Introduction / History The biggest city in the northern Peruvian Amazon bears the name of the Iquito people because they originally lived in the Iquitos area. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Iquito population was greatly reduced due to foreign diseases. When the rubber boom of the late 1800s brought a sharp rise in foreign development, the Iquito people fled to where they live today.
In 1957, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) learned the language and launched the first Iquito school. Because the Iquito people were rapidly becoming acculturated to the greater Peruvian society, SIL only completed portions of the New Testament, including the book of Mark.
Since then, many foreign mission groups have worked among the Iquito people. Mission efforts have included evangelism, church planting, discipleship, a Bible radio program, and a Bible training program in the city for Iquito leaders.
However, the Iquito churches have undergone a steep decline, and there is no indication of any churches that continue meeting on their own. Believers have a shallow understanding of Scripture and struggle to apply it to their daily lives.
Where are they located? The Iquito people live in four communities along the Pintoyacu, Chambira, and Nanay Rivers in the northern jungle of Peru.
What are their lives like? Today, the Iquito people are hard to distinguish from other ethnic groups, since they have linguistically and culturally integrated into the surrounding Peruvian culture and intermarried with people from other tribes. Only those over 70 years old (about 15 people) are fluent in the Iquito language.
The Iquito live a daily subsistence lifestyle oriented around farming, hunting, and fishing. Principal crops include plantains, mantioc, sweet potatoes, corn, tobacco, and cotton. Traditionally, the Iquito used bows and arrows, spears, harpoons, and blowguns for hunting and fishing. For many years, they worked under a patronage system, but they are gaining more independence today.
Because they live near the city of Iquitos, they engage in trade, and many men work for the logging companies. The Iquito are semi-literate, with most of the younger generations able to read Spanish on a basic level.
What are their beliefs? The Iquito hold to animistic views that seek to discover spiritual causes for life problems and resolve them through shamanistic rituals. Shamanism is particularly strong among the Iquito, where the people are accustomed to viewing the shaman as a helpful mediator and using plants not only for their medicinal qualities but also for their magical qualities. Even believers often mix Christian prayers with shamanistic practices in an attempt to control their lives.
What are their needs? The Iquito people need mission workers who will live among them long term and do steady discipleship and leadership training.
Iquito churches need a more substantive teaching, heartfelt ministry, and faithful pastors from among their own people.
Prayer Points Pray for Iquito believers to grow in their understanding of Scripture, obedience to Christ, and desire for an active relationship with Jesus.
Pray for Iquito churches to begin meeting again and become self-sufficient.
Pray for Iquito pastors and leaders who will selflessly shepherd the believers.
Pray that God would raise up long-term workers to live among the Iquito. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.