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Gaitana, also known as Guaitipan, is referred to as La Gaitana and Cacica Gaitana, was a 16th-century Yalcon woman from the region of Timaná, Huila, a leader who, in 1539–40, led the indigenous people of the Upper Magdalena River Valley in Colombia in armed resistance against the colonization by the Spanish. Her monument sculpted by Rodrigo Arenas stands in Neiva, the capital of the Huila Department in Colombia.
The indigenous people
According to Spanish chronologists, at the time of conquest, the modern territory of Huila Department was inhabited by many different peoples. The Yalcón People (with nearly 6,000 warriors), the Avirama, the Pinao, the Guanaca and the Paez lived north of the Magdalena River, with later concentrated around the La Plata River. South of the Magdalena River lived the Andaqui and Timana and to the East lived the Pijao peoples.
Pedro de Añasco
Pedro de Añasco was a Spanish conqueror, sent by Sebastián de Belalcázar to found a village in the territory of what is today Timana, in order to create a trade route through the Magdalena River valley.
Añasco called all the indigenous leaders and demanded that they pay him a tribute. A tribe of Yalcon people, commanded by a young man and his mother (Gaitana Cacica) delayed the payment, and Añasco decided to set an example by ordering her son to be burned alive.
The execution of Gaitana's son caused outrage among the indigenous tribes, who decided to cooperate with each other to join forces against the Spaniards. Añasco and his men were attacked by surprise. The men were executed and Añasco had his eyes removed and was dragged around the village until he died.
However, one of the indigenous leaders, Cacique Matambo, betrayed the organized indigenous forces. Matambo warned the Spaniards about plans against them with the result that the indigenous forces were crushed and the remaining indigenous people were gradually exterminated by slavery, smallpox and other European diseases.
- Banco de la Republica: La Gaitana
- SIMÓN, Fray Pedro. Noticias historiales de las conquistas de Tierra Firme en las Indias Occidentales. Bogotá, 1953, 9 tomos.
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