Foto: Isaac Amorim Filho , 1985

Matsés

  • Other names
    Mayoruna
  • Where they are How many

    AM1.592 (Funasa, 2006)
    Peru1.724 (INEI, 2007)
  • Linguistic family
    Pano

Introduction

The Matsés, also known as the Mayoruna, inhabit the frontier region between Brazil and Peru. Their communities are located along the Javari river basin in the far west of Brazilian Amazonia. In Brazil, they live in the Vale do Javari Indigenous Territory (IT) along with other peoples from the Pano and Katukina language families. Wars undertaken by the Matsés in the past century and the resulting incorporation of captives from other indigenous groups meant they became the largest of the northern Pano peoples.

Skilled hunters, the Matsés trek across large areas during hunting and fishing expeditions and use their knowledge of the forest paths not only to defend their territory but also to manage resources. By alternating their hunting, fishing and swidden sites, the Matsés avoid exhausting the soils and animal populations, despite maintaining relatively fixed communities on the river shores, and simultaneously ensure the occupation and surveillance of their lands. Over recent years, the Matsés have suffered the loss of many people from diseases that have spread unchecked because of the poor level of healthcare provided in the region.