Pech

Introduction

The Pech are an indigenous people in northeastern Honduras, whose population, as of early 2005, had been reduced to 3,800. The Pech language is a member of the Chibchan family of languages, and, although it is still spoken by older people, it is in danger of extinction in the relatively near future.

The region where the Pech live was originally densely forested, principally with the pitch-pine (Spanish ocote), as well as with mahogany & other tree-species. However, the forest has been heavily logged in all but one Pech location. Pech traditional religion included ceremonies to the spirit of the mountains, the spiritual owners of animals, and to the mermaid who cares for the fish. The Pech have traditionally hunted rainforest animals, such as peccaries, monkeys, and so on. However, near most of their villages these animals are now extinct or near extinction due to habitat-loss and over hunting. In addition, the government has sponsored the moving of thousands of Honduran Spanish-speakers into the Pech area as part of its agrarian reform program, activity which is almost certain to lead to further erosion of Pech language & culture. Their language and people are in the most danger of becoming extinct.

Prior to about 1980, the Pech were known as Payas.

Social complexity began among the Pech or probable Pech speakers as long ago as 300 CE. The earlier Pech cultures may have developed independently of the Maya, their near neighbors, or they may have been influenced by Maya. In archaeological reckoning, the Pech formed a number of chiefdoms, some of which left archaeological remains of some sophistication, and certainly by the time of the Spanish exploration of the region in the early sixteenth century, the coastal regions were dominated by substantial chiefdoms. Spanish records of the mid-sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries refer to an paramount chiefdom called Taguzgalpa which dominated the region. Spanish attempts to conquer it in the sixteenth century were unsuccessful.

The Pech suffered heavily from the emergence of the Miskito in the seventeenth century and their alliance with outsider, especially British traders and with the runaway slaves who made up the “Mosquitos zambos”. The aggressive raids of the Miskitu were in large manner responsible for the gradual withdrawal of the Pech into the mountains regions and away from the coast.

Text adapted from Wikipedia’s article on the Pech people/a>

Get Rid of Ads. Support us on Patreon!

Indigenous Peoples Reject New Consultation Law in Honduras

The Struggle for Indigenous Land and Autonomy in Honduras

Paradise in Peril: The Vanishing Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve

We're fighting for our lives

Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.

independent uncompromising indigenous
Except where otherwise noted, articles on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons License
IC is a publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies (cwis.org), a 501C(3) based in the United States