Kuikuru - Orientation



Identification. The Kuikuru, who comprise a single village, refer to themselves and other groups of the upper Xingu as "Ukuge" ("my people") and to all other Indians as "Ngikogo" ("Wild Indian"). "Kuikuru" is a phonetic variant of the autodenomination "Kufikugu," deriving from kufi , a kind of fish, plus the suffix -kugu, meaning "place," referring to a village site occupied by the Kuikuru a century ago.

Location. From about 1860 or 1870 on, the Kuikuru village was located at 12°34′ S and 53°7′ W between Brazil's Kuluene and Kuliseu rivers. Around 1962 the village was moved north to be included within the Xingu National Park. Its present location is the old village site of a now-extinct Carib-speaking group (the Ipatse or Itsufa), at 12°23′ S and 53°12′ W. The Kuikuru habitat is dry tropical forest, with extensive areas of human-made savanna nearby. Precipitation—roughly 190 centimeters—occurs mainly during the rainy season. The dry season, April to September, includes three completely rainless months.

Demography. In 1892, when first visited by Europeans, the Kuikuru village had 202 inhabitants. In 1954 there were 145 persons in the village. In 1975 the population was down to 120, but some 50 Kuikuru were then living among the Yawalapití. The emigres moved back into the main village in 1976, bringing the population up to some 175.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Kuikuru speak a Carib language. Only a minor dialectal difference exists between Kuikuru and the language of the neighboring Kalapalo and Nafukuá.


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