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Miskitos of Honduras

When people think of Honduran rainforest Indians, mostly they think of the Miskito Indians. This ethnic group was formed when black slaves ran away to live in Mosquitia rainforest and intermarried with local Indians who probably spoke Sumu languages. The Miskito Indians have been famous for their participation in the Nicaragua Contra War when thousands of Miskitos left Nicaragua to settle in refugee camps or the armed camps of the Contras in the Honduran Mosquitia. The area of the Miskitos is famous as the setting for Paul Theroux’s novel The Mosquito Coast.

The origin of the Miskito name is not the animal the Mosquito. Some say their name comes from the British musket that they used to use, but the Miskitos themselves they are descended from a group of people who followed a chief called Miskut. To say the people of Miskut in Miskito was Miskut uplikanani, which the local Sumus shortened to Miskitu.

The local Miskito Indians are active in movements to protect their rainforest, bilingual education (Miskito-Spanish), asking for rights for Miskito divers who fish for lobster, to protect their lands, and for the development of the Mosquitia for example through building schools and health clinic.

The main places to visit the Miskito are Puerto Lempira, Brus Laguna, Ahuas/Wampusirpe, and the Rio Platano Biosphere area.

Return to Indigenous Groups of Honduras overview.

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