Indigenous People of Ecuador

0-4 Tribes of Ecuador

This is an index to the Native American information on our website pertaining to Ecuador Indian tribes and the languages they speak. Some pages contain more information than others. If you belong to an indigenous tribe from Ecuador that is not currently listed on this page and you would like to see it here, please contact us about contributing information to our site.

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The original inhabitants of the area that is now Ecuador include:

The Achuar and Shiwiar Indians
The Awa-Cuaiquer Indians
The Cara Indians
The Chachi Indians
The Cofan Indians
The Pasto Indians
The Quichua Indians
The Secoya Indians
The Shuar Indians
The Siona Indians
The Tsafiki Indians
The Waorani (Auca) Indians
The Zaparo Indians

Recommended books about Ecuador’s Native Americans:

Life and Death in Early Colonial Ecuador: Interesting book about the post-Columbian history of the Indians of Ecuador.
Highland Indians and the State in Modern Ecuador: History of the modern indigenous rights movement in Ecuador.
*Blood, Revenge, War and Victory Feasts Among the Jibara Indians of Eastern Ecuador: An anthropology book on the Jibaras.

Other resources about American Indian history, culture and society in Ecuador:

Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador: Advocacy group representing the indigenous peoples of Ecuador.
Sumak Allpa: Native Ecuadorian organization working to preserve indigenous culture.
Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador: Article dealing with the various Ecuadorian Indian tribes.
Languages of Ecuador: Map showing where Ecuador’s languages are spoken.
Native American Nations in Northern South America: Information and photographs of the Quechua and other tribes in this region.
Inca History of Ecuador: Article on the history of the Incan empire in Ecuador, with pictures of Inca ruins.
Citizens, Indians and Women: Article on the sociological challenges that have faced the Indians of Ecuador since the 1880’s.

The oldest artifacts discovered in Ecuador are stone implements discovered at 32 Cotton Pre-ceramic (Paleolithic) archaeological sites in the Santa Elena Peninsula. They indicate a hunting and gathering economy, and date from the Late Pleistocene epoch, or about 11,000 years ago. These Paleo-Indians subsisted on the megafauna that inhabited the Americas at the time, which they hunted and processed with stone tools of their own manufacture.


Evidence of Paleoindian hunter-gatherer material culture in other parts of coastal Ecuador is isolated and scattered. Such artifacts have been found in the provinces of Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Azuay, and Loja.

Despite the existence of these early coastal settlements, the majority of human settlement occurred in the Sierra (Andean) region, which was quickly populated. One such settlement, remains of which were found at the archaeological site El Inga, was centered at the eastern base of Mount Ilaló, where two basalt flows are located. Due to agricultural disturbances of archaeological remains, it has been difficult to establish a consistent timeline for this site. The oldest artifacts there discovered, however, date to 9,750 BP.

In the South, archaeological discoveries include stone artifacts and animal remains found in the Cave of Chobshi, located in the cantón of Sigsig, which date between 10,010 and 7,535 BP. Chobshi also provides evidence of the domestication of the dog. Another site, Cubilán, rests on the border between Azuay and Loja provinces. Scrapers, projectile points, and awls discovered there date between 9,060 and 9,100 BP, while vegetable remains are up to a thousand years older.

In the Oriente, human settlements have since at least 2450 BP.Settlements that probably date from this period have been found in the provinces of Napo, Pastaza, Sucumbíos, and Orellana. However, most of the evidence recovered in the Oriente suggest a date of settlement later than in the Sierra or the Coast.

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