Amahuaca - Orientation

Identification. People known as "Amahuaca" today appear to include individuals from formerly localized groups of Indowo, Rondowo, Isãwo, Shãwo, Maxinawa, Cutinawa, Punchawo, Kapî Hîchi, Nashishnawo, and Shimanawa. Traditionally, they had no name for themselves as a people other than hondi kuí (real people) or yora (human beings).

Location. They are sparsely settled on the Inuya and Sepahua rivers and on headwater streams of the Javari, Juruá, Purus, and Piedras rivers in a deeply dissected limestone plateau on the border of Peru and Brazil. Annual rainfalls of 177 to 203 centimeters between October and April support unbroken tropical forest with abundant game.

Demography. Until the end of the nineteenth century the Amahuaca were very numerous (perhaps as many as 9,000), but their number has been reduced to less than 500 in Peru and not more than 250 in the Brazilian states of Amazonas and Acre.

Linguistic Affiliation. The language of the Amahuaca is Panoan. It is most similar to that of the neighboring Yaminahua, has slight regional variations, and is believed to have separated from Conibo about 1,000 years ago.

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