religious order.29 Although Andean
women with separate, but equally powerful women had suffered male interference in their
religious influence as Andean men. Parallel religious power under the Inca Empire, the
descent also influenced Andean cosmology, so institution of Spanish Catholicism in the Andes
that female deities were incredibly powerful not only curtailed the religious independence
figures in religion. In fact, it has been of Andean women, but attempted to decimate
suggested that Andean cultures had “an ancient the female religious sphere entirely.
tradition of female supernaturals, perhaps The introduction of Catholicism to the
older than in Meso-america.” The strength and Andes resulted in the demotion of native
preeminence of Andean goddesses suggests women in nearly every aspect of religious
that Andean women were equally as respected practice. Where there existed an entire
in religious matters.26 Female priestesses held pantheon of goddesses in Andean mythology,
corresponding high positions of religious the embodiment of powerful creative and
authority as their male counterparts, and held sexual forces, Catholicism had limited the
total control of religious orders devoted to power of divine female figures. The most
female goddesses like the powerful creator significant female figure in Catholicism was
mother Pachamama and the corn goddess the Virgin Mary, and while highly revered,
Saramama.27 Mary was a submissive figure, and largely
Andean female religious authority was not outranked by male deities. The conversion
untested when the Spanish arrived in 1532, as further weakened the power of native women
the Inca Empire had similarly targeted by cutting them out of the creation process
women’s power and influence in the religious entirely; while Andean religion had a founding
sphere. As a male-dominated warrior society, couple, Catholicism had only a founding
the Inca had different ideas of gender father, which left newly “converted” Andean
authority, which led to their replacement of women religiously adrift and
ancient female deities with a supreme male disenfranchised. Andean women not only
god, the sun god Inti. The Inca further lost religious authority during the conversion
interfered in the religious practices of women to Catholicism, they were also persecuted for
by demanding that women break the tradition imagined acts of evil solely for their gender.
of gender parallelism and worship male gods Though Andean religion was devoid of a devil
alongside female.28 The Inca also asserted figure, the Spanish projected their religious
control over positions of female religious gender biases onto native women, with their
authority with the introduction of the aclla assumptions that they worshipped the devil
system. Acllas were young virgins that were because of the supposed disposition to evil of
reaped by the Inca from conquered native the female sex.31 Women in positions of
groups, and installed as priestesses devoted to religious authority were considered to be an

26 Kellogg, 41. 29 Kellogg, 50.

27 Silverblatt, 32. 30 Powers, 24.
28 Ibid., 41. 31 Silverblatt, 173.
affront to acceptable gender roles in the new of this particular cult, Isabel Yalpay, received
colonial order, and not only indecent, but one hundred lashes, was forced to work for the
dangerous to the mission of conversion Church for ten years as penance, and was
undertaken by the Catholic Church. denounced as a witch and a dogmatist by the
In response to the various religious colonial court.33 Such harsh punishments for
demotions and denigrations suffered by pious women reflect the Church’s recognition of the
Andean women following the Spanish power that native women had in Andean
conquest, native women began to actively communities, as they were able to reverse the
commit acts of religious resistance towards the conversion gains of the Church in significant
new Catholic religion that was so intent on numbers. Despite these repercussions, native
suppressing them. In the immediate wake of women continued to defy the Catholic Church,
the conquest, resistant Andean women claimed as the conversion not only dispossessed native
to have fully converted to Catholicism, while women of religious authority, but threatened
secretly continuing to practice native religious cultural traditions as well.
rituals. Former priestesses continued to hold Women of the puna
their positions in the community, acting as The most successful case of organized
confessors and religious guides to fellow religious resistance during the colonial period
native women in direct opposition to the was the development of a sizable female
Catholic decree condemning these practices as community in the rural Puna grasslands, where
acts of heresy. Andean women resisted these female leaders of “outlawed indigenous cults”
religious changes in various ways, the most defied the Spanish en masse.34 Native women
powerful of which were the revival of native who had been victimized under the colonial
cults, creation of puna society, manipulation of tribute system or persecuted by the Catholic
witchcraft, and the Taqi Onqoy movement. Church for heresy slowly began to populate the
Native cults rural puna and established a community
Through the revival of female-oriented dedicated to the preservation of Andean
religious cults, native women successfully culture. During the Church’s extirpation of
resisted Catholic conversion and helped to idolatry campaign, devised to eradicate the
ensure greater preservation of Andean religion. remnants of native religion that had survived
Colonial court records from the seventeenth- colonization, the puna gained even more
century attest to the high level of female inhabitants. An elderly native woman that had
involvement in religious cults. A female cult fled the Extirpator of Idolatry, Franciso Avila,
devoted to the corn goddess, Saramama, was illustrated the larger motivation of native
denounced by Bernardo de Noboa, a Spanish women in joining the puna community:
colonial official, for teaching other natives the perhaps then the priest is to blame if we
“traditions of their ancestors” in “defiance of women adore the mountains, if we flee
colonial civil and ecclesiastical courts.”32 The to the hills and the puna, since there is
punishment for religious opposition was no justice for us here.35
extremely harsh in colonial Peru, as the leader

