From Povos Indígenas no Brasil
Photo: Hein van der Voort, 2002

Makurap

Self-denomination Where they are How many Linguistic family
RO
579 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
Tupari

For centuries, the Makurap have occupied a prominent position in the interethnic complex located on the right bank of the Guaporé, their language having been converted into a ‘lingua franca’ since the start of the 20th century. During the latter period the traditional territory of these groups was invaded by the rubber industry whose bosses imposed the debt-slavery system on the region’s indigenous peoples and provoked widespread depopulation through devastating epidemics of new diseases. The surviving peoples were subsequently confined to demarcated areas allocated to various ethnic groups with boundaries that bear no relation to the traditional territory of the peoples concerned. In these areas, Makurap is still the predominant indigenous language in the chicha-fueled festivals that remain one of the distinctive and socially cohesive features of the region’s groups.

Location and population

Today the Makurap inhabit three Indigenous Territories: Rio Guaporé, Rio Mequens and Rio Branco, as well as neighbouring urban areas.

The Rio Guaporé IT was ratified in 1996, with an area of 115,788 ha, in the municipality of Guajará Mirim, and is additionally occupied by the Ajuru, Aikanã, Aruá, Jabuti, Tupari and Arikapu.

The Rio Mequéns IT was ratified in the same year, 1996, with an area of 107,533 ha, in the municipalities of Colorado do Oeste and Cerejeira, and is also occupied by the Sakurabiat.

The Rio Branco IT had been ratified a decade earlier, in 1986, with an area of 236,137 ha, in the municipality of Costa Marques, where the Arikapu, Kanoê, Aruá, Columbiara, Jabuti and Tupari also live.  

Language

The Macurap language forms part of the Tupari linguistic family, which in turn belongs to the Tupi trunk. According to the linguist Alzerinda de O. Braga, Portuguese is now the everyday language used among the younger population. Of the 75 Macurap living at the Guaporé IP (Indigenous Post) at the end of the 1990s, 45 still speak the Macurap language. The latter is also spoken by many older members of other indigenous groups in the region. During the ‘chichadas’ (festivals where fermented maize drink is collectively consumed), the older people dance, joke and speak in Macurap irrespective of their ethnic group.

Today the youngest speakers of Macurap, under the influence of Portuguese, no longer differentiate between long and short vowels, which differentiate words in the native language, such as tsãn ("sweet") and tsã:n ("cold"). Today the terms are pronounced identically (Braga 1992).

History

The vast majority of the indigenous groups encountered by the Portuguese on the right bank of the Guaporé during the 18th century were Tupi. These groups were probably formed by families dispersed from the Aripuanã river. The Makurap inhabited a region located above the headwaters of the Branco river and along both shores of the upper Colorado river. The group apparently closest to them were the Jabuti.

The contacts between the colonizers and these peoples – Makurap, Tupari, Ajuru, Jabuti, Aruá, Arikapu etc. – were particularly intense during the 18th century because the area then possessed a strategic importance as a border region between the Portuguese and Spanish colonies, meaning that the indigenous populations could be co-opted if and when war broke out. Due to the need to defend the frontier, navigation on the Guaporé river was also very intense in the 18th century and made heavy use of an indigenous workforce. Depopulation was equally heavy.

But as the Guaporé lost its geographical importance, the non-indigenous occupation dwindled and the start of the 19th century signalled a period of widespread depopulation of the area. While rubber did begin to be explored in Amazonia during the first decades of the 19th century, it was a slow trade meeting a very small demand. The first Brazilian exports occurred in 1827: this marked the beginning of a period of exploration that intensified until the first decade of the 20th century. The rubber trade collapsed from 1912 onwards due to Asian competition but increased thirty years later with the outbreak of the Second World War.

At the end of the 19th century, Bolivian rubber explorers founded the Pernambuco seringal (rubber extraction area) close to the mouth of the Colorado river. Its foundation, and later that of the São Luís seringal on the upper Branco river, led to a rapid process of contact with the Tupian peoples who had thus far remained in isolation.

