Quines eran VS quienes fueron
Los indios mayas quienes fueron las personas indígenas.
Los indios mayas quienes eran las personas indígenas.
I was thinking fueron since they were wiped out by the conquerers, and it's pretty final. But eran makes me think "they were the indigenous people at the time (of the arrival)
On this note, I see a lot of hits for "supuestamente era un hombre que........" and I can't help but think that "supuestamente fue un hombre que" sounds better to me, speaking of a dead guy in the past. Like in the legend of El Dorado.
Supuestamente fue un hombre cubierto de polvo de oro. Fue right? Gracias.
I'm amending my answer. I think you can use either eran or fueron. The first emphasizes that they existed, how they lived; the second the fact that they did exist but don't anymore. This is what you were getting at.
Los mayas eran pacíficos y vivían organizados por tribus.
Los Mayas fueron una de las más brillantes culturas de Mesoamérica.
I am not good at the preterite vs. the imperfect, but in my opinion, it should be eran because you are describing the Mayans as they were in the past (imperfect) as the indigenous people.
I try to define the preterite vs. imperfect as:
Habitual actions (used to + verb) Incomplete actions (was/wer + ing form of verb) Descriptions in the past Emotions/feelings
plus-> age/time hay in past (había, there was, there were would/could going to (ir + a + infinitive)
Sudden occurrence (It started to rain) Time Limit/Completed action (It rained for two hours) Actions disrupts the action of the verb in the imperfect. (I was studying when the phone rang) Reaction to another action (When my brother wore my shoes, I got mad) Series of distinct instances (I called you 5 times!)
From what I also understand, if you use a verb in the preterite or imperfect, it can have slightly different meanings. For example: La película era larga. La película fue larga. The first describes the movie, the second would be said if one just finished watching the movie.
I think it's fueron because they were wiped out -
Fue mi amigo = you are dead and gone.
Eras mi amigo - You are no longer my friend.... this disregards any length of time.
Mi coche fue bueno - my car was good until it died or I lost it, it was always good.
Mi coche era bueno - my car was good and now it isn't good - my car used to be good.
Now I would think
mayas eran las personas indígenas durante....... works
but just to state that they were the people there once upon a time and are now dead and gone I feel like fueron works better. But I like to get everyone's opinion.