Karihona - Orientation

Identification. "Karihona" is the autodenomination. "Umaua" is the name applied by the Karihona's Eastern Tucanoan-speaking neighbors and means "toad" (not to be confounded with "Omagua," the Tupí from the Rio Solimôes); "Murciélago" (Spanish: bat) was applied to the Karihona because they were considered bloodthirsty. The names "Mesaya" and "Ajaju" derive from rivers of the Karihona territory. No explanation for "Guaque/Huaque" is available.

Location. The Karihona occupied the Rio Yarí and the upper Rio Apaporis and their affluents. The Yarí is an affluent of the Río Caquetá-Japurá in the Colombian part of the northwestern Amazon. Information concerning a considerably larger territory of the Karihona probably refers to the trading and raiding area. At present, the last few Karihona are living dispersed, mainly throughout the upper Rio Uaupés and the Colombian Río Caquetá near the border with Brazil.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Karihona language is one of the Carib languages.

Demography. Various thousands or even more than 10,000 Karihona are mentioned in the two preceding centuries; very few quite acculturated persons remain at the end of the twentieth century.

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