The occupation of the Colorado and Branco rivers took place between 1910 and 1920 with the installation of various barracões (seringal headquarters and trade stores) and rubber tapping points. These establishments would be responsible for the incorporation of the Makurap, Wayoró, Jabuti, Arikapú and Aruá into the workforce. But the seringal that most contributed to the intensification of contacts with Indians was São Luís. This was the establishment from which, years later, a measles epidemic spread out with alarming speed, causing large population losses and leaving some groups on the brink of extinction.

The first contacts were probably established with the Jabuti, whose villages were located below the headwaters of the Branco river. The initial contacts were hostile: women were abducted and there were possible killings. The group closest to the Jabuti were the Arikapú, who soon established contact with rubber tappers. The Makurap, situated on the headwaters of the Branco river and on both shores of the upper Colorado, must have been the next group contacted in a process concomitant with that of the Ajurú on the upper Colorado, closer to the headwaters. The Tupari were first contacted in 1928.

In 1934, Emil Heinrich Snethlage was on the Guaporé river and visited all these indigenous groups. At the time of his visit, the São Luís seringal already had Indians working on a regular basis. According to his testimony, the majority of the women were prostituted, chicha had been replaced by sugar cane rum and some of the men received physical punishment. Even so, the Indians continued to be attracted there.

In January 1948, the German ethnologist Franz Caspar also visited the São Luís seringal and later spent several months among the Tupari. Caspar observed that these groups were culturally very similar. In terms of the Makurap, there were just two villages in the region visited by the researcher.

After the installation of the seringal and contact with the whites, relations between the Tupari and the Makurap intensified. The Makurap gradually assumed a dominant position among the region’s groups and their language had transformed into the ‘intertribal idiom’ according to Caspar. The Makurap instrumental and vocal music – highly developed according to the author – was also adopted by the other groups.

In 1848, Caspar recorded the following account from Waitó, the political and religious leader of the Tupari:

“When I was a child (...) our best friends were the Makurap, who we call Tamo in our language. We went to visit them all the time, though the journey there was very difficult since the sun burnt our heads all day as we crossed the open savannahs (...). One day we learnt from our friends that strange men had arrived via the river. Some had white skin, others black. They didn’t walk around naked like us, they wore trousers and shirts. They navigated the river in large boats that billowed out a monstrous smoke. They didn’t hunt with a bow and arrow but shot with a cane that made a loud boom, projecting hard little stones into the animal’s body. These men spoke a language that nobody understood. They soon arrived at the Makurap’s malocas. They weren’t bad; on the contrary, they gave the Makurap many necklaces, mirrors, knives and axes. Afterwards they built their hut by the river and went in search of trees that we call herub, whose sap we use to make balls for games. However, the white men didn’t make balls for games from the sap, but extremely large balls which they carried away downriver in their boats. They also felled many trees and planted some maize, banana and manioc, as well as rice and many other things. They employed the Makurap and gave them more knives and axes, along with trousers and shirts, hammocks and mosquito nets. In return, they asked the Makurap for their help in felling trees and clearing paths through the forests. We saw the axes and knives that the Makurap received from the strangers. They were much harder than the stone axes with which we worked and they didn’t break with use. The knives were also much better than our bamboo and cane knives, which we used to slice meat and trim arrow feathers (...). However, we also saw that many Makurap coughed and died. The cough was brought by the motor boats from the villages of the strangers. All the Makurap coughed and many, many of them died.” (1953:146ss)

Later all the seringals on the Branco river, such as Laranjal, Colorado, São Luís and Paulo Saldanha, were bought up by a single owner –João Rivoredo – who would become directly responsible for dissolving all the region's indigenous villages, recruiting workforces, leaving the populations without medical care and, worse still, refusing to make any attempt to prevent the measles epidemics. The Makurap continued to live in their villages until around 1950 when Rivoredo persuaded them to move to a single site at the São Luís seringal. When they moved there, the settlement was already occupied by Tupari, Jabuti, Arikapu and Aruá groups.

