The Spanish conquistador Pedro Cieza de León (1520 - 1554) wrote a chronicle in which he described Peru at the time of Spanish conquest. His "Crónicas del Perú" also recorded the history of the local native groups and, of course, the Incas and the tribes that they had subjected.
He mentions a certain group of Indians, The "Chachapoyan" natives , that lived in the Andes, in what is now Northern Peru, right next to Ecuador, in the Cachapoyas District of the Department of Amazonas. Theirs was an area with high mountain ranges: the Calla-Calla range in the south reaching 4,300 m (14,100 ft.) and the Cordillera Oriental to the east with 3,500 m. (11,500 ft.), with forests. The Marañon River flows through the area, draining towards the Amazon. (See map below).
The Chachapoyan region has been inhabited for over 8,000 years, but the group we know as Chachapoya, arrived much later: their most relevant cultural remains date back to 800 C.E. and their society peaked during the eleventh century C.E. (Their buildings at Olán, Yálape, Congó and especially Cuélap are monumental). They were subdued by the Inca around 1470 and incorporated as a province of their Empire after a though campaign. Many Chachapoyans were uprooted and sent to Cuzco and other parts of the Empire, where they were resettled and given new land to grow their crops on (This was a usual practice of the Incas, to dilute local resistence). 
After the Spanish conquistadors arrived, they too dominated the Chachapoyans (1535), it was during this period that Pedro Cieza de León visited the region and recorded his encounter with them. He described them as:
"These Indians that live at Chachapoyas are the most white and good looking of all those that I have seen in my travels through the Indies [America] , and their women were so beautiful that merely due to their good nature, many of them deserved to be women of the Incas and be taken to their temples of the sun; and so we see nowadays that the remaining Indian women of this lineage are extremely pretty, because they are white and very well built..." 
The "White" natives, true or false?
I have read some posts and articles that imply that these people have a Pre-Hispanic European origin, that is, that they somehow reached America long before Columbus did. And that is why they were "white skinned". I am skeptical about this, because trans-Atlantic communications probably did take place (I have posted about possible Phoenician, Greek, Micenian and Carthaginian navigators reaching the eastern coasts of America), but from there to the Andean foothills of Peru there is quite a distance and a long stretch of inhospitable Amazonian jungle. I doubt that the Chachapoyans were stray Phoenicians or similar sailors.
The official version is that they were a Native American group of people: The symbols that they used to decorate their buildings and the manner in which they mummified their dead suggests that the ancestral Chachapoyas may have reached their territory from the coastal areas of Peru or, from the northern mountain ranges .
Little is known regarding their pre-Inca or pre-Hispanic history. The oldest written reference about them dates back to January 14, 1538 in a letter from Alonso de Alvarado to the Spanish leader, Francisco Pizarro after his campaign to conquer the region.
The meaning of the word "Chachapoyas" is uncertain, and it is definitively not a Quechua or Aimará word, (which is what the Incas spoke). Little is known about the language spoken by the Chachapoyas before their conquest by the Inca, so we cannot shed any light on the matter from that angle.
There are of course many theories regarding its meaning: the local chronicler, Garcilaso de la Vega wrote in the 1600s that a Jesuit priest who accompanied the Spanish invaders in 1535 said it meant "Land of strong men", Lecuanda in 1792 suggested that it meant "Mountain of clouds", but these are only conjectures. 
They, like most of the American Natives suffered a dramatic population drop after the initial contact with the Spanish conquerors (they were decimated by the epidemics of measles, small pox, and plague that took place in 1546, 1558-59, 1585-91, 1614, 1618-19 and 1721). The population which in 1549 was nearly 88,000 strong, fell to 2,200 by 1793. Many Chachapoyans ran away into the junges to avoid being subjected to the forced-labor of the Spaniards. 
This must have bottlenecked the population considerably. Add to this the fact that many of them had been transplanted to other parts of the Inca empire after their defeat in 1470, and that other groups were placed in their homeland. The consequences of this dispersal and impantation plus massive population loss is that the original aboriginal Chachapoyan stock has been seriously diluted since 1470.
