Indigenous Groups in Central America
The Mayans Today
The Mayans are not extinct, but living in Central America in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvadore, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. They are the dominant ethic group among natives in Guatemala and appear to some extent in the other nearby countries as well as in multiracial peoples.
What is Central America?
Central America includes the countries of Belize, Costa, Rica, El Salvadore, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Mestizos are the "Metis" that are well-known elsewhere. They are Europeans mixed with indigenous peoples through intermarriage.
This group makes up about half of the population of Belize and the Maya make up another 7%. The Garifuna migrated to Belize in the 1800s from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and mixed with African, Creoles, Carib Indians, and the Arawak tribe to make up another 5%.
Thus, indigenous peoples comprise a little over 60% of the residents of Belize.
Many of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala are all from the Mayans. Other groups are Xinca and Garífuna. Mayan comprise 40% of the population.
Indigenous people of Central America are also called Native Central Americans in anthropology.
More About the Mayans
- Native Mexican Nations: Native American Nations in Mexico
Mexico is full of significant art finds by Aboriginal Peoples and the more modern as well. Some of the artistic representations of the Indigenous residents is similar to some of that in the Ukraine and the far northern reaches of Russia. Some of it l
The Miskito Native Central Americans live from Cape Cameron Rio Grande, Nicaragua, all along the Miskito Coast. Their language is Miskito, but they speak Miskito Creole-English, Spanish, Rama, and others languages.
Miskitos intermarried with slaves and their community was ruled by a king that shared his power with a a governor, a general, and an admiral.
About 94% of the country is Mestizo and 1% Amerindian.
The Kuna Indians of Panama are famous for colorful dresses, including the mola. The mola is a reverse appliqué made of layers of fabric stitched to reveal different colors in blouse panels.
- Example of Kuna Poetry
Nocturnal by Irik Limnio
The twelve spirits of the earth say
That you didn't cry on the day they birthed you
In their home you roamed in the protuberances of the brilliant stars.
They say you walked secretly
And you melted into the pale plants which appeared before your gaze.
The woman who gave birth to you says that the clouds
Arranged themselves in your glory just for the lament
And humans complain to you that they have had a terrifying dream.
Night, it seems to me that you undulate, pitted with the little eyes of the cherubs who shine continually.
I think you are a Nocturnal like the one I have in the depths of my being.
About 90% of Honduran populations are Mestizo with another 7% being members of seven recognized indigenous groups called The Confederation of Autochthonous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH), including
- The Grafuna;
- The Ch'orti', Mayans in the northwest close to Guatemala;
- The Garifuna speaking a Carib language along the entire Caribbean coastline and the Bay Islands;
- The Pech or Paya in a small area in the Olancho department;
- The Tolupan (Jicaque, Xicaque, or Tol), in the Department of Yoro and in Montaña de la Flor and the Department of Yoro;
- The Lenca in the Valle and Choluteca departments;
- The Miskito on the northeast coast along Nicaragua's border.
Thus, 97% of this country is indigenous.
El Salvador is 89 % Mestizo and 10 % Amerindian. The original peoples here were the Pipil and Lenca.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS