Pericúes

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California women, probably Pericues, 1726 Mujeres californias.jpg
California women, probably Pericúes, 1726

The Pericú (also known as Pericues, Cora, Edues) were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Cape Region, the southernmost portion of Baja California Sur, Mexico. They have been linguistically and culturally extinct since the late 18th century.

Baja California Sur State of Mexico

Baja California Sur, officially the Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California Sur, is the second-smallest Mexican state by population and the 31st admitted state of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, make up the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.

Contents

Territory

Pericu map.png
Missions among the Pericues. Pericues.png
Missions among the Pericúes.

The southern edge of the Baja California Peninsula, from Cabo San Lucas east to Cabo Pulmo, together with the large Gulf of California Islands of Cerralvo, Espíritu Santo, La Partida, and San José, have been recognized as aboriginal Pericú territory. William C. Massey (1949) thought that the eastern portion of the Cape Region, including Bahía las Palmas and Bahía Ventana, was occupied by a Guaycura group known as the Cora. Subsequent reexamination of the ethnohistoric evidence suggests that Cora was synonymous with Pericú (Laylander 1997).

Baja California Peninsula peninsula of North America on the Pacific Coast of Mexico

The Baja California Peninsula is a peninsula in Northwestern Mexico. It separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California. The peninsula extends 1,247 km from Mexicali, Baja California in the north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur in the south. It ranges from 40 km at its narrowest to 320 km at its widest point and has approximately 3,000 km of coastline and approximately 65 islands. The total area of the Baja California Peninsula is 143,390 km2 (55,360 sq mi).

Cabo San Lucas City in Baja California Sur, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, or simply Cabo, is a resort city at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. As of 2015, the population of the city was 81,111 inhabitants. Cabo San Lucas together with San José del Cabo is known as Los Cabos. Together they form a metropolitan area of 305,983 inhabitants.

William Clifford Massey (1917–1974) was an anthropologist who played a key role in the study of the prehistory of the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico. His scientific contributions included archaeological surveys, excavations, and the documentation of previous collections, as well as detailed analyses of ethnohistoric and linguistic evidence bearing of the region's prehistory.

The status of the La Paz area is uncertain. Massey assigned it to two Guaycura groups, the Cora and the Aripe. W. Michael Mathes (1975) argued that it had belonged to the Pericú in the 16th and 17th centuries but was taken over by the Guaycura some time between 1668 and 1720. An alternative interpretation is that it was disputed ground between the Pericú and Guaycura throughout the early historic period.

La Paz, Baja California Sur City in Baja California Sur, Mexico

La Paz is the capital city of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur and an important regional commercial center. The city had a 2015 census population of 244,219 inhabitants, making it the most populous city in the state. Its metropolitan population is somewhat larger because of the surrounding towns, such as El Centenario, Chametla and San Pedro. It is in La Paz Municipality, which is the fourth-largest municipality in Mexico in geographical size and reported a population of 290,286 inhabitants on a land area of 20,275 km2 (7,828 sq mi).

W. Michael Mathes historian

William Michael Mathes was an American historian and academic who focused on the histories of Mexico and Spain. Mathes was a leading expert on the history of Baja California. His articles can be found in the Journal of San Diego History and other publications.

Language

Evidence concerning the language spoken by the Pericú is limited to a handful of words plus fewer than a dozen place names (León-Portilla 1976). Jesuit missionaries recognized Pericú as a language distinct from Guaycura. Massey (1949) suggested that Pericú and Guaycura had together constituted a Guaycuran language family, but this seems to have been based purely on their geographic proximity.

Pericú language

Pericú is the extinct and essentially unattested language of the Pericú people who lived at the southern tip of Baja California. Jesuit missionaries recognized it as distinct from Waikuri (Guaycura) immediately to the north. It was spoken in the mountainous area around the mission of San José del Cabo, on the southeastern coast from Santiago to La Paz, and on the islands off the east coast as far north as Isla San José.

Prehistory

The archaeological record for Pericú territory extends at least as far back as the early Holocene, about 10,000 years ago, and perhaps into the late Pleistocene (Fujita 2006). The distinctive hyperdolichocephalic (long-headed) skulls found in Cape Region burials have suggested to some scholars that the ancestors of the Pericú were either trans-Pacific immigrants or remnants of some of the New World's earliest colonizers (González-José et al. 2003; Rivet 1909). The distinctive Las Palmas burial complex, involving secondary burials painted with red ochre and deposited in caves or rockshelters, was particularly noted (Massey 1955). The continued use of the atlatl and dart alongside the bow and arrow as late as the 17th century, long after their replacement in most of North America, has been used to argue for an exceptional degree of isolation in southern Baja California (Massey 1961).

Holocene The current geological epoch, covering the last 11,700 years

The Holocene is the current geological epoch. It began approximately 11,650 cal years before present, after the last glacial period, which concluded with the Holocene glacial retreat. The Holocene and the preceding Pleistocene together form the Quaternary period. The Holocene has been identified with the current warm period, known as MIS 1. It is considered by some to be an interglacial period within the Pleistocene Epoch.

