11 Indigenous Latina Heroines You Should Know

  Yesterday was Columbus Day, a national federal holiday (October 8), which is meant to celebrate Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of America on October 12, 1492



Yesterday was Columbus Day, a national federal holiday (October 8), which is meant to celebrate Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of America on October 12, 1492. Instead of cosigning on a lie, and the blatant disrespect of the indigenous community, here at HipLatina we prefer to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead.

Columbus Day might have been yesterday, but we shouldn’t just rely on one day to celebrate and educate about America’s indigenous communities. Let’s take a moment to highlight the strong women who were a part of  stirring change. The following 11 indigenous Latinas (chosen to offer a representation of various Latin American countries), are heroines you should know about.


Bartolina Sisa

Aymara Bertolina Sisa is considered an indigenous heroine. The Bolivia native, along with husband Tupac Katari, and sister-in-law Gregoria Apaza, rose up against the Spanish in 1781. Sisa was executed on September 5, 1872; September 5 is now considered International Indigenous Women’s Day, in her honor.


Rigoberta Menchú Tum

K’iche’ (Quiche) Rigoberta Menchu Tum has fought for both indigenous and indigenous women’s rights, in Guatemala. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, and ran for president of Guatemala in 2007 and 2011.


Miriam Miranda

Garifuna Miriam Miranda has stood up for the cultural and environmental/land rights of the Garifuna community in Honduras. She is the leader/General Coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH).


Berta Caceres

Lenca Berta Caceres Flores was an indigenous leader, who fought for environmental/land rights of the Lenca people in Honduras. She co-founded the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), and was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. Caceres became a martyr when she was murdered in 2016.


Milagro Sala

Indigenous Argentinian Milagro Sala is a political and social activist, who founded the Tupac Amaru neighborhood association, joined the Argentine Workers’ Central Union (CTA), and has worked with the Association of State Workers of Jujuy (ATE). On January 16, 2016, Sala was arrested and imprisoned for alleged fraud, extortion, sedition, inciting violence, and illicit association, a move meant to silence her (she was convicted on protest-related charges in 2017). The United Nations, Amnesty International, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have requested her release. wp_*posts

Dolores Cacuango (Mamá Doloreyuk, Mama Dulu)


Dolores Cacuango (Mamá Doloreyuk, Mama Dulu) fought for indigenous rights, feminism, and farm/land rights in Ecuador during the 1940s. She founded the first bilingual Kichwa (Quichua)-Spanish school in the country, and founded the Indigenous Federation of Ecuador (FEI) in 1944.


Comandanta Ramona

Comandanta Ramona was an officer of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Mexico. She helped found the National Indigenous Congress, after going to Mexico City for the National Indigenous Forum in October 1996. Ramona also was one of the Zapatista women to draft The Revolutionary Women’s Law/Revolutionary Law on Women, in January of 1994.


Tarcila Rivera Zea

Quechan Tarcila Rivera Zea is a Peruvian indigenous activist. She founded CHIRAPAQ (Center for Indigenous Cultures) in 1985, and was elected to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, for 2017-2019.


Silvia Carrera


Silvia Carrera Concepción is the General Cacique (indigenous group leader) of the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca (the largest indigenous comarca/region) in Panama. She is the first female cacique of the Ngöbe, and has fought for indigenous rights, including fighting against copper mining and a hydroelectric dam on their land.


Moira Millán

Mapuche Moira Millan is a social activist, feminist, and leader of the Pillán Mahuiza community in Chubut (Puelmapu), Argentina. She is known as a weichafe, or warrior/defender.


Nina Pacari

Nina Pacari (born Maria Estela Vega Conejo) is Kichwa (Quichua) indigenous leader, lawyer, and politician in Ecuador. She is the first indigenous woman elected to Ecuadorian parliament (in 1997), became it’s first indigenous vice president in 1998, and in 2007, was elected to the country’s Supreme Court.

In this Article

American Indian culture indigenous Indigenous heroes latina latino latinx Native American TBT
More on this topic