(Redirected from Nambikwara people)

The Nambikwara (also called Nambikuára) is an indigenous people of Brazil, living in the Amazon. Currently about 1,200 Nambikwara live in indigenous territories in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso along the Guaporé and Juruena rivers. Their villages are accessible from the Pan-American highway.[2]

Total population
1,150 (2000)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Brazil ( Mato Grosso)
Nambikwara, Portuguese[1]
Christian, Animist[1]
Related ethnic groups


The Nambikwara are also known as the Alaketesu, Anunsu, Nambikuára, or Nambiquara people.[1] The term Nambikwara is an exonym originating from the Tupi language family. Its literal meaning is 'pierced ear,' from the words nambi, "ear," and kûara, "hole."[3]


The Nambikwara speak the Southern Nambikuára language, which is a Nambiquaran language. A dictionary and grammar have been written for the language, which is written in the Latin script.[1]


The Nambikwara were first contacted in 1770 but did not experience prolonged contact with Europeans until the early 20th century, when Brazilian army official Marechal Cândido Rondon passed through Nambikwara territory to extend the telegraph lines. He estimated that there were around 10,000 Nambikwara. Shortly after contact with European Brazilians epidemics of measles and smallpox decimated the population to only 