Moré



ETHNONYMS: Itén, Iténe, Iteneo, Iténez


The 100 to 150 Moré live at the juncture of Mamoré and Iténez rivers in the north-central area of the department of Beni in Bolivia. In the early part of the twentieth century, many crossed the Itenéz into Brazil (where it is called the Río Guaporé), so that in the 1940s there were more of the then 3,000 to 5,000 Moré in Brazil than in Bolivia; some, at least, joined the Chácobo and Sinabo tribes. Until the mid-twentieth century, the Moré inhabited the large area between the Mamoré and Guaporé rivers and between the Machupo and Itonama rivers (12 to 13 S, 63 to 64 W). The Moré language belongs to the Chapacuran Family. In 1700 the Moré numbered 3,000, but in the eighteenth century they were exposed to slave raiders and to diseases introduced by gold prospectors; in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries they were exploitated by rubber tappers. During the eighteenth century, many Moré lived in Catholic missions. In 1938 they were provided a school to hasten their pacification, which was incomplete at that time. The Moré live in the tropical forest and raise maize, cotton, and plantains and are assimilating rapidly; many are protected by ranchers in the area of the Mamoré and Iténez rivers. The number of Moré has dropped greatly in the latter half of the twentieth century owing to assimilation, and the culture is likely to disappear altogether within a few generations.

In 1940 the life-style of the Moré was still essentially traditional. They were swidden horticulturists who raised maize, sweet manioc (their staple food), sweet potatoes, yams, pineapples, gourds, bananas, papayas, cotton, and red peppers. They gathered Brazil nuts, mangaba ( Hancornia speciosa ), wild cacao, and palm fruits, as well as the eggs of turtles and caimans. They hunted, primarily peccaries, but avoided deer, which were taboo to them. The Moré fished with bows and arrows, basket traps, and with poison. They traveled in 10-meter-long dugout canoes, and both sexes wore long bark-cloth shirts.

The Moré, who are monogamous, traditionally built their shelters, lean-tos 5 to 14 meters in length, near their gardens. Each hut was inhabited by up to eight families. When mosquitoes became troublesome, they moved into small cabins tightly covered with patoju leaves. Other buildings were constructed to serve as workshops and as men's houses. Moré huts contained cotton hammocks and benches for ceremonial use. Each residential unit was politically independent and led by the head of the household, who held little authority.

Music is important to the Moré. They use at least twenty kinds of musical instruments and sing songs pertaining to horticulture and hunting.


Bibliography

Key, Harold, and Mary Key (1967). Bolivian Indian Tribes: Classification, Bibliography, and Map of Present Language Distribution. Norman: Summer Institute of Linguistics of the University of Oklahoma.


Martínez, Pedro Plaza, and Juan Carvajal Carvajal (1985). Etnías y lenguas de Bolivia. La Paz: Instituto Boliviano de Cultura.


Ryden, Stig (1942). "Notes on the Moré Indians, Río Guaporé, Bolivia." Ethnos 7(2-3): 84-124.

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