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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 32 states which make up the 32 Federal Entities of 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.
Los Cabos is a municipality located at the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, in the state of Baja California Sur. It encompasses the two towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo linked by a twenty-mile Resort Corridor of beach-front properties and championship golf courses.
Sigismundo Taraval (1700–1763) was a pioneering Jesuit missionary in Baja California who wrote important historical accounts of the peninsula.
The Spanish admiral Isidro de Atondo y Antillón is best known for his role in unsuccessful attempts to establish colonies on the Baja California peninsula in 1683–1685.
The Guaycura were a native people of Baja California Sur, Mexico, occupying an area extending south from near Loreto to Todos Santos They contested the area around La Paz with the Pericú. The Guaycura were nomadic hunter-gatherers. They are distinguished by a language unrelated to any other Native American language, indicating in the opinion of some linguists that their ancestry in Baja California dates back thousands of years.
The Monqui were indigenous peoples of Mexico, who lived in the vicinity of Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico, at the time of Spanish contact. Monqui territory included about 65 kilometres (40 mi) of coast along the Gulf of California and extended a few kilometers inland to where the Cochimi people lived.
The Cochimí were the aboriginal inhabitants of the central part of the Baja California peninsula, from El Rosario in the north to San Javier in the south.
The short-lived Jesuit mission of San Bruno was established in 1684 on the Baja California Peninsula near the Gulf of California, in colonial Mexico of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Mission was located at. The location of this mission should not be confused with the location of the present day town of San Bruno which is located about 110 kilometres (68 mi) to the north.
Miguel Venegas (1680–1764) was a Jesuit administrator and historian. He is most known for his book Noticia de la California, a standard geographical, historical, and ethnographic description of Baja California, Mexico—a region he never personally visited.
Mission La Paz was established by the Jesuit missionaries Juan de Ugarte and Jaime Bravo in 1720 and financed by the Marqués de Villapuente de la Peña, at the location of the modern city of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
The Jesuit missionary Clemente Guillén founded Mission Dolores in 1721 and sponsored by the Marqués de Villapuente de la Peña, on the Gulf coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico, about midway between Loreto and La Paz in Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Mission Santiago was founded by the Italian Jesuit Ignacio María Nápoli in 1724 and financed by the Marqués de Villapuente de la Peña and his wife the Marquesa de las Torres de Rada, at the native settlement of Aiñiní, about 40 kilometers north of San José del Cabo in the Cape Region of Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Mission San José del Cabo was the southernmost of the Jesuit missions on the Baja California peninsula, located near the modern city of San José del Cabo in Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Misión Santa Rosa de las Palmas, also known as Todos Santos Mission, was founded by the Roman Catholic Jesuits in 1733. After 1748, the mission was known as Nuestra Señora del Pilar de la Paz. The mission was the first European settlement at the site of what is now the city of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur. The Santa Rosa Mission was located in one of the few areas of Baja California suitable for agriculture. The residents of the Mission were primarily Guaycura Native Americans whom the Jesuits and their successors, the Franciscans and Dominicans, attempted to convert to Christianity and to make into sedentary farm workers. Recurrent epidemics of introduced European diseases reduced the Indian population to only a handful by the 19th century and in 1825 the mission was closed.
The Las Palmas Complex is an archaeological pattern recognized primarily on the basis of mortuary customs in the Cape region of Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Waikuri is an extinct language of southern Baja California spoken by the Waikuri or Guaycura people. The Jesuit priest Baegert documented words, sentences and texts in the language between 1751 and 1768.
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.
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.
Harumi Fujita is a Japanese researcher of Mexican archaeology, who has specialized in pre-classical period of the northern states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. Her research has shown that fishing cultures had arisen in the area at the end of the Pleistocene period, indicating an occupation from at least 11,000 years ago. In a cave shelf known as the Babisuri Shelter, radiocarbon dating indicated the area may have been occupied 40,000 years ago.