A contribution to the ethnography of the Karajá Indians of central Brazil

Donahue, George Rodney, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Crocker, J.C., Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Seneviratne, H, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Sapir, J, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

The Karajá Indians of central Brazil are a native American group presently numbering about 1500 souls. They live along the Araguaia river, and their prime food source is the fauna (fish, turtles) that they expertly capture from this bountiful riverine system. They supplement their diet with produce from their slash-and-bum gardens. The Karajá maintained intermittent contact with Brazilian society from 1775 through the first four decades of this century. Since the Second World War, contact has become more intense and threatens their traditional village way of life, This dissertation is based on anthropological fieldwork carried out by the author in the company of his wife from July 76 to December 76 and February 77 to June 77 in various Karajá villages, Chapter I provides a general introductory overview of the Karajá and their adaption to the environment. Chapter II surveys the human environment within which the Karajá live and discusses the pre-contact situation of the Karajá. In Chapter III the written records covering the historic period since contact are reviewed. The devastating impact of demographic decline during this period is highlighted, A brief review of Karajá economic life comprises Chapter IV, while Chapter V traces the development of the Karajá individual from birth through death, Special focus is placed on the various aspects of marriage among the Karajá. Chapter VI furnishes information on the Karajá village, emphasizing key features of the dynamics that propel village life, The final chapter, number VII, discusses Karajá religion. Emphasis is given to the pivotal role of the shaman in Karajá society, The important Karajá religious rituals are described, most notably the mask dance rites, which the Karajá perform throughout the year. Two appendices supply maps of major Karajá villages and a detailed discussion of Karajá kinship terminology.  

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Caraja Indians, Indians of South America -- Brazil
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