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Next to the three official languages Spanish, Quechua and Aymara, over 40 indigenous languages are still spoken in Peru; most of them might dissappear rather sooner than later.

Another indigenous language in Peru nearly lost

Last female speaker of the native Amazon language “resigaro” brutally murdered


Peru is a megadiverse country that unites multiple peoples and indigenous tribes, cultural traditions and languages within its borders. Before the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century an assumed 300 to 600 different languages were spoken in the area.

Today however next to the three official languages Spanish (castellaño, the language of the conquerors), Quechua (the main language of the Inca empire) and Aimara or Aymara (a native language spoken in the southern Peruvian highlands) only less than 50 indigenous languages with about 120 local dialects are left and recognized.

One of these last indigenous languages is “resigaro”, belonging to the family of Arawakan languages, which was once widely spoken in the border area of Peru and Colombia in the northern Peruvian Amazon rainforest. 30 years ago there were about a dozen resigaro speakers left, but already then all of them lived in communities of non-Arawakan bora and ocaina speakers.

In the last years only two people, Rosa Andrade Ocagane and her brother Pablo, born to a resigaro mother and an ocaina father, still were able to communicate in the resigaro language.

As local media reported just a couple of weeks ago the 67-year-old Rosa was brutally murdered in her community for unknown reasons. This leaves only her 65-year-old brother to prevent that the native Amazon language resigaro vanishes forever. By the way Rosa and Pablo belong(ed) as well to the more or less 40 people that speak ocaina, another indigenous language in the area threatened to disappear soon.

For quite a few years now the Peruvian government tries hard to preserve the knowledge of indigenous languages and traditions. For that reason the siblings were supposed to work on a revision of the only resigaro dictionary and grammar book compiled in the middle of the last century. Pablo assured that he will now try to finish the project alone.

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