The Kambiwá, with a population of about 1,100 Indians, live in villages delimited by the National Indian Foundation (Fundação Nacional do Índio - Funai), comprising a 2,700 hectare area, located in the townships of Ibimirim, Inajá and Floresta, in the Moxotó Region, Pernambuco.
The reservation – created in 1971 – gathered approximately one hundred families which were found roaming through the region, as a result of persecutions carried out by large landowners.
The Kambiwá’s main source of livelihood is agricultural, in spite of the poor quality of the soil, lack of water and adverse climactic conditions, with frequent periods of drought - seca.
They plant corn, beans, manioc - mandioca and castor bean. The amount of production is small and most of it for their own consumption. Any small surplus is sold at the free market of Ibimirim.
From the manioc harvested, manioc flour is confected, and farinha - the Indians’ staple food - manufactured at the reservation’s flour house - casa de farinha.
They also practice hunting as a supplement for subsistence, as well as collecting honey from wild bee colonies.
Handcrafted items are produced at a small scale for ritual garments and aiós (hunting pouches), manufactured with ouricuri straw and caroá fiber.
Their cultural expression reflects the endurance of a long history of persecution.
Although they have acquired the customs and behavior of non-Indian peoples, they still maintain some traces of their ancient culture such as rituals, dances, their own special handicraft and the figures of the tribe chief and medicine man or shaman.
The toré, danced during community feasts, gathers men, women and children who sing songs conducted by the elders to the rhythm of squash rattles - maracas, sung in Portuguese, mixed with other words - remnants of their ancient language, which no longer exists.
The Catholic Religion plays an important role in the life of the Kambiwá. Masses, weddings, baptisms and the celebration of feasts such as St. John’s, are already a part of their tradition.
Recife, 19 August 2003.
( Updated 28 august 2009)
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.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Índios Kambiwá. Pesquisa Escolar Online,Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife.Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 August 2009.