Swimming Against the Tide

Swimming against the tide

Have you ever thought or tried swimming against the tide? I have heard it is good for the heart.

This enigma of wanting to swim against the tide has been reverberating in my heart for years.  But why? What is the drive behind it?

Well, it stemmed from my naïve desire to be identified as an Indigenous woman growing up in a big metropolitan city like Lima – Peru.

Naïve? Yes, because after living in New Zealand for over 15 years and feeling a warm conviviality as an Indigenous woman and scholar in New Zealand then I thought it’d be the same case in Peru. In my experience – it is not.

So some reality check questions started to flow from my heart:

  1. How does my heart feel being an Indigenous woman in Peru?

My heart feels very vulnerable and without a voice.

  1. How does my heart feel being an Indigenous woman of Peru living in New Zealand?

My heart rejoices because is alive; it has a voice.

So here – I am.  Swimming against the tide to be accepted as an Indigenous woman in my homeland. But why? Because of my cultural identity – I am an Indigenous woman of Peru.

But do not get too excited and think, I want to start an Indigenous revolution in Peru. No, that is not my intention because I believe in the language of the universe – Love.

Also, I am a woman brought up in Western society, and so I have an appreciation and respect for these two worldviews. I would very much like for these two contrasting worldviews to love, understand, and respect one another.

So how did my swimming against the tide go?  Oh really good, I think I nailed my swimming strokes!

Because of the beautiful and crystal waters of the Pacific Ocean surrounding Aotearoa – New Zealand. I was able to navigate through a journey towards reconnecting with my cultural identity – my Indigenous roots. There have been a few intrepid trips to the Peruvian Amazon and Andes over the past 15 years. However, it was not until my last trip to the Peruvian Andes in 2014 that I found my treasure. I had the pleasure and honour to live and work with my people in the Altiplano (Andean highlands) for five months. This trip was my doctoral field research trip.

What a fascinating experience! I love the fresh foods, and the fact that almost everything grows there. You can make almost any food that you like, and it tastes so flavourful because of what you started with – the bounty of Mother Earth.

Ah! By the way, I found out that one the main ingredient from the Andean peoples of Peru to improve food security is:

Live a ‘good live’ ‘Allin Kawsay’ every day – A loving and respectful commitment between humans (within themselves) and with Pachamama (Mother Earth). The resourcefulness that I have learnt made me feel so much more able and invigorated to continue with my doctoral research and aspirations in life. I am forever grateful to both Peru and New Zealand – I found my treasure. I no longer feel the need for acceptance in Peru because I treasure the ancient history of my people – my Inca lineage, and that is all that matters to me.

I knew I found my treasure when I experienced ‘Allin Kawsay’ up in the Andes, and this is when I felt that swimming against the tide is ‘good for the heart’.

Now I invite other Indigenous sisters and brothers and everyone who relates to me to also swim against the tide – It is good for the heart!

Mariaelena

Mariaelena is a Ph.D. candidate from Peru (Quechua) at The University of Auckland in the School of Management and International Business - New Zealand. Mariaelena's Ph.D. research topic: Is Indigenous knowledge able to contribute to food security? She is investigating how the knowledge possessed by Indigenous people –Māori of Aotearoa and Peruvian Andeans – can contribute to improving food security. This comparative research focuses on the Māori principle of ‘Te rongo me te Ātanoho' or ‘good life' and ‘Allin Kawsay', the Andean principle of ‘good living'. Her research explores traditional food production from an Indigenous perspective, Good living philosophies, economic resilience (whai rawa), and environmental sustainability (kaitiakitanga). Mariaelena guides her research by the development of an Indigenous research methodology that is grounded on the principles of Kaupapa Māori, and Peru's bicultural protocol referred to as the ‘Khipu Andean Model'. Mariaelena has published in the International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability and the International Journal of Environmental Sustainability. Also, Mariaelena has published book series, such as Critical Studies on Corporate Responsibility, Governance and Sustainability by Emerald group Publishing. Mariaelena is a researcher with the Mira Száscy Research Centre - Māori and Pacific Economic Development at the University of Auckland. She has professional experiences in corporate sustainability, public policy as well as in the tertiary education area. Mariaelena's research topics include sustainable development, Indigenous knowledge, climate change, corporate sustainability and countries heritage.

3 comments

  1. I share the dual perspectives on how Indigenous identity feels in different places, especially on the other side of the world. I definitely took it for granted that the comfort of knowing your “place”, whether it is a city, landscape, house, community means you may be preventing yourself from ever not knowing other places. And sometimes it’s the opposite. By not knowing a new place, I see so much more that I also do not know about my home, city and community.

    I also find that Aotearoa fosters a certain amount of intellectual and developmental freedom where the day-to-day programme of life as usual at home can stifle creativity. I have wondered why this is, and what the distance enables and limits in terms of growing individually and collectively.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This blog highlights the diversity of the indigenous experience, which has opened up my way of thinking. I am very curious as to why it was harder for you to find an indigenous voice in your country?

    I am look forward to reading more blogs on your Peruvian experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was very privileged to travel to Machu Picchu and other remote Andes villages back in 1989. I met indigenous Quechua speakers, and enjoyed the vibrancy of both the music and food. Being dark haired, olive skinned, and dressed in locally made sweaters, carrying a blue plastic striped shopping bag like the locals, I used my very best Espaňol to help me fit in easier and make some lovely connections with your people. I felt like I knew them, could relate, and connect on a spiritual or cultural level, and because of this enjoyed safety in some troublesome times. While there I did my best to swim with their tide and that was good for the heart too!

    Like

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