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Indigenous Pankararu

The economic basis of the Pankararu is agriculture. The main crops are that of beans, corn and manioc.

Indigenous Pankararu

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 30/09/2016

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Around 3,670 indigenous Pankararu or Pankaru, live in an area of 8,100 hectares in the municipality of Tacaratu, in an indigenous reservation situated between the headquarters of the municipality and the city of Petrolândia, at the margins of the São Francisco River, in Pernambuco.

The center of the reservation, whose land was delimited in 1942, is the town of Brejo dos Padres, a small valley of fertile land which has a number of springs. There are also several other communities such as Tapera, Serrinha, Marreca, Caldeirão, Bem-Querer and Cacheado.

The presence of non-indigenous in the reservation comes from many generations. From 1979, however, the increase in this population has caused a large number of conflicts among settlers and indigenous.

The oldest historical reference to the tribe is from the 18th century, it dates from the appearance of the village of Tacararu, where there was one maloca or gathering of Pankararu indigenous, called Cana Brava. There is some evidence that the origins of the village are in 1802.

The economic basis of the Pankararu is agriculture. The main crops are that of beans, corn and manioc. The indigenous also trade pine, a typical fruit from the region and they have in art and craft a source of complementary income. The manufacturing of manioc flour, in the flour mills is still, a community activity among the Pankararu.

Due to the work conducted by the missionaries, the indigenous worship the catholic religion, they observe the calendar of popular religious parties, but they also keep their own rituals, dances and parties from their culture.

Their most important typical parties are the Corrida or Umbu and Menino do Rancho (Ranch boy) parties. About those rituals they keep a certain secret.

The Dança dos Bichos (animals’ dance) is another cultural expression typical of the Pankararu. In this dance the ones who win are those who can better represent the movements of animals such as the pig, the dog, the ant and the toad.

The toré is danced in the open air by men, women and children, preferably on weekends. The rhythm is marked by the sound of maracas made from calabash. The verse of the songs is sung in Portuguese, mixed with expressions from the old dialect of the tribe.

It is in the dances and in the rituals that the culture of the Pankararu indigenous is best represented. From the dialect of the tribe there is very little evidence in the songs that accompany the dance. Their native language could not survive.


Recife, 19 August 2003.
(Updated on 28 August 2009).

sources consulted

AS COMUNIDADES indígenas de Pernambuco. Recife: Instituto de Desenvolvimento de Pernambuco-Condepe, 1981.

SÁ, Marilena Araújo de. “Yaathe” é a resistência dos Fulni-ô. Revista do Conselho Estadual de Cultura, Recife, Ed. especial, p.48-54, 2002

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Índios Pankararu. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Available at: . <> Access on: day month year. Ex: 6 Aug. 2009.