The indigenous peoples of Latin America are the pre-Columbian peoples of Latin America and their descendants. Many parts of Latin America are still populated by indigenous peoples with the following countries having sizable populations: Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru.
Between 2000 BC and 300 BC complex indigenous cultures began to form in Mesoamerica some of which matured into advanced pre-Columbian civilizations such as the Olmec, Izapa, Teotihuacan, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huastec, Purépecha, Totonac, Toltec, and Aztec which flourished for nearly 4,000 years before the first contact with Europeans.
At least a thousand different indigenous languages are spoken in Latin America. Some including the Quechua languages, the Mayan languages, Nahuatl, and Aymara count their speakers in the millions. Many indigenous peoples also maintain aspects of their native culture including religion and social organization.
Like most cultures over time indigenous cultures have evolved to incorporate their traditional customs to accommodate modern needs. Some indigenous peoples, however, still live in relative isolation from Western culture and a few are still counted as “uncontacted peoples” which refers to isolated peoples or tribes who live or have lived, either by choice or by circumstance, without significant contact with “modern” civilization.
Although some indigenous societies still depend heavily on agriculture in some regions, the indigenous people and their civilizations are credited with the building of pyramid-temples, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, writing, highly accurate calendars, fine arts, intensive agriculture, engineering, an abacus calculator, and complex theology.
Urubamba Valley, Peru
For much of its history, the majority of Mexico's population have lived an urban lifestyle in cities, towns, and villages. Only a fraction of the population was tribal and wandering. Most people were permanently settled, agriculturally based, and identified with an urban identity as opposed to a tribal identity. Mexico has long been an "urbanized land" which was graphically reflected when the Spaniards encountered the indigenous people during their arrival in the "New World."
This is my brief introduction to the indigenous peoples of Latin America. My plan is to share a number of specific indigenous groups of Latin America in individual blog postings which will include the following groups: Huichol, Zapotec, Quechua, Mapuche, Maya, and Mixtecs. And if that is not enough, I have decided to also create a series of blog postings on the Aztecs of Mexico who have become more than a slight obsession with me.
Montezuma II was the ninth king of the Aztec Empire and has become my inspiration for a series of blog postings on the Aztecs of Mexico.
I am very excited about this adventure and I look forward to sharing the indigenous peoples of Latin America with you. In the meantime, here is the link to my very large photo album entitled THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF LATIN AMERICA to wet your appetite for more!
PS Please remember to click on the first photo when you open the photo album and then click on the "burger" and select slide show if you prefer for viewing. And, of course, you can manually view each photograph if you so choose.
Until next time, wishing you wonderful travels and adventures wherever the road may take you. Saludos, Laura