The Wayana-Aparai indians are a group formed by two distinct tribes that were bought together both culturally and geographically. They have lived together at least 200 years and inhabit nearly 4.3 million hectares in the frontier region Brazil, Suriname and French Guiana. Both the Aparai and Wayana languages are part of the Karib linguistic family and their population is approximately 1500 persons. The fusion of these 2 tribes took place due to intermarriage and geographical proximity beginning around the 18th century.



Village Life

Each village consists of several common houses, separated for sleeping, domestic activities and the various different cooking methods. The villages have a formal pattern of organisation and are relatively small with between 10 and 30 people. Up to 4 generations live in each village consisting of a married couple, their single children and their married daughters and grandchildren. While not by rule, most married couples reside with the females family and this decision is made by choice. Aparai and Wayana villages are interconnected through consanguinity, intermarriages and networks of cooperation and trade. 

Changes in economy has led to an increased production of Wayana-Aparai artwork which has been supported by the FUNAI and its Artindia Programme. Through intricate designs, pottery, carvings and basketry, they are able to express their art and create sustainable trade links. The Wayana-Aparai are proud people who continued to hold on to their mystical and beloved culture.




Agriculture & Subsistance

The Wayana-Aparai indians live of the land by hunting, fishing, gathering and gardening. They grow manioc, sweet potatoes, yams, sugar cane, pumpkins, cotton and much fruit. Groups of men often leave for a few weeks at a time on hunting and gathering expeditions. They will hunt deer, rodents, monkeys, wild pigs, birds and lizards among others. Acai, wild honey, insect larvae, turtle eggs are some of what is obtained on these expeditions. The village tasks are split rigidly by a sexual devision of labour. Men will hunt, fish, clear gardens and construct houses while the women will prepare and cook the food, produce domestic utensils, fetch water, maintain the fire and weave the hammocks.

The Spirit World

It is the village elders to detain the traditional knowledge with the most renowned (and feared) being the shamans who develop a specialised knowledge that allows them to maintain communication between the      social and spiritual worlds. There have been at least 17 different rituals which have been recorded but sadly since the 1980s these customs are being practised less and less. Traditionally these rituals take place between the end of the ripening of the manioc and the beginning of a new cycle.

The festivals typically last from 3 - 4 days and end when there is no drink left; the beverage consumed is made from manioc. The repertoire of festivals has diminished considerably by government employees and missionaries who have worked together to reduce the number. However, despite this social transformation which has exercised a direct influence on the periodicty and meaning of the festivals, they continue to celebrate ethnic and moral values and teach their people how their social world is organised.


Information Referenced from the Instituto Socioambiental | Povos Indígenas no Brasil and Indian Cultures

Date accessed 01.04.15

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