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The Pech People

Near the border of Nicaragua lies a stretch of coast that is known as La Moskitia (Mosquito Coast), which can only be reached by sea. The dense tropical rain forests make this stretch of land unattractive to inhabitants, with only indigenous tribes living in La Moskitia at present. It is protected by various national parks and reserves, and one of the tribes that live in the forest, is the ancient Pech people.

No-one is sure exactly where the Pech people originated from. It is believed that they migrated to South America approximately seven thousand years ago and it has been proven, through archeological discoveries that the Pech settled in southern Honduras. Studies have also led scientists and researchers to believe that the Pech that are in existence today, are from South American descent. So little is actually known about the arrival of the Pech in Central America that expeditions and studies still continue to either confirm or dispute some of the myths. One of these myths is the existence of the city of Ciudad Blanca. The legends in regard to the city have taught the Pech that the city was created by their gods, but as yet, no-one has been able to find it, or its ruins.

The Pech once inhabited a large region near the border of Nicaragua, stretching from the Caratasca lagoon to the border. But conflict between the Pech and the Miskito tribes, as well as dealing with the constant invasions of Latinos, saw the Pech numbers begin to dwindle. Throughout the centuries they have remained proud and true to their cultures and traditions and are one of the few tribes that did not partake in intermarriages with other tribes or cultures. As in many countries, missionaries were sent to La Moskitia to try and help the tribes living in the forests but missions in 1610 and 1611 failed and only in 1622, did missionaries have success by converting most communities. However, the Tawakas killed the missionaries in 1623, leading to the abandoning of any further missions for many years. The Pech and most of the tribes living in La Mosquitia have faced many struggles over the years with invasions, discrimination, the fight for land ownership and logging companies chasing them from their homes. For many of the Pech, the struggles became too hard and they chose to adopt other cultures, abandon their language and intermarry to escape the hardships.

The number of Pech people that remain, is estimated at about 1,600. They are an ancient tribe that is under threat of extinction, because of the difficulties they face. And should they not survive, their traditions, culture and language will be lost forever.

 



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