When Franz Caspar returned to Brazil in 1955, he found the local indigenous populations severely reduced in number due to a measles epidemic. The Indian Protection Service (SPI) had persuaded them to leave their malocas to work at the São Luís seringal, where they contracted the disease. The ethnologist estimated that more than 400 Indians from various groups had died at the seringal base.

The SPI had not maintained an active presence in the region since the start of the 1930s when the federal entity transferred around half the population of these groups to a work colony closer to Guajará Mirim, and later to the Ricardo Franco Indigenous Post (Caspar 1955:152).

Between the 1940s and 1960s there was a wide scale dispersion of Indians to the seringals. In 1940, the governor of the Territory of the Guaporé (created in 1943; renamed Rondônia in 1956 and promoted to the category of federal state in 1982) encouraged the transfer of Indians from the Ji-Paraná river to the Guaporé, looking to make up for the workforce lost from epidemics. The SPI only had one base in operation, the Ricardo Franco Post (created in 1930), which was not equipped to deal with the new arrivals. The conditions of the transfer are unknown, but we do know that the mortality rate reached alarming levels.

 

The tortuous process of land recognition

Even with the creation of the 9th Regional Inspectorate of the SPI in 1946, the Indians continued to work in the seringals under servile conditions. It was only in 1970 that Indians began to be transferred from the seringals to the Guaporé Indigenous Post, whose area was demarcated in 1976 but only ratified twenty years later.

It was also only in 1980 that Funai (the indigenist organ that replaced the SPI in 1967) set up an Indigenous Post in the Branco river region. During this period, the Indians who had survived the large epidemics were already more resistant to the diseases brought by the migrants. But the indigenist Mauro Leonel, who visited the Rio Branco IT in 1984, reported dozens of cases of flu with complications and tuberculosis. Malaria, once almost non-existent, became endemic from 1983 onwards. In February 1984, there were another 15 cases in the village of São Luís alone with no on-site medical care (the nursing attendant was on leave and there was no substitute).

Relations with the rubber bosses were determined by the debt-slavery system in which the indigenous peoples were converted into eternal debtors, required to sell their labour in exchange for industrial goods at exorbitant prices in the barracões (seringal trade stores). At the start of the 1980s Funai published a land identification report for the area that would become the Rio Branco Indigenous Territory, exposing the existence of 86 indigenous people working in semi-slavery for a rubber boss. Further south, in an area later converted into the Guaporé Biological Reserve, another 68 Indians worked for a farmer, also in semi-slavery. Just 33 Indians, children, sick people and elders, did not work for one of these bosses in the debt-slavery system.

 

In 1983, the Rio Branco Indigenous Territory was finally demarcated (and ratified in 1986). However, its area –240,000 ha at the time – left out seven villages. To the north, four villages close to the former seringal base, mostly inhabited by Makurap, remained outside the boundaries in order for these lands to be allocated by Incra to 10,000 families in the Rio Branco colonization project. Another three villages were left outside the demarcated area, whose inhabitants, the majority Tupari, lived in an area close to the Guaporé Biological Reserve.

As well as the failure to demarcate the territory to its proper extent, an invading rubber boss continued to exploit the work of the indigenous people on their own lands. As Mauro Leonel’s report for 1984 indicated, healthcare conditions at the Rio Branco Indigenous Post (IP) were extremely bad, and the Indians themselves had to arrange the transportation of sick patients, industrial goods and the Post’s staff, who were funded by the community’s canteen. The latter was created in 1980 with Funai’s support to compete with the barracão of the invading rubber boss, then the sole provider of industrial goods to the region’s groups.

The income from 30% of the rubber and 100% of the Brazil nuts sold by the Indians was used to keep the canteen running, a task supervised by the administrator of the IP. However, the Post’s lack of adequate infrastructure meant that the barracão owner was able to take his products directly to the rubber tapper settlements where the families worked. So despite charging more for his goods, for many Indians the latter were easier to obtain than those of the canteen (Leonel 1984:204).

