Table of contents
Table of contents
Poem / Counterpoint

Seeker of Life/Kawsay Thawiq

A Quechua poet and linguist speaks to the conflicting feelings some Indigenous groups experience when non-Native paleoarchaeologists and others visit their communities for research projects.
A photograph features a group of people in colorful ponchos and brimmed straw hats waving colorful flags and holding large drums. A banner in the distance reads “21 de Junio."

The author’s community celebrates Inti Raymi, or the Sun Festival, on the equinox in Bolivia.

Elvia Andía Grageda

“Seeker of Life/Kawsay Thawiq” is part of the collection Indigenizing What It Means to Be Human. Read the introduction to the collection here.

Seeker of Life (English) - Listen
1:25

Seeker of Life

I found you as you were walking in town, studying the ground
We met in a big city
You came to my community for research
You were looking for life deep within the ground

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You didn’t speak our language
That’s why I helped you communicate
I accompanied you on your walks in the mountains
I helped you with your excavations

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One day when we were digging
We found ancient skeletal remains
We were very excited!
We found a message of happiness for my town!

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We cleaned the remains very well
We wrapped them in beautiful wool
And the next day many people came
They took away what we had found

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But now our brother of bones
He has no name and is in a cold museum
But below, your name is written
To you, they are just ancient bones
But to my people, they are the heart of the Earth

A pencil sketch features an older person in a patterned pom-pom hat and shawl looking to their left where their poncho holds a skull on their back.

Elvia Andía Grageda

Kawsay Thawiq (Quechua) - Listen
1:19

Kawsay Thawiq

Llaqtata purikuspa tarirqayki, pampanchikmanta yacharikuschkaptiyki
Jatun llaqtapi tinkurqanchik
Llamk’aykirayku aylluyman chayamurqanki
Jallp’a ukhumanta kawsayta mask’achkarqanki

##

Mana siminchiktapis parlarqankichu
Chayrayku ñuqa parlaysirqayki
Urqukunata puriysimurqayki
Jallp’akunata thawiysimurqayki

##

Juk p’unchaw pampata allachkaptiyku
Ñawpaq runap tullunta tarirqayku
¡Sumaqta kusirikurqayku!
¡Llaqtaypaq kusiyta tarirqayku!

##

Sumaqta chay tullukunata llimphucharqayku
K’acha millmakunawan mayt’urqayku
Q’ayantintaq wak runañataq chayamurqanku
Chay tarisqanchikta apakampurqanku

##

Kunantaq tullu masinchikta
Mana sutiyuq chiri museopi kachkan
Tullu urapitaq sutiyki jatunpi qillqasqa kachkan
Qampaqqa ñawpaq tullulla, aylluypaq jallp’a sunqun kachkan

Elvia Andía Grageda is a linguist specializing in the study and instruction of Bolivian Quechua and Spanish. She holds a master’s degree. Andía Grageda’s research investigates the role of Quechua in the linguistic policies of Indigenous languages in higher education, particularly in the Quechua Public Indigenous University in Bolivia. Andía Grageda joined Ohio State University in 2016 and coordinates the Quechua program for both undergraduate and graduate students across six institutions. She is the world’s first certified oral proficiency interview tester for Quechua and has published on teaching methods and Indigenous stories. In 2019, she won the Premio Guamán Poma de Ayala in Indigenous Language, a national literature prize in Bolivia, for her novel Pirqakunawan parlaspa – Hablando con las paredes, which is in Quechua and Spanish.

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