Dolores Cacuango (1881–1971) was a pioneer of the indigenous rights movement in Ecuador. She founded the Federación Ecuatoriana de Indios, FEI (Indigenous Federation of Ecuador in 1944 with the help of Ecuador's Communist Party, FEI).
Dolores Cacuango was born in 1881 in San Pablourco on the Pesillo Hacienda near Cayambe, Ecuador. When she was fifteen years old, she worked for the owner of the hacienda as a domestic servant and was struck by the disparity between the living conditions between the landlords and the peons.
During the May 1944 Revolution in Ecuador, Cacuango personally led an assault on a government military base. In 1944, she founded the Indigenous Federation of Ecuador (FEI), one of the first primary organisations to position, demand and fight for indigenous rights.
While Cacuango never received a formal education, she helped establish the first bilingual Indian schools. Aware of the terrible conditions that the children of indigenous peoples suffered in the schools, she ultimately founded bilingual schools, taught in both Spanish and Quechua, the indigenous language. She established these schools in the Cayambe zone in 1945. Cacuango proposed that these schools teach the pupils to read in both languages. Her schools functioned for 18 years, but the military junta closed them in 1963, considering them as communist focos.
Death and legacy
Dolores Cacuango, or Mama Dulu, as she was known, died in 1971. Her son, Catucuamba Cacuango, Luis (b. 1924) taught at the Yanahuaico Indian school from 1945 to 1963, until the schools were shut down by the junta.
In 1988, the Ministry of Education recognized the necessity of bettering the education of the indigenous people of Ecuador. The National Direction of Bilingual Intercultural Education was also created.