Craho - Orientation

Identification. The Craho are Timbira speakers who live in the north of the state of Tocantins in Brazil. Although the word "Craho" can mean "paca [Cuniculus paca]'s hair" in their language, it is not so understood by all Craho. Their autodenomination is "Mehim," a term that might have included all Timbira Indians in the past and today designates all Indians, whereas "Kup ," its opposite, has had its meaning redefined from "all non-Timbira" to "all Whites." In the early 1800s the Craho were also known as "Mankamekhrá" or "Mankhráre," which means "children of ema [Rhea americana]," but today it is used for only one part of the Craho, their original core, given that they have received immigrants from other societies.

Location. The Craho reservation, with an area of nearly 3,200 square kilometers, is located between 8° (this parallel cuts through its northern tip) and 9° S and 47° and 48° W, between the Manoel Alves Grande and the Manoel Alves Pequeno rivers, both right-hand tributaries of the Tocantins. At elevations between 200 and 500 meters, the reservation is covered by savanna and patches of gallery forest. The year is divided into a rainy season (from October to April) and a very dry season (from May to September), with a temperature range between 25° and 26° C. Craho land annually receives between 150 and 175 centimeters of precipitation.

Demography. In the early nineteenth century, the Craho population was estimated at between 3,000 and 4,000; in 1852, they were 620; in 1930, about 400; in 1948-1949, about 500; in 1962-1963, 564; in 1971, 632; and, in 1984, 912. There has been a rapid increase in their population, which now has an average density of 0,3 persons per square kilometer. The Craho population includes descendants from the Põrekamekhrá and the Kenkateyê, both extinct Timbira societies; from other Timbira societies; from Sherente; and even from Blacks and Whites.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Craho speak a dialect of Timbira, a branch of the Gê Family (which includes other languages spoken in the Brazilian central plateau, such as Suya, Cayapó, Akw , and in the southern plateau, Caingang), which is part of the Macro-Gê Stock.

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