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Ecuador - Indigenous Flags

Last modified: 2024-02-17 by rob raeside
Keywords: ecuador | qwishwa | inca | conaie |
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Beside of the fact that there are some basic versions of the whipala, the flag is used together with the same flag but which have squares in the rainbow colors instead of stripes (Kollasuyo) the whipala with stripes is called the "tawantinsuyo" flag, or the Inca flag, the Inca nation flag, the Quechua nation flag. In Ecuador they have also some variants. The original flag is the striped whipala, which was the coat of armor of the Inca, long before they started to think of having a own gay flag, rainbow warrior or other rainbow using flags in this world.
Concerning the flags which are used in the original Whipala, as the images at this page EMBLEMA NACIONAL del PUSIN-SUYU = TAWANTINSUYU- Huipala/wiphala, where and when did the rainbow flag originate from?
The Indigenous banner is called "huipala" with the seven colors of the rainbow (symbolizing the unity of indigenous peoples before the conquest) and the black flags of Ruminahui  (legendary leader of the autonomous movement) and Atahualpa La bandera indígena se llama: "huipala" con los siete colores del arco iris (que simboliza la unidad de la gente indígena antes de la conquista) y de los banderas negros de Ruminahui  (arranque de cinta legendario del movimiento autónomo) y Atahualpa The Rainbow flag (Wipahla) belong to the Native Andean people of Tahuantinsuyu for more than 500 years. Each color and its place in the flag as the rainbow, have an own indigenous significance.
We have heard that the Indigenous org. of Cuzco , Peru is thinking about finding another flag to symbolize our native people, because of the problem above of using the flag by the gays community and the International Co-operative Alliance, claiming that they almost invented the flag in the 1920'ies.
Laila Holtet (,webmaster of CONAIE, Ecuador, 9 July 2001

The Cofanes

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 15 March 2007

The Cofanes are a native people from Ecuador. Its flag is reported by Corbic (Vexillologie infos recherches [vir], issue 60) and it is Multistriped R+, B, B-, V, Y, R, R+.
Source "Frontieres" at French TV channel Antenne2, 13 April 1994.
Jaume Ollé, 24 February 2007

The Cofanes (sometimes written Kofanes) are native people living in the north of Ecuador (province of Sucumbios) and neighbouring Colombia. They speak A'ingae, a language related to the Western Tucano and Chibcha groups, and call themselves A'i (lit., the people). In Ecuador, there are about 800 Cofanes living in the communities of Duvino (7,032 ha), Sinangüé (7,000 ha), Dureno (9,571 ha), Zábalo (44,000 ha) and Chandia N'aen (42,000 ha). In Colombia, the Cofanes live near the rivers Guamés and San Miguel, in the reservations of Santa Rosa del Guamés, Santa Rosa de Sucumbíos, Yarinal and el Afilador.
In 1602, Father Rafael Ferrer established good relations with the Cofanes, setting up a first community called San Pedro de los Cofanes. Ferrer wrote a catechism in Cofán language, unfortunately lost. Ferrer described the Cofanes as obedient, courageous and robust. However, the relations ended with the murder of Ferrer in 1611. The Cofanes then opposed to any attempt of conquest. In 1635, evangelization of the Cofanes was assigned to the Franciscan, to no avail.
The first serious threat caused by colonization to the Cofanes date back to the infamous period of rubber tree exploitation in the Amazonian regions. In the beginning of the XXth century, the Cofanes were called Cushma because of the tunic ("cuzma") that was their usual dress. After 1945, the Cofanes established more contact with the outer word, represented by the Instituto Lingüístico de Verano (ILV) and the oil industry. The Bormans, from ILV, lived for more than 30 years with the Cofanes; they set up the Cofán alphabet and written language. Following an agreement between the government of Ecuador and ILV, a program of bilingual education and evangelization started in the 1960s. At the same time, colonization by soldiers, traders, missionaries and all kind of colonists progressed by the way of roads, trails and runways. In 1968, the Texaco company settled the Lago Agrio area, a traditional territory  of the Cofanes, and oil exploitation started in 1972. The Cofanes natural and social environment was destroyed and the Cofanes had to withdraw into remote, small patches of land, where they still live today. The missionaries have also significantly contributed to the destruction of the social structure of the Cofanes, for instance by suppressing traditional shamanic rituals like the yagé ceremony.
Source:, Edufuturo, Pichincha.
Ivan Sache, 4 March 2007

Indigenous Flags Seen on TV

Today I saw in TV some Ecuadorian indigenous flags. I saw four flags clearly and another one quite well:

Ecuadorian Quichua Flag

image by Jaume Ollé, 15 January 2000

The first one seems to be the Ecuadorian Quichua flag. It is similar to the flag quoted by NAVA as "Inca" flags but with a sun in center. As is well known "Inca" is not a people but the name of the leader (emperor) of Quichua. According to NAVA there are 8 stripes but in the TV images there were only 7 (the white stripe is missing). Ratio c. 2:3

Ecuadorian Indigenous Flag

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 17 October 2017

The second flag seems to be the Ecuadorian indigenous flag: is five-striped red, yellow, white, green, white. Ratio c. 5:6 o 4:5
Jaume Ollé, 15 January 2000

Standard of the CONAIE

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 July 2017

The third flag seems to be the standard of the CONAIE (Confederacion de nacionalidades indigenas de Ecuador). It is a square, white, with a circular logo or seal in center. The seal is a circle of five colors: red, yellow, green, orange and white.
Jaume Ollé, 15 January 2000

The emblem is a disc divided in five equal sectors in the mentioned colors, with one of the dividing radiuses being vertical on the flag, going from yellow (pointing to the upper fly) through orange, green, and white, to red (pointing to the upper hoist). Where the white sector meets the white background, there’s a thin black dividing line, absent elsewhere.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 14 July 2017

Unknown Indigenous Flag

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 17 August 2017

The fourth is unknown .It is a scarlet flag , bordered white in hoist, fly and lower part. In the scarlet part is a golden emblem (details of emblem approximate) . In the lower white part some words are written but unfortunately I couldn't read them from the TV image.

