Poqomam - History and Cultural Relations



The Poqom group, including the Poqomchi' and the Poqomam, originally inhabited a region stretching from the highlands of Guatemala to the coast of El Salvador. The Poqom group eventually grew into two distinct ethnie groups. Present-day Poqomchi' live in the northern part of this region in Guatemala, and the Poqomam live in the central part, in southeastern Guatemala. Those Poqomam who lived in El Salvador were largely displaced by the immigration of the Pipil in the eleventh century. Later, in the fifteenth century, the Poqomam fell under the control of the expanding K'iche' Empire.

They were eventually able to reestablish political autonomy, but it was short-lived. In the early sixteenth century the Spanish moved into the region and conquered the Poqomam. During the colonial period, the European diseases to which the Poqomam were exposed and warfare reduced the Poqomam population. Relocation to missionary settlements and Guatemalan policies that outlawed communal lands forced the Poqomam onto ever-decreasing parcels of land.

During the twentieth century, the Poqomam population and their landholdings have remained stable; however, increasing attempts by Guatemalan leftist political groups to restore traditional lands to the Poqomam have met with repression and military reprisals. As a result, many Poqomam have emigrated to the United States.

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