My name is Matilde Cachiguango and I am a proud Native American woman who is both a descendant of people who existed on the American continent prior to the European invasion and one who belongs to the Kichwa Otavalo nationality of Ecuador. Though I may be an urban Indigenous person, I have never forgotten my ancestral roots and maintain a strong relationship with La Pachamama (mother earth) by caring for and paying tribute to her. I’ve experienced firsthand how my generation of Indigenous women experienced racism, lack of equality and reproductive injustice, but my parents were adamant about us not becoming mestizos or assimilating to white culture, which is common among Indigenous people who migrate to cities. It was their strength, tenacity, and courage that resonates strongest within me and has led me to pursue my dreams both in Ecuador and the U.S.
I graduated from Santa Dorotea College and though I wanted to continue my studies, the multitude of political problems in Ecuador and our community prevented me from doing so. After initially taking a trip to the U.S. to debut my dance, music, and artisanal work, I decided to stay. Migrating with two little girls and having to start my life over again without knowing the language or losing my identity was difficult, but I fought hard to ensure my now-three daughters nor I lost their identities as Kichwas Otavalos. I did not want my girls to suffer the extent of racism I faced in Quito, but I soon learned that this country too suffers from the racist wounds of its colonial past. Together, my husband and I ensured our daughters have great pride in their ancestral heritage and pursued their dreams as Indigenous professionals. While the rest of my family pursued their dreams, I did as well through my art that allowed me to return to my roots and financially support my family in a way that has truly changed my life.
From the twists and turns of life, I joined a group of Health Promoters through Centro Hispano and became a part of the first Latinx and Indigenous women’s cooperative in Dane County – Roots for Change. As a doula and community health worker, I have learned so many things that enabled me to build on top of my maternal ancestral knowledge and grow confident in my use of natural resources for mental, spiritual, and physical healing. My work brings me joy because I am able to share my knowledge with my community and help mothers make their birth more respected. I am now working towards becoming a Certified Doula so that I can integrate my knowledge and wisdom to help each mother with pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. It is vital to me that not only do mothers know they have support and their feelings are valid, but that young people are included in various aspects of my work. In doing so, I can become a better woman, mother, sister, daughter, and human being to best serve my family and community.
Professional Qualifications / Areas of Expertise / Certifications / Training