Lesson 10: Peru: People of the Altiplano

Indians outnumber non-Indians in the Peruvian highlands. Many of them, in cities such as Ayacucho, Huancavelica, and Huancayo and hosts of villages continue to farm and produce handicrafts much as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Now they use cell phones and the Internet, but their native dress and languages and their nearness to the soil help them maintain their identity as a people apart. Host Dave Yetman meets Quechua people and learns from them about their fascinating past and present.

Learning Objective

Students will understand how the Peruvians, people of the Altiplano, maintain their identity as people apart despite of the worldwide technological progress.

Social Studies Standards

Individual Development & Identity A, E, G

Discussion Prompts

  • What do they mean by “their own crops, their own clothes, their own temples” when referring to the people of the altiplano?
  • It appears that there is an inverse relationship between elevation and population, the higher the elevation the lower the number of inhabitants. Agree or disagree? Support your argument.
  • Compare and contrast the Peruvian sustainable construction with the sustainable construction in your region.
  • What place in your region could be compared with the traditional market in Ayacucho? Justify your opinion.

Lesson Activities

  • Redesign the local market. Keep some of the sections, and add new ones, keeping in mind the identity of the people of the Altiplano.
  • Create a visual display illustrating the importance of the Inca civilization, changes over time, and how development affected Inca descendants.
  • Analyze the conflict between the Altiplano identity and the reverence towards the European religious symbol, Child of Prague in a fairy tale.
  • Create a skit or exchange through dialogue combining your culture and the Quechua people.


  • ancestors
  • glaciers
  • handicrafts
  • identity
  • Incas
  • native
  • outnumber
  • scarce
  • sustainable
  • weaver