32 Silverblatt, 32. Andean women under Spanish rule.” In Women

33 Ibid., 33. and Colonization: Anthropological Perspectives, ed.
34 Ibid., 197. Mona Etienne and Eleanor Leacock. New York:
35. Silverblatt, Irene. “’The Universe has turned J.F. Bergin Publishers, 1980. 180.
inside out…there is no justice for us here’:
The open religious persecution of Andean denouncement by the Spanish that they were
women did not inspire greater native morally evil. This was a huge change in
conversion to Catholicism, but instead perception from the pre-Columbian period,
renewed the practice of native religious rituals. when priestesses were revered as “virgins of
This society of female traditionalists openly the sun”, to the colonial Church’s
rejected Spanish customs and authority, in condemnation of these same women as “wives
addition to “…vigorously reject[ing] the of the devil.”40 Native women were doubly
colonial ideology which reinforced their stigmatized by the colonial Church; as women.
oppression, refusing to go to mass…and they were morally susceptible to evil, and as
returned to their native religion.”36 Old widows natives, their religious traditions were a
were able to separate themselves from the manifestation of devil worship.41 As the
perceived impurities of Catholicism by their Spanish expected native women to be witches,
refusal to attend catechism, which allowed native women assumed the guise of
them to make pure offerings to the Andean sorceresses in order to both resist the colonial
gods, as they were considered unsullied by the system and defend “pre-Columbian life
“the world of the conquerors.”37 In the puna, ways.”42 This method of resistance is well
native women were able to avoid the described by the historian Irene Silverblatt:
interferences of colonial priests that demanded Rejection of the Spanish world entailed,
their subservience to the Catholic patriarchy, in some measure, the use of ideological
and were able to create an “underground forms imported by the Spanish: thus,
culture of resistance.”38 The legacy of religious Iberian gender ideologies made women
resistance started by colonial native women in witches, and Andean women turned
the puna is so strong that in modern Andean witchcraft into a means of resistance.43
culture, the puna is still considered as “the
center of women’s society”, and these native The resistant native population assisted these
women are universally acknowledged as mock Andean witches in their efforts, to the
extent that colonial chroniclers recalled the
defenders of the Andean culture.39
refusal of natives to provide the names of
Witchcraft witches to the Spanish, so that an underground
The utilization of the Catholic fear of resistance movement was created purely out of
witchcraft by native women to manipulate the the natives’ manipulation of their conquerors’
colonial system was an extremely innovative fear of witchcraft.44
method of religious resistance to Spanish The Taqi Onqoy Movement
gender hierarchy. Though Andean religion was
devoid of any reference to the devil, native The Taqi Onqoy movement was the most
women understood the power of witchcraft in famous religious resistance movement that
asserting female influence in the religious swept the native population of the Andes
sphere. Though native women did not believe throughout the mid-sixteenth century. Of the
themselves to be practitioners of witchcraft, thousands of native followers, or Taquiongos,
they adopted the guise in response to repeated women made up more than half of the ranks.

36 Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches, 197. 40 Anton, 69.

37 Ibid., 205. 41 Ibid., 170.
38 Silverblatt, The Universe, 180 42 Ibid., 195.
43 Ibid., 213.
39 Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches, 209. 44 Ibid., 195.
The movement was borne out of the natives’ society resulted in a serious status demotion for
desire to return to ancient Andean religious Andean women after the conquest. The pre-
traditions and banish both the Spanish and the Columbian period had allowed for a
oppressive Catholic religion from the Andes, harmonious, parallel relationship between
which Andeans envisioned as the result of a Andean men and women, so that native women
clash between the Andean and Catholic gods.45 were able to hold equally powerful positions in
The fact that the majority of Taquiongos were society. The introduction of Iberian gender
women served as an indication as to the hierarchies, however, wherein women held
survival of Andean religious authority subordinate places in all aspects of society,
parallels, even decades after the conquest.46 reduced Andean women to their colonial status
Female Taquiongos had significant influence as second-class citizens. The resistance
within the movement; they were able to measures undertaken by native women in
simultaneously recruit fellow natives to join retaliation to these changes, passive, violent,
the movement, and bring Catholicized natives and religious, constituted active efforts to
back to Andean religion.47 The female regain previously held rights. Furthermore,
members of the Taqi Onqoy movement not such resistance efforts by Andean women
only encouraged native resistance to their during the colonial period represented a larger
oppressive colonial masters and the Spanish effort to preserve Andean culture from the
world, but also tried to foster significant destructive influences of both the Catholic
solidarity within the Andean world, as an effort Church and colonial system.
to better salvage pre-conquest religious
independence and freedoms.48 Although the
movement was ultimately unsuccessful in its
goal of expelling the Spanish from the Andes,
native women did manage to reverse the
conversion gains of the Catholic Church, and
inspire further acts of resistance amongst
native Andean women.
The Spanish conquest of the Americas has
been referred to by historians as a “gendered
collision.”49 This portrayal has certainly
proven accurate in regard to the Spanish
conquest of the Andes in 1532, when Spanish
conquerors attempted to impose the Iberian
conception of gender hierarchies on a largely
egalitarian-native population. This radically
fundamental disparity between the gender
conceptions operating in Spanish and Andean

45 Powers, 180. Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Press, 1982.

46 Kellogg, 83. 55.
47 Stern, Steve J. Peru’s Indian Peoples and the

Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640. 48 Ibid., 56.

49 Powers, 39.

Anton, Ferdinand. Woman in Pre-Columbian America. New York: Abner-

Schram, 1973.
Kellogg, Susan. Weaving the Past: A history of Latin America’s indigenous
women from the pre-Hispanic period to the present. New York: Oxford
University Press, 2005.
Powers, Karen Vierra. Women in the Crucible of Conquest: The gendered genesis
of Spanish-American society, 1500-1600. Albuquerque: University of New
Mexico Press, 2005.
Ramirez, Susan Elizabeth. The World Turned Upside Down: Cross-cultural
contact and conflict in sixteenth-century Peru. Stanford: Stanford University
Press, 1996.
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