Yaminahua in Peru

Photo Source:  David and Jenny Skinner 
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People Name: Yaminahua
Country: Peru
10/40 Window: No
Population: 900
World Population: 2,600
Primary Language: Yaminahua
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 2.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.70 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South American Indigenous
Affinity Bloc: Latin-Caribbean Americans
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Yaminawa are an Amazonian indigenous people who live in Brazil, Bolivia and southeastern Peru. Yaminawa means people of the "axe." The name was given to them by outsides, not of their tribe. They speak a Panoan language. In Peru they are also called Yaminahua.

The New Testament in the Yaminahua language became available in 2013.

Since most Yaminawa lack literacy skills, the Yaminahua will have to be taught to read their New Testament. Most are also unable to speak Spanish, the national language of Peru.

The first main contact with outsiders the Yaminawa was made during the rubber boom of the early 20th century. There was a great worldwide demand for rubber to be used as automobile and bicycle tires. The rubber boom caused problems for the Yaminahua. They have had further issues with loggers and with oil exploration. Their leaders have worked in recent years to have acceptable financial and social relations with outsiders. They desire to protect not destroy the rain forest and have contacts with other Peruvians who want the same thing.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Yaminahua are undergoing change. Some of their young people are leaving the tribal lands and moving to towns and cities. They are looking for better economic and educational opportunities for their children.

The Yanimahua who remain on their ancestral lands make their living by hunting, fishing, food gathering, and agriculture. The men fish the rivers and lakes. They also hunt birds, monkeys, and wild pigs. Women gather fruits and roots. Some Yaminahua grow crops of manioc, bananas and beans. The Yaminahua trade surplus fish and food products for things they can't make for themselves like metal tools, medicine and appliances.

The Yamina marry within their group. Due to the lack of modern medicine, many children die before their 10th birthday. Many Yaminahua people die of TB, parasites, and malaria. Their life expectancy is low, about 45 years.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Yaminahua, like so many indigenous peoples, practice folk religion and animism. They believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature such as rivers, rocks, trees, animals and the sky. These spirits must be honored or they can bring harm to the Yaminahua people. The village shaman connects the Yaminahua to the spirit world. He provides amulets, charms and rituals whose purpose it is protect the people from the evil spirits. He also serves as the village medical doctor as modern medicine is frequently not available to the Yaminahua.

There are few if any followers of Jesus Christ among the Yaminahua.

What Are Their Needs?

The Yaminawa have a low literacy level so the gospel will need to be given to them in oral form.

They need teachers who can teach them to read and write Spanish and their own language. The Yaminahua would greatly benefit from medical teams coming to them since many of them die from preventable diseases. Most of all the Yaminahua must hear and receive the good news about Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and free them from their fear of evil spirits.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the Yaminahua as a testimony of his power and love.

Pray that the Yaminahua people will have a spiritual hunger that will open their hearts to the only Savior.

Ask the Lord to send loving workers to the Yaminahua.

Pray for a movement to Christ among the Yaminahua to begin this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project