Foto: Beto Ricardo, 1999

Rio Negro Ethnic Groups

  • Other names
  • Where they are How many

  • Linguistic family


The region of the Northwest Amazon, which covers the basin of the Upper Rio Negro, where the border line between Brazil and Colombia traces a shape that looks like a dog’s head, has been traditionally inhabited for at least two thousand years by ethnic groups who speak languages belonging to three language families: Arawak, Maku and Tukano.

Despite the multilingualism and cultural differences, the 27 ethnic groups who inhabit the region – 22 of them being in Brazil – are part of a single culture area, and are in large part articulated by a network of trade, and identical in terms of their material culture, social organization, and worldview. This cultural area can be further subdivided in: 

Ethnic groups of the Uaupés River

ArapasoBaráBarasanaDesanaKarapanãKubeoMakunaMirity-tapuyaPira-tapuyaSiriano,TarianaTukanoTuyucaKotiria, Tatuyo, Taiwano, Yuruti (the latter three inhabit in Colômbia only)

Ethnic groups of the Içana River

Baniwa e Coripaco

The Maku ethnic groups

HupdaYuhupdeDowNadöb, Kakwa, Nukak (the latter two inhabit in Colômbia only)

Ethnic groups of the Xié River

Baré e Warekena