Bakairi Indians

The Bakairi (“Sons of the Sun”) have suffered a long and agonizing history of violence, slavery, and forced integration. They occupy Mato Grosso in Brazil. They speak the Carib language and live on the banks of the Paranating River. These Indians reside in houses that are made for each nuclear family, with some extended families residing together.

While polygamy was once permitted in the Bakairi Indian tribe, it has now been replaced with complete monogamy. Divorces are permitted, but very rarely and only when a man gets another woman pregnant or abuses his wife.

Women are responsible for rearing the children, planting and harvesting the crops, processing and cooking the food, washing the clothes, fishing, and caring for the home. Men work to hunt, fish, clear the land for planting, harvest, and work outside the reservation. Young men normally go away for a few weeks during the dry season and work on ranches to earn cash for their families to purchase both fuel, and other items that cannot be grown. The Bakairi society is organized based on age and gender.

The Bakairi Indians are a peaceful people who like to live in harmony. They respect their elders and work hard to keep their children in line and respectful. When one of the Bakairi tribe dies the other villagers visit their home, cry, and mourn. The body is then wrapped in his or her hammock and is buried in a plot.

Bakairi Indians grow their crops through the slash and burn method. The most important crop that they grow is manioc, but they also grow rice, yellow maize, bananas, sugarcane, squash, papayas, red beans, melons, yams, and green beans.

Along with growing their vegetables, the Bakairi fish, hunt, and herd cattle to provide protein sources for their families. Most of their diet comes from vegetable sources, but they do consume hunted prey, fish, and very rarely beef from their cattle herds.

The Bakairi are a people who love to create. They are well known for the large carved masks that they create for rituals and ceremonies. These masks are carved by the men and brightly painted by the women. They sell these masks to other villages and to travelers. They also make shell necklaces, woven baskets, and bows and arrows.

The women are responsible for creating woven cotton and palm hammocks as well as weaving mats that are used in ceremonies. These items help to provide a means of barter and trade and also give the village extra income for necessities that they must purchase outside of the village.

With working the land and living off it, they are able to be a self-sufficient tribe, rarely needing to rely on outside money. Though the Brazilians have influenced their lifestyle over the years, they still cling to many of the old ways of doing things. They still believe in much of the shadow beliefs and spirits that they always have. Some Bakairi claim to be Christian now, but for the most part, the ancient beliefs are still in standing with the majority of the villagers.

Their culture was almost completely lost. Today there now exists the “Museum and Office – Kuikare”.

Bakairi Vocabulary

áma tu / tú / you
áun-áre vida / vida / life
bakayeri o povo bakairi / el pueblo bakairi / the Bakairi people
iméri filho / hijo / son
inyuamuto criança de peito / niño de pecho / baby
íse, îhe, ishe mãe / madre / mother
iwóta amigo / amigo / friend
iyume pai / padre / father
omeóto, omezóto pajé / paye / shaman
pekóto mulher / mujer / woman
piatsche pajé / paye / shaman
pima chefe / jefe / chief
unúito parente, da mesma tribu / pariente, de la misma tribu / relative, from de same tribu
ura eu / yo / I, me

Additional Information

Evaki – … Evaki is the South American goddess of the Bakairi Indians, the goddess of night and day.
Los Bakairi
Bakairi vocabulary
A rede dos Bakairi
Jogos dos Povos Indígenas

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