Nukak in Colombia

Map Source:  Joshua Project
People Name: Nukak
Country: Colombia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 800
World Population: 800
Primary Language: Nukak Maku
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 15.00 %
Evangelicals: 12.30 %
Scripture: Translation Started
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Amazon
Affinity Bloc: Latin-Caribbean Americans
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

They were an uncontacted tribe until 1988. Contact with them resulted in devastation for their numbers, as half of the population died of disease they had previously not known, especially malaria, measles and pulmonary diseases. Recently their numbers have been further threatened by experiencing the cross-fire between guerillas and paramilitaries fighting over the coca production in the area. As a result of this situation, their chief Mao-Be committed suicide in 2006 by drinking the poison the tribe uses in hunting jungle prey. According to friends, he took his life in desperation at being powerless to protect the tribe from these threats. Several of their number live in temporary settlements at San José del Guaviare to escape the fighting in their homeland. They want to return, however, to carry on with their traditional lives.

Where Are they Located?

The Nukak, or Nukak-Makú live in northern Columbia in the jungle region that lies between the Guaviare and Inirida rivers.

What Are Their Lives Like?

They are jungle nomads. At any moment, they can roll up their hammocks and carry their possessions to the next camp. They live off the land, utilizing an incredible list of jungle products. Some of their possessions now are modern, such as some metal pots, but much of what they use is from their surroundings from their houses to their hammocks, tools and weapons.

They hunt a variety of animals in the jungle, using a blowgun and poison darts to shoot what lives above the jungle floor and javelins for what scurries across it. They avoid killing deer and tapirs, which they see as closely related to humans. They capture fish by one of several methods, including hooks, spears, arrows, traps and the use of a root which stuns the fish and allows them to easily catch them.

The overall group is divided into smaller groups that roam according to the seasons. They meet periodically for ceremonies and celebrations. Marriage candidates are chosen from certain groups to avoid marrying cousins from the mother's side. A man can have more than one wife, though this is uncommon. They also practice a temporary form of polyandry: a woman has sexual relations with more than one man, believing this ensures that her children will properly develop in the womb.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Of their belief system, Andrés G. Martínez writes: "In their worldview, the Nukak rose from a lower level to a medium level, where they live now, went through a hole located to the southeast of its territory Mainako opened by a woman. Then there emerged the other ethnic groups living in the region. The Nukak think humans have three spirits that go to different places at the time of death."

What Are Their Needs?

The Nukak need a place that they can truly call their own without fear of outside violence and encroachment. They also need medical assistance, especially for the diseases introduced to them upon contact with outsiders.

Prayer Points

Pray the government will be favorable to attempts by missionaries to reach them and minister to them.
Pray for peace in their region and for the departure of violent men.
Pray they will be able to hold to their traditions as they please in a changing atmosphere.
Pray they may learn where the truth about their origin and their destiny in Christ.

Text Source:   Joshua Project