Apalai - Orientation

Identification. The term "Apalai" is of Tupían origin and means "small bow." This designation is found in sources dating from the eighteenth century and is the self-name of the modern group. The Apalai recognize the Makapai and Inumi as subgroups. The Wayana call the Apalai "Pirixiyana" (parakeet people) because of their rapid mode of speech. Having fused with the Wayana, these groups are referred to by a single term, "Wayana-Apalai"; this is an external (administrative, academic) and not an inherently native appellation.

Location. The Apalai live exclusively in Brazil, in the Tumucumaque Indian Park and the Paru de Leste Indian Area, where they occupy the banks of the Rio Paru de Leste. This region is located north of the state of Para, on the border with Suriname, at 0°3′ to 2°30′ N and 54° to 55°30′ W. Some Apalai remain along the Rio Jari in the state of Amapá.

Demography. The administrative demographic census of the Apalai includes the Wayana. In 1989, 328 Wayana-Apalai were recorded as living in the Tumucumaque Indian Park; about 10 additional Apalai were found living along the Rio Jari.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Apalai language belongs to the Carib Languague Family, more precisely to the northern Cariban of Guiana.

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