Reconstructed Inca flag. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Prior to Spanish colonisation, Peru had several notable cultures and civilisations, including the kingdom of Cusco and the Incan Empire. The term cacique has often been used to define a king or prince in the Native American areas, with cacica used as its female equivalent – the term coya was also commonly used. The Spanish utilised the phrases to mean any ruler of a Native American group, though it was initially a title used specifically by the Taíno peoples in the Caribbean. After colonisation by the Spanish from 1532-1572, indigenous peoples in Peru continued to act against the colonisers, led by local chieftains, including female chieftains. Though female indigenous rulers across the Americas were not queens in the European sense, they were able to rule and carry out the same functions as female monarchs when compared globally.

You can find out more about some of these indigenous female rulers below!


Garrett. David T. “”In Spite of Her Sex”: The Cacica and the Politics of the Pueblo in Late Colonial Cusco.” The Americas 64.4 (2008): 547-581

Levin Rojo, Danna A., and Cynthia Radding, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Borderlands of the Iberian World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019

Ochoa, Margarita R., and Sara Vicuña Guengerich, eds. Cacicas. The Indigenous Women Leaders of Spanish America, 1492-1825. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2021.

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