IntroductionAn estimated 400-500 indigenous Amazonian Indian tribes (Amerindians) exist today in the Amazon Rainforest. There are about fifty of these tribes who do not have any contact with the outside world. These groups have their own society where kids do not go to a formal school but instead, when they are old enough, are taught what they need to know from their elders. Another interesting fact is that some of the greatest threats to these tribes come from people from the outside world. The reason why is explained in the Amazon Rainforest tribe information below; along with information on how these people survive, what their beliefs are, and where they are located.
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Amazon Rainforest Tribe General Facts
- With 20,000 total members, the Yanomani tribe is the largest tribe in the Amazon Rainforest. They live in Northern Brazil and near the border of Southern Venezuela. In contrast, the Kanoe and Akuntsu tribes have no more than 30 members.
- The tribes live off the land and grow different types of fruits and vegetables such as bananas, passion fruit, papayas, corn, manioc and beans and the popular "super fruit", the acai berry.
- Both legal and illegal activities have threatened the Amazon Rainforest tribes. Some of the reasons for declining populations are due to deforestation in the Amazon, war, disease, oil development and drug trafficking. In response, Brazil has set up a type of reservation to protect the Amazonian tribes.
- The many tribes of the Amazon are very diverse in culture, language and heritage. There are approximately 180 different languages spoken by these indigenous people.
- Communal houses are common and the structures are made out of bamboo covered in banana or palm leaves and straw.
- The tribes that have made contact with the outside world wear minimal clothing. What they do wear is made from natural resources found in the rainforest. However, both the men and women in the tribes that have no contact with outsiders live completely naked.
- Spiritual ceremonies and rituals are commonplace. In a ritual to become a man in an Amazon tribe called Satere Mawe; young boys must wear gloves filled with bullet ants.
- Many Amazonian tribes believe in animism, a belief that animal spirits inhabit all animate and inanimate things.
- Some of the indigenous tribes of the Amazon are still hunters and gatherers who have extensive knowledge of almost every aspect of the rainforest in which they live. Many of the tribes also practice a slash and burn type of agriculture. When the resources are depleted, they move on to new land.
- Because many of these tribes do not have proper medical care, the life span of the Amazonian tribe people is considerably shorter than those living in the countries surrounding them. Many die of malaria, malnutrition and parasites.
Tribal Role Facts
- Men and women have distinct roles within their village. Women generally have the responsibility of cooking, household chores, crop growing and taking care of the children.
- Men do the hunting, which accounts for a relatively small amount of their total food intake. They hunt game such as deer, monkey and tapir with blow guns and poison tipped darts.
- Men, women and children all take part in fishing.