Research maps culture and language of indigenous people in Pauiní, Amazonas state


The Apurinã e Jamamadi Indigenous People Organization (OPIAJ) coordinated a research effort to evaluate the Maipure-Aruak language, spoken in the Medio Purus region of the Amazonas state. The traditional Apurinã way of life is threatened in the region due to deforestation pressures for road building.

OPIAJ had concerns over the preservation of the traditional culture and language of the indigenous peoples in the Pauiní region and organized research teams to evaluate the situation. The research was conducted in the Jagunço II, Xamakirí, Boa União, Vera Cruz, Nova Floresta, Cachoeira, Karuá, Bom Jesus, Penedo, Kakuri, São Jerônimo, Kamarapu, Atuktxi, and Mipiri villages, which were classified according to how much of the language they speak.

Two teams with a total of 12 people were responsible for the research among students, teachers, and OPIAJ coordinators. Young people from the community were trained in participatory methods to help in the diagnosis.  

“One of the first and important points of this activity was to help young people understand what it is to be a researcher. The second was to help the villages think about the situation of their mother tongue,” explained Wallace Apurinã, OPIAJ Executive Coordinator. “As a result, the researchers and the villagers realized how important it is to revitalize the culture.”

Indigenous teachers also participated and will now help create an educational linguistic public policy in Pauiní. The document will supplement the work the organization has been doing in the region to answer indigenous population requests on preserving their culture.

This research was part of the “Our Land” project: Territorial and Environmental Management in Indigenous Lands in the Southern Amazonas. The Project is implemented by the International Education Institute of Brazil (IEB) and by the Native Amazon Operation (OPAN) (with support from PCAB), and partners with main indigenous organizations in the Southern State of Amazonas: The National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), and the Chico Mendes Institute of Biodiversity (ICMBio).