Krikati/Pukobye - Orientation

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Identification. There is no common term used by Krikati or Pukobye for themselves; it is only outsiders who lump them together. The set of names they both use is, for Krikati, "Poõkateye" (people of the savanna) and for Pukobye, "Irobmkateye" (people of the forest). The term "Pukobye" has become functionally moribund, although it is recognized by some older people. By contrast, the Krikati still use the term "Krikati" as their most common self-designation. Village names are another source of identification used in casual conversation, even when the reference village no longer exists.

Location. In west-central Maranhão, along the headwaters of the Rio Pindaré, the Krikati have two villages near the Brazilian town of Montes Altos, and the Pukobye have three villages near the town of Amarantes. The Krikati are now residing in the northeastern part of their original territory; the Pukobye are migrants into this area from their original homeland to the east.

Demography. The 1919 government census and the first visit by an anthropologist (Curt Nimuendajú) in 1929 suggest a population of about 300 for each of these tribes. By the 1960s their numbers had diminished to about 200 people in each tribe, their smallest recorded population. After the visit of the first medical team and establishment of government posts, each tribe increased to just under 300 by the mid-1970s, and by the mid-1980s, following the installation of well water, to almost 350.

Linguistic Affiliation. Krikati and Pukobye are dialects of Timbira, which is a branch of the Gê Language Stock. There is no satisfactory basis on which to characterize these dialects as more similar to each other than to that of any other Timbira group, except for changes that must be occurring through contacts and intermarriages during recent generations.

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