Paez people

The Páez people, also known as the Nasa, are a Native American people who live in the southwestern highlands of Colombia, especially in the Cauca Department, but also the Caquetá Department lowlands and Tierradentro.[1]

Uy nasa.jpg
Paez merchants, Colombia, 2005
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Páez, Spanish
traditional tribal religion, Roman Catholicism[2]


In the early 1900s, Lazarists built missions among the Paez and began the work to convert them to Christianity. Jesuits had originally tried to convert the Paez, but failed. However, the Lazarists met some success. The Paez developed a syncretic form of Roman Catholicism that absorbed their indigenous religion. For example, the Paez have shamans but many have also become Roman Catholic priests.[2]

Climate adaptationEdit

Since they live in the cold climate of the Andes, the Paez build their homes using brick, metal, cement, and wood. The Paez women raise and shear sheep for wool. They clean the wool, spin yarn from it, dye it and knit clothes and blankets for their families.


Punishment for wrongs is strict in the Paez culture. In June 2000, the Paez whipped an adulterous tribal leader and his mistress 17 strokes with a knotted leather whip. "As a Paez Indian," the flogged tribal leader said, "I'm proud to have received this punishment because it is glorifying my race." Stripping the one being punished of his clothing and dunking him in a cold mountain lake is another form of punishment—this was done to Senator Jesus Pinacue, a Paez who defied the community by supporting a political candidate in a presidential vote.[3]


Many Paez are agriculturists and common crops grown include potatoes, coffee, cassava, plantains, coca, and hemp.[4]

Present dayEdit

The Paez and Nasa people have been targeted by both rebels and paramilitary groups in the Colombian conflict. In 2019, alone 36 members of the tribe were murdered, and in July 2019 there were a reported 57 attacks on the Paez and other indigenous groups in Colombia.[5] In October 2020, they rallied in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, due to an increase in violence in their territories.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Páez - Orientation." Countries and Their Cultures. (retrieved 2 Dec 2011)
  2. ^ a b "Latter Day Saints",
  3. ^ Colombian tribe whips cheating lovers
  4. ^ Winston, Robert, ed. (2004). Human: The Definitive Visual Guide. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 378. ISBN 0-7566-0520-2.
  5. ^ "Colombia murders: Anger as indigenous leaders are buried". BBC News. 14 August 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Indigenous Colombians rally in Bogotá over killings". BBC. 20 October 2020.
  7. ^ Introducción a la Colombia Amerindia, Páez

Further readingEdit

  • Rappaport, Joanna (1985). "History, myth, the dynamics of territorial maintenance in Tierradentro, Colombia". American Ethnologist: 27–45. doi:10.1525/ae.1985.12.1.02a00020.

External linksEdit