Writing about the situation on the Mequéns river, Ana Vilacy Galucio notes that Funai staff visited the current area in 1982 where they found Sakurabiat and Makurap families living in extremely difficult conditions. No specific support from the federal organ resulted from this visit, though. It was only the following year, after a flu epidemic that killed around 30 people, that closer contact was re-established with Funai.

In 1985, Funai set up a working group to investigate the real situation of the area’s inhabitants, which discovered the existence of five large corporate groups, including timber yards and farms, illegally exploring timber within the indigenous area and trying to appropriate the land belonging to the present-day Rio Mequéns IT.

As a result, there was resistance from the area’s invaders, supported by local politicians and farmers. It was only in 1996, therefore, that the Rio Mequéns IT was demarcated and ratified with an area of 105,250 hectares, much less than the size originally demanded by its indigenous inhabitants.

Way of life

As Denise Maldi points out, the indigenous societies located on the eastern side of the Guaporé river (Aruá, Ajurú, Aricapu, Jabuti, Makurap, Sacurabiap and Tupari) share a cultural complex with well-defined features. Inter-societal relations took place, and still occur today, primarily through two mechanisms: chicha festivals and marriages. During the chicha festivals, the villages alternated the roles of host/guest, creating networks of solidarity and reciprocity, a pattern also found among the societies of eastern Bolivia.

In terms of material culture, a number of traditional elements attest to the clear similarity between this region’s groups:

  • the absence of bitter manioc cultivation and flour in the diet;
  • the construction of round houses with a central post, sheltering an extended patrilocal family usually of 12 to 20 people (with the exception of the Tupari, whose traditional dwelling was a large maloca);
  • the consumption of maize chicha as part of the staple diet and fermented chicha on ceremonial occasions;
  • manufacture of the maricos (baskets of various sizes made from tucum palm fibres, woven in small or medium-sized loops).

Kinship

Traditional Makurap social organization included named patrilineal clans. Today most of these have become extinct, but the Makurap mentioned the following subgroups to Denise Maldi in 1991: Mitum ("curassow"), Uaxaliai ("bat"); Uaríiiá ("parrot"); Xixauap ("rat"); Xát ("snake"); Tamunan ("thrush"); Viriü ("giant armadillo"); Ikô ("annatto"); Ëte ("deer"); Guüt ("tar lamp"); Mevurá ("pot"); lekô ('culture"); In-en-paráp ("fox"); Perahón ("red macaw"); Aratá ("yellow macaw"); Min-án ("leaf-cutter ant"); Maranpáin ("caterpillar"); Ngáp ("wasp"); Uruküt ("cricket"); Uaketé ("opossum"); Uakôt ("guan").

These denominations are frequently accompanied by the suffix nian, such as Guüt nian or lekô nian, where nian translates as ‘people.’ In the same year, 1991, the individuals of the Guaporé IT identified themselves as members of the following subgroups: Rat; Vulture; Opossum; Annatto; Curassow; Bat; Giant Armadillo; Leaf-Cutter Ant. Thus of the 21 subgroups identified, just nine still possessed living members.

The Makurap subdivisions are also defined through territoriality. On this point, older informants were able to objectively describe a rich panorama of sites along the Colorado river. This information revealed that the set of 21 named groups was divided into two smaller sets, 10 on the left shore and 11 on the right shore of this river.

Among the Makurap these groups functioned as exogamic entities regulating marriage. They therefore formed mythologically named territorial groups occupying defined areas and regulating marriage through exogamy, descent through patrifiliation and residence through patrilocality. Hence they may be considered clans.

In kinship terms, the Makurap model is identical to the Jabuti system. The same term is used for father and father’s brother, mother and mother's sister, while there are distinct terms for the mother’s brother and the father’s sister. Maternal and paternal grandparents receive the same terms, differentiated only by gender. There is a differentiation in the terminology for matrilateral and patrilateral cross-cousins, following the ‘Sudanese’ model defined in classic kinship terminology.

