Many Salvadorans think that Pipil is the main indigenous root of the Salvadoran people. Pipiles may have been the largest group at the time of the Spanish conquest and might be the only group that maintained an explicitly indigenous identity beyond the matanza of the 1930s, but El Salvador has many different groups of indigenous within its history. In fact, the Pipiles did not even arrive on the scene from central Mexico until about 850 A.D.
Prior to the Pipiles, the primary people of El Salvador were the Chorti Maya and the Lenca. The Chorti extended throughout western and central El Salvador as well as north into western Honduras, including Copan, and eastern Guatemala, in the area of Escuintla and Quirigua in the Motagua Valley. The Lenca extended from the east-central portion of El Salvador from the coast north into central and western Honduras. The Chorti and Lenca have lived side-by-side for thousands of years without a history of aggression or conflict. Today, traditional Chorti Maya live in the upper reaches of the Motagua watershed in both eastern Guatemala and western Honduras, while the Lenca are centered in the Intibuca province of southwestern Honduras.
North of the Lenca were the Ulua and Cacaopera in modern-day northern La Union and Morazan. The Cacaoperas are a Miskito-Matagalpa-related people who brought cacao to El Salvador from Nicaragua. The Ulua are a Cacaopera people who migrated to Honduras (and then a few returned to La Union).
In far west El Salvador were the Pokomam Mayans, arriving to the area of present day northern Ahuachapan, centered around Itiquizaya, around 1200 CE (AD). The larger Pokomam population is based in present day eastern Guatemala. The Pokomam are more closely related to the Quiches in western Guatemala than to the Chortis.
The Pipil arrived from central Mexico in about 850 A.D., most likely driven out by the dominant Toltec. The Pipiles are Nahuat-speaking people and some settled in coastal Guatemala and Nicaragua, as well as El Salvador. Some also settled in Honduras. The Pipiles then concentrated themselves in Sonsonate around Izalco and in Nonualco, south of Lago Ilopango, with other Pipil villages spread throughout the country.
Originally posted Nov. 28, 2009 on BlogBox
Edited April 7, 2014