Curagas and Political Lieutenants : Law of Custom and Law of State. The present study is based on documentary sources which have retained certain oral flavour; produced by the lowest level of government officials, they have been quietly sleeping in the municipal and notarial archives of small city (Otavalo). The author analyses the process by which the nation-state (the Republic of Equator), from its inception in 1830 onwards gradually replaced indigenous authorities with its own. The oral justice dispensed by political lieutenants was founded on their own white-mestizo practical sense which held in check the law of custom in vigor in the indigenous communities. The state, having built up the network of its own officials, finally brought the authorities of the indigenous communities to submit to its local representatives.