Yaminahua in Peru

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Yaminahua had first contact with the Western world during the rubber boom at the turn of the 20th century, when catastrophic violence and enslavement decimated the majority of the population. In the 1980s, a respiratory epidemic wreaked further havoc on the Yaminahua, killing perhaps half of the population.

The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) began working with the Yaminahua in 1975, and they have since completed the New Testament and portions of the Old Testament. Since then, various mission organizations, have worked together with Peruvian national and indigenous Christians to evangelize the Yaminahua. Efforts primarily focused on evangelization, chronological Bible storying, and initiating a church in 2005.

Since then, however, the church has disbanded, and participants dispersed to various villages, where the majority do not actively practice their faith but remain open to hearing someone come teach them from the Bible. Believers fall readily into works-based legalism and syncretism with animistic practices.

Where Are they Located?

The Yaminahua live in the central jungle region of Peru along the Yurua River valley and its tributaries and the Mapuya River, with another settlement near the town of Sepahua.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Yaminahua live an agrarian lifestyle based on farming, fishing, and hunting. Principal crops include manioc and plantains. Most Yaminahua live a subsistence lifestyle, only raising enough food to eat, but a few also raise commercial crops of manioc, plantains, rice, chestnuts, and rubber. Men traditionally hunt, build houses, and prepare farmland, while women are in charge of farming, cooking, and raising children.

The Yaminahua have one of the lowest levels of education and literacy of all the ethnic groups in the Peruvian Amazon, with 50% of the population never having had any schooling and 70% unable to read. However, they have a rich oral culture with several forms of lyrical chanting and dramatic narrative.

Traditionally, the Yaminahua lived as large extended families in one long oval house with an open space in the middle for dances and ceremonies, but today they live in smaller houses. They remain semi-nomadic, frequently building new houses or moving between communities. Many Yaminahua now wear Western clothing, but historical ornamentation included bark crowns around the head, a round piece of metal affixed to the bottom of the nose, and a string of white beads tied from the metal piece back around both sides of the head.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Yaminahua hold to an animistic worldview that seeks to discover spiritual causes for life problems and resolve them through shamanistic rituals. They believe that the cosmos is made of many overlapping worlds that can be perceived and navigated by the shaman, who functions as a helpful bridge between the material and the spiritual worlds. Because mysterious evil spirits abound, often hidden behind ordinary plants and animals, the shaman must take the hallucinogenic ayahuasca drug to enter into contact with the spirit world and discover both causes and solutions to problems like death, illness, and hunger.

They believe that all people, plants, and animals have an unseen spirit and can all be divided into one of two opposing and complementary groups called Roa and Dawa. Yaminahua societal structure reflects this spiritual dualism, as it follows strict rules of identification and separation according to one's spiritual classification as a Roa or a Dawa. Today the dualistic worldview among the Yaminahua is beginning to decline, though shamanism continues to a much greater extent.

What Are Their Needs?

The Yaminahua need well-discipled pastors and spiritual leaders from among their own people who will not simply study theology but can also maintain a good testimony in the community, earning the people's respect and trust.

Substance abuse is common in Yaminahua communities and leads to a host of other problems. Because they have seen so few Yaminahua Christians with lasting life change, many of them have lost hope that Christ is able to redeem them from their sins and brokenness, yet they long to know that deep life transformation is still possible.

One of the biggest physical needs of the Yaminahua people is for potable drinking water.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Yaminahua in Peru.

Please pray for Jesus to empower Yaminahua believers to lead lives of good character and moral stability, as an encouragement both to themselves and to the rest of the community that God is able to change lives.
Pray that more Yaminahua would come to know Jesus and seek His Word.
Pray for more believers to go live among the Yaminahua and effect gospel changes in the context of their own community.

Profile Source:   Pioneers  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-04-22
People Name General Yaminawa
People Name in Country Yaminahua
Population this Country 900
Population all Countries 2,400
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Acre; Acre Yaminahua; Jaminawa
People ID 15975
ROP3 Code 110961
Country Peru
Region America, Latin
Continent South America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Madre de Dios and Ucayali regions; Mapuya, and Mishagua, and Yuruá.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Peru
Region America, Latin
Continent South America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Madre de Dios and Ucayali regions; Mapuya, and Mishagua, and Yuruá..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016

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Primary Language Yaminahua (900 speakers)
Language Code yaa   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Yaminahua (900 speakers)
Language Code yaa   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Yaminahua

Primary Language:  Yaminahua

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1987-2010)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (2003-2013)
Bible-Complete No
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Yaminahua
General Gospel resources links
Mobile App Bible app direct APK download
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Yaminahua
Text / Printed Matter Download scripture in this language
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.70 %)
2.00 %
Ethnic Religions
98.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
100.0 %
Photo Source David and Jenny Skinner 
Profile Source Pioneers  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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