Shuar language

Not to be confused with Shiwiar language from Peru and Ecuador.
Šiwar čičam
Native to Ecuador
Ethnicity Shuar
Native speakers
35,000 (2007)[1]
  • Shuar
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jiv
Glottolog shua1257[2]

Shuar, which literally means "People", also known by such (now derogatory) terms as Chiwaro, Jibaro, Jivaro, or Xivaro, is an indigenous language spoken in the Southeastern jungle of the Morona-Santiago Province and Pastaza Province in Ecuador.


Twelve Indigenous languages of Ecuador are spoken today, one of which is Shuar.[3] For the past four decades, the Shuar language has been noted for its link with several political groups.

Radio Schools

The geographical remoteness within the Ecuadorian rainforest isolate the Shuar and has widely scattered the people from one another. As a result, in the late 1960s, radio schools were formed to promote communication and education in both Spanish and Shuar.[3] This inadvertently transformed into a language revitalization initiative for the Shuar people. Radio schools were shut down in 2001 and replaced with formal bilingual in-class teaching.[3]

The Role of the Church

The radio schools were not funded by the national government. Instead, they were financially supported by catholic missionaries who were welcomed into Shuar-speaking areas during the 1920s. Before this, they were widely resisted. However, due to the increase in trade, loss of land, the vitality and perceived modernity of Spanish,[3] the Shuar leaned on the church for comfort.


  1. Shuar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Shuar". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Grenoble, Lenore A (2006). Saving Languages: An introduction to language revitilization. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 78–83. ISBN 978-0-521-81621-2.

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