Wenàiwica, Dzase, Amarizanes, Kuipaco, Enegua, Yapoco*
Unlike many of the Caño Mochuelo indigenous peoples, the Piapoco do not belong to the Guahibo linguistic family, but to the Arawak family along with the Achaguas and Curripacos. ** The Piapocos and Achaguas used to belong to the same people before the arrival of the Spanish colonists, which was one of the most numerous indigenous groups in the Orinoquia. Due to our peaceful, traditionally sedentary and agricultural culture, we were the first communities to be incorporated into the inland missions, especially in the region where the Caño Mochuelo Reserve is now located: in Pauto (1604); in San José de Atanarí (1666); in San Lorenzo (1775); and in San Juan Francisco Regis (1722). Historians also tell us about the disputes between missionaries, the colonists, and other foreign settlers. The missionaries had an evangelizing purpose against the indigenous people, while others were interested in enslaving the indigenous population. After the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, the territory traditionally inhabited by our ancestors was mainly dominated by colonists who progressively asserted their power in Los Llanos. The Llanera ethnic group was born out of this mixture of cultures, half white and half indigenous, with its linguistic, musical traits, and particular ways of life. ***
Despite the violence, displacement, and persecution, some indigenous communities avoided intermixing and maintained their identity, passing it down through the centuries to those who today recognize ourselves as members of the Piapoco people. We base our social systems on groups that specialized as Captains, Shamans, Warriors, Owners of Songs and Dances, and Servants. We have maintained kinship, hierarchy, specialization, exchange, territorial distribution, and even ecological complementarity not only with other communities of our ethnic group but also with other ethnic groups that make up the great indigenous society of the Orinoquia. **** There are currently communities of the Piapoco people in various parts of the Orinoquia, both in Colombia and Venezuela. In the Caño Mochuelo Reserve, we are in the village of Belén de las Mañanitas, located in the Boca de Casanare, where 31 people from ten families live today.
* Hernández Chacón, M. “Piapoco”, en Portal de Lenguas de Colombia (Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo, 2020); Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia, 2020.
** Romero Moreno, M. E., Castro Agudelo, L. M., y Muriel Bejarano, A. Geografía humana de Colombia. Región Orinoquia, vol. 1, tomo III (Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Cultura Hispánica, 1993): 10, 89.
*** Ibíd., 96.
**** Ortiz Gómez, F, “Nómadas en el oriente colombiano: una respuesta adaptativa al entorno social”. Maguaré, no. 17 (2003): 283.