Patrilateral cross-cousins are called – whether male or female – by the term virá, meaning "bride" or "bridegroom". The preferred marriage was between a man and his patrilateral cross-cousin. This combination of exogamy and a "Sudanese" type kinship terminology, and the preference for marriage with a patrilateral cross-cousin, led to a circulation of women among the different Makurap clans.

Shamanism and mythology

Shamanism among the Makurap, as among other societies of the eastern region of the Guaporé, typically involves the use of a hallucinogen: angico seeds, which are crushed to form a powder and mixed with a special type of tobacco grown for the purpose. Rondon’s attention was drawn to the fact that the Indians “did not smoke” but used “to inhale snuff through the use of a very ingenious device consisting of a bamboo tube, some two palms in length, with a small recipient containing tobacco powder attached at one end. The person set to inhale the powder places the tube under his nostrils while another person, using the free end, blows it for him, forcing the snuff to enter the nasal passages of the inhaler, who assists the operation by breathing in deeply.” This description corresponds precisely to present-day method for inhaling the mixture of angico powder and tobacco, which Rondon labelled ‘snuff’ (Maldi 1991).

The use of tobacco with angico powder in contexts that involve the presence of spirits, illnesses or some problem is recurrent in the Makurap mythological repertoire.

As Maldi points out (1991), there are many different versions of the Makurap origin myth describing the emergence of the 21 clans as the origin of society itself. The groups emerge symbolically displaying the eponymous object, plant or animal. And, as almost always occurs in the origin myths of South American indigenous societies, the genesis of (the) society is the genesis of humanity itself and all the other peoples emerge in later episodes. The whites originate from the same place and their characteristic feature is hostility: "firearms":

There were two brothers, Bejü and Nambô, who lived inside a stone hole. They wanted to get out, but didn’t know how. Nambô prepared tobacco (a mixture of tobacco and angico seed) to smoke and open up the hole.

After smoking, the hole opened up and people began to emerge: Curassow, Thrush, Leaf-Cutter Ant and all the others. Each carried in their arms the animal bearing their name. Some emerged with jatobá resin lamps; others with clay pots. After all the Makurap had emerged, the Jabuti, Tupari and Aruá also began to emerge... and finally the eré emerged. They emerged with their guns, shooting. This startled the Jabuti, causing them to run into the forest and become wild.

Developing from this basic structure, various other myths exist involving the Bejü-Nambô brothers. The author highlights, for example, the maize origin myth: Only the Rat had maize. Bejü transformed into a tinamou and went to the village of the Rats. He hung his hammock close to a pot full of maize, intending to steal it. The next morning he left, carrying the maize. Arriving in the village of his kin, he told the women to open the maricos and tipped the grains into them.

Bejü managed to fill three maricos with seeds. The others then went to plant the maize. He rested in his hammock and waited for the maize to grow.

After a while, his sister cooked a large quantity of maize. Bejü ate everything. His belly swelled and he asked Nambô to cure him. Nambô blew on his belly and he got well.

In her work compiling narratives among the indigenous peoples in Rondônia, Betty Mindlin published more recent versions of Makurap myths. In some of these, the Nambô and Beijü brothers recorded by Maldi are called Nambué and Beiju, as in the following tale:

Narrator: Alfredo Dias Makurap, 1989

There were two brothers, and one of them was able to invent many new things. One of the brothers was hungry, he walked around begging for food, while the other brother ate well.

The brothers also had a sister. She noticed that one of her brothers ate well, the food always appeared by itself and he didn't need to work to eat. She complained to the other brother:

We eat nothing else but palm-hearts, while he eats sweet manioc, already cooked!

They also lacked water until their brother invented it. Up until then, their water was extracted from the sororoca (Phenakospermum sp.), a plant similar to the banana tree, by piercing the stem. One day the younger brother saw that his older brother was drinking true water.

— Leave a little bit of water for me to try, my water is really turbid, it’s puddle water! - he asked on seeing that his brother's water was completely transparent..

