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Amahuaca [archive]

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Location: The Amahuaca are located in the tropical jungles of Peru. The largest community of Amahuaca is in Puesto Varadero, a jungle community on the Peruvian-Brazilian border. They are also near the Upper Inuya River.

Language: The Amahuaca are a Ponoan speaking culture.

History: The origins of Varadero date back to 1947 when the Peruvian Government, fearful of rumors of an imminent Brazilian invasion, scattered a series of border posts along its eastern frontier. Until 1953 Varadero could only be reached by canoe. The Amahuaca are a Stone Age agricultural society. The Amahuaca have not encountered more than a few dozen whites. They participated in intervillage raids and intertribal wars with the Montana.

Daily Life: Amahuaca people build houses of sticks thatched with palm leaves. These are built on stilts or rafts to protect them from floods. They extract their living from the jungle. The Amahuaca have a very primitive social organization. They participate in infanticide and endocannibalism. In cases of marriage there is complete sexual freedom between a man's wife and all his brothers. Cross-cousin marriages are preferred. Amahuacans use Banisteriopsis caapi, the yage or ayahuasca which is a powerful hallucinogen which has the ability to transport people to realms where telepathy and clairvoyance are common. This agricultural society is in the process of transformation. Their lives are being changed because the outside world is slowly invading their community.




Huxley, Matthew. Farewell to Eden. Harper & Row New York and Evanston. 1964.

Lamb, F. Bruce. Wizard of the Upper Amazon: the Story of Manuel Cordova-Rios. Houghton Mifflin Company Boston. 1974.

Additional Reading

 Languages of Peru
 South American tribes

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