Below is a photograph from a book  which puts forward the theory that the Carthaginians escaped the destruction brought upon them by Rome after the Punic wars and reached America, and their descendants are... the Chachapoyans! The fair children among the Chachapoyans are known as "gringuitos", diminutive for "gringo" which is the way that Americans (from the U.S.A) are given in Latinamerica. But, wouldn't Carthaginians look like North Africans or Middle Eastern People (darker skinned, dark eyes, dark hair) instead of being blonde?
I posted about this in February 2011, so it does not surprise me. But, as I said above, it is hardly probable that they would have reached the western shores of South America.
To assume that contemporary fair haired children living in that region as "white" caucasoids with a pre-Columbian origin is an over simplification of complex facts. There may have been considerable European admixture during the Colonial period and later, as the population recovered during the nineteenth and twentyeth centuries. Only by studying the genes of their ancestors may we glean some useful information on their origins.
Fortunately the Chachapoyas mummified their dead, so we have plenty of material with a potential to yield useful genetic sequences.
Samples taken from seven Chachapoyan mummies were sequenced in a genetic study; only three yielded viable mtDNA which were assigned to haplogroups B2, M and D1, the others had insufficient coverage. 
The haplogroups B2 and D1 are a clear indication that the maternal lineage was American. Haplogroup M is quite strange because it is not one of the founding lineages of American Natives. It is found in Asia and only one other study mentions haplogroup M in the New World. Perhaps future studies will find more cases of it.
Anyway all three haplogroups are of a East Asian origin. This is ratified by a principal component analysis of SNPs overlapping between modern populations and the Chachapoyans which places them clearly in the "Amerindian" group together with the Aymara and Mayas, far from the Europeans and admixed hispanics (Colombian, Puerto Rico and Mexicans from Los Angeles) and closer to the East Asian groups. These people were definitively not "white" Europeans, they were Native Americans with ties to Eastern Asia. Below is an example of two of the samples that were sequenced:
Of course the alleged European origin is sustented by the fact that some of the mummies exhibit, as one blog states: "... Chachapoyas had curly brown or red Caucasoid hair, and not stiff black Mongoloid Amerindian hair.... the individual had red or reddish-brown Caucasoid hair". Below is a photo and some links to photographs of these mummies, so you can see them and decide for yourself:
The hair is indeed wavy not straight. The color... well it seems to be brown, not the usual jet-black of the Amerindians. But, does this necessarily imply pre-Columbian European admixture?
The mummies are not dated. Are they older than 1535 or more recent? If older then we can assume that their brown hair is not due to post-discovery admixture. But even then it does not imply European ancestry.
I have posted extensively on Red Haired Native Americans during January 2014 and as I posted in my criticism to the Paracas cone heads, I believe that Neanderthal genes may be responsible for red or brown hair among pre-Hispanic Native Americans.
Red hair is a feature found in several Native mythical hominins (This post links to several posts on red haired hominins). and the reason for this, I believe is some ancient memory of their interaction with Neanderthals in America.
So maybe Europeans and Chachapoyans share a similar origin for their hair color: a common Neanderthal ancestry.
 Pedro Cieza de León, Obras Completas 1984, Cavileño, Madrid, pp. 104
 Meredith L. Carpenter, et al., (2013) Pulling out the 1%: Whole-Genome Capture for the Targeted Enrichment of Ancient DNA Sequencing Libraries. The American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 93, Issue 5, 7 November 2013, Pages 852–864. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2013.10.002
 Inge Schjellerup, (2005). Incas y españoles en la conquista de los chachapoya. Fondo Editorial PUCP.
 Hans Giffhorn, Wurde Amerika in der Antike entdeckt?: Karthager, Kelten und das Rätsel der Chachapoya, C.H. Beck. 2013.
Further Reading on Chachapoyans: An Overview of Chachapoya Archaeology and History, by Adriana von Hagen.
Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall ©