Suruí - Orientation

Identification. The Suruí of Rondônia call themselves "Paiter," meaning "people," "ourselves." "Suruí" is the name given to them by non-Indians before contact with Brazilian society in 1969.

Location. Suruí territory covers a total of 248,000 hectares, part in the state of Rondônia and part in the state of Mato Grosso, between 10°45′ and 11°15′ S and 60°55′ and 61°25′ W, in an irregular shape. The distance between each of their villages and the Cuiabá-Pôrto Velho highway is about 50 kilometers. The Suruí area is part of the Aripuanã Indian Reservation, legally the biggest in Brazil (albeit considerably affected by encroachment), with 3.6 million hectares.

Demography. In 1989 there were 470 Suruí. The estimated population in 1969 was 700, two-thirds of whom died of measles and tuberculosis in 1971 and 1972. In 1979 there were 270 left. This population is divided into exogamous groups or clans: the kaban, makor, gamep, and garnir.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Suruí language belongs to the Tupí-Mondé Language Family, which in turn is one of the families in the Tupí Stock. Other languages in the Tupí-Mondé Family are those spoken by the Gavião of Rondônia, the Aruá, the Zoró, and the Cinta Larga.

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