Native groups in the Amazon( Yagua )

Yagua

Yagua, Yahuna, Ñihamwo, Yihamwo, Nihamwo or Mishara is an indigenous people that live in the province of Mariscal Ramón Castilla and the province of Putumayo, both in the department of Loreto, Peru and in the reservations of Santa Sofía and El Progreso, in the Colombian department of Amazonas. There are more than 11,000 people, whose language belongs to the Peba-Yagua language family.

Archaeological and historical evidence indicates that the Yaguas originally inhabited the northern interior of the Amazon, and the banks of the river were being colonized by their enemies. Only when the Omagua were weakened by European disease and encroachment did the Yagua approach the main river to purchase highly coveted iron products.

The first documented contact with whites was with Jesuit Father Samuel Fritz in 1693, when he settled some Pega-Yagua at his mission station. Until 1768, the date of his expulsion, the Jesuits tried to “settle” the Yagua, mainly in the Amazon or its main tributaries.

Religious beliefs

The Yagua believe in supernatural forces that animate all manifestations of nature. These forces must be considered and respected by human beings in everyday life. The Yagua consider a small number of mythical beings or mythical ancestors as Supreme Beings who created the world. These beings are surrounded by numerous spirits that animate the visible and invisible worlds and that reside in the forest, in the water and on the earth, as well as in different levels of the heavens and underworlds. These spirits are considered benevolent (hunting spirits), malevolent (stars), or both, depending on the specific circumstances.

The shaman is the main mediator between humans and the spiritual world. Since the 18th century, beginning with the Jesuits, missionaries – first Catholic, then also Protestant – have tried to evangelize the Yagua with more or less success. Today, even under the cover of Christian beliefs, traditional religion survives or prevails among the most isolated groups.