INKA LEGACY: Cultural Heritage and the New Generations

60 photographs by Luis Delgado Hurtado were on display from July 16 thru August 16, 1998 at Edison Community College Fine Arts Gallery in Fort Saksaywaman WallsMyers, Florida. This exhibit was by invitation from Dr. Edith Pendleton, Dean of Humanities, Communications and Social Sciences at Edison Community College and has fittingly taken place during the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed in Paris France in 1948.

Machu Picchu and Cuzco, the ancient capital of Tawantinsuyu (the Inka empire in the 15th and 16th centuries), two of the cultural sites in Peru protected by UNESCO World Heritage Convention, were featured in exhibit.

The World Heritage Centre of UNESCO in Paris, France supported the Inka Legacy with beautiful informative and educational literature for visiting students and teachers. In the words of UNESCO: "Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations". This concept was applied to the theme of exhibit. Additional material was provided by the General Consulate of Peru in Miami, UN/DPI and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in NYC.

A souvenir sheet bearing the emblems of UNESCO and the World Heritage was designed by Marie Samuel along with an educational brochure for the exhibit. The brochure, subtitled "A new Awareness of History" is attempting to correct Western scholarship's stereotypes such as the concept of "gods" which is foreign to Indigenous peoples. The Inkas, as all native peoples, were one with their environment, the Sacred Creation, and cared for "Pacha Mama", Mother Earth. They worshipped the Creator whom they saw manifested in the great powers of Nature: the sun, the mountains, the wind...which are "apus", spirits, but not "gods".

The beauty and mystery of Machu Picchu, the "Lost City of the Inkas" attract visitors from foreign countries but is rarely seen by the children of the descendants of the Inkas, rightful heirs of this legacy. Residing in the Andean villages which surround it, the funds needed to travel there and enter the site is a luxury that their families cannot afford and is sometimes not even thought of. Lost in a modern world of mistaken values and put down by prejudices and misunderstandings during the past 500 years, the descendants of the Inkas strive to make ends meet in an environment of natural beauty but harsh conditions. It is customary for the children to work at an early age to supplement the family income, to attend school at night, if at all. The traditions are still passed on, but the lure of the Western materialistic civilization out there is very real.

As North American "Indians" experienced, South American "Indians" have been encouraged to forget their identity, to blend in...Quechua, the language of the Inkas and of their descendants, was only officially allowed in 1968 and education is mostly taught in Spanish all over Peru. Even though the archeological history is part of the curriculum, the soul of the Inka legacy tends to be forgotten when it should be a source of pride in the hearts of the children.

Luis Delgado Hurtado, born in the Andean village of Acopia and raised in Qosqo (Quechua spelling of Cuzco, meaning the "Navel of the World, officially returned in 1990), has this pride and love for his culture. He tries to convey them in the photographs he has taken of the peoples and sites in the Peruvian Andes and which have been seen over the past years in USA in venues such as the United Nations, the Bahá'í Center and the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, Conejo Art Museum in Thousand Oaks, California.