Indigenous peoples in Colombia

Indigenous peoples in Colombia

The indigenous peoples in Colombia ("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.


The two main linguistic ethnic groups that dominated the territory now known as Colombia during the pre-Columbian period were the Carib and the Chibcha. They possessed different organizational structures and distinct languages and cultures. In upper Magdalene region, from 5th to 8th century, many tumuli with sculptures were raised in San Agustin. The region now occupied by the city of Bogotá was inhabited by the Muisca. In the modern area of Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis, the Quimbaya civilization existed until the 10th century A.C. The Muisca based their social organization on trade. They exchanged salt, emeralds, beans, maize and other crops with other Chibchan tribes such as the Chitareros, Guanes and Laches.

Indigenist Political Organization

Individual indigenous groups have a variety of governance structures. A number of indigenous groups are represented through the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC - Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia). Increasing organization and agitation have sharply broadened the indigenous land base over the past forty years. The government titled more than 200 new reserves from 1960 to 1990, with 334 total operating as autonomous municipalities by 1997 (Brysk 2000:267).


Indigenous peoples hold title to substantial portions of Colombia, primarily in the form of "reserves" ( _es. resguardos). The Indigenous Affairs division of the Ministry of Interior has 567 reserves on record, covering approximately 365,004 km² which are home to 800,271 persons in 67,503 families. [ cite web|url= |title=Los resguardos indígenas |accessdate=2008-08-01 |publisher=Fundación Hemera |language=Spanish ]

Major ethnic groups

Highland peoples

* Arhuacos/Ijka
* Awá
* Coconuco
* Guambiano/Misak
* Guanes
* Inga (people)
* Kamsá (Sibundoy)
* Kankuamo
* Kogui/Kággaba
* Mokaná
* Muisca
* Páez/Nasa
* Pacabuy
* Pastos
* Pijao
* Sutagaos
* Tama
* Totoró
* Umbrá
* U'wa/Tunebo
* Wiwa/Sanhá
* Yanacona

Lowland peoples

* Achagua
* Amorúa
* Andaquí
* Andoque
* Bara
* Barasana
* Barí/Motilon
* Betoye
* Bora
* Cabiyarí
* Carapana
* Carijona
* Cocama
* Cofán/Kofan
* Coreguaje
* Cubeo
* Cuiba
* Curripaco
* Chimila
* Chiricoa
* Desano
* Emberá
* Guahibo people (Sikuani)
* Guayabero
* Kuna/Tule
* Hupda
* Letuama
* Makaguaje
* Makuna
* Masiguare
* Matapí
* Miraña
* Muinane
* Nonuya
* Nukak
* Ocaína
* Piapoco
* Piaroa
* Piratapuyo
* Pitsamira
* Puinave
* Sáliba
* Siona
* Siriano
* Taiwano
* Tanimuka
* Tariano
* Tatuyo
* Tikuna
* Tukano
* Tuyuca
* Wounaan
* Wanano
* Wayuú
* Witoto/Huitoto
* Yagua
* Yukuna
* Yukpa/Yuko
* Yuri (people)
* Yurutí
* Zenú

ee also

* Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations
* Indigenous peoples of the Americas
* Colombian mythology


*Brysk, Alison. 2000. "From tribal village to global village: Indian rights and international relations in Latin America". Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
*Gros, Christian. 1991. Colombia indígena--identidad cultural y cambio social. Bogotá, D.E., Colombia.
*World Council of Churches. 1972. W. Dostal, ed. "The situation of the Indian in South America: Contributions to the study of inter-ethnic conflict in the non-Andean regions of South America". Geneva.

External links

* [ Ethnic groups of Colombia (es)]
* [ UN report on indigenous issues in Colombia]
* [ UNESCO report on education of indigenous peoples in Colombia]

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