Abipón language

Abipón language

speakers=Extinct since 1770s

Abipón is a native American language of the Mataco-Guaycuru family that was at one time spoken in Argentina. Its last speaker is thought to have died in the 19th century.

As a people they were a nation of Argentina's Gran Chaco. Seasonalbly mobile their territories as hunters, gatherers, fishers and to a limited extent farmers. In the 1640s they began to acquire horses and abandoned farming for raiding. They became feared by their neighbours and the Spanish , from whom they stole over 100,000 horses and even threatened major cities. Even Abipón women were reputedly aggressive and held considerable power in their people's religious rites.

From 1710 a major military effort by the Spanish began gradually to impose authority. By 1750 Jesuit missions had been established among the Abipón, and they had been forced to become sedentary. By 1768, when the Jusuits were expelled by the government, over half of the Abipón had succumbed to disease. When they attempted to resume their former lifestyles they found their traditional lands occupied by settlers and other nations. Within fifty years, disease and warfare had destroyed them as a nation, with the remnants assimilated into the general Argentinian population.

(Information taken from 'Peoples, Nations and Cultures', edited by Professor John Mackenzie

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