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This article is about Latin American policies regarding Indigenous peoples. For Ethnic nationalism, see Indigenismo.

Indigenismo is a political ideology in several Latin American countries emphasising the relation between the nation state and Indigenous minorities.[1] In some contemporary uses, it refers to the pursuit of greater social and political inclusion for Indigenous peoples of the Americas, whether through national-level reforms or region-wide alliances.[2] In either case, this type of indigenismo seeks to vindicate indigenous cultural and linguistic difference, assert indigenous rights, and seek recognition and in some cases compensation for past wrongdoings of the colonial and republican states.

A second use of the term, however, is more common and has more historical depth. Originally, indigenismo was a component of nationalist ideology that became influential in Mexico after the consolidation of the revolution of 1910–20. This "indigenismo" also lauded some aspects of indigenous cultural heritage, but primarily as a relic of the past. Within the larger national narrative of the Mexican nation as the product of European and Amerindian "race mixture," indigenismo was the expression of nostalgia for an imagined, folklorized figure of indigeneity. With the possible exception of the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–40), this valorization of indigeneity rarely carried over to contemporary indigenous people, who were targeted for assimilation into modern Mexican society. Though the authors of indigenista policies saw themselves as seeking to protect and relieve indigenous people, their efforts did not make a clean break with the overtly racist forced assimilation of the pre-revolutionary past.[3]

In Peru it is associated with the APRA movement although APRA has currently little support among the indigenous communities of the Andes.


  1. ^ SeeEngle, Karen (2010). The Elusive Promise of Indigenous Development. Duke University Press. 
  2. ^ See e.g. Alcida Rita Ramos, Indigenism: Ethnic Politics in Brazil, University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.
  3. ^ Alan Knight, “Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo," in The Idea of Race in the Americas, 1870-1940, edited by Richard Graham, University of Texas Press, 1990.