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Studying the Amazon Rainforest Tribes

written by: Bruno Kos • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 1/30/2013

Cultural diversity within the Amazon is extremely high. Hundreds of indigenous tribes live there, having unique languages and customs. Some of them don't even have any contact with the outside world.

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    No Outside Contact

    According to research, there are nearly one hundred "lost tribes“ of the Amazon rainforest. The main characteristic of these tribes is that they don't have any contact with the outside world. Therefore, their culture is completely intact, deprived of all acquisitions of the so-called modern world.

    Naturally, it also means that their culture and life don't incorporate things like cars, TV, radio, etc. They don't wear conventional clothes, but create ones from natural sources. The same goes with food - they eat what they hunt or grow on their farms. In other words, they live in complete symbiosis with nature. This article will cover geographical and cultural information about tribes of the Amazon rainforest.

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    About Indigenous Tribes

    It is estimated that there are more than 200 indigenous tribes living in the Amazon rainforest. Furthermore, there are many tribes that came in the Amazon rainforest while escaping from hunger, the economy and other reasons. Since the majority of the forest is contained within Brazil (approximately 60 percent), it is not unusual that the most indigenous tribes live within this country.

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    Numbers

    A high number of indigenous tribes live in the Amazon rainforest. As a result, there are approximately 180 different languages (divided into 30 different language families). Each one of these tribes has its own culture. In other words, cultural diversity within Amazon rainforest is extremely high.

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    Kuarup Festival

    Indigenous tribes have their own distinct festival, which is held each year in July or August. This event is known as a Kuarup Festival, and these festivals have been held for centuries. Many different tribes attend the festival to celebrate their dead. Although this is not a very cheerful celebration, outsiders who attend the Kuarup say that it is a very enjoyable experience. During the festival, a number of indigenous rituals, dances, food and other fragments of their culture can be seen. Naturally, not everyone is invited; this depends on the desire of tribe leaders.

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    Lost Tribes

    As mentioned in the introduction, lost tribes don't have any contact with the outside world. The governments, not only the Brazilian one, adopted a great decision to leave these tribes alone. Therefore, very little is known about them.

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    Organization

    Some of these tribes stay in one place all the time, while some tribes tend to live a nomadic life, moving from one location to another, depending on time of year and other circumstances. Tribes can be found in groups containing as little as 200 members, but on the other side, they are tribes containing more than 30,000 people.

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    Ethnic Groups

    There are a number of ethnic groups living in the Amazon rainforest. The most important groups are:

    • 22 groups living in the northwest of the Amazon rainforest: Baniwa, Kuripako, Dow, Hupda, Nadöb, Yuhupde, Baré, Warekena, Arapaso, Bará, Barasana, Desana, Karapanã, Kubeo, Makuna, Mirity-tapuya, Pira-tapuya, Siriano, Tariana, Tukano, Tuyuca, Wanana, Tatuyo, Taiwano, Yuruti, Kakwa and Nukak
    • 14 ethnic groups living in Alto Xingu region: Aweti, Kalapalo, Kamaiurá , Kuikuro, Matipu, Mehinako, Nahukuá, Trumai, Wauja, Yawalapiti, Ikpeng , Kaiabi , Suyá and Yudja

    Finally, when talking about tribes of the Amazon rainforest, it is important to notice that the population of these increase and their existence certainly benefits from this, but they are in danger of extinction due to rainforest exploitation and other factors.

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    References

    Stuart A. Kallen: Life in the Amazon Rainforest, Lucent Books, 1999.

    http://www.amazon-rainforest.org/indigenous-tribes.html, november 16, 2010.