The Apurinã are an indigenous group of people who live in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso, and Rondônia. According to Funasa, there were 3256 people in the group in 2006. They speak a language pertaining to the Aruak and Maipurean families of languages.
The Apurinã live scattered over sites close to the banks of the Purus river, and they hve a rich cosmological and ritual universe. Their history has affected by the violence of the two rubber cycles in the Amazon region. Some parts of their territory have not been officially recognised, and illegal loggers are frequently seen.
Name and language
It is speculated that Apurinã - or in its older form, Ipuriná - may be a word from the Jamamadi language. The people of the group refer to themselves as popukare. Some old texts use the word "kãkite" as the self-identifier. Kãkite means "people", but according to some Apurinã it means "humans".
The Apurinã language is a member of the Maipure-Aruak family (Facundes, 1994). The nearest related language is the one spoken by the Manchineri, or Piro, who live near the upper Purus river in western Brazil, and in Peru, mainly near the lower Urubamba valley.
Some Apurinã have claimed that they can understand a little of the Kaxarari language, because according to their mythology the two tribes were once united before departing from the sacred land.
Location and population
The Apurinã live in 27 Indigenous Lands, 20 of which have been fully demarcated and registered, 3 have been declared to be for their sole use, and 4 are in the identification study phase. The total area of the lands is 1,819,502 hectares.
The area where the Apurinã lived in the 19th century was near the middle Purus river, and from the Sepatini or Paciá rivers to the Iaco. The Apurinã are traditionally a migratory people, and their territory extends nowadays from the lower Purus to past the border with Rondônia. There are Apurinã areas in the municipalities of Boca do Acre, Pauini, Lábrea, Tapauá, Manacapuru, Beruri, Manaquiri, Manicoré (all in the state of Amazonas). Some Apurinã also live in a village within the Roosevelt Indigenous Land; most of these are married to Cinta-Larga indians.
There are four Apurinã communities in the municipality of Boca do Acre; three along the BR-317 road and the Camicuã community in the Indigenous Land of the same name located close to the town of Boca do Acre.
The first naturalists, travellers and missionaries who reached the Purus river in the second half of the 19th century reported that the Apurinã, while living some distance back from the river, would come to its banks in order to fish and collect turtles. With the arrival of european brazilians, many Apurinã retreated to the upper parts of some tributary streams, while others began working in rubber estates.
Estimating the overall number of Apurinã, or even to consider them together, is difficult because they are dispersed. According to Funasa (National Health Foundation), there were 4,057 individuals in November 2003. In 1996 there were 1,114 people living in the Pauini region (UNI health report) and around 280 people in areas awaiting recognition (TIs Garaperi/Santa Vitória/Lago da Vitória/Capira, Baixo Seruini, Baixo Tumiã, Sãkoã/Santa Vitória and Mamoriá).
There are some Apurinã living outside the recognised indigenous lands, in towns and cities along the Purus river (Pauini, Lábrea, Tapauá) or in regional cities such as Rio Branco and Manaus. Some have moved further, and settled in the states of Rondônia, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.
on socioambiental.org, in English