Chango people

The Changos, also known as Camanchacos or Camanchangos,[1] were an indigenous people who inhabited a long stretch of the Pacific coast from the Atacama desert to the Coquimbo Region in what is now southern Peru and northern Chile.

Chango people, Chinchorro cultures
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Atacama desert
Related ethnic groups
Chinchorro culture, Atacama people


Definition and context of the Changos

The culture originated in the 8,000-year-old Chinchorro tradition.[2] Due to a combination of conquest and integration into other cultures and ethnicities, the Chango culture is now considered extinct.[3]

The Changos were not a distinct tribe or ethnic group; rather, the term is used to refer to many disparate communities of indigenous people living along the northern Chilean and southern Peruvian coast in the Pre-Columbian era. The term "chango" was first documented in the 17th century by Spanish conquistadors who perceived little in the way of cultural difference between the local native communities. Therefore, "chango" describes a loose grouping of maritime peoples who shared a similar way of life rather than a common history or ethnicity.[4] In general, Chango culture is considered more primitive than neighbouring cultures such as the Atacameños.[5] Chango culture is part of the Chinchorro tradition. The Chinchorro were hunter-fisher-gatherers with a particular reliance on the sea, who lived along the Atacama coast from at least the 8th century BC. They are of special interest to modern anthropologists due to their practice of mummifying the dead.[6]

Changos around Paposo appear by 1870 to have spoken a dialect of Mapudungun, the language of the Mapuche people of south-central Chile.[7]

Chango economy

Chango communities were organised into either nomadic or sedentary groups based on nuclear family units. Each group was independent of the others, providing food and other resources for itself.[8] The Changos were experts at exploiting the resources of the sea. Each group specialised in a particular type of fish, including tuna, conger eels, mullet, dart fish, mackerel and octopus. Rafts used for fishing developed from primitive reed constructions to craft made from three wooden planks, and later to seal skins fastened to wooden frames. Fish were caught using nets, hooks and harpoons.[9] The capture of seals was of crucial importance to the Chango way of life, with every part of the animal having its uses. The meat, fat and bones were used for food and tools, the skins were used to make rafts and the intestines to make fishing equipment.[10] As well as seal skins, the Changos used vicuña wool, feathers, bird skins, shells and the bones and teeth of sea creatures as materials to make practical and decorative items such as clothing, blankets, tools, cutlery and jewellery. They also made and painted ceramic utensils. Despite their geographical isolation, the Changos traded with inland tribes, exchanging shellfish, dried fish, animal hide, guano, fat and shells for wool, fruit, maize and coca. Chango cave paintings include images of men hunting and fishing and sea creatures such as seals, turtles and whales.[11]

See also


  1. ["Chile – Travels in a Thin Country", Sara Wheeler, 1994]retrieved on June 22, 2015
  2. Pueblos Originarios de Chile - Changos 2012, retrieved on June 22, 2015
  3. Los Changos de las costas de Chile Memoria Chilena, BND Biblioteca Nacional Digital, Ricardo E. Latcham Santiago, Chile 1910, retrieved on June 22, 2015
  4. Changos - Ser indigena Portal de las Culturas Originarias de Chile retrieved on June 22, 2015
  5. Pueblos Originarios de Chile - Changos Memoria Chilena, BND Biblioteca Nacional Digital, retrieved on June 22, 2015
  6. Chinchorro Culture By K. Kris Hirst, archaeology expert, retrieved on June 23, 2015
  7. D'Ans, André-Marcel (1976). "Chilueno o arauco, idioma de los changos del norte de Chile, dialecto mapuche septentrional" (PDF). Estudios Atacameños (in Spanish) (4): 113–118. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  8. for the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino – ‘Pueblos originarios’ retrieved on June 23, 2015
  9. [Manual de Historia de Chile desde la prehistoria hasta el 2000, Francisco Frías Valenzuela, 1986] Santiago Chile: Zig-Zag, 2000. retrieved on June 23, 2015
  10. [Documental de Chile, Anselmo J. Garcia Curado, 2013, retrieved on June 23, 2015
  11. Pueblos Originarios de Chile - Changos 2012, retrieved on June 22, 2015
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