Venezuelan aborigines

The Venezuelan aborigines . The aborigines, from the time of the discovery, formed a scarce and dispersed population in Venezuela (taking into account the territorial extension), whose groups occupied the mountainous region, the plains and Guayana . They were organized into tribes independent of each other, without social or political unity. They were organized into tribes and some of them achieved the development of agriculture. Some stayed in the same place and that is why they were called sedentary; others had a wandering life, of gatherers and hunters; they were called nomads .


They lacked cultural uniformity; some tribes lived by gathering wild fruits and roots, fishing and hunting; others already knew agriculture and obtained their food mainly from the cultivation of the land. They spoke different dialects and had a collective social organization, without private property or social classes.



1 Venezuelan indigenous families

1.1 The Araguacos

1.2 The Caribs

1.3 The Timoto-Cuicas

2 Cultural Evolution

3 Indigenous people and their relationship with the environment

4 On the use of water

5 Of land use

6 The use of vegetation

7 The use of wildlife

8 The indigenous people in the present

9 Sources

Venezuelan indigenous families

The indigenous people, according to the language they spoke, were classified into three large groups


The Araguacos

They were located in the south and north-western region of the country, where the tribes of Baniba, Guaipunabis and Caberres stand out in the south (Guayana); the Caquetíos from the Falcón coasts to the western Llanos and finally, the Guajiros on the Guajira peninsula.


The caribs

This group occupied the mountainous region of the north of the country, which includes from the Gulf of Paria to Yaracuy, as well as the surroundings of Lake Maracaibo and part of Guayana. This was the last group to settle in Venezuela, presumably arriving from the south and east, thus dragging the Arawaks west. The tribes that stood out the most were: Pariagotos, Chaimas, Cumanagotos, Palenques, Píritus, Mariches, Tamanacos, Caracas, Teques, Quiriquires, Ciparicotos, Bobures, Pemones and Motilones.


The Timoto-Cuicas

These tribes settled in the western region of the country, occupying, unlike the Caribs and Arawacos, the region of the Merida Andes. The most important were the Timotos


Cultural Evolution

According to the studies carried out by various anthropologists, as well as the testimonies of archaeological remains found in different places of the Venezuelan territory, the cultural evolution of the indigenous communities of Venezuela can be classified as follows: Pre-agricultural formation : made up of small communities of hunters, fishermen and gatherers of wild fruits and seashells, who populated the Venezuelan territory) between 15000 and 1000 years BC


Incipient agricultural formation : composed of communities that combined hunting, fishing and gathering activities with the elemental cultivation of wild fruits, such as bitter yucca. These communities formed by tribes, populated the Venezuelan territory) towards the year 1000 BC


Medium agricultural training : represented by those communities that practiced cultivation in family farms, where they permanently planted corn, beans, cotton, tobacco and other fruits. These communities also developed basketry, pottery and weaving as complementary activities. They occupied the territory between 1000 BC and the arrival of the Spanish to the territory.


Advanced agricultural training : made up of communities that practiced irrigated agriculture, with the construction of terraces, canals, ponds, and stone and mud warehouses to store surplus food. They formed permanent villages in the Andean foothills and valleys between 1000 and 1500 AD


Indo-Hispanic formation: represented by the communities that made contact with European culture and incorporated European techniques and customs into their ways of life (1500 AD onwards). The contact of the aborigines with the Europeans and the incorporation of the African blacks produced the characteristic cultural miscegenation of the Venezuelan people, which has been preserved to this day. The cultural evolution of the Venezuelan aboriginal communities occurred slowly through the exchange between different groups. None of the ethnic groups or indigenous groups settled in the current territory of Venezuela managed to reach the degree of development represented by other American cultures such as the Mayas, the Aztecs or the Incas. In Venezuela the Conquest was achieved with the encomien-das, the missions and through the founding of cities.


Indigenous people and their relationship with the environment

With the practice of hunting, fishing and gathering, the first settlers of the Venezuelan territory used the resources provided by nature. Probably subsistence in the interior of the territory required indigenous groups to know the biological cycles of plant resources, in order to have fruits, seeds and grains, as well as fertile soils.


The use of water

Water was the main natural resource for the indigenous groups that populated the Venezuelan territory. For this reason, their villages were almost always located near natural sources of fresh water, such as rivers, lakes and lagoons, which ensured this liquid) essential for life. In many cases, they came to build their homes on the same waters, like the stilt houses of Lake Maracaibo. Rivers and lakes provided safe food; fish, terrestrial species that came to its banks to drink water. and all kinds of aquatic animals.


The water resource was used by the indigenous people to prepare their meals, for daily personal hygiene and, in other cases, to cure fevers and other diseases through immersion. The rivers and seas became communication routes crossed by canoes, curiaras and rafts, built with different materials, especially tree trunks. For agricultural communities, water was an element of great importance, because its presence guaranteed the harvests. Hence, most of the indigenous people practiced magical or religious rites aimed at causing rains and warding off droughts. Communities such as the Timotocuicas carried out works to store their products and irrigate farmland.


Of land use

The soils were used in different ways by the natives. Groups of foragers, for example, obtained roots, tubers, rodents, worms and insects from the ground, which served as food. The groups of farmers took advantage of the fertile lands to plant plants, such as corn, potatoes, cassava and other fruits. The clay was used in the making of vessels, idols and other objects. Likewise, it was used for the construction of bahareque houses. Some communities managed to extract minerals from the ground such as salt, which was of great importance, and gold, which they used as an ornament without exchange value.


The use of vegetation

The tropical vegetation of the forests and savannas offered the indigenous communities an almost inexhaustible source of resources and materials that allowed them to survive despite their limited technological development. The trees provided edible fruits and fibers for the manufacture of fabrics, baskets, nets and ropes, and for the manufacture of hammocks; in addition to the wood necessary for the construction of houses, boats and work utensils.


In the forests and jungles, the indigenous people practiced limited logging to build their villages and expand cultivation areas. However, this practice never endangered the balance of plant life, as deforestation was only done to meet the immediate needs of the community. In the savannas, indigenous communities took advantage of the great variety of herbs for both food and medicinal use. The practice of burning for the purpose of cleaning agricultural land did not affect the life of the flora, the wild fauna, or endanger them The local nature of such activities and the abandonment of the affected lands facilitated the recovery of the soils and the vegetation in a short time.


The use of wildlife

The activity of capturing and hunting wild animals was another important source of food resources for indigenous communities. The hunting of the deer, the chigüire, the limpet; as well as the capture of turtles, iguanas and snakes and the collection of eggs of birds and reptiles were carried out respecting the mating and reproduction times of the animals and were only practiced if they were necessary.


The indigenous in the present

In our days the indigenous peoples living in Venezuela have adopted many of the customs of modern life, just as it happened in colonial times when, for example, they were convinced to believe in only one god.


The indigenous people who live in places that are difficult to access, such as the jungles, keep their ancestral customs alive. While the situation of others is different: they are used for private purposes in the exploitation of land, mining and are even taken to large cities to work in the informal economy.


As in the past, these communities are also affected by the environmental impact generated by the different economic activities carried out in the spaces where they live.


In view of this situation, they have organized themselves into pressure groups following the example of other countries, such as Bolivia and Mexico , where thanks to their protests and petitions their rights have been recognized, including respect for their territories, languages ​​and customs.


At present, indigenous communities participate actively, through their representatives in the National Assembly, in economic, political, social and cultural decisions, together with the rest of the Venezuelan population.

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