Foto: Giovana Acacia Tempesta, 2007

Apiaká

  • Other names
    Apiacá
  • Where they are How many

    MT, PA844 (Siasi/Sesai, 2012)
  • Linguistic family
    Tupi-Guarani

Introduction

The Apiaká were a populous and warlike people when the rubber economy reached the southern portion of Amazonia in the mid 19th century. After sporadic conflicts with these colonizers, the Apiaká became their allies, though they continued their revenge warfare against neighbouring indigenous peoples throughout the 19th century (learn more in the chapter Contact history). The elaborate material culture and beautiful body decoration of the Apiaká impressed Hercules Florence, draughtsman on the Langsdorff Expedition, who visited Apiaká villages on the Arinos and Juruena rivers in 1828 and produced important textual and visual records of the people.

Suggestively, official registration of the toponymy of northern Mato Grosso at the start of the 20th century consecrated the traditional occupation of the Apiaká people, giving their name to an upland region, two rivers and a municipality.

In the mid 20th century the Apiaká were declared extinct by two important ethnologists, Darcy Ribeiro and Curt Nimuendaju. However the Apiaká, despite the long and intense coexistence with the Kaiabi and the Munduruku, they never ceased to see themselves and be seen as a distinct people. In spite of the massacres, epidemics, missionization and government abandonment, the Apiaká resisted as a collective and developed a complex interpretation of the past that guided their political struggle for a more just future.

Also read the  Apiaká entry edited by the anthropologist Eugênio Gervásio Wenzel and published on the Indigenous Peoples in Brazil site in 1999