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The Kuntanawa

The Kuntanawa were allegedly exterminated during the armed persecution of indigenous peoples , the so-called raids, which accompanied the opening and installation of rubber plantations in Acre in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The last known descendants of this group are the members of an extended family, known until recently in the upper Juruá as “ Milton’s caboclos ”, In reference to the name of its patriarch (Milton Gomes de Conceição). The resumption of their indigenous origin was supported by the indigenous ancestry and the particular history of the group: the recent struggle for the creation and maintenance of the Alto Juruá Extractive Reserve; contact relations with neighboring indigenous peoples; the resumption of rituals with ayahuasca and rapé; and the perception of ethnic and political discrimination.

( Nukini Tribe )


Initially, the ethnonym was written Kontanawa, which means “coconut people” by this name . This is how the press and government documents also refer to them. More recently, the group began to pronounce and record his name as Kuntanawa. The fact is that in the Pano languages, more specifically in the Hashta Kuin (spoken by the Kaxinawa), the word kunta, which refers to the fruit “cocão”. Kuntanawa could be translated as “coconut people” or “coconut people” . The Kuntanawa live on the banks of the upper Tagus River, within the Alto Juruá Extractive Reserve (Resex), located at the western end of the state of Acre, in the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo. The Kuntanawa are progressively agglutinating in the villages, the main one being known as Seven Stars. This group has advocated for their ethnic recognition and the identification and delimitation of their Indigenous Land, which overlaps with a part of the aforementioned Resex. The Kuntanawa were estimated, in 2008, at 400 individuals.

( Katukina Tribe )

kuntanawa tribe


Since the 1960s, the Tagus rubber tappers have known ayahuasca through neighboring indigenous groups, But it was in the late 1990s that Milton and his children got to know the ancestral drink, which the late Regina, mother-in-law and grandmother talked about. the culture of his people. In this context, the narratives of Doña Regina were recalled, thus acquiring new meanings. The diffuse ethnic group that marked the self-identification of the “Milton caboclos” as a group received, through the experience of ayahuasca, an emotional and positive reinforcement. The reference to indigenous ancestry has become more present , valuing the past

Astral travel

Today, as they say, having ayahuasca as a guide and teacher, the Kuntanawa explore unfathomable dimensions and return body paintings to their people , songs and magical and ethnobotanical knowledge. Under the command of ayahuasca, and with the support of the Ashaninka shamans, Kuntanawa shamanism arises. The young people, grandchildren of Milton, learn from ayahuasca and from the guidance of the most experienced to “listen” to nature in quiet outdoor rituals. The songs that tell his story are composed and made known to all the people; Indigenous songs are also sung under the inspiration of the ritual drink, and also the songs of ayahuasca of the “relatives” Kaxinawa and Yawanawa . It is under the visceral experience of this drink considered sacred to these peoples that Milton and his children claim to be accessing deeper dimensions of Kuntanawa Indianness. Ayahuasca cannot be ruled out as a powerful mechanism of subjectivation during the emergence of ethnicity .

( Puyanawa Tribe )

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