Indigenous Parliament Flag

image by Jaume Ollé, 15 January 2000

The last flag was the flag of the Indigenous Parliament. It is the Ecuadorian flag but with inscriptions: "Parlamento nacional - de los pueblos del Ecuador" (National Parliament of the Ecuador peoples) in black on the yellow stripe, and "ˇLa patria florecera para todos!" in white on the red stripe. ("Fatherland will flourish for all!). In Spanish "florecera" must be write with accent in the last "A" but in the image the accent is missing, however since the words are in capital letters it is possible to suppress the accent.
Jaume Ollé, 15 January 2000

Indigenous Flags Reported in Written Sources

image by Ivan Sache, 31 May 2001

image by Ivan Sache, 31 May 2001

In today Israeli newspaper "Yediot Akharonot" there is a photo of a demonstration of the Indigenous people Ecuador. Two flags can be seen clearly. Each one has a different order of stripes. One is looks like: purple-white-blue-green-yellow-orange-red. The second looks like: red-yellow-green-light blue-purple.
Dov Gutterman, 23 January 2000

All the information above is dated from January 2000, and is linked to the events, involving the active participation of Indians, which caused the impeachment of president Jamil Mahuad. According to 'Universalia 2000' (Encyclopaedia Universalis Yearbook, published in 2001), the chronology of the events is as following:
- On 6 January, the government declared a state of emergency because of increase in popular protest. The Patriotic Front, a coalition of several unions, called for the Christian-Democrat president Jamil Mahuad, which had been elected in 1998, to resign. The president's economical policy had been strongly criticized for months and the country faced a severe crisis.
- On 9 January, the president announced US dollar would replace the Ecuadorian sucre as national currency, in order to stabilize the monetary depreciation. This announcement caused a radicalization of the protest.
- On 11 January, the representatives of the Indian nations, which constitute about 30% of the country population, created a 'Parliament of Ecuadorian Peoples' (Parlamento Nacional de los Pueblos del Ecuador). They called for the president's resignation and civil disobedience. [The Parliament flag is shown above]
- On 16 January, the spokesman of the Patriotic Front, Luis Villacis, was arrested with two other leftist leaders, within the context of the state of emergency.
- On 21 January, the Indians marched against the capital Quito and besieged the Parliament. [The flags reported by Jaume were probably filmed during the siege.] Under the Indian pressure, president Mahuad left the presidential palace and a triumvirate was set up to replace him, constituted of General Carlos Mendoza (Minister of Defence and Chief of the Army Staff), Antonio Vargas (president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador [CONAIE, whose flag is shown above), and Carlos Solorzano (past-president of the Supreme Court). General Mendoza quickly resigned and the triumvirate was dissolved.
- On 22 January, vice-president Gustavo Noboa announced he would take over the power. The Parliament, called in Guyaquil, impeached Mahuad. The Indians, understanding they had been conned once again, left peacefully Quito. The new president announced he would maintain the 'dollarization' of the economy.
- On 26 January, Gustavo Noboa was invested by Congress.
'Universalia 2000' shows a colour picture which might be the same as the one reported by Dov. As stated by Dov, there are two horizontally divided flags to be seen in the picture background:
- purple-white-blue-green-yellow-orange-red with apparent proportion 1:2.
- red-yellow-green-light blue-blue-purple with apparent proportion 3:4. Dov did report only one blue stripe, but there are
clearly two of them on my source. Proportions are surely without any signification because these flags were probably home-made.
It would be interesting to know if the different variations on the same pattern (colour horizontal stripes) refer to different nations or are simply variations on a basic pattern used by all indigenous nations (for instance, the first flag shown above is attributed to Quechuas [note that my dictionary uses both Quechuas and Kechuas, but not Qwishwas]).
Ivan Sache, 31 May 2001

Indigenous Flags in the Web

image from

"Alianza Indigena" flag as appear at At the same page you can see another Indigenous Flag.
Dov Gutterman, 2 June 2001

Alianza Indigena (Indigenous alliance) flag is the rainbow flag with a disc in the center containing a portrait of the Inca Rominahui as can be seen at Interesting that the flag flown by the indigenous person in the photo is a version close to that used by the gay community (6 stripes - Red, yellow, light green, olive green, blue, purple), while the image in the page shows the flag of the gays (6 stripes - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) and the different flag of the IA (8 stripes - red, orange, yellow, green, white, lilac, dark purple, blue).
Jaume Ollé, 3 June 2001

I am the person who designed the Ruminahui flag at my pages. Both the American COOP and the gay community have using the Inca flag , the rainbow and the serpent shied and Cuzco Inca flag of stripes was "invented"! long before the Europeans came to America. The gay community have not answered any email about this presented by the United Indigenous Tribal Representatives, nor from CONAIE, The indigenous leaders of Cuzco or anyone else. The old leaders in Cuzco have been thinking about changing the design of their NATIONAL flag because of this.
Laila Holtet (,webmaster of CONAIE, Ecuador, 9 July 2001

image located by Esteban Rivera, 11 July 2023

This flag was spotted on December 18, 2013 at the "Serenata al Migrante" (English: Serenade to the Migrant) during the event "Día Internacional del Migrante" (English: International Migrants Day ) (source: by the "Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana" (English: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility) (official website: in Quito, Ecuador.

It is most likely a commemorative flag with distinctive pattern.

Esteban Rivera, 11 July 2023