Culina - Orientation

Identification. The origin of the name "Culina" is unknown; it was already in use in the 1860s when William Chandless became the first English explorer to penetrate their region. The term may have combined the Culina with a distinct Panoan group called the "Kolina." The Culina refer to themselves as "Madiha" (people) and distinguish seventy or more subgroups, usually by an animal name such as the "Pitsi Madiha" ( pitsi -monkey people) or the "Kurubu Madiha" ( kurubu -fish people).

Location. Most of the Culina live in villages scattered along the rivers of the Purus-Juruá region of western Brazil, from about 7° to 10° S and 70° to 73° W. The upper Purus and its affluent, the Rio Chandless, are the southern limit of their area, and the Rio Juruá is the northern limit. There are two Culina villages on the Peruvian side of the upper Purus. It appears that, prior to their movement into this region, they may have lived in the area around the current town of Taruacá, but the Culina believe that they may have migrated from the region around the city of Manaus.

Demography. The total Culina population is difficult to establish but appears to be no more than about 3,000 individuals. Of these, approximately 2,500 live in Brazil, and perhaps 500 or fewer live in Peru.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Culina speak an Arawak language closely related to that spoken by the Deni. There are minor dialect variations among subgroups.

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