Paez people

Paez people

The Paez, also known as the Nasa, are a Native American people who live in the Andes Mountains of Colombia.


In the early 1900s, Lazarists built missions among the Paez and began the work to convert them to Christianity. Jesuits had originally tried to convert the Paez, but failed. However, the Lazarists met some success: the result of their work is a blend of the Paez religion and Roman Catholicism. For example, the Paez still have their own shamans but many have also become Roman Catholic Priests.

Climate adaptation

Since they live in the cold climate of the Andes, the Paez build their homes using brick, metal, cement and wood. The Paez women raise and sheer sheep for wool. They then clean the wool, spin yarn out of it, dye it and knit clothes and blankets for their families.


Punishment for wrongs is strict in the Paez culture. In June 2000, the Paez whipped an adulterious tribal leader and his mistress 17 strokes with a knotted leather whip. "As a Paez Indian," the flogged tribal leader said, "I'm proud to have received this punishment because it is glorifying my race." Stripping the one being punished of his clothing and dunking him in a cold mountain lake is another form of punishment -- this was done to Senator Jesus Pinacue, a Paez who defied the community.


The Paez are currently pacifists, refusing to enter into Colombia's armed conflict, which has been going on for the past 41 years. They have about 7000 men and women who stand guard in their territory armed with nothing but ceremonial three-foot batons. They persuade the fighting forces of both sides to leave their land. One of the Paez leaders said "getting involved in war hurts our culture, our language, our ways."

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