• Other names
    Piratapuya, Piratapuyo, Piratuapuia, Pira-Tapuya
  • Where they are How many

    AM1.325 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
    Colombia400 (1988)
  • Linguistic family

Ethnic groups and demography

The ethnic groups present in the Uaupés basin are the following:

1) Arapaso. Eastern Tukanoan group who presently only speak the Tukano language. They live on the Middle Uaupés, below Iauareté, in villages such as Loiro, Paraná Jucá and São Francisco. Several families also live on the Rio Negro and in São Gabriel.

2 ) Bará. The call themselves Waípinõmakã. They inhabit mainly the area of the headwaters of the Tiquié River, above the village of Trinidad, which is in Colombia; the upper Inambú stream (tributary of the Papuri) and the upper Colorado and Lobo (tributaries of the Pira-Paraná). They are divided into around eight sibs (descent groups with a common ancestor which cannot intermarry). They are specialists in the preparation of aturá carrying baskets made of turi, much used where the Maku carrying baskets made of vines are not available. They also prepare red dye, carajuru. They are also skilled manufacturers of canoes. Presently, they are the principal specialists in the making of feather adornments used in the great cerimonies.

3) Barasana. They call themselves Hanera. They live on the Tatu, Komeya, Colorado and Lobo streams, tributaries of the Pira-Paraná, and on the Pira-Paraná itself, in Colombian territory. They are also found dispersed in the Uaupés basin, in Brazil. They have 36 named subdivisions on record.

4) Desana. They call themselves Umukomasã. They live mainly on the Tiquié River and its tributaries, the Cucura, Umari and Castanha; the Papuri River (especially in Piracuara and Monfort) and its tributaries, the Turi and Urucu; besides parts of the Uaupés and Negro rivers(including the cities of the region). There are approximately 30 divisions among the Desana, of chiefs, dancers, chanters, and servants. This number may vary according to the source. The Desana are specialists in certain types of woven baskets, such as large apás (trays with internal hoops made of vines) and sieves.

5) Karapanã. They call themselves the Muteamasa, Ukopinõpõna. They live on the Tí stream (tributary of the upper Vaupés) and upper Papuri, in Colombia. In Brazil, they are found dispersed in several villages of the Tiquié and Negro. They used to have around eight subdivisions, but probably only four of these left descendants.

6) Kubeo. They call thermselves Kubéwa or Pamíwa. They speak a very distinct language of the Eastern Tukanoan family, and for this reason are sometimes classified as Central Tukanoan. The vast majority of them live in Colombian territory, in the region of the upper Uaupés, including its tributaries the Querari, Cuduiari and Pirabatón. In Brazil, they live in three villages on the upper Uaupés and are found in small numbers on the upper Aiari. They are divided into approximately 30 named sibs. These sibs, in turn, are grouped into three unnamed phratries which function as marital exchange units; in other words, in contrast with most of the other ethnic groups of the Uaupés, the Kubeo are accustomed to marrying amongst themselves, people who speak the same language. They specialize in the manufacture of barkcloth masks.

7) Makuna. They call themselves Yeba-masã. They live mainly in the neighboring territory of Colombia, especially on the Caño Komeya, tributary of the Pira-Paraná River, on the lower course of this river, and on the lower Apapóris. In Brazil, they are found on the upper Tiquié and on its tributaries, the Castanha and Onça streams. They are divided into around 12 sibs. They specialize in the manufacture of blowguns and curare poison, they are also skilled manufacturers of canoes, besides supplying light and quite well-finished oars to the Indians of the upper Tiquié.

8) Miriti-tapuya or Buia-tapuya. Presently, they only speak the Tukano language. They have traditionally inhabited the lower and middle Tiquié, especially in the communities of Iraiti, São Tomé, Vila Nova and Micura.

9) Pira-tapuya. They call themselves Waíkana. They are located on the middle Papuri (around Teresita) and on the lower Uaupés. They have migrated and also live in places on the Rio Negro and in São Gabriel.

