Foto: Eliana Motta


  • Autodenominação
  • Where they are How many

    RR1.488 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
    Guiana4.000 (1990)
    Venezuela728 (1992)
  • Linguistic family


Engaricos is the oldest form – dating from 1883 – of writing the name, later almost invariably written as ingarikó. At the time it was said to designate, in Guiana, a hybrid mixture of Makuxi and Arekuna, rather than a unique people (Im Thurn).

Forty years later, the name ingarikó was translated in Brazil as “people from the dense forest” of the northeast of Roraima, a term with a pejorative connotation: people who formed the main common enemy of the Taurepang and Arekuna (Koch-Grünberg 1924). During this period, the referent of the term ingarikó was an open question. Hypotheses ranged from the name referring to a particular people located on the Brazilian side of the triple border between Brazil-Guiana-Venezuela, perhaps linked to the Akawaio of Guiana, to the idea that the name was applied indiscriminately to the Patamona and Akawaio living in Guiana, considered two separate peoples (Frank 2002).

In the 1980s the term ingarikó was glossed as “people from the peak of the mountain,” this time without a pejorative connotation. Before this anthropologists already knew that those called the Ingarikó in Brazil and the Akawaio and Patamona in Guiana were one and the same people, who could be designated by the term kapon. It was understood that, in light of the meaning of the name ingarikó, the term could also be applied to the Akawaio and Patamona, given that they live almost exclusively in upland areas (Butt Colson 1983-1984). This means that the term ingarikó can be used in a variety of contexts by themselves and by others. In practice it means that the same person can, according to circumstances, identify him or herself, whether in Brazil or elsewhere, either as Patamona or as Ingarikó. Currently the Patamona living in Brazil tend to identify themselves as Ingarikó in the context of national policies. Only in Brazil does the name ingarikó have a national significance.

More recently a third translation for the name ingarikó was presented: “people from the cold and dry place.” The term is used in this sense by the Macuxi who live in Guiana vis-à-vis the Patamona, who also inhabit the country (Whitehead 2003).

A contemporary linguistic analysis gives the following: “descriptively ingarïko is: inga 'mouintain range,’ 'thick forest;’ - 'connecting element;’ -ko 'collective: origin, place of inhabitants,’ ‘inhabitant of,’ ‘resident of,’ hence ‘people from the thick forest,’ ‘mountain dwellers’” (Maria Odileiz Sousa Cruz).

The term kapon was taken as a self-denomination of the Ingarikó, Akawaio and Patamona by various authors (Brett; Im Thurn; Kenswil; Butt Colson). Among the meanings of kapon are: ‘people,’ ‘the people,’ or better, ‘celestial people,’ ‘people of the heights,’ ‘high people’ (kak, ‘sky,’ ‘elevated place’ and -pon, ‘those in’).

It should be noted that today this term may also designate ‘Indians’ (Macuxi, Waiwai, Yanomami, Ingarikó etc.), specifically in contexts in opposition to ‘non-Indians.’ Hence the term is not a self-designation. However, given the absence of a more suitable term for designating ampler social or linguistic units formed exclusively among the Ingarikó, Akawaio and Patamona, researchers have used the term kapon. This led to the introduction of the composite names: Kapon-Ingarikó, Kapon-Patamona and Kapon-Akawaio.

The name akawaio has a large number of synonymous variations: guacavayo, okawalho, wakawaio, akawoi, accoway, acquai, acawey, acuwey and akawaïsche. The name akawaio seems to derive either from the tobacco juice, kawai, ingested by shamans (Migliazza 1980) or the ‘white cinnamon,’ akawoi, sought by the Dutch in Guiana (Whitehead 2002). This plant was found in the Pacaraima Mountain Range and the valleys of the Cuyuni and Mazaruni rivers. The first record of the term Wacawaios was made in 1596 by Laurence Keymis on the Demerara river (Butt Colson 1994-1996). However the first observation of the presence of the Akawaio in Brazil was only made in 1909 by the German botanist Ernst Ule, who called them Okawalho (Ule 2006). After this, around 1960, it was recorded that the Akawaio stretched from Guiana to Brazil (Henfrey).

The name patamona also has several synonymous variations: pantamona, partamona and paramona. The term means ‘inhabitant,’ ‘dweller’ (Butt Colson 1983-84) and ‘owners of the land’ (Whitehead 2003). The term patamona can be described as follows: pata ‘house,’ ‘dwelling’ (generic term) and wona>mona ‘to,’ loosely meaning ‘my house,’ ‘my dwelling place,’ ‘to house’” (Maria Odileiz Sousa Cruz). The first reference to this term was made in 1825 by the Indian inspector in Guiana, William Hilhouse. However the first reference to the presence of the Patamona in Brazil dates from as late as 1932 (cited in Nunes Pereira).

The name Waica or Guaica means ‘warrior or ‘killer’ and is widely disseminated (Butt Colson 1994-1996). As the designation of an Akawaio subgroup from Guiana, it was first recorded by R. Schomburgk (1848a). Much earlier the Spanish missionary Antonio Caulin had already located the Guaica in Guiana around 1780 without, though, relating them to the Akawaio, who he called Guacavayos. The term Guaica is frequent in the eastern region of Venezuela, as can be seen in the works of Capuchin missionaries from the second half of the 18th century onwards. By the 20th century, though, it was considered another name for the Akawaio in Venezuela (Mosonyi).

Other names – Seregong, Kukuyikó, Kuyálako, Kakóliko, Pulöiyemöko, Temómökó, Alupáluo, Ateró, Wauyaná, Arenacottes, Erena-gok, Masalini-gok, Kamalini-gok, Quatimko, Etoeko, Passonko, Koukokinko, Cauyarako, Skamana, Komarani and Yaramuna – are composed from the name of the river on whose shores the group lives or the name of the area inhabited, frequently combined with the suffix kok (-gok; -koto; -goto), meaning ‘inhabitant’ or ‘people of a particular location.’ This form of ‘fluvionymy’ is found among the Kapon on all sides of the Brazil-Guiana-Venezuela border, forming the contemporary way in which people identify themselves within the local context.