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The Apiaká (also Apiacá) are an indigenous group of people who live in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso and Pará. The first contacts with europeans happened in the 19th century, and with the process of depopulation they were unable to keep their language and their original way of life. As of 2009, there were 1000 individuals in the tribe.

Name

The people of the tribe in the Apiaká Indigenous Land refer to themselves with this name, and have done so since the beginning of the 19th Century. It is a variation of the Tupi word "apiaba", which means "person", "people", "human being". Their Kayabí neighbors call them apy'iting or Tapii'sin, meaning "light skinned people".

Language

The Apiaká language belongs to the Tupi-Guarani family of languages. These indigenous people don't speak it anymore, as they adopted Portuguese, the official language of Brazil, after many years of contact with the european colonists. Some neighboring tribes, such as the Munduruku and Kayabi, still speak their own native languages.

Location

They are scattered along the great Arinos, Juruena and Teles Pires rivers. Part of them live in towns such as Juara, Porto dos Gaúchos, Belém and Cuiabá. There is information about the existence of a strayed group. Most of the Apiaká population lives in villages in the Apiaká-Kayabí Indigenous Land, which is crossed by the Peixes River. The Apiaká live on the right bank and the Kayabí on the left bank.

Demography

The Apiaká were once many, and used to live in at least one village which counted 1,500 inhabitants, additionally to many smaller ones. In the Cuiabá archives the census registered 2,700 Apiaká in the mid-19th Century. By 1912, the population in contact with white people had been reduced to 32 people (Nimuendajú, 1948, p. 311), because of a massacre that led many of the survivors to run away into the forest. Those who disappeared into the forest presumably kept living there and forming families. According to the report of the oldest Apiaká, the descendants of those living in the forest know that the others try to make contact with them, but they only show themselves when they want. In 1978 71 persons lived in the Apiaká Indigenous Land. They were reduced to 52 in 1984 because many Indians moved to the towns of Juara and Porto dos Gaúchos. By 1990, however, with the arrival of several families from the State of Pará, their number had increased to 92 people, distributed in three villages.

External links

*Apiaka on socioambiental.org, in English

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