ETHNONYMS: Ande, Anti, Camba, Campiti, Chascoso, Chuncho, Kampa, Komparía, Kuruparía, Tampa, Thampa
The Campa Indians live primarily in the eastern foothills of the Peruvian Andes, although just over 200 of them live in Brazil. Estimates of their population range from 14,000 to more than 40,000. The Campa speak a language belonging to the Arawak Family, but most also speak Spanish and Quechua.
There are seven major Campa groups and numerous subgroups. The major groups are the Campa Pajonalino (Atsiri or Ashéninca), Campa del Alto Perene (Parenisati or Ashéninca), Campa Caquinte (Poyenisati or Cachomashiri), Campa Nomatsiguenga (Atiri or Matsiguenga), Campa Asháninca, Campa del Pichis (Asháninca or Atsiri), and Campa Ucayalino (Ashéninca). Each of these groups has had a different history and now pursues a livelihood in its own manner. In addition, there are dialectal differences in speech between some groups.
The Campa relationship with Europeans has usually been hostile. Late in the seventeenth century, when Franciscan missionaries gathered a number of Campa into their missions, the Campa reacted by rebelling and escaping. The Franciscans continued their efforts, however, and in the early eighteenth century seemed to be securely established in the region. By 1735 they had thirty-eight missions where more than 8,000 Indians resided, most of whom were Campa. This period of missionary activity ended violently in 1742 with the Campa rebellion under the leadership of Juan Santos Atahuallpa, a mestizo from Cuzco who claimed Inca descent and had a Jesuit education. This uprising, which was clearly millenarian in character, was never suppressed, and Campa hostility toward missionaries and colonists continued for over 100 years.
The Campa managed to remain largely in control of their own affairs until the creation, in 1889, of the Peruvian Corporation. White industry and settlement then entered Campa territory in force, and this penetration continues. During the rubber boom of the early twentieth century the Campa were subjected to forced labor and exposed to epidemic diseases that resulted in massive depopulation. Many Campa groups have been influenced by the Protestant missionaries of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, who have produced written material in the Campa language and trained bilingual schoolteachers.
ASHÁNINCA. The Asháninca group live in the jungles of the region of the Ene, Tambo, Satipo, and lower Apurímac rivers, at an elevation of 300 to 1,800 meters. The estimated population in 1975 was 15,000 to 18,000. The Asháninca are traditionally seminomadic, living in small groups whose only recognized leaders are the heads of families. Many Asháninca have now settled and formed larger and more sedentary villages where they practice subsistence agriculture. They recognize individual ownership of land under cultivation, but uncleared forest land is collectively owned. As cash crops, they raise maize, rice, beans, coffee, and citrus fruits, and they work in lumbering and hunt for animal skins. An integral part of the Asháninca economy is the system of trading partners; these may be other Asháninca or Pajonalino Campa. In one particular area, many Asháninca work on labor gangs. There are over thirty bilingual schools, and young Asháninca have trained as bilingual teachers, health workers, and mechanics. Some Asháninca are beginning to wear Western clothing rather than the traditional cushma.
CAMPA DEL ALTO PERENÉ. The more than 3,000 Campa del Alto Perene live along the upper Perene River and its tributaries. Because the members of this Campa group were subjugated in 1869 when the town of La Merced was founded, they are more acculturated than the Campa of other regions and more of them are bilingual. They are subsistence farmers, but many grow coffee as a cash crop or work for the colonists of the area.
CAMPA DEL PICHIS. This group of 3,000 is relatively isolated and unacculturated, living on the remote Río Pichis and its tributaries. Its members raise maize and manioc for their own consumption and rice to sell. Cash cropping, however, has not been successful because of difficulties of transportation. Many Campa del Pichis men work seasonally in the coffee plantations of Chanchmayo and the upper Perene. Others work as loggers or tap rubber.
CAQUINTE. This group of Campa live on the banks of the Urubamba and several nearby rivers. In 1975 their population was estimated at 300 to 1,000. They are still relatively isolated, and they have little to do with the cash economy, preferring to live by subsistence agriculture, hunting, and fishing.
NOMATSIGUENGA. Living at elevations of 900 to 1,500 meters in the rain forests near the Sanibini, Ene, upper Pangoa, and other nearby rivers, the 4,000 Nomatsiguenga Campa were relatively safe from contact with Whites until recently because they lived on nonnavigable waterways. In 1954 a highway introduced settlers and disease, and almost one-half the group died in an epidemic of measles in 1956. Thousands of settlers have now entered the region, and the Nomatsiguenga are becoming rapidly acculturated. Most of the men speak some Spanish. There is frequent contact between the Nomatsiguenga and the Asháninca. Although the Nomatsiguenga are primarily subsistence horticulturists, they also work for settlers and raise coffee as a cash crop. Agricultural land, game, and other resources are becoming scarce because of increased population pressure, and the Nomatsiguenga are beginning to suffer from malnutrition.
The Nomatsiguenga generally live in matrilocal extended families. A group of families lives on each river. Some of these groups hold title to the land they occupy, which is divided among the families of the group. Certain days are set aside to work for the community; fishing and sometimes hunting are collective enterprises.
PAJONALINO. This Campa group of 4,000 lives between elevations of 900 and 1,800 feet in the Gran Pajonal region. Even though the region is heavily settled by Whites and the Pajonalino have been missionized, they remain un-acculturated and monolingual Campa speakers. They raise maize and manioc for their own consumption, and they also forage. Game is scarce in this region, and sometimes the Pajonalino undertake long fishing trips. Despite their long-standing essentially hostile attitude toward Whites and other Indians, more and more Pajonalino are working as laborers to acquire cash to buy trade items. Native trade is also important; the Pajonalino obtain their cushmas from the Asháninca because cotton does not grow well in the wet climate of the Pajonal.
UCAYALINO. This Campa group of more than 5,000 lives on the Sheshea, Pachitea and Ucayali rivers. Following a violent dispute with a Franciscan mission in 1925, they went deep into the jungles to escape the Peruvian military. Once there, many intermarried with the Amuesha Indians. Presently, they farm on a subsistence basis. They acquire cash by raising and selling rice and by working as rubber tappers.
Bodley, John W. (1972). Tribal Survival in the Amazon: The Campa Case. Document 5. Rooseveltown: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA).
Denevan, William M. (1974). "Campa Subsistence in the Gran Pajonal, Eastern Peru." In Native South Americans: Ethnology of the Least Known Continent, edited by Patricia Lyon, 92-110. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
Fernández, Eduardo (1986). Para que nuestra historia no se pierda: Testimonios de los asháninca y nomatsiguenga sobre la colonización de la región Satipo-Pangoa. Lima: Centro de Investigación y Promoción Amazónica.
Izaguirre Ispizua, Bernardino (1922-1929). Historia de las misiones franciscanas y narración de los progresos de la geografía en el oriente del Perú .. . 1619-1921. Lima.
Ribeiro, Darcy, and Mary Ruth Wise (1978). Los grupos étnicos de la Amazonia peruana. Comunidades y Culturas Peruanas, 13. Lima: Ministerio de Educación; Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.
Weiss, Gerald (1972). "Campa Cosmology." Ethnology 11:157-172.
NANCY M. FLOWERS
"Campa." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 21, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/campa
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