Waimiri-Atroari - Orientation

Identification. The Waimiri-Atroari are a South American Indian group in Brazil. The name "Waimiri-Atroari," given to this indigenous population by the regional population, is of undetermined origin. "Waimiri" is perhaps derived from the Lingua Geral (Tupí) aumirim ( u?ïwa miri, meaning "small arrow").

Location. The Waimiri-Atroari occupy the extreme north of the state of Amazonas, south of Roraima, in the area of the Alalaù, Camanaù, and Curiuaù rivers and their headwaters. About one-third of their total population was transferred in 1987 from the Rio Abonari (tributary of the Rio Uatumã) and its headwaters by the Brazilian National Indian Foundation (Fundação Nacional do Índio, FUNAI) and ELETRONORTE (the Brazilian government electricity company) when the B albina hydroelectric plan led to the flooding of the river basin.

Demography. In 1982-1983 the Waimiri-Atroari population was reduced to approximately 332 after a long series of deadly epidemics, mainly the result of the construction of the BR-174 highway, which bifurcates their territory. At the end of the nineteenth century, Barbosa Rodrigues estimated the indigenous population of the Rio Jauaperí to be about 2,000. By 1973 the Waimiri-Atroari population had been reduced to about 600 to 1,000 (Figueiredo Costa). Since 1987 reports from FUNAI/ELETRONORTE employees suggest an increasingly rapid population growth.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Waimiri-Atroari language belongs to the Carib Family. There are very small dialectal differences between local groups.

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