Piro - Orientation

Identification. The Piro refer to themselves as "Yine" (people) or "Wumolene" (our kinfolk). Identification is based on recognition of kinship and on the use of the Piro language, since the people are of mixed blood through intermarriage with surrounding tribes.

Location. At present the principal territory of the Piro extends for about 150 kilometers along both sides of the Río Urubamba in the rain forests east of the Andes Mountains in Peru. The southernmost village is Huau, upstream from the Spanish-speaking village of Atalaya. There are smaller communities of Piro on the Río Cushabatay, which empties into the Río Ucayali above Pucallpa, and on the Río Madre de Dios near its confluence with the Rio Manu, not far from the borders with Bolivia and Brazil; there are isolated families living in White communities. Closely related Manchineri (an endogamous division of the Piro tribe, represented also on the Urubamba) are found on the Yaco and Acre rivers in Brazil.

Demography. The Piro of the Urubamba numbered 400 or 500 in 1953. By the end of 1981, the population of the Urubamba Piro was 1,263. Piro married to Whites are included in the census, but their spouses or children are not unless they primarily speak Piro. A dozen or more of the Manchineri brought from the Yaco to the Urubamba were included in the 1981 census. The total number of Piro in the villages of the Madre de Dios and Cushabatay probably does not exceed 100. The near tripling of the Urubamba population was probably the result of a decrease in the use of fermented beverages (and the consequent decrease in poverty) as well as the introduction of additional plants and livestock, health education, and the limited service of medical doctors.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Piro language belongs to the Arawakan Family. It is almost mutually intelligible with the language of the Manchineri of Brazil.

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