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Aymara New Year Celebration
La Paz, Bolivia

June 21 is the Aymara New Year, and we were lucky enough to literally stumble across the large celebration taking place in La Paz, Bolivia's capital.  What an experience!  We sat amongst the locals, sharing coca leaves (bleh!, but when in Rome...), and enjoying the festivities for hours.

Between 50 and 60% of the total population of Bolivia is of pure Indian stock; most of these largely traditional people speak either Quecha or Aymara as a first language and strongly resist cultural change.  The authenticity of this celebration, attended by local indigenous peoples in traditional dress, proved to be a powerful glimpse into the strength and determination of that resistance. 

The influence of the indigenous Aymara culture in Bolivia is very strong.  In pre-Hispanic Bolivia, the Aymara flourished as one of the most influential cultures in the Andes, and the dispersed Altiplano communities of Aymara-speaking Indians fought to preserve their culture, including the historic battles against the cultural dominance and oppression of the expanding Inca Empire. 

The following are some photographs that I took of the performers.  Additional photographs will be loaded soon.