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July 2002 Issue
The Geographical Review
July 2002, Vol. 92 (3), pp. 398-414
A DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF THE TAWAHKA SUMU OF HONDURAS
Keywords: demography, Honduras, indigenous peoples, population,
Differing rates of population growth and degrees of genetic admixture have been reported for the Tawahka Amerindians of Honduras. In this article I use demographic techniques to explain those differences. My household surveys indicate a contemporary growth rate of 5 percent, due in part to a very high fertility rate; a review of historical sources suggests comparably rapid growth over the past fifty years. Although genealogies I compiled show high levels of genetic admixture since 1900, the Tawahka retain their language and identity, in part because early intermixing took place through exogamy by Tawahka women. The implications of rapid population growth are reviewed in light of the recent creation of the Tawahka Asangni Biosphere Reserve.