Cubeo - Orientation

Identification. The Cubeo are an ethnic group of the Colombian Amazon. "Cubeo" is a generic name that is used in local Spanish and appears in the literature in reference to a social and linguistic group. Although the term does not have any meaning in their language, the Cubeo refer to themselves by that name in interactions with Whites. There is no common native name, aside from referring to themselves as "people" ( pamiwa ) or more precisely, "my people" ( jiwa). An individual's social identification is based on his or her adscription to a mythical clan forebear whose name is used as an eponym.

Location. The Cubeo live in the area of the Colombian Vaupés, near the center of the Northwestern Cultural Area of the Amazon. Their villages are distributed along the median course of the Vaupés and, above all, alongside its affluents the Cuduyari and Querari rivers.

Demography. Reports of the population vary between 3,000 and 5,000 individuals. The national census of 1985 established the number of inhabitants at 4,368.

Linguistic Affiliation. The language of the Cubeo has been classified as belonging to Eastern Tukano. Recently a reclassification has been suggested to Middle Tukano, a subdivision of a possible Proto-Tukano (Waltz and Wheeler 1972).

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