The Baniwa are an indigenous ethnic group of people who live in northwestern Brazil, specifically the Cabeça do Cachorro region of the state of Amazonas. Some of them also live in Venezuela and Colombia, near the brazilian border. Other names for these people are Baniva, Baniua, and Curipaco.
During 1992, there were 1192 known individuals, which increased to about 7000 in 2000, while a more recent report by Dsei/Foirn states that in 2005 there were 5811 individuals. They speak a language belonging to the Arawak family.
The Baniwa live in some villages near the Içana River and the tributaries, the Cuiari, Aiari and Cubate. Some also live in municipalities such as São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Santa Isabel and Barcelos. The Curipaco are an ethnic group who speak a language very similar to that spoken by the Baniwa. These people are skilled in manufacturing baskets made of arumã (aririte), which they sell today in Brazilian markets.
The term 'Baniwa' has been used for all the people who speak an arawakan language who live near the Içana River.
The Curipaco, a tribe related to the Baniwa, live in Colombia near the border with Brazil. This group lives near the Guainía River the upper Içana. In Venezuela these people are called Wakuenai.
Location and population
The Baniwa people in Brazil live in 93 settlements. During year 2000 around 4000 individuals lived in northwestern Brazil. The Curipaco live near the upper Içana and, about 1000 of them live in Brazil.
There are some missions dedicated to helping these people. The Assunção mission has been present in the region since 1952. Other missions along the Içana River, maintained by the New Tribes Mission of Brazil, are: Boa Vista, at the mouth of the river; Tunuí, at the rapids on the middle Içana; São Joaquim and Jerusalém, near the upper Içana.
*Baniwa on socioambiental.org (in english)