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Katukina tribe

They have an interesting history. Until recently they lived on the Gregorio River, the same region and tribal land as the Yawanawa with whom they maintain many family relationships through marriages. In the 1980s they moved to the Rio Campinas where they worked for the government on the highway , and most of them still live there. An interesting fact is that although they have been in contact with whites for a long time and have lived very close to the road for quite some time, they are one of the tribes that best preserves their language. AND among them they don’t speak portuguese , the children only learn Portuguese after the age of seven and many of the women barely speak Portuguese. Most of the other Pano tribes in the region, in addition to the Kaxinawa, have lost most of their language. They were among the first to travel outside the state of Acre with their medicines, especially the dissemination of Kambo was a pioneer in them and they can be considered masters of medicine, contrary to some non-indigenous charlatans who call themselves masters. Defining who they are based solely on their name is not an easy task. Since the first half of the 19th century, the historical records made by missionaries, travelers and government agents on the indigenous peoples of the Juruá River refer to all the indigenous groups known as the Katukina. However, according to the anthropologist Paul Rivet, ‘Katukina’ – or Catuquina, Katokina, Katukena, Katukino – is a generic term that came to be attributed to five linguistically distinct and geographically close groups (Rivet 1920). Today this number is reduced to three: one from the Katukina language family in the Jutaí River region in the state of Amazonas, and two from the Pano language family in the state of Acre. Neither of the two Pano groups known by the name “Katukina” recognizes the word as a self-designation. Members of one of the groups, located on the banks of the Envira River near the town of Feijó, prefer to be known as Shanenawa, their own name. Those in the other group do not recognize any meaning to “Katukina” in their own language, but have nonetheless adopted it, saying the designation was “given by the government.”

( Apurina Tribe )

This text refers only to the last group. The name “Katukina” came to be accepted by members of its two towns on the Campinas and Gregório rivers, who they do not have a common ethnic designation. The only existing self-designations that are widely accepted refer to the six clans into which they are divided: Varinawa (people of the Sun), Kamanawa (people of the Jaguar), Satanawa (people of the Otter), Waninawa (people of the Peachpalm), Nainawa (people of Heaven) and Numanawa (people of the Dove). It is worth noting that, apart from the Nainawa, these denominations are identical to the names of some sections of the Marúbo people.

( Puyanawa Tribe )


The Katukina language belongs to the Pano language family. Nasalization is one of its notable characteristics. Most words are disyllabic and oxytonic, and new words are formed by combining two words or by including one or more suffixes. Personal pronouns do not distinguish between genders. They communicate in their own language when they talk to each other . Portuguese is only used to converse with non-indigenous people. Despite their long period of contact with the latter, less than half the population is fluent in Portuguese . The language spoken by the Katukina of the Campinas and Gregório rivers presents significant differences in relation to the language spoken by the Shanenawa.

They are originally derived from 5 distinct linguistic tribes, however today they are made up of 3 smaller tribes that speak a type of Panoan and live in the Gregorio and Jutaí River region around Acre and Amazonas (Rivet 1920). The name Katukina was given to the tribes by the government and is therefore not used by the indigenous tribes themselves. They designate themselves into 6 clans: Varinawa (People of the Sun), Kamanawa (People of the Jaguar), Satanawa (People of the Otter), Waninawa (People of the Peach Palm), Nainawa (People of the Sky), and Numanawa (People of the Moon). Pigeon). Among these different clans, there are different beliefs and practices , e.g. Ex. Some affirm parentage of matrilineality, while others assume parentage of patrilineality. Furthermore, also the language differs slightly between the clans. The ethnic group greatly diminished and almost disappeared during the latex cycle, as they were exploited, displaced and scattered throughout the territory . Due to this forced migration throughout the region, they were unable to support their tribe and survived separately in the wild, often having to leave maimed friends and family behind. Nearly a century later, they were allowed to inhabit the land that was once their home. Since then, they have seen an 80% growth in tribal membership, numbering 594 members today compared to 177 members in 1977 (Funasa, 2010).

( Munduruku Tribe )

Social structure and gender roles

A typical Katukina village is made up of an older married couple and their (married) children and grandchildren. Katukina tend to marry only Pano women, that are closely related to their families. Once married, women begin to live with their husband’s family. Polygamy is common among Katukina men , and the different wives of a man are considered sisters. If a man is only married to one wife and loses her through death or other reasons, he commonly marries his ex-wife’s sister. From a very young age, Katukina divides social tasks between men and women. After puberty, children support their parents with domestic activities and thus learn to perform important tasks for the tribe. Boys are generally trained in outside activities such as hunting, planting and felling trees, while girls are mainly engaged in domestic activities, how to prepare food, wash and care for children. Men and women only share some daily activities, such as fishing and gathering fruits, the latter because the trees are usually so tall that men need to climb or cut them. The successful completion of these daily activities is very important to the men and women of the Katukina tribe. To get married, girls and boys must demonstrate their learned skills : Boys must demonstrate their hunting and clearing skills, while girls must harvest manioc and prepare typical foods. If the man / boy or woman / girl does not fulfill these obligations, the marriage can be dissolved. A similar gender-specific role can be seen during Kambo rituals, where men have to apply poison to their arms and chests, to gain power in regions that are important for hunting and opening agricultural crops. The girls, for their part, apply Kambo on their legs, to empower them to carry baskets and their children.

( Marubo Tribe )

Sacred spirits and plants

The Katukina have vast knowledge about plants and the spirit world , and are deeply connected with the use of sacred plants. There is a special relationship of Katukina to Kambo medicine, which is considered a large part of tribal culture and knowledge. Even if the Katukina have such a strong connection to sacred plants , do not depend on a shamanic application: all members can apply Kambo (Lima 2005; Lima and Labate 2012; Martins 2006). In addition, Kambo is part of their culture since the beginning of their tribe and has been used since then as an important vaccine and medicine. They are considered the first tribe to receive Kambo directly from the frog . In addition, they started the expansion of Kambo in urban areas by sharing their knowledge about it with non-indigenous people and even with public newspapers such as The New York Times. Therefore, they are considered the grandparents of frog medicine, and they have a unique and powerful way of applying this sacred tool.

Indigenous Katukina tribe
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