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The Quilmes people were an indigenous tribe of the Diaguita group settled in the western subandean valleys of today’s Tucumán province, in northwestern Argentina. They fiercely resisted the Inca invasions of the 15th century, and continued to resist the Spaniards for 130 years, until being defeated in 1667. Spanish invaders relocated the last 2,000 survivors to a reservation (reducción) 20 km south of Buenos Aires. This 1,500 km journey was made by foot, causing hundreds of Quilmes to die in the process. By 1810, the reservation was abandoned as a result of its having become a ghost town. The survivors ultimately settled in what is now the city of Quilmes.
The Quilmes Indians were one of the fiercest cultures which resisted the Incas but eventually fell to the Spaniards. Today, there are only a few Quilmes left in Tucumán Province.
On the way to Cafayate, 182 km from San Miguel de Tucumán, the Ruins of Quilmes may be seen; this is a fortified citadel which was raised by the Quilmes Indians. One of the most important archaeological locations in Argentina, the ruins were discovered by ethnographer and historian Samuel Lafone Quevedo in 1888 and restored in 1978. As of 2007, this archaeological site is in private hands, and has a private hotel on its territory.
Population at the beginning of the second half of the 17th century, is estimated in about 2,000 families, approximately 10,000 persons.