Wayana in Suriname

Send Joshua Project a photo
of this people group.
Send Joshua Project a map of this people group.
People Name: Wayana
Country: Suriname
10/40 Window: No
Population: 500
World Population: 2,100
Primary Language: Wayana
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 10.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.50 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South American Indigenous
Affinity Bloc: Latin-Caribbean Americans
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Wayana are closely related to the Aparai and other Amazonian tribes. Though they have their own language, it’s common for tribes in this part of the world to merge.
The Wayana didn’t have contact with Europeans until 1769. They soon had diseases that reduced their population to 500. Eventually they developed immunities and their population rose again. Starting in 1962 American missionaries encouraged the Wayana people to live in larger villages where they would have access to education, medical care and church fellowship.
There are Wayana who live in French Guiana and Suriname. A small number live in Brazil.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The late 1980s brought about eco-tourism and also illegal logging and mining in the Wayana homeland. Mining efforts also brought prostitution, bars and gambling to the Wayana people.
There is a minimal amount of organization in Wayana society. They sometimes have a community house called a tukusipan. Villages are sometimes comprised of one extended family, and they are tied to others by trade, kinship times, marriages and shared rituals. Though they are no longer nomadic, the Wayana sometimes abandon their villages when a leader dies. Wayana leaders are usually their shamans who navigate their contact with the spirit world. Shamans act as healers and advise hunters and fishermen.
Their leadership style is becoming more formal as they must interface with government officials.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Many Wayana people blend their traditional shamanism with Roman Catholicism. They also have an Evangelical influence and their own New Testament.

What Are Their Needs?

The Wayana people need to be empowered to protect their interests against those who encroach on their land.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to guide and protect the Wayana people in the 21st century.
Pray for Wayana Christ followers to disciple others to disciple many others.
Pray for the Lord to bless the Wayana people in such a way they will understand that he is lord of all.
Pray for the Wayana to heed the teachings of the Bible and teach it to their children.

Text Source:   Joshua Project