Introduction / History
As far as historians and enthnographers have related, the Katxuyana have always inhabited the Rio Cachorro (Dog River), its tributary on the right bank of its middle course - the Rio Cachorrinho (Little Dog River) and the surrounding region. There was a time when they preferred to inhabit small streams out of fear of each other and of other ethnic groups. Today they inhabit, almost exclusively, the banks of the main courses of the rivers, having abandoned the small streams. The most accepted version of the present geographically fragmented condition in which the Katxuyana find themselves today is that they were removed from their only remaining village by Catholic priests along with other tribes that occupied the same geographic region and taken to a place called the Tiriyó Mission, in the far north of Pará, on the border with Suriname; an area we know today as TI Parque do Tumucumaque. This occurred during the 60's. At the time only one family (the present residents of Chapéu) went to live with the Hixkaryana and the rest (approximately 48 people) were taken to the Tiriyó Mission. From these come the present residents of Santidade. Today we understand that there are at least three reasons for the demographic exodus. Perhaps first and foremost was that the Katxuyana were desperate to survive because their ethnic group had been decimated by epidemics and the possibilities of marriage were already completely exhausted, leaving only about 48 people. Second, there was a certain tension with the quilombolas (run away slave community) and other small groups with which they had fought. And, finally, over the course of history it becomes clear that there was a growing interest of mining companies in the region. It is too much of a coincidence that as soon as the Katxuyana were taken away by the priests of the Prelature of Óbidos, mining companies were installed in the region. For almost 50 years, the Cachorro and Cachorrinho Rivers were "abandoned" without any Katxuyana presence. During this period a mining outfit was installed 11 kilometers from the old Santidade village. Mining was managed by the Andrade Gutierrez company, which had the current Quilombola village Cachoeira Porteira as its headquarters. Mr. João do Vale Katxuyana says that during all these years away, living among the Tiriyós, the Katxuyana never lost the dream of returning to their lands. About 4 decades later, already more populous, as they had married many Tiriyós women, the family of João do Vale decided to reopen an old village on the Cachorro river, the Santidade village. At the other demographic end of their exodus, the Katxuyana who were among the Hixkaryana people were also dreaming of returning to their original land, and almost at the same time, Joãozinho Printes' family came to live in Santidade as well. Today, August of 2020, there are already 9 well-established 'Katxuyana' villages on the Cachorro River as well as a few villages on the Nhamunda river, a few north of Mission Tiriyo, and two on the Trombetas river.
Where Are they Located?
If we consider only villages, the Katxuyana people are found in three different indigenous lands (Tis). There are a couple of villages in the Nhamundá/Mapuera TI (Arreia and Cafezal). There are about 6 villages in the Kaxuyana/Tunayana TI (9 on the Cachorro River - a tributary of the Trombetas River, among which are the villages of Chapéu, Parica, Maharuwanï, Santidade, Parirawuno, Yururu, Kumaru, Wayara and 2 on the Trombetas called Araça and Pïrho Mïtï). There are about 4 in TI Parque Tumucumaque, among them the Santo Antonio village. However, there are Katxuyana living among the Apalai, among the Waiwai, among the Tunayana and there is still a possibility that there is an ancient group of Katxuyana remnants called Ingarï on the outskirts of the Agúa Fria stream - right tributary of the Paru de Oeste or Erepecuru river. There are yet Katxuyana individuals living in the cities of Oriximina, Santarém, Macapá, and even in Brasilia.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Katxuyana are hunter-gathers, fishermen, and cultivators. They live in small villages which to dater are not larger than 200 people. They plant large "garden/fields" of manioc root which is the staple food once roasted into a thick flower, made into flat tapioca bread or cooked into a fermented drink. They also plant bananas, pineapples, sweat-potatoes, watermelons, squash, hot-peppers, and a number of fruit trees like mangos and cashews. There is a division in labor in which the men are responsible for hunting, fishing, house building, canoe making, forest clearing, and the manufacturing of most tools used by the women including all basket weaving. The women are responsible for the garden planting, cleaning, and harvesting, food preparation, game cleaning, firewood gathering, and childrearing. Most villages have a traditional round house with a top like roof used as a communal meeting house. Families are organized in small houses scattered around the clearing as the geography allows for. Son-in-laws are expected to live with the wives family until they have firmly established their own families and social organization functions around the figure head of a village chief and his family.
Scripture Prayers for the Katxuyana in Brazil.