10) Siriano. They call themselves Siria-masã. They live on the Caño Paca and Caño Viña, tributaries of the upper Papuri, in Colombian territory. In Brazil, they are found dispersed throughout the Uaupés and Rio Negro river basins. There is information that refers to 27 Siriano sibs.

11) Taiwano, Eduria or Erulia. They call themselves Ukohinomasã. They live on the Caño Piedra and Tatu, tributaries of the Pira-Paraná River, and the Cananari River, tributary of the Apapóris. All of these areas are situated in Colombian territory. There exists information that the group has eight subdivisions.

12) Tariana. They call themselves Taliaseri. Diferent from the other ethnic groups of the Uaupés basin, most of the Tariana have adopted Eastern Tukano, but they used to speak a language belonging to the Arawak family, and several communities still speak this Arawakan language. Presently, they live on the middle Uaupés, lower Papuri and upper Iauiari. Their population center lies between the Iauareté and Periquito rapids. They are specialists in fishing tools such as the caiá, cacuri (fish trap), matapi.

13) Tatuyo. They call themselves Umerekopinõ. They live in an area located in Colombia: the upper Pira-Paraná River, the upper Tí and the Caño Japu. In Brazil, they are represented above all by women married to men from other ethnic groups. There are around eight internal subdivisions.

14) Tukano. They call themselves Ye"pâ-masa or Daséa. This is the most numerous group of the Eastern Tukanoan language family. They are concentrated primarily on the Tiquié, Papuri and Uaupés rivers; but they are also living on the Rio Negro, below the mouth of the Uaupés, and also in the city of São Gabriel. It is possible that there exist more than 30 subdivisions of the Tukano, each one named and, ideally, consisting of an hierarchized set of sibs. Presently, with all of the dispersions of groups that have occurred over the last few centuries, the hierarchical positions are often disputed and subject to varying versions. The Tukano are traditional manufacturers of ritual benches, made of wood (sorva) and painted, on the seat of the bench, with geometric motifs similar to those found in weaving. The bench is a highly valued object, obligatorily used in cerimonies and rituals, where the leaders, the kumua (chanters) e bayá (cerimonial chiefs) sit.

15) Tuyuka. They call themselves Dokapuara or Utapinõmakãphõná. They are concentrated mainly on the upper Tiquié River, between Caruru Rapids and Colombian village of Trinidad, including the Onça, Cabari and Abiyú streams. They are also found on parts of the Papuri River near the Brazil/Colombia border and on its tributary the Inambú. They have around 15 named sibs. They are outstanding canoe manufacturers and, in the past, they were specialists in the making of hammocks woven from buriti fiber. They are also specialists in the making of the urupema basket, woven from very fine strips of arumã, which are used to filter fruit juices.

16) Kotiria. They call themselves Kótiria. They are located predominantly on the middle Uaupés, between Arara and Mitú falls. Between Arara and Taracuá (of the upper Uaupés), the Kotiria are the only group; above that point, they live together in a territory where the Kubeo are the majority. There is information that there exists 25 divisions among the Kotiria. Their specialty in interethnic trade relations is the preparation of red dye, carajuru, made from the leaves of a vine, and which is greatly used in the making of ritual artifacts and the painting of the Tukano benches, as well as for body painting. They are also skilled basket makers and producers of barkcloth objects.

17) Yuruti. They call themselves Yutabopinõ. A group of the Eastern Tukanoan language family, they live on the upper Paca (tributary of the upper Papuri) and the caños Yi and Tui and neighboring areas of the Vaupés into which these streams flow (in Colombian territory). There is information that they have nine sibs.

On the Uaupés River and its tributaries, there are presently more than 200 villages and small settlements. Individuals of these ethnic groups are also present in the cities of the region, above all in São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Santa Isabel and Barcelos.

The following table presents population estimates for each ethnic group.

Ethnic group Population in Brazil


Bará  39
Barasana  61
Desana 1.531
Karapanã 42
Kotiria 447
Kubeo 287
Makuna 168
Mirity-tapuya 95
Pira-tapuya 1.004
Siriano 17
Taiwano 0
Tariana 1914
Tatuyo 0
Tukano 4.604
Tuyuca 593
Yuruti 0
TOTAL 11.130