The History of the Aymara Tribe of the Andes

Instructor: Margaret Moran
Living from the land, planting and harvesting, or hand-weaving boats for fishing on a crystal-blue lake in South America are some of the things the Aymara Tribe in the Andes does daily. This lesson will discuss the tribe's history through the ages.

The Aymara Tribe

There are indigenous people all over the world, from the sub-zero climates of the Arctic Circle to the hot furnaces of the Sahara desert. But in the beautiful, wind-swept Andes Mountains in South America, the agricultural herders of the Aymara Tribe thrive.

By the early 21st century, around 3 million members of the Aymara were living in Bolivia, Peru and the northern portions of Chile. In the colonial days, 11 individual tribes made up the body of the Aymara. Let's take a look at the history of the Aymara Tribe.


The Aymara themselves are thought to be one of the earliest peoples in this part of South America, and are believed to have formed from the Tiahuanaco culture that was in the region from 500-200 BC. The Aymara make their home in a place called Altiplano, which is a plateau of high altitude in the Bolivian Andes. It is a troubled place to try to thrive, but the warm waters of Lake Titicaca on the plateau help make this area habitable.

Could you imagine trying to live and thrive in a desert? The Aymara live in an arid area known for its extreme climate and very poor soil, so any crops must be hardy to grow in these rough conditions. The main animals they herd are llamas or alpacas, and the region's coarse grass makes for fine pasture areas for these animals.

Tribe History

Originally, the Aymara Tribe was actually several different states living together. But around 1430, the Inca Empire began pushing into Aymara territory and the Aymara ultimately became part of a more centralized society. During the Inca Empire, much of their territory was made up of the lands they had taken from the Aymara, although these proud people would continue to fight the Inca.

The Aymara's rebellion and unrest against the Inca continued until the Spanish entered South America in 1535 and conquered the region. A lust for money, gold and cheap labor drove them to push the Aymara into working in mines. This exploitation extended to forcing the Aymara people into positions of servitude in the houses and plantations of the Spaniards.

The Aymara, proud and independent, mounted a resistance beginning in 1780. They slayed many Spaniards through the coming years, which continued until Peru claimed independence in 1821, followed by Bolivia in 1825. It was a period of blood and hardship for all the people of the area.

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