Center for World Indigenous Studies
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The Natural Order

Published: April 30, 2010, Author: JayTaber

In Cut Stones and Crossroads: A Journey in the Two Worlds of Peru, Ronald Wright encounters such literary figures as Waman Puma, an Inca philosopher from the 1600s, whose writings described the collapse of Inca society as the “world in reverse”, the Conquest as a ghastly cosmic mistake–a reversal of the natural order, which had to be put right.

As a Runa who had survived the Andean apocalypse, Waman Puma chronicled the pachakuti — Runasimi for apocalypse — which literally means “world reversal”. Puma’s 1,200 page manuscript, written at the same time Shakespeare’s plays debuted in London, was actually a letter to the Spanish emperor about restoring governance along Inca lines–a detailed and cogent rejection of colonialism from within an indigenous world view.

Waman Puma’s petition for self-government, which presaged the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by four centuries, was evidently misplaced in Lima, only to be rediscovered three centuries later at the Royal Copenhagen Library. As an illustration of the sophisticated level of Inca knowledge and diplomacy, the story helps put into perspective the task before us today. After five centuries in reverse, colonialism in the form of global privatization now has our backs against the wall; perhaps as we struggle to put things right, the world view recorded by Waman Puma will help.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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