Tapirape in Brazil

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People Name: Tapirape
Country: Brazil
10/40 Window: No
Population: 700
World Population: 700
Primary Language: Tapirape
Primary Religion: Christianity
Christian Adherents: 65.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Guarani
Affinity Bloc: Latin-Caribbean Americans
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Tapirape are an indigenous tribe whose original homeland was near the Tocantins and Xingu rivers. They lived there until the 1600s. In the latter 1700s they settled in the Araguaia River region in Brazil’s western Mato Grosso state. In the first half of the 20th century, they often had clashes with their neighbors, especially those from the Kayapó people. A rubber boom in 1911 brought them in contact with whites, and most died from introduced diseases. Starting in 1951 the Jesuits established a medical mission where the Tapirape could receive medical care. They have been moved to a different village where they faced conflicts with Brazilians squatters and large agricultural companies, especially in the 1970s.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Tapirape leadership is very egalitarian. They have leaders for each village house, who meet nightly to discuss matters that affect all of them. More recently they have had younger leaders, men in their 30s and 40s, who speak fluent Portuguese so they can deal with outsiders. They must be good at negotiating with ranchers and FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s agency for dealing with indigenous peoples.
Most Tapirape are farmers who grow rice, manioc, bananas and cotton. They live near their fields. Sometimes this means setting up improvised housing during key times. Hunting is important to them, and being a good hunter is a way for men to gain higher status. They are also adept at fishing and producing crafts. Selling these crafts are their only commercial activity.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Tapirape depend on the power of their shamans to manipulate and control the spirits. These shamans are responsible for fertility and safe delivery of babies. They have dreams where they travel to the “house of the boar” and perform a ceremony intended to increase the size of their herds. They are held responsible for health problems because these come from malevolent spirits. During times of epidemics, there have been many revenge killings, some of which involve shamans.

What Are Their Needs?

Though they have a Christian witness, the Tapirape need to put all their trust in Jesus Christ. Health issues, safe deliveries of babies, large herds, etc. are in the hands of the God of Abraham.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Tapirape people to find God faithful.
May God provide them with abundance and healthy deliveries of babies as a testimony of his power and goodness.
Pray for Tapirape followers of Christ to disciple others who will disciple others as well.

Text Source:   Joshua Project