Foto: Gustaaf Verswijver, 1991

Mebêngôkre (Kayapó)

  • Autodenominação
  • Where they are How many

    MT, PA11.675 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family

Location and ecology


The Kayapó territory is situated on the Central Brazilian plateau, roughly between 300 and 400 metres above sea level. The area is criss-crossed by river valleys. Small hills with a maximum altitude of 400 metres, frequently isolated and scattered across the entire territory, spread across the plateau. The large rivers are fed by innumerable pools and creeks, so small that some are yet to be discovered by Brazilians and remain officially unnamed.

In Central Brazil, the year divides into two seasons: the dry season (‘winter’), which extends from May to October, and the rainy season (‘summer’), which runs from November to April. The dry season is characterized by hot and windy days, cool nights and the almost total absence of mosquitoes. This is certainly the most pleasant time of year and the Kayapó often refer to it as ‘good weather.’ In contrast, the rainy season is characterized by torrential rains, the inundation of most of the rivers and creeks and by the annoying presence of a large number of mosquitoes and other types of insects. When evoking this time of year, the Indians refer to it simply as ‘rainy weather.’ The annual rainfall index is sizeable, varying between 1,900 mm in the north-east of the territory, and about 2,500 mm in the south-east – to give an idea, Belgium, often taken to be a rainy country, has an annual rainfall index of approximately 1,000 mm.