ETHNONYMS: PoconchĂ­, PokomchĂ­, Pokonchi

The Poqomchi' are a Mayan group living south of the Q'eqchi' in the Guatemalan departments of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz. Their language is closely related to that of the Poqomam, and they share many cultural traits with the Q'eqchi'. They are bordered by such Mayan groups as the Q'eqchi', the Ixil, the Uspanteko, and the K'iche'. At present, there are about 60,000 Poqomchi' living in Guatemala.

The history of the Poqomchi' is one of domination. During the pre-Hispanic period the Poqomchi' were under the control of the K'iche'. Although they were able to break away from the K'iche', during the 1530s they came under the rule of the Spanish. Throughout the colonial period, Poqomchi' lands were privatized as a result of Guatemalan governmental policies that sought to reward rich private landholders. In the second half of the twentieth century, the Poqomchi' have been renewing their efforts to regain their communal lands. Politically, they have turned to left-wing groups that promise agrarian reform. The Guatemalan governmental response has consisted of violence and repression. As a result, during the 1980s, many Poqomchi' emigrated from Guatemala.


Davidson, William V., and Melanie A. Counce (1989). "Mapping the Distribution of Indians in Central America." Cultural Survival Quarterly 13(3): 37-40.

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