Canela - Orientation

Identification. Settlers called three almost identical, adjacent tribes "Canella" (cinnamon or shinbone in Portuguese): the "Kénkateye," "Apányekra," and "Ramkókamekra." "Canela" is modern; the Brazilian National Indian Foundation (Fundação Nacional do Índio, FUNAI) and some authors use "Kanela"; "Capiekrans" appears in early chronicles; "Ramcocamecra," "Eastern Timbira," and "Ramko-Kamekua" appear in some ethnographic atlases.

Location. Since 1968 the Canela have lived in Escalvado village (6°03/S and 45°09/W) on a reservation of 1,252,120 square kilometers, about 10 percent of their aboriginal lands, in Barra do Corda municipality, Maranhão state, 650 kilometers southeast of Belém. Escalvado is in savanna countryside ( cerrado, "closed" savanna). The climate differs from that of Amazonia, further west: rains are less (130 centimeters per year) and later (December), and relative humidity dips into the 30s during some June and July mid-afternoons with strong easterly winds and clear skies.

Demography. The Canela live in a large circular village (300 meters in diameter), which aboriginally contained 1,000 to 1,500 people. Reduced by diseases after pacification in 1814, their numbers are now increasing: 300 in 1930, 412 in 1960, 514 in 1975, 791 in 1986, and 903 in 1989.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Canela speak Eastern Timbira, an eastern language of Northern Gê of the great GêPano-Carib Family. Canela is almost identical to Krahó, spoken 350 kilometers southwest. Other Eastern Timbira tribes are the Krikati, Pukobye, and Tocantins Gavião (Gaviões); the Apinayé speak Western Timbira.

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