Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Native peoples > Atacameños


The native tongue of the Atacameño people is kunza, though this language has been extinct for at least a century. Only a few traces of it remain, mainly in ceremonial and ritual songs and chants, and of course in the place names of the traditional territory. The language belongs to the macro-chibcha family and the paezano sub-family – that is, it did not originate in the equatorial Andes, like Quechua and Aymara. In the past, many Atacameños were multilingual, also speaking Aymara, Quechua and, in later times, Spanish.