The Mehinaku are dream interpreters. They make a deliberate effort to recall and interpret their dreams to help them guide their way through the day. They have complete community activity.
The Mehinaku or Mekinako, are a people indigenous to Brazil. They reside in Mato Grosso state, at the source of the Xingu river, although the tribe has not always been located there. Like the Wuaja people, who live in the Upper Xingu region, it is believed that the Mehinaku are descended from various tribal people who came to the region between the years 1000 and 1600. There are archeological records going back to this time, although they may not specifically relate to the Mehinako people. The Mehinaku people now reside in the Xingu National Park, which was created in the 1950s after a campaign to protect the indigenous people and environmental resources of the region.
The oldest known village of the Mihinako people was established around the year 1850, although it is no longer extant. The Mehinako claim that they historically resided alongside the Tuatuari river, and that their villages were once much larger. This is likely, since European explorers and settlers brought much destruction to the region’s native people, including diseases that the local indigenous people were not immune to.
The Mehinako people speak a language known as MehinÁku, which shares characteristics with other languages known as Arawakan languages. This is the name for a large language group which extends over much of Central and South America. Although not much is known about the MehinÁku language, it is believed that it can be somewhat understood by a nearby Indian people who speak a language known as WaurÁ.
Anthropologists believe that the population of the Mehinaku people in the 1880s was over four times what it is today. At this time, German explorers documented the tribe and noted that they had two villages and another camping area that was only used in the dry season. The Mehinaku people have led a peripatetic existence since the 1950s. A separate tribal group invaded their territory during this time, and drove them away. They settled in a new location, until an outbreak of illness killed around 15 of their number in the 1960s. They moved again in the 1980s.
The Xingu River is a tributary of the Amazon River. The Upper Xingu region contains a lot of rich black soil. The Mehinaku people provide for themselves by traditional means. They hunt and fish, and also cultivate manioc, a starchy root crop otherwise known as cassava, and maize, or corn.
The Mehinako people live in a very open social arrangement. The social structure of their society does not take privacy into account. The huts that the people live in have no internal walls, containing ten or more people. They are arranged around an open area that is constantly viewed. It is customary for the Mehinaku people to recognize each other by their footprints, and in addition they are able to draw them from memory. Thus, when individuals are out of sight the other members of the group are able to guess what they are doing. Each individual member of the Mehinaku people is accustomed to living their life under public scrutiny.