Mundurucu - Orientation

Identification and Location. The Mundurucu live just south of the equator in the Brazilian states of Para and Amazonas. They were known in early Brazilian history as warriors who took enemy heads as trophies. There are two separate groups of Mundurucu, who live in the basins of two major tributaries of the Amazon, the Tapajós and Madeira rivers. There appears to have been little, if any, contact between the two groups since the 1880s. The discussion here refers only to the Río Tapajós group. The climate is characterized by a rainy season (December to April) and a dry season (May to November).

Linguistic Affiliation. Linguists generally classify the Mundurucu language as Tupían in origin. Most of the men and a lesser number of women also speak Brazilian Portuguese.

Demography. In 1980, some 1,100 to 1,250 Mundurucu lived on their reservation, which is a botanical preserve about half the size of New Jersey. Much of this land is savanna that is not arable.

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