As reparation for historical injustices and as a means to strengthen the nation's intercultural identity, the Ecuadorean government and its citizens are prioritizing the recuperation of the country's 14 indigenous languages.
Human migration and society’s stigmatization of their tounge are two factors that have led to the near disappearance of some languages in recent years. Studies have shown that in 1950 14 percent of the population spoke an indigenous language, with that number plummeting to 3.7 percent in 1990.
The director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, Eduardo Pichilingue, told teleSUR English, "I think that language is fundamental for creating a group, so that it has identity. I work with the Waorani indigenous group. The Waorani thankfully have a relatively healthy language still. They were contacted not too long ago, which makes the change in their language not as drastic as in other nationalities."
Giving a space to those previously excluded and ignored indigenous voices is the Ecuador Educational Coordination of Popular Radio. With the objective of democratizing communication, it allows Kichwa-speaking producers to design their own programs, and report on both national and international events.
"On behalf of the government I think there has been an effort above all else to strengthen processes of cultural exchange. I believe the government is working hard in communication processes between people and nationalities. 18 community radios have been implemented at a national level to strengthen processes of communication between people from distinct nationalities,” said Sandy Chavez, the Coordinator of Networks at CORAPE.
She went on to say, “From us as an institution, a great success has been incorporating producers, young people who did not speak Kichwa, into our educational initiative and transmit in the Kichwa language. So our first success has been that these young people are not embarrassed to speak in the language, but that they are part of this initiative to rescue indigenous languages, and this has been the first.”
A country with more than 10 indigenous nationalities, the 2008 constitution of Ecuador declares it a plurinational and intercultural state. The Foreign Ministry has expressed that it is willing to foster diplomatic relationships with these distinct nationalities within Ecuador, as a way to strengthen national identity as the country continues working to save and further the use of indigenous languages.