Huottuja (Piaroa) History & Identity
We are a distinctive indigenous ethnic group (etnia) with a humble and peaceful disposition that have constantly occupied our Pre-Columbian fourth-world nation since the beginning of time.
Independent and Natural
Our people were forced and persuaded to use Spanish surnames and Christian first names in the 1800's and in law in Venezuela during the dictatorship of Gomez in the early 20th century. In 2020, after the state failing to protect our territory in accordance with the constitution, we were forced to defend our territories notwithstanding the state on several occasions; the failure of the state to govern has moved our communities to once again become autonomous, embrace our roots and recapture our identity. Today many Huottuja people are adopting names that are pronounced and written using our alphabet.
We were discovered living in the forest when Doctor José Solano founded San Fernando de Atabapo in 1758 and when the Friar José A. de Xerez came 1765 as a Franciscan monk. To the best of our knowledge the word (our name) "Piaroa" referring to the Huottuja De'aruhua People first appeared in print in 1780 in an Italian natural history book by Filippo Salvadore Gilii, discussing dialects of the indigenous peoples of the Spanish mainland provinces in South America, it says, "After the Carib language comes the Saliva which has three dialects, Ature, Piaroa, and Quàqua." Later the citation was translated to German by Alexander von Humboldt in 1810 and by Conrad Malte-Brun to English in 1824 in texts about geography and natural history. In 1832 scientific research was being conducted by Germans, French, Italians, Hungarians, and Austrians at the invitation of the Spanish, even Carl Linnaeus speaks of the "Piaroa" plants from our territory were exploited for the pharmaceutical industry as early as 1835 by the German Pharmacists Association. By 1872 we became part of North American literature in Rough Notes Of A Journey Through The Wilderness From Trinidad To Para Brazil by Henry Alexander Wickham. By 1894 our indigenous art and culture was documented by the Smithsonian Institute.
Rock paintings by the Piaroa on the Orinoco.
We do acknowledge academics, science and investigative research from authorities of all types like anthropologists, ethnologists, linguists, botanists, biologists, bromatologists and even philosophers which we welcome in our communities. We constantly compile and catalog materials from any source that uses our name in a byline. We have our own language, customs, culture, rituals, mythology, spiritual beliefs, philosophy, folklore, cures, medicine, art, traditions, gestures and expressions all of which are discussed on this website.
For over 2000 years the Piaroa have exclusively inhabited the area from the Suapure River in the North, the Ventuari River in the South, East to the Guanay Valley and West to the Orinoco. The heart of our spiritual world has always been the Upper Cuao River which connects to three other rivers before entering the Orinoco. As well with a rich oral history, a mythology, a spiritual connection with the earth, most of the Huottuja know the Piaroa names for all of our rivers, creeks and many of our villages.
Meanwhile we are assembling a rich history based on accurate coincident information from a consensus about our people from many individual sources as it is archived, cataloged, recorded and translated.