The Pleistocene is the geological epoch which lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world's most recent period of repeated glaciations. The end of the Pleistocene corresponds with the end of the last glacial period and also with the end of the Paleolithic age used in archaeology.

Cephalic index

The cephalic index or cranial index is the ratio of the maximum width of the head of an organism multiplied by 100 divided by its maximum length. The index is also used to categorize animals, especially dogs and cats.

Harumi Fujita (2006) has traced the changing patterns in the exploitation of marine resources and in settlement within the prehistoric Cape Region. According to Fujita, after about AD 1000, four major centers of socioeconomic and ceremonial importance emerged in the Cape Region: near Cabo San Lucas, at Cabo Pulmo, at La Paz, and on Isla Espíritu Santo.

History

European contacts with the Pericú began in the 1530s, first when Fortún Ximénez and mutineers from an expedition sent out by Hernán Cortés, the conqueror of central Mexico, reached La Paz, followed shortly afterwards by an expedition under Cortés himself (Mathes 1973). Sporadic encounters, sometimes friendly and sometimes hostile, linked the Pericú with a succession of European explorers, privateers, missionaries, Manila galleons, and pearl hunters throughout the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries.

Fortún Ximénez was Spanish sailor who led a mutiny during an early expedition along the coast of Mexico and is the first European known to have landed in Baja California.

Hernán Cortés Spanish conquistador

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of what is now mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Manila galleon Spanish trading ships

The Manila Galleons were Spanish trading ships which for two and a half centuries linked the Philippines with Mexico across the Pacific Ocean, making one or two round-trip voyages per year between the ports of Acapulco and Manila, which were both part of New Spain. The name of the galleon changed to reflect the city that the ship sailed from. The term Manila Galleons is also used to refer to the trade route itself between Acapulco and Manila, which lasted from 1565 to 1815.

Martyrdom of Lorenzo Carranco, at the beginning of the Pericu Revolt in Santiago de los Coras de Anini, 1st October 1734. Martirio de Lorenzo Carranco.jpg
Martyrdom of Lorenzo Carranco, at the beginning of the Pericú Revolt in Santiago de los Coras de Añiñí, 1st October 1734.

The Jesuits established their first permanent mission in Baja California at Loreto in 1697, but it was more than two decades later that they felt prepared to move into the Cape Region. Missions serving the Pericú, at least in part, were established at La Paz (1720), Santiago (1724), and San José del Cabo (1730). A dramatic reversal came in 1734 when the Pericú Revolt began, resulting in the most serious challenge the Jesuits experienced in Baja California. Two missionaries were killed, and for two years Jesuit control over the Cape Region was interrupted (Taraval 1931). The Pericú themselves suffered most, however, with combat deaths added to the already devastating effects of Old World diseases. By the time the Spanish crown expelled the Jesuits from Baja California in 1768, the Pericú seem to have been culturally extinct, although some of their genes may survive in local populations of mixed descent.

Traditional culture

The Pericú are known primarily through the accounts of early European visitors (Laylander 2000; Mathes 2006). The most detailed of these were left by English privateers who spent time at Cabo San Lucas in 1709-1710 and 1721 (Andrews 1979).

Subsistence and material culture

The Pericú are best known for their maritime orientation, harvesting fish, shellfish, and marine mammals from the waters of the southern Gulf of California. Terrestrial resources such as agave, the fruit of cacti, small game, and deer were also important. Agriculture was not practiced.

The Pericú were one of the few aboriginal groups on the California coasts to possess watercraft other than tule balsas, making use of wooden rafts and double-bladed paddles. Nets, spears or harpoons, darts, and bows and arrows were tools for procuring fish and meat. Bags, baskets, and gourds were used for carrying, since pottery was not made. The requirements for shelter and clothing were minimal, although the women wore skirts of fiber or animal skins and both sexes adopted various forms of adornment.

Social organization

The division of labor among the Pericú was evidently based primarily or exclusively on sex and age. They were variously reported as being either monogamous or polygamous. Communities seem to have been politically independent. Leadership positions were hereditary and were sometimes held by women. Inter-community and inter-ethnic warfare seems to have been frequent, and conflicts with the Guaycura were chronic.

Religion

Fragments of Pericú mythology were recorded in the early 1730s (Venegas 1979(4):524-525). Shamans claimed to be able to effect supernatural cures of the sick. Mortuary and mourning observances were particularly elaborate.

The people believed in an all-powerful master named Niparaya, creator of heaven and earth. His wife is Amayicoyondi and they had three sons. One is called Quaayayp, who created the race of men. He was later killed by them. The second was Acaragui. The third was called Wac or Tuparan, depending on the sect. [1]

See also

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References

  1. Native American Myths By Lewis Spence p. 138