Indigenous peoples in Peru: Wikis


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Indigenous peoples in Peru (pueblos indígenas in Spanish) comprise a large number of distinct ethnic groups who inhabited the country's present territory prior to its discovery by Europeans around 1500. Like Christopher Columbus, who thought he had reached the East Indies, the first Spanish explorers called them índios ("Indians"), a name that is still used today in Peru.

Indigenous peoples in Peru form about 45% of the total population (14 millions).

At the time of European invasion, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon were mostly semi-nomadic tribes who subsisted on hunting, fishing, gathering, and migrant agriculture. Many of the estimated 2000 nations and tribes which existed in 1500 died out as a consequence of the Spanish conquest, and many were assimilated into the general mixed-race Peruvian population. Most of the surviving indigenous groups, such as the Urarina have changed their ways of life to some extent, e.g. by using firearms and other manufactured items, trading goods with mainstream national Peruvian society.[1] Indeed, only a few indigenous groups (such as the Matsés, Matis, and Korubo) live isolated in remote areas of the Amazon Rainforest) and cling on to aspects of their traditional culture.

AIDESEP is the premier indigenous rights organization in Peru defending the interests of indigenous peoples in Peru. The president of AIDESEP is Alberto Pizango.



Anthropological and genetic evidence indicates that most of the original population of the Americas descended from migrants from North Asia (Siberia) who entered America across the Bering Strait in at least three separate waves. Most of those resident in Peru in 1500 are thought to have been descended from the first wave of migrants, who are believed to have crossed the so-called Bering Land Bridge at the end of the last ice age, around 9000 BC.

A migrant wave around 9000 BC would have reached Peru around 6000 BC, probably entering the Amazon River basin from the Northwest. (The second and third migratory waves from Siberia, which are thought to have generated the Athabaskan and Eskimo peoples, apparently did not reach farther than the southern United States and Canada, respectively.)

The three main linguistic groups that dominated, during the pre-Columbian period, the territory now known as Peru were the Quechua, Jivaro and the Pano linguistic families. They possessed different organizational structures and distinct languages and cultures.

The origins of these indigenous peoples are still a matter of dispute. The traditional view, which traces them to Siberian migration to America at the end of the last ice age, has been increasingly challenged by South American archaeologists.


There are 8,793,395 according to the 1993 census, thus the indigenous peoples represent about 45%of Peru's population. 97.8 are Andean and 2.1, Amazonian. In the Amazonian region, there are 16 ethno-linguistic families and more than 65 different ethnic groups. [2]

After the Spanish conquest

Even before arrival of European soldiers in Peru,[3] local people began dying in enormous numbers from Old World diseases spreading across the New World ahead of the invaders—diseases against which they had no natural immunity. Many more perished from the harsh treatment of the conquerors: killed in battle, forced from their lands, or dying of ill-treatment as forced labor. Many refused to be enslaved, receding into the backlands, or if captured, going so far as to commit suicide to avoid such a fate. The present-day Peruvian population reflects the use of substitute slaves from Africa, whom the Spanish brought over to work the mines.[4]

Major ethnic groups

Political organization

Individual indigenous groups have a variety of governance structures. MATSES, the Movement in the Amazon for Tribal Subsistence and Economic Sustainability (MATSES), is an indigenous peoples rights organization that is working for the cultural survival of indigenous people in Peru.


Indigenous peoples hold title to substantial portions of Peru, primarily in the form of communal reserves (Spanish: reservas comunales). The largest indigenous communal reserve in Peru belongs to the Matsés tribe and is located on the Peruvian border with Brazil on the Yavari or Javari river.

Laws and Institutions

Peru is a signatory of the ILO Convention 169.[2]



There is an institution for Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian Peoples called the INDEPA.[2] It is an autonomous ministerial-level decentralized public body that reported directly to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, and was created by a law issued to the Congress of the Republic.[5] However, on 23 February 2007, the government decided to abolish it and to reduce it to a Native Peoples' Department within the MIMDES., without consulting the indingenous peoples. However, on 6 December, the Congress passed a law cancelling the executive decree.[5]


Territorial rights of the communities

The draft law 1770, presented by the government, wanted to formalise and title rural plots, peasant and native communities that may suspend the regulations protecting communal such as Law 22175 on native communities and Law 24657 on the Demarcation and Titling of Peasant Community Lands.[5] Morever, it aims to ignore the property titles of communities registered in the Community Lands Register and to revise the community property titles.[6] The draft law 1900, of the Peruvian Aprista Party, aim to authorise the COFOPRI to return lands not cultivated by the communities to the state so they could be sold in a public auction.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Dean, Bartholomew 2009 Urarina Society, Cosmology, and History in Peruvian Amazonia, Gainesville: University Press of Florida ISBN 978-081303378 [1]
  2. ^ a b c d e Kathrin Wessendorf (2008). The Indigenous World 2008. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. p. 158. ISBN 9788791563447 8791563445. Retrieved May 22nd 2009.  
  3. ^ Dobyns, Henry F., Their Number Become Thinned: Native American Population Dynamics in Eastern North America (Native American Historic Demography Series), University of Tennessee Press, 1983
  4. ^ Mariátegui, José Carlos, Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana, Ediciones Era, 1979, p 25.
  5. ^ a b c d Kathrin Wessendorf (2008). The Indigenous World 2008. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. p. 159. ISBN 9788791563447 8791563445. Retrieved May 22nd 2009.  
  6. ^ Kathrin Wessendorf (2008). The Indigenous World 2008. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. p. 160. ISBN 9788791563447 8791563445. Retrieved May 22nd 2009.  

External links


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