The Pech (also called pejoratively Payas or Payitas by the Latinos) called themselves
"Pech" which means "People" but only refers to their own race. They
call other people "Pech-Hakua" which means "Other People."
Originally they lived on the Honduran coast of La Moskitia from where they were chased
by the Spanish conquistadors and Miskitos. Thousands died and the others fled to the heart
of the rainforest. (Read History).
Today there are about 1500 Pech people divided into 9 communities. 90% of them live
farther inland in the district of Olancho, principally in the municipality of Dulce Numbre
de Culmi and San Esteban. The remaining live in the districts of Colon, and Gracias a
Dios. (View Population
The rivers marking the natural borders of the Pech territory are the Platano, Wampu,
Grande, Tinto, Cuyamel, and Patuca. These rivers constitute an essential foundation for
their agriculture, transportation, and commerce.
The Pech have suffered much ethnic, economic, and social discrimination. In 1985 they
founded the "Federacion de Tribus Indigenas Pech" in an effort to preserve their
culture and be recognized by their government as one people with its own culture, language
and history. Since 1985, the fight continues for their human rights and cultural survival.
View info on Land Titles and Language Preservation effort.
Traditionally the villages were organized and led by a tribal council from which the
Casique (village chief) was the head. Today however, in the face of the political
challenges facing the Pech, the communities have reorganized themselves with a political
core more apt to be recognized by the Honduran Government. Each Tribal Council is now
composed of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, etc. These bodies seem to
have more power than the traditional Casique. View the Members of the Tribal
Council of Las Marias.
Today with increasing assimilation into Latino society and more intermarriage, the
number of pure Pech people is decreasing rapidly. Of the remaining population, less than
half speak their ethnic tongue fluently. With the loss of language, culture
disappears rapidly. Unless steps are taken to support local efforts, the current
generation might be the last of the Pech people.