Ayoreo people

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Ornament worn down back, Ayoreo people - South American objects in the American Museum of Natural History - DSC06045.JPG
Ayoreo parrot feather ornament worn
down the back, AMNH
Total population
4,300 (2009)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Paraguay 1,826 (2002)[2]
 Bolivia 1,701[3]
Ayoreo language
traditional religion, Christianity[1]

The Ayoreo (Ayoreode,[4] Ayoréo, Ayoréode) are an indigenous people of the Gran Chaco.[5][6] They live in an area surrounded by the Paraguay, Pilcomayo, Parapetí, and Grande Rivers, spanning both Bolivia and Paraguay. Ayoreo combine hunter-gatherer lifestyle with farming, depending on the season of the year. There are records about a kind of shamanism (nainai, shaman).[7][8]


The Ayorea people are known by numerous names including Ayoré, Garaygosode, Guarañoca, Guidaigosode, Koroino, Moro, Morotoco, Poturero, Pyeta Yovai, Samococio, Sirákua, Takrat, Totobiegosode, and Yanaigua.[1]


They speak the Ayoreo language, which is classified under Zamucoan, a small language family of Paraguay and Bolivia. A grammar and dictionary have been published for the language, and 20% of the Ayoreo are literate. Tsiracua is a dialect of Ayoreo.[1]


There are several subgroups, for example Totobiegosode were isolated, but many of them have been eventually relocated forcibly, while some remnants still keep avoiding contact.[9] Some groups still live uncontacted (or in voluntary isolation),[10][11] being the only extant uncontacted tribes in South America not living in the Amazon.[12] The Ayoreo are threatened by deforestation.[13]

In 2010, an expedition in search of new species of plants and insects, organized by the Natural History Museum in London, was suspended when concerns were raised that Ayoreo people might be encountered and disturbed.[14]

They used to be completely nomadic until 1948 when Baptist Missionaries came to them in Bolivia. These missionaries taught them to farm and helped them develop land. They attempted to spread christianity in the region and remove the local traditional culture. When an Ayore tribe member was sick or close to death they would cry out for someone to dig a hole for them. To the Ayore it was bad to die above the ground. They feared what the jaguar and tiger would do to them, so they would have their families bury them alive. When the sick tribe member was fully covered with dirt and there was no way to breath, a clay pot would be broken over the grave and all of that persons possessions placed upon it. Then the tribe would move on for fear that the spirit of the dead would come to create evil in their midst.

Political representation[edit]

In Bolivia, the Ayoreo people are represented by the organization CANOB (Central Ayoreo Nativo del Oriente Boliviano). In 2002 an Ayoreo organization was founded in Paraguay, UNAP (Unión Nativa Ayoreo del Paraguay). CANOB has its main office in Santa Cruz de la Sierra whilst UNAP has its headquarters at the frontier between the Campo Loro and Ebetogué regions.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d "Ayoreo." Ethnologue. Retrieved 5 Sept 2013.
  2. ^ "Población indígena total por lugar de nacimiento, según etnia, área de residencia urbana-rural, sexo y edad, 2002.". II Censo Nacional Indigena de Población y Viviendas 2002 (in Spanish). DGEEC. 
  3. ^ Wigberto Rivero Pinto. "Ayoreo - DATOS GENERALES". Pueblos Indigenas de Bolivia (in Spanish). 
  4. ^ WRM 2005
  5. ^ fPcN 2004, 0:25
  6. ^ Bremen 2000, p. 275
  7. ^ Sebag 1965a
  8. ^ Sebag 1965b
  9. ^ Survival International 2009
  10. ^ Iniciativa Amotocodie 2005–2007
  11. ^ Survival International, Before contact
  12. ^ Vidal, John (October 5, 2010). "Chaco deforestation by Christian sect puts Paraguayan land under threat". guardian.co.uk. 
  13. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/topic,463af2212,49745b0b2,49749ccd5,0,,,.html
  14. ^ Museum halts Paraguay mission after fears over tribe, BBC News, 15 November 2010
  15. ^ Braunstein, José, and Norma C. Meichtry. Liderazgo, representatividad y control social en el Gran Chaco. [Corrientes]: Editorial universitaria de la Universidad nacional del Nordeste, 2008. 106


External links[edit]