Identification. The name "Ticuna" is apparently of foreign origin; perhaps it comes from the Tupí, "Taco-una," which means "men painted black" or "black skins." This name was given them by their neighbors because formerly the Ticuna often painted their bodies black with genipapo ( Genipa americana ) juice. In their daily conversations the Ticuna call themselves "Due'e," which means "people."
Location. Formerly, the Ticuna occupied the headwaters and central courses of small tributaries on the left side of the Amazon River and its headwaters, which flow into the Putumayo, from 71° 15′ to 68° 40′ W. Today their territory covers areas of Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. Most of the Ticuna live near the Amazon. In Peru, they have settled in the northeastern part of the department of Loreto in the province of Maynas; in Colombia, they inhabit the Amazon Trapeze in the Amazonas Commissariat; in Brazil, they live in the state of Amazonas, in the municipalities of San Pablo do Olivença, San Antonio do Iça, Benjamín Constant, and Fonte Boa.
Linguistic Affiliation. Ticuna is believed to be an independent language.
Demography. In 1981 the Ticuna population in Brazil and Peru was estimated to be 15,900. There were an estimated 18,421 Ticuna in Brazil in 1984 and 5,635 in Colombia in 1986.