The older brother didn’t want to give him the water, but the other brother insisted so much that he took a stick and threw it so that the noise as it fell would reveal where the water was to be found. The younger brother went in search but failed to find the water. The older brother drank the water and it then disappeared.

The older brother was called Nambué, and the younger one, Meiu, or Beiju, and the girl, Nantonká.

Beiju asked for water so much that Nambué gave it to him - but so much water came that it covered Beiju, who frothed about drowning in the water.

The sister asked Nambué to look for Beiju. Nambué smoked a cigar, blew and his brother emerged in one piece as he had been before.

— Brother, I was here, looking after our water, when it covered you - he said, lying, since he was the one to have drowned his brother.

That’s right, the older brother ate all the time, without working, never suffering, and inventing things constantly. While he ate sweet manioc, the other brother only had nettles.

Nambué had a beautiful house and Beiju had to carry the trunks on his back, all by himself. He would haul the tree, dragging it to make the maloca, but the tree would disappear. Every time he looked behind, the tree had vanished. One time he turned quickly to look and saw the hands of people holding the trunks. He ran to his brother’s house.

— Brother, come to look for our child with me...

Nambué already knew that people existed, but had not said anything. Nambué told his brother to close his eyes and he smoked a cigar. The forest disappeared, there was a magical clearance and a large field was created.

People were emerging from inside the earth, and there were the same number of groups as there are today: curassow, monkey, everything. Only people came out, not animals.

A people appeared covered all over in decorations, beautiful, women, men and children.

Nambué wanted them to speak a single language, but each people went in a different direction and it ended up like today, each people speaking a different language. It was Beiju, the younger brother, who journeyed everywhere, changing the languages.

The brothers had to teach people how to work. They made a plantation, a swidden for all of them, with sweet manioc, maize and mundubi. Nambué told his younger brother to look after one group of people while he looked after the others.

Beiju, careless, sent intense rains, a flood, which killed everyone. The entire forest rotted and the plants died out.

Nambué was furious with Beiju, who had ordered everything to be flooded, and pushed all the water, making everything dry. Just one brother and sister survived, on top of a mountain range, and they were the seed of we people, they enabled humanity to begin again.

(A longer version is published in the book Tuparis e Tarupás, by Betty Mindlin and indigenous narrators.)

One theme present in Makurap mythology and fairly widespread in the narratives of other Amazonian peoples concerns the Snake, a beautiful and seductive man who is later revealed to be non-human.

Chicha festival

Today, according to the survey by the anthropologist Samuel Cruz (from the NGO Kanindé), the traditional festivals are only held about once a year. However, Caspar remarked numerous times in his work on the frequency with which the region’s peoples performed festivals, which commonly lasted three full days, and where an immense quantity of fermented manioc or maize chicha was consumed.

The consumption of chicha and game meat was interspersed with vomiting. In the ethnologist’s words: “This forms part of the festival: drink, vomit, drink, vomit, until dawn arrived” (1953:52). They produced bamboo flutes and danced until sunrise, as in this description:

“A dozen musicians formed a circle around a stick thrust into the ground. In their left hand they held the bamboo flute while their right hand rested on their neighbour’s shoulder. The dancers moved in a circle, taking small steps to the side, swaying to the sound of a simple melody. Other dancers soon joined them. All of them clutched a bow and arrows, or the sword [made from palm wood with two cutting edges] on their shoulder. The women formed an outer circle. They held hands or secured each other at the waist or on the shoulder.

The circles moved around slowly to the pace of the music. From time to time, they marked the beat: always in the same rhythm, they took a few steps backwards and then, with a wild cry, started to rotate again slowly to the right. Either the musicians played the solo, or the dancers sung in chorus. A particular rhythm announced the end of the dance after about quarter of an hour. The circle stopped. The Indians let out a ‘huuuuuuh!’. Then they ran to fill their gourds and squatted next to the bonfires blazing in all directions. The musicians began a new session” (Caspar 1953:101).

