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The Xicaques

During the 16th century the name “Jicaque” (Xicaques, Hicaques, or Tolupanes) firstly used by the inhabitants of Mexico for the non-Mexican population of Central America, from south of Mexico to Costa Rica including Honduras. The tribe of During the 16th century the name "Jicaque" (Xicaques, Hicaques, or Tolupanes) was indigenous people from Honduras called Xicaques had there territory in the Sula valley, where today the city of San Pedro Sula is found. It is proofed that the Tolupanes or Xicaques met the Mayas in the Sula valley. Like all tribes of Central America, the Tolupanes had not achieved the development stage of the Mesoamerican tribes like the Mayas. The scientists determined the extension of the Tolupan territory reached from the Sula valley to Trujillo on the north coast, and into the interior mainland to regions like Comayagua and Olancho. It is thought that the Tolupanes dominated the region as hunters and collectors until they had to escape the Spaniards saving themselves from captivity and a life as slaves.

A lot of behaviors and characteristics are similar to Tawahka, Pech or Miskito customs. The language is undoubtfully derived from another source than the languages of the Tawahka, Pech and Miskitos, confirmed by the scientists Chapman and Bright. These anthropologists explain the Tolupan language as the most south language of the Hokon Sioux tribe from North America. The language exists some 5000 years ago. The discussion about the heritage of the Tolupanes still goes on. Other scientists are connecting the Tolupan language to the "chibcha" family. Another theory explains that the language does not belong to the known language families and was developed on its own. Without doubts the Tolupanes are one of he oldest ethnic groups, older then the Mayas.

The Tolupanes suffered heavily during the first years of the spanish conquest, because they were used as slaves on the different caribbean islands. The only way to escape the Spaniards was leaving there traditional territory on the north coast, by entering and hiding themselves in the forest and wild mountains along the rivers of central Honduras. The families often lived alone and without contact with other people or members of the Tolupanes due to being afraid of being discovered. The common society of the Tolupanes was terminated, and the way of life changed from stable villages to a nomadic way of life. As for the Pech and other tribes, as nomads it would have been impossible to construct monuments like the Mayas did.

Actual Distribution and Population

The Tolupanes of today consist of 28 groups living in their majority in the department of Yoro. Some groups are also found in the region of the "Montaña del Flor" in the department of Francisco Morazan. The estimated 19300 Tolupanes live in the villages of Plan Grande, Anisillos, Matadero, Santa Martha, Subirana, El Tablón, El Pate, El Palmar, Lagunitas, La Pintada, Luquigüe, Mina Honda, San Esteban, Candelaria, Las Vegas, Agua Caliente, Zapotal, San Francisco de Locomapa, El Siriano, Jimía, La Bolsita, Guajiniquil, Santa Rosita and Placencia. Three more groups live in the "Montañas del Flor" and one group in Marale in the Francisco Morazan department. The access to the Tolupan territory is very difficult. For that reason it was almost impossible to know things about them and their real living conditions. Anthropologists and the Tolupanes had known only 21 groups, till in the late 80`the Tolupan confederation FETRIXY counted 7 more unknown groups' which over the last centuries had got isolated in the wild mountains. The Tolupanes are the Honduran ethic group with the best organization. Always fleeing from the Spaniards, the Tolupanes lost their traditions and almost completely their language. The exception are the Tolupanes of the "Montañas del Flor", where the language could be conserved.

The basic way of life of the Tolupanes is similar to the customs of the ethnic groups of the rainforest like Tawahka and Pech. All are characterized through seminomadic villages, houses for more then one family, a primitive but effective agriculture, hunting and fishing, and the production of handicrafts. The traditional clothes are called "balandran" and are produced out of the bark of trees, now mostly substituted by the common textiles. The groups and tribes traditionally where lead by a chief, or by shamans or olders. Other differences amongest there society does not exist. During celebrations like marriages the "Chicha", a wine made out of different plants as palms, pineapple, or sugarcane, is drunk as the Tawahkas and Miskitos do. Families produce corn and beans for their subsistence and often are form one small village.


Only in the Flower Mountains ("Montañas del Flor") some traditions and spiritual behaviors preserved, like for example the language. 700 Tolupanes are able to speak the language of their ancestors. The modern Tolupan is willing to learn and speak spanish, hoping to avoid the discrimination and laughter from their bad spanish skills. There own heritages and culture are in great danger to being forgotten.

One of the few surviving traditions still in use in the "Montañas del Flor, is that the bodies of the death are guarded 24 hours in the kitchen of the house, while the relatives beside eat and drink as nothing has happened. Finally, the body will be covered with the sheets from the persons bed and buried without a coffin. The persons personal items will be given to the grave. The Tolupanes do not talk about the dead, or thinking or praying about life and death at all.

The common lifestyle of the Tolupan families is not very different from the life of the Central American population. A special Tolupan tradition is the present of the family during the birth. The tradition is to settle in family groups, unifying the houses of most family members. This is an archaic social structure and organization of the Tolupanes and also a lot of other societies in Central America and Honduras.

Among the villages there are no personal properties. Every peace of land belongs to the community. Every member of the community has the right to use a piece of land, normally not more then 2 hectares. One of the problems of the Tolupanes is their own chiefs and coffee farmers who are using the Tolupan lands for their own production. The agriculture products consist of corn, beans and coffee, and of roots and wood out of the forest. Common or socialized work is not done, the Tolupanes are working on their own and for their families subsistence. Some people are selling coffee, corn, beans and manioc. A specialty of the Tolupanes is the production of honey. They are real champions in detecting and domesticating bees out of the forest starting with taking the larvae of the bees out of a trunk. The trunk will be taken home and the honey can be harvested.

The Tolupanes seem not to be very religious, probably because during the centuries of nomadic life there own native religion was not practiced - or forgotten. The Spaniards had no interest to missioner the "wild and primitive Indians". Only some traditions are preserved in the "Montañas del Flor", where they where strictly hidden from observation, by the catholic missionaries.

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