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Indigenous peoples in Peru

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Title: Indigenous peoples in Peru  
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Subject: Demographics of Peru, Indigenous peoples in Ecuador, Hispanic, Indigenous peoples in Peru, Indigenous peoples in Paraguay
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Indigenous peoples in Peru

Dancers at Qoyllur Rit'i, an indigenous festival in Peru
Wari culture sculpture, c. 600–1000 CE, wood with shell-and-stone inlay and silver, Kimbell Art Museum

Indigenous people in Peru ((Spanish) pueblos indígenas) comprise a large number of distinct ethnic groups who have inhabited the country's territory since before its discovery by Europeans around 1500. The first Spanish explorers called the indigenous peoples índios ("Indians"), a name that is still used today although sometimes with a derogatory connotation.

Indigenous peoples in Peru are about 45% of the [3]

At the time of the Spanish invasion, the indigenous people of the Amazon Basin were mostly semi-nomadic tribes who subsisted on hunting, fishing, gathering, and migrant agriculture. Those in the Andes and to the west were dominated by the Inca, who had a complex, hierarchical civilization that built many cities and major temples and monuments with highly skilled stonemasonry. Many of the estimated 2,000 nations and tribes present in 1500 died out as a consequence of the Spanish conquest, especially because of associated infectious diseases, and many survivors were assimilated into the general mestizo (mixed race) Peruvian population. All of the Peruvian indigenous groups, such as the Urarina,[4] even those that live isolated in remote areas of the Amazon Rainforest such as the Matsés, Matis, and Korubo, have changed their ways of life to some extent, e.g. by using firearms and other manufactured items, and trading goods with mainstream national Peruvian society—but all of the groups also maintain cultural identities and practices that keep them distinct from majority Hispano-Peruvian society.

The 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 North America across the Bering Strait in at least three separate waves. DNA analysis has shown that most of those resident in Peru in 1500 were descended from the first wave of Asian migrants, who are believed to have crossed the so-called Bering Land Bridge at the end of the last ice age, around 9000 BCE. Migrants from that first wave around 9000 BCE are thought to have reached Peru around 6000 BCE, probably entering the Amazon River basin from the northwest.

The Norte Chico civilization of Peru is the oldest known civilization in the Americas and one of the six sites where civilization, including the development of agriculture and government, separately originated in the ancient world. The sites, located 100 miles north of Lima, developed a trade between coastal fisherman and cotton growers and built monumental pyramids around 3000 BCE.[5]

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

The origins of these indigenous people 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.


Of the 29,248,943 estimated total population of Peru, the indigenous people represent about 45%.[1] 97.8% are Andean and 2.1%, Amazonian. However, other sources say the indigenous people comprise 31% of the total population.[2][3] In the Amazonian region, there are 16 language families and more than 65 ethnic groups.[6] After Brazil and New Guinea, Peru is believed to have the highest number of uncontacted tribes in the world.[7]

After the Spanish conquest

After the arrival of Spanish soldiers in Peru,[8] local people began dying in great number from Eurasian infectious diseases brought by the invaders and which spread across the New World ahead of the invaders—diseases against which they had no natural immunity. Later more people died because of the harsh treatment of the conquerors: they were killed in battle, forced from their lands, or died from the ill-treatment of forced labor. Many indigenous people refused to be enslaved, receding into the backlands, or if captured, committing suicide.

Political organizations

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


Indigenous people 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 Jahvari) River.

Laws and institutions

Peru is a signatory of the ILO Convention 169.[6] In 1994, Peru signed and ratified the current international law concerning indigenous people, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989.[9] The laws made to protect the indigenous people are not always respected by the Peruvian government or the companies, such as Perenco, Repsol YPF, and Petrobras,[10] who seek to explore the natural resources of their land.[11]


There is an institution for Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian People called the INDEPA.[6] 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.[12] On 23 February 2007, the government decided to abolish the authority and make it a Native People' Department within the MIMDES, without consulting the indigenous people. But, on 6 December, Congress passed a law cancelling the executive decree.[12]


In health care, discrimination against indigenous people exists.[13] Peru has one of the highest maternal death rates of the Americas.[13]

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.[12] It would supersede the property titles of communities registered in the Community Lands Register and revise the community property titles according to the new law.[14] The draft law 1900, of the Peruvian Aprista Party, proposes to authorise the COFOPRI to return lands not cultivated by the communities to the state, so they may be sold in a public auction.[12]

Ethnic groups

See also



  1. ^ a b "People and Society: Peru." CIA - The World Factbook. Retrieved 28 Dec 2011.
  2. ^ a b (Spanish) / Conclusiones del presidente de la Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación (pag.4)
  3. ^ a b (Spanish) / Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación
  4. ^ Dean, Bartholomew. (2009) Urarina Society, Cosmology, and History in Peruvian Amazonia, Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida ISBN 978-0-8130-3378-5 [1]
  5. ^ Grossman, Ron. "Americas' cradle of civilization." Chicago Tribute. 23 Dec 2004. Retrieved 9 Oct 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e Wessendorf 158
  7. ^ " 'Uncontacted' Tribes Fled Peru Logging, Arrows Suggest", National Geographic News, 6 Oct 2008.
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ "ILOLEX: submits English query". 2004-01-09. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  10. ^ "Peru bars oil companies from uncontacted tribes’ reserve". Survival International. 2009-12-31. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  11. ^ "Uncontacted Indians of Peru". Survival International. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  12. ^ a b c d Wessendorf 159
  13. ^ a b "Zugang zum Gesundheitssystem für arme und indigene Frauen! | Amnesty International Deutschland". Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  14. ^ Wessendorf 160


  • Kathrin Wessendorf (2008). The Indigenous World 2008. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs.  

External links

  • Camino Inca: Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

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