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Omaguaca, an indigenous people whose existence was first evident around 1000 ce. In the second half of the fifteenth century, they were incorporated into the Incan state, and a hundred years later they were conquered by the Spanish armies. The center of what was once their territory is today called Quebrada de Humahuaca in the province of Jujuy in the northwest extremity of Argentina. Their territory also extended eastward along the woody slopes of the sub-Andean sierras. The population was concentrated in hamlets and fortified settlements (pucarás) inhabited by distinct kinship groups. The economic base of this society was provided by intensive agriculture, mainly corn cultivation, and the tending of auchenidos (llama, alpaca, vicuña, and guamoco). Like other Andean societies, the Omaguaca were organized into two great halves. The northern half had as its capital the town of Humahuaca and at the time of the Spanish conquest was governed by the chief Tuluy. The southern half was under the control of the chief Viltipoco, who resided in the town of Tilcara. During the Incan domination, Tilcara functioned as a provincial administrative center. Power remained within certain determined lineages, and authority was transmitted by inheritance. With respect to language, we know only that at the outset of Spanish domination they were catechized in the Aymara tongue. Their religion, springing from deep Andean roots, was based on the worship of the sun and atmospheric phenomena.

See alsoIncas, The; Indigenous Peoples.


José Antonio Pérez, Concerning the Archaeology of the Humahuaca Quebrada (1978).

Alberto Rex Gonzales and Jose Antonio Perez, Argentina indígena en vísperas de la conquista (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Reboratti, Carlos E. La Quebrada: Geografía, historia y ecología de la Quebrada de Humahuaca. Buenos Aires: Editorial La Colmena, 2003.

Zanolli, Carlos Eduardo. Tierra, encomienda e identidad: Omaguaca (1540–1638). Buenos Aires: Sociedad Argentina de Antropología, 2005.

                              JosÉ Antonio PÉrez GollÁ