The Kanamari (also known as Canamari and Tukuna) are an indigenous tribe
of people who live in Brazil, state of Amazonas. They speak a language
belonging to the Katukina family. According to Funasa, there were 1654
individuals in the group in 2006.
Despite the arrival of white people in the region, which often caused violent
clashes, the Kanamari managed to maintain their own native language, an
extensive mythological tradition, and a rich ritual complex.
The Kanamari originally lived in the tributaries of the upper-middle Juruá
River, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, where the majority of them still
live presently. They also started inhabiting regions near the Itaquaí, the
middle Javari, and the Japurá rivers.
The Kanamari live in some indigenous reservations: the Vale do Javari
reservation, the Mawetek reservation, the Kanamari area, and two small areas on
the Japurá, Maraã and Parana do Paricá rivers. 60 Kanamari live in a
community near the upper Solimões.
They speak a language belonging to the Katukinan family. There is some
variation between the dialects of different sub-groups, but these have become
less marked through inter-marriage. The Katawishi, whose language was recorded
by Father Constant Tastevin in the early twentieth century, used to be spoken
near the course of the Juruá. The Katawishi were the first victims of slave
raids and rubber tappers from the Amazon River.
The Kanamari tend to move a lot, and at any given time their villages are full
of people visiting, with others who are staying for some time, and some who are
Because of this, the census is often approximate and incorrect. The last
census, dated 2000, counted around 1500 people. A recent census of the Kanamari
who live near the Itaquaí River counted 494 people.