Siona-Secoya - Orientation



Identification. The name "Siona" is of uncertain origin. The general term of self-reference is "Bã " (Siona) or "Pã (Secoya) and means "people." Siona in Ecuador also use the terms "Sa'niwi Bã " (Upriver people), "Eno Bã " (Eno River People), and Gãtiya Bã (Cane River people; i.e., people of the Río Putumayo). "Secoya" comes from "Sekoya," which is the name of a small tributary of the Río Santa María. The Secoya use terms such as "Sekoya Pã " (People of the Sekoya River), "Wahoya Pã " (Battle River people; i.e., people of the the Rio Santa María), and "Okana Pã " (Downriver people) for self-reference.


Location. At the time of European contact, speakers of Western Tukanoan occupied an area of 82,000 square kilometers along the Napo, Putumayo, and Aguarico rivers and their smaller tributaries and interfluvial regions. This territory extends from1o N to 3° S and from 72° to 77° W and lies entirely within zones of wet tropical rain forest. Elevations range from 300 to 100 meters west to east. In modern times this area includes portions of Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.


Linguistic Affiliation. Siona and Secoya are closely related dialects of the Western Branch of the Tukanoan (Tucanoan) Language Family. Siona is the predominant Tukanoan dialect of the western portions of the Aguarico and Putumayo river basins in Colombia and Ecuador, and Secoya is the predominant dialect around the confluence of the Aguarico and Napo rivers and on the Santa María, Angusilla, and Yubineto rivers in Peru. Owing to migration and intermarriage, speakers of various dialects and languages are found in most settlements, including speakers of non-Tukanoan languages such as Kofán and Lowland Quichua.

Demography. In 1980 the combined Siona-Secoya population in Ecuador was estimated to be 347. The combined population of Siona and Secoya in Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru probably did not exceed 1,000 in 1980. The Western Tukanoan population is estimated to have been 16,000 at the time of European contact.


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