Peruvian government is working to keep its 47 indigenous languages alive

Amadeo Garcia and Pablo Andrade are the last speakers of their mother tongues. Garcia speaks the indigenous language Taushiro, while Andrade speaks Resigaro.

The two indigenous languages are among 17 that are critically endangered in Peru. Indigenous languages belong to groups of people who are native to the land, as opposed to Spanish, which comes from Europe. Spanish was brought to South America by European colonists and explorers more than 500 years ago. In Peru, modern life has made its way into the isolated Amazon basin region, wiping out many native peoples’ way of life. Their languages have gone along with it.

Garcia, who is 67 years old, is the last living Taushiro, an indigenous group native to northern Peru. The group was destroyed by disease and poisoned water caused by oil spilling into their rivers. The Taushiro were also killed off by violent clashes with outsiders who came to take rubber from nearby trees.

Andrade, who is 65, has also watched his people and their language fade away. He lived until recently with his sister, Rosa, the other surviving speaker of Resigaro. Last month she was mysteriously killed, leaving him with no one to talk to in their dying Amazonian language.

Read more: Newsela

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