Huitoto necklace, ca. 1924
|Regions with significant populations|
|Witotoan languages: Ocaina language (oca), Witoto Proper: Minica Huitoto (hto), Murui Huitoto (huu), Nüpode (hux)|
|traditional tribal religion|
The Witoto people were once composed of one hundred villages or 31 tribes, but disease and conflict has reduced their numbers. Until the early 20th century, Witoto population was 50,000. The rubber boom in the mid-20th century brought diseases and displacement to the Witotos, causing their numbers to plummet to 7,000–10,000.
Since the 1990s, cattle ranchers have invaded Witoto lands—depleting the soil and polluting waterways. In response, Colombia has established several reservations for Witotos.
Witoto peoples all practiced swidden or slash-and-burn agriculture. To prevent depleting the land, they relocate their fields every few yields. Major crops include cacao, coca, maize, bitter and sweet manioc, bananas, mangoes, palms, peanuts, pineapples, plaintains, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, tobacco, and yams. Ethnobotanists have studied Witoto agriculture due to its efficiency and sustainability.
- "Huitoto Tribe in Colombia Teaches its Native Language", Indian Country Today