Men and women alike drank copious amounts on these occasions. Although women were responsible for producing chicha, in the male festivals it was the men who served the women, in much smaller portions. In the women’s festivals, on the other hand, women were the ones to drink and only occasionally offered any chicha to the men.

Productive activities

The activities forming the subsistence base of the Macurap population are swidden agriculture, fishing and hunting. According to a report by the linguist Denny Moore on his trip to the Guaporé Indigenous Post from April 29th to July 1988, cattle were kept at the post and sold from time to time. Some people tapped rubber, while others sold flour. He also mentions that the Brazil nuts could be sold, but the Indians commented that access to the Brazil nut groves was hindered by an almost impassable creek.

Traditionally, Franz Caspar writes, swidden work involves a division of labour with men being responsible for burning and clearing the terrain, along with preparing the holes into which the women then deposit the seeds. The latter also harvest the crop, bringing the produce back to the village in marico baskets. Once the swidden has been prepared for planting, the women today take part in the entire agricultural process from seeding to harvesting. They do not take a direct part in felling and burning the swidden, but they do keep a good supply of chicha ready for the workers to consume. Preparing the chicha is an almost exclusively female activity, though some men help occasionally during the phase of crushing the maize with pestle and mortar. Wild fruit gathering is also an activity mainly pursued by women and children, except for palm tree fruits, like assai and ungurahua, which require men’s work.Manioc or maize are used to make chicha. The tuber is peeled, cut up and cooked. Traditionally the resulting paste was chewed and spat into the pots to begin the fermentation process. It is then mashed with a pestle and mortar, sieved and stirred. Next it is left aside for a few days to ferment. To make maize chicha, women fill large pots with maize grains and water. They tip the cooked maize into the wooden mortar where it is mashed into a paste. Fermentation is similar to the process used for manioc.

Extractivism and the barracões

In the 1980s, the economic organization of the groups inhabiting the Rio Branco Indigenous Territory was described by the indigenist Mauro Leonel as a mixture of their traditional form with rubber extraction, and collecting and processing Brazil nuts for sale or barter on the market. During this period, the barracão system was in operation in which the Indians sold their labour or forest products for industrial goods brought from the city and offered in the seringal barracões (trade stores) and the canteen of the Indigenous Post. Trade items included oil, matches, machetes, sugar, salt, metal tools, batteries, soap, ammunition and so on.

All activities are interspersed where possible by hunting and fishing. Fish poison (timbó) is used by all the groups, but they have encountered problems in fishing due to the construction of PCHs (Small Hydroelectric Plants: see the section Contemporary impasses). Game is very scarce, but hunters can still encounter peccaries, armadillos, pacas, giant armadillos, deer, agoutis, tapirs, piping guan, coati, monkeys and tortoises. They also hunt birds and gather honey, fruits and peanuts.

Sources of information

  • BRAGA, Alzerinda de Oliveira. A fonologia segmental e aspectos morfofonológicos da língua makurap (tupi). Campinas : Unicamp, 1992. 76 p. (Dissertação de Mestrado)
  • CASPAR, Franz. Tupari: entre os índios, nas florestas brasileiras. São Paulo: Melhoramentos, 1953. 225p. 
  • MALDI, Denise. “O complexo cultural do marico”. Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, série Antropologia, n. 7(2), 1991. pp. 209-269.
  • MINDLIN, Betty. INDÍGENAS, Narradores. Terra grávida. São Paulo : Editora Rosa dos Ventos/RECORD, 1999. 275 p.

. Antologia de mitos dos povos Ajuru, Arara, Arikapu, Aruá, Kanoe, Jabuti e Makurap. São Paulo : Iamá, 1995. 67 p.
. Moqueca de maridos. Rio de Janeiro : Record/Rosa dos Tempos, 1997. 303 p.
. Tuparis e tarupás. São Paulo : Iamá; Brasiliense; Edusp, 1993.
  • PRATES, Laura dos Santos. O artesanato das tribos Pakaá Novos, Makurap e Tupari. São Paulo : USP, 1983. 149 p. (Dissertação de Mestrado)