Lame, Manuel Quintín (1883–1967)

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Lame, Manuel Quintín (1883–1967)

Manuel Quintín Lame (b. 31 October 1883; d. 7 October 1967), Colombian indigenous leader and author. The son of Páez sharecroppers, Lame organized the Indians of the departments of Cauca and Tolima. His efforts, which met with severe repression by Colombia authorities, revolved around the following demands: (1) defense of the resguardo, a communal landholding corporation of indigenous people; (2) consolidation of the cabildo (resguardo council) as a center of political authority; (3) reclaiming of lands usurped from the resguardo; (4) refusal by sharecroppers to pay rent; and (5) reaffirmation of indigenous cultural values.

Although Lame's program was obstructed in Cauca, where his 1910–1921 campaign provoked military occupation, police violence, and the eventual imprisonment of Lame and his associates, his efforts in Tolima were more successful. The pressure exerted by the growth of the coffee economy upon indigenous landholdings in Tolima resulted in the division of resguardos. Lame's campaign, which lasted from 1922 to 1939, restored the resguardo status of Ortega and Chaparral, thus reversing over a century of land loss under capitalist expansion.

Lame is best known for a 118-page manuscript, "Los pensamientos del indio que se educó dentro de las selvas colombianas" (The Thoughts of the Indian Who Was Educated in the Colombian Forests). Although it was completed in 1939, Los pensamientos was published only posthumously in 1971 as En defensa de mi raza (In Defense of My Race). This autobiographical treatise outlines Lame's political philosophy, offers an idiosyncratic vision of indigenous history, and denounces specific crimes against Colombian Indians. Los pensamientos is a philosophical attack on capitalism, called "civilization" by its author, and is strongly messianic in character.

See alsoResguardo .


Diego Castrillón Arboleda, El indio Quintín Lame (1973).

Gonzalo Castillo-Cárdenas, Liberation Theology from Below: The Life and Thought of Manuel Quintín Lame (1987).

Joanne Rappaport, The Politics of Memory: Native Historical Interpretation in the Colombian Andes (1990)

Additional Bibliography

Espinosa Arango, Mónica Lucía. "Of Visions and Sorrows: Manuel Quintín Lame's Indian Thought and the Violences of Colombia." Ph.D. diss., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2004.

Romero Loaiza, Fernando. Manuel Quintín Lame Chantre: El indígena ilustrado, el pensador indigenista. Pereira: F. Romero Loaiza, 2005.

                                Joanne Rappaport