Foto: Vincent Carelli, 1982

Palikur

  • Autodenominação
    Païkwené
  • Where they are How many

    AP1.293 (Iepé, 2010)
    Guiana Francesa720 (Passes, 1994)
  • Linguistic family
    Aruak

Kinship relations

palikur_9

In the domestic group, well-defined ties of cooperation and obligation can be seen, especially in the relation between father-in-law and son-in-law. The authority of the father-in-law over his sons-in-law is reinforced by the rule of uxorilocal residence. This being so, a son-in-law only changes status when he gets his daughters married, thus becoming a father-in-law.

Descent, in turn, is determined by the paternal line, and it is this rule which defines with whom one can and cannot marry. The Palikur are divided into six patrilineal subgroups, all of which derive from a single origin in which they are divided into different “races" or “nations" (following their own explantation), and which are translated both into Portuguese and French in the form of surnames. These are: Wayvuene or the “race of the big lizard" (in Portuguese, this is the family with the surname Ioiô); Wakavuyene, "race of the prop" (surname Batista); Kawakyene, "race of the Ananás" (surname Labonté); Paymiune, "race of the piramutaba" (surname Guiome); Wadahyene, "race of the little lizard" (surname Iaparrá); and Waxyene, "race of the mountain" (surname Antônio Felício). The naming of the subgroups is transmitted through the father and is unchangeable. Thus, the woman, even after marriage, is still connected to the subgroup of her father, while her children belong to the subgroup of her husband. It is expressly forbidden to marry a member of the same subgroup.

Both on the Brazilian and on the French Guiana sides of the border, the name of the subgroup has translations in Portuguese and French. This happened, first, because of the actions of the Catholics priests who visited the region administering baptism and applying Christian surnames, and, later, through the birth records which were necessary to prove Brazilian or French nationality. Despite adopting exogenous names and surnames, the Palikur keep their first names in their language and all surnames are related to one of the six subgroups. Because of misunderstandings and, often, ill will of the officials of civil records, there are several subgroups that have more than one surname. This is the case of the Wayvuene, who, in Portuguese could be Ioiô, Orlando, Hipólito, Leon Paulo or Martiniano. Since 1998, the Portuguese name of the mother’s subgroup has come to be included in the birth registry as a middle name, in Brazilian style.