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Discovering Brazil - Indians Organization

Discovering Brazil - Indians Organization

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Outstanding indigenous groups

  • Tupis: They lived mainly on the Brazilian coast, from Rio Grande do Sul to Amazonas. They also occupied parts of the interior of the country. Among the tribes that formed this nation, stand out: the tupinambás, the tupiniquins, the mundurucus and the parintintins.
  • Jes or Tapuias: compared to the other groups, it was at the later stage of development. They dominated the entire central plateau; in the region that currently corresponds to the west of Minas Gerais, the state of Goiás and Mato Grosso. Some tribes were also found in Maranhão and Piauí. Among its main tribes stand out: timbiras, aimorés, goitacás, cariris, carijós and caiapós.
  • Aruak: The Aruak group occupied an extensive geographical area comprised in part of the Amazon and the island of Marajó. Outside Brazil they were located from Bolivia to the northern coast of Venezuela, to the north they reached Florida, and to the south they reached Paraguay. They were considered excellent navigators and in a very advanced stage of development having organized agriculture. The main Aruak tribes in our country were: aruãs, parecis, paumaris, cunibos, guanás and terenos.
  • Karib: The Karib group stood out as the most violent group. They occupied the lower Amazon region and part of the territory of Amapá and Roraima. Because of the practice of anthropophagy, they were called cannibals. Noteworthy are: palm, pepper, nauquás, bocairis, stumps, sissy and crixamas.

Indigenous social organization

The customs of the Tupi or Tupinambás are best known because of the records made by the Jesuits and foreign travelers during the Colonial Period. The same, however, did not occur with the tapuias, which the colonizers rated as the prime example of barbarism and savagery.
The Indians live in tribes. Organization of a group of people linked by blood ties, with common customs and interests. They build their village in the same area, speak the same language, have the same customs and bond with each other.

The Tupis lived in malocas. Each local group or Tupinambá "tribe" consisted of about 6 to 8 malocas. The population of these tribes was around 200 individuals, reaching up to 600.

The forms of organization of indigenous villages differ from one people to another. Some tribes prefer to build their horseshoe villages; others opt for the circular shape; still others build a single collective dwelling.


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