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People of the Amazon Rainforest

By: C.M.Shorter
Amazon Native Indian
Amazon Native Indian

At one time almost 10 million native Indians occupied the lands of the South America Rainforest.  At the time when Western and European explorers and conquistadors invaded the land in search of untold riches, there were less than one million indigenous people, today there are less than 250,000 indigenous natives.  As the Rainforest dies, so does the heritage of the land and sadly so do the people of the Rainforest.

The remarkable human diversity here has over 215 ethnic groups speaking 170 different languages in an area composing 190 million acres of land – roughly twice the size of California.  188 million acres of this land remains inside the Brazilian Amazon, in the states of Acre, Amapa, Amazonas, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Para, Rondonia, Roraima, and Tocantins.

Of these varying Amer-Indian people living in the Amazon Rainforest, one of the largest groups is the Yanomami.  “Yano” translates to “communal house”.  Their village life is centered around the “yano”, or communal house.  The “yano” is a large, circular shelter constructed of vine and leaf thatch, which has a living space in the middle.   Village activity revolves around the main house which has multiple living quarters built in the center.  

Pygmy Tribes, include Baka and Mbuti Pygmies, like the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Africa, are some of the last remaining “hunter-gatherers”.  Totally self-sufficient, these many Amazonian Indian Tribes have called the Amazon Rainforest home for centuries now.  The Huli Indian Tribe are one of many who make their home in the  remote highland forests of Papua New Guinea.  In their culture, men and women live in large groups in  separate quarters.   

The people of the Amazon are highly intelligent, even though many have never seen any modern technology.  They live by the earth and the sea and have developed an extreme affinity with nature.  Their ritual ceremonies and beliefs in their lives are often governed by nature.   They look between the land and the sky for signs of the seasons, celestial activity, planting times, weather and warnings of danger.  Every day they live as one with the Rainforest.     Each Indian tribe has adopted different symbols, ceremonies, forms of worship and dress.  Tribal ranking is often displayed through an integral assembly of beaded necklaces, headdress and body ornamentation.

It is an amazing fact to realize it is estimated that as many as 50 indigenous tribal groups live so far in the depths of the Rainforest they have not yet made any contact with the outside world.

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Also: Layers of the Rainforest | Rainforest Territory of the World | Bio-Prospecting in the Rainforest | People of the Amazon Rainforest

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