Native American Legends
The Ancient Freedoms
An Inca Legend
About the ancient freedoms of the kingdoms of Peru and their provinces...
It is important to note that these barbarians could tell nothing
more respecting what happened from the second creation by Viracocha
down to the time of the Incas. But it may be assumed that, although
the land was peopled and full of inhabitants before the Incas, it
had no regular government, nor did it have natural lords elected
by common consent to govern and rule, and who were respected by
the people, so that they were obeyed and received tribute.
On the contrary all the people were scattered and disorganized,
living in complete liberty, and each man being sole lord of his
house and estate. In each tribe there were two divisions. One was
called Hanansaya, which means the upper division, and the other
Hurinsaya, which is the lower division, a custom which continues
to this day. These divisions do not mean anything more than a way
to count each other, for their satisfaction; though afterwards it
served a more useful purpose, as will be seen in its place.
As there were dissensions among them, a certain kind of militia
was organized for defense, in the following way. When it became
known to the people of one district that some from other parts were
coming to make war, they chose one who was a native, or he might
be a stranger, who was known to be a valiant warrior.
Often such a man offered himself to aid and to fight for them against
their enemies. Such a man was followed and his orders were obeyed
during the war. When the war was over he became a private man as
he had been before, like the rest of the people, nor did they pay
him tribute either before or afterwards, nor any manner of tax whatever.
To such a man they gave and still give the name of Sinchi which
means valiant. They call such men "Sinchi-cuna" which
means "valiant now" as who should say--"now during
the time the war lasts you shall be our valiant man, and afterwards
no": or another meaning would be simply "valiant men,"
for "cuna" is an adverb of time, and also denotes the
In whichever meaning, it is very applicable to these temporary
captains in the days of general liberty. So that from the general
flood of which they have a tradition to the time when the Incas
began to reign, which was 3519 years, all the natives of these kingdoms
lived on their properties without acknowledging either a natural
or an elected lord.
They succeeded in preserving, as it is said, a simple state of
liberty, living in huts or caves or humble little houses. This name
of Sinchi for those who held sway only during war, lasted throughout
the land until the time of Tupac Inca Yupanqui, the tenth Inca,
who instituted Curacas and other officials in the order which will
be fully described in the life of that Inca.
Even at the present time they continue this use and custom in the
provinces of Chile and in other parts of the forests of Peru to
the east of Quito and Chachapoyas, where they only obey a chief
during war time, not any special one, but he who is known to be
most valiant, enterprising and daring in the wars.
The reader should note that all the land was private property with
reference to any dominion of chiefs, yet they had natural chiefs
with special rights in each province, as for instance among the
natives of the valley of Cuzco and in other parts, as we shall relate
of each part in its place.
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