The Bakairi (also known as Kura) are an indigenous group of people who live in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. There were around 950 individuals in the group in 1999. They speak a language belonging to the Carib family.
Before the opening of landing strips and highways, the Bakairi controlled the access of scientific expeditions to the upper Xingu, where part of their population lives today. Today nearly all of them live to the southwest of this area. They are mostly fishers and agriculturalists, primarily "mandioqueiros" (producers of manioc).
The Bakairi call themselves Kurâ, which means people, human beings. They consider themselves the true Kurâ, humanity par excelence, while other beings have to be specified. Kurâ expresses, strctu sensu, "we, the Bakairi", "what is ours". The origin of the term Bakairi is unknown to them and is found recorded in the chronicles of regional history since the 18th Century.
The language spoken by the Bakairi belongs to the Carib family. It has some elements in common with the languages of the Arara and Txikão, and other elements in common with Nahukwa and Kuikuru. All the people in the group speak their native language additionally to Portuguese.
Missionaries of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (S.I.L.) have been translating Biblical texts to the Bakairi language since the 1960s. They teach these people to read and write in their original language.
They live in the state of Mato Grosso, on the Bakairi (which cover 61 thousand hectares) and Santana (35 thousand hectares) Indigenous Lands. Santana is located in the municipality of Nobres. The Bakairi Indigenous Land is almost entirely near the Telles Pires River, tributary of the Tapajós.
Both indigenous lands have been strictly regularized, homologated and registered in the Estate Service of the Union, and in the Notary Public for the Registry of Properties.
The urban centers that exercise most influences on the lives of the Bakairi are Nobres, Paranatinga and Cuiabá.
*Bakairi on socioambiental.org