According to legend, Cumbe ruled the Colombian community of Cumbal during the Spanish invasion. Although there is no documentation of Chief Cumbe's existence, today's Cumbales point to him as their ancestral link to Pasto ancestors. His image reappears often in popular music, theater, community organization, and militant politics as the Cumbales attempt to reinvigorate their indigenous heritage and reclaim the lands this heritage justifies.
Joanne Rappaport examines the Cumbales' reappropriation of history and the resulting reinvention of tradition. She explores the ways in which personal memories are interpreted in nonverbal expression, such as ritual and material culture, as well as in oral and written communication. This novel approach to historical consciousness is grounded on a unique combination of historical and ethnographical analysis.
"Cumbe Reborn" makes a significant contribution both to our understanding of ethnic militancy in the Americas and to the broader methodological discussion of non-western historical consciousness under colonial domination. It will attract a wide audience of anthropologists, historians, specialists in Andean ethnohistory and Latin American studies and literature, and folklore specialists interested in subaltern discourse.