El Salvador: María Eugenia Aguilar Castro

Under a strange empire, the martyrdoms amassed, / and destroyed; / perplexed, lost, their memory denied, / alone.” (Apu Inka Apawllkaman–Quechua poetry)

— María Eugenia Aguilar Castro

María Eugenia Aguilar was introduced to the ancestral world through an indigenous nanny who spoke the Quiché language. After spending time with notable Indigenous Americans, she began to identify herself fully with the indigenous world. She is the founder of Kal Tunal (The House of the Sun) and of the Salvadorian Institute for Indigenous Ancestral Rescue (Rais). Their aim is to investigate and to make visible indigenous customs and values, helping them to take their place in popular national culture.

María Eugenia Aguilar (born in 1948) was greatly influenced by several accidental meetings she had with notable Indigenous Americans. There was no way out of it. An indigenous nanny had inclined her sense of hearing towards the sweet sound of the birds. Some years later, a Mexican Nahua speaker and bonesetter awakened in her the will to recover the earth where she lived her childhood. She soon learned the Náhuatl in Nahuizalco (indigenous region in the West of El Salvador). An indigenous Guatemalan changed her life forever, naming her “Tzunún Ja,” which means ‘sparrow,’ the one who carries the message. When the Venezuelan Domingo Díaz Port founded the Association of Solar Indigenous America (Mais)–an international organization located in Mexico–María Eugenia joined it, giving seminars and workshops on culture and language. Later, she attended the encounter called ‘Song for the earth’–organized by the Navajo Indigenous Americans from Arizona. The year after, she acted as coordinator for the event known as ‘In Lakech’ (You are my other ego), in El Salvador. In 1992, she founded the Centre for Cultural Training and Human Development, Escuela de Tejedores Kal Tunal o Casa Del Sol (The House of the Sun), and, in 1994, the Salvadorian Institute for Indigenous Ancestral Rescue (Rais), of which she is still the director. She is the author of the book ‘Women's empowerment through their ancestral wisdom,’ and has compiled the first indigenous profile of El Salvador. María Eugenia Aguilar, the Mayan priestess, maintains that “a peaceful world will be possible when elderly people are involved with young people, so that traditional cultures will not be forgotten and destroyed. The current concept of sustainability shall be understood as the sustainability of life itself. That is why part of my work is to validate memory, wisdom, knowledge and the art of the communities.”

Rescate Ancestral Indígena Salvadoreño (RAIS)