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  • Tsiweyenka, 68, said she feels confident about the position, given the level of respect the community gives her.

    Tsiweyenka, 68, said she feels confident about the position, given the level of respect the community gives her. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 May 2019

Despite centuries of tradition and patriarchy, the right to lead has been passed to the widow of former Maka chief, Andres Chemei.

Paraguay's Indigenous Maka community welcomes its first female leader, Tsiweyenki (also known as Gloria Elizeche), the group announced Thursday.

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Despite centuries of tradition and patriarchy, the right to lead has been passed to the widow of Andres Chemei, former Maka chief, as there is no male heir.

“The Maka are respectful of women and in this case we have placed our trust in Chemei’s widow,” Maka Traditional Dance Director Yelukin told AP.

The community announced its decision Thursday, upending centuries of tradition and patriarchy and becoming one of Paraguay’s first Indigenous groups to elect a female leader.

Marilin Rehnfeld, director of the Department of Anthropology at the Catholic University of Asuncion, told AP, “Generally speaking, all indigenous people have a great deal of respect for women because they are decision-makers.

“They organize the community, educate the children and deal with all important matters. The title of chief was invented by our society, not the tribes.”

Tsiweyenka, 68, said, “I feel very good, very encouraged because the whole community respects me.”

She will be assisted by experienced advisers while adjusting to her new role, but according to witnesses, seems to be taking to the position with very little difficulty.

Roughly 2,000 Indigenous people reside in the 325-acre colony just outside the city of Asuncion where they make a living primarily from their handicrafts.

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