Topic: Indigenous peoples of the Americas

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Inca Road System

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Peru Argentina

The Inca road system (often spelled Inka road system and known as Qhapaq Ñan meaning "royal road" in Quechua) was the most extensive and advanced transportation system in pre-Columbian South America. It was at least 40,000 kilometres (25,000 mi) long. The construction of the roads required a large expenditure of time and effort.

The network was composed of formal roads carefully planned, engineered, built, marked and maintained; paved where necessary, with stairways to gain elevation, bridges and accessory constructions such as retaining walls, and water drainage system. It was based on two north-south roads: one along the coast and the second and most important inland and up the mountains, both with numerous branches. It can be directly compared with the road network built during the Roman Empire, although the Inka road system was built one thousand years later. The road system allowed for the transfer of information, goods, soldiers and persons, without the use of wheels, within the Tawantinsuyu or Inka Empire throughout a territory with an extension was almost 2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi) and inhabited by about 12 million people.

The roads were bordered, at intervals, with buildings to allow the most effective usage: at short distance there were relay stations for chasquis, the running messengers; at a one-day walking interval tambos allowed support to the road users and the flocks of carrying llamas. Administrative centers with warehouses for re-distribution of goods were found along the roads. Towards the boundaries of the Inka Empire and in new conquered areas pukaras (fortresses) were found.

Part of the road network was built by cultures that precede the Inka Empire, notably the Wari culture in the northern central Peru and the Tiwanaku culture in Bolivia. Different organizations such as UNESCO and IUCN have been working to protect the network in collaboration with the governments and communities of the six countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina) through which the Great Inka Road passes.

In modern times the roads see heavy use from tourism, such as the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, well known by trekkers, connecting Ollantaytambo with Machu Picchu.

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Indigenous peoples of the Americas Peru

Quipu (also spelled khipu) are recording devices fashioned from strings historically used by a number of cultures in the region of Andean South America. Knotted strings were used by many other cultures such as the ancient Chinese and native Hawaiians, but such practices should not be confused with the quipu, which refers only to the Andean device.

A quipu usually consisted of cotton or camelid fiber strings. The Inca people used them for collecting data and keeping records, monitoring tax obligations, properly collecting census records, calendrical information, and for military organization. The cords stored numeric and other values encoded as knots, often in a base ten positional system. A quipu could have only a few or thousands of cords. The configuration of the quipus has been "compared to string mops." Archaeological evidence has also shown the use of finely carved wood as a supplemental, and perhaps more sturdy, base to which the color-coded cords would be attached. A relatively small number have survived.

Objects that can be identified unambiguously as quipus first appear in the archaeological record in the first millennium AD. They subsequently played a key part in the administration of the Kingdom of Cusco and later Tawantinsuyu, the empire controlled by the Inca ethnic group, flourishing across the Andes from c. 1100 to 1532 AD. As the region was subsumed under the invading Spanish Empire, the quipu faded from use, to be replaced by European writing and numeral systems. However, in several villages, quipu continued to be important items for the local community, albeit for ritual rather than practical use. It is unclear as to where and how many intact quipus still exist, as many have been stored away in mausoleums.

Quipu is the Spanish spelling and the most common spelling in English. Khipu (pronounced [ˈkʰɪpʊ], plural: khipukuna) is the word for "knot" in Cusco Quechua. In most Quechua varieties, the term is kipu.

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  • "Quipu" | 2013-08-18 | 47 Upvotes 24 Comments

Jesuit Reduction

Brazil Portugal Catholicism Indigenous peoples of the Americas Brazil/History of Brazil Spain South America South America/Paraguay

The Jesuit reductions were a type of settlement for indigenous people specifically in the Rio Grande do Sul area of Brazil, Paraguay and neighbouring Argentina in South America, established by the Jesuit Order early in the 17th century and wound up in the 18th century with the banning of the Jesuit order in several European countries. Subsequently, it has been called an experiment in "socialist theocracy" or a rare example of "benign colonialism".

In their newly acquired South American dominions, the Spanish and Portuguese Empires had adopted a strategy of gathering native populations into communities called "Indian reductions" (Spanish: reducciones de indios) and Portuguese: redução (plural reduções). The objectives of the reductions were to impart Christianity and European culture. Secular as well as religious authorities created "reductions".

The Jesuit reductions were Christian missions that extended successfully in an area straddling the borders of present-day Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina (the triple frontera) amongst the Guaraní peoples. The reductions are often called collectively the Río de la Plata missions. The Jesuits attempted to create a "state within a state" in which the native peoples in the reductions, guided by the Jesuits, would remain autonomous and isolated from Spanish colonists and Spanish rule. A major factor attracting the natives to the reductions was the protection they afforded from enslavement and the forced labour of encomiendas.

Under the leadership of both the Jesuits and native caciques, the reductions achieved a high degree of autonomy within the Spanish colonial empire. With the use of native labour, the reductions became economically successful. When the incursions of Brazilian Bandeirante slave-traders threatened the existence of the reductions, Indian militias were set up, which fought effectively against the Portuguese colonists. However, directly as a result of the Suppression of the Society of Jesus in several European countries, including Spain, in 1767, the Jesuits were expelled from the Guaraní missions (and the Americas) by order of the Spanish king, Charles III. So ended the era of the Paraguayan reductions. The reasons for the expulsion related more to politics in Europe than the activities of the Jesuit missions themselves.

The Jesuit Rio de la Plata reductions reached a maximum population of 141,182 in 1732 in 30 missions in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The reductions of the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos in eastern Bolivia reached a maximum population of 25,000 in 1766. Jesuit reductions in the Llanos de Moxos, also in Bolivia, reached a population of about 30,000 in 1720. In Chiquitos, the first reduction was founded in 1691 and in the Llanos de Moxos in 1682.

The Jesuit reductions have been lavishly praised as a "socialist utopia" and a "Christian communistic republic" as well as criticized for their "rigid, severe and meticulous regimentation" of the lives of the Indian people they ruled with a firm hand through Guaraní intermediaries.

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Man of the Hole

Biography Anthropology Brazil Indigenous peoples of the Americas

The Man of the Hole (also known as "Indian of the Hole", Portuguese: índio do buraco) is a man indigenous to Brazil who lives alone in the Amazon rainforest. He is believed to be the last surviving member of his tribe. It is unknown what language he speaks or what his tribe was called. The term "Man of the Hole" is a nickname used by officials and the media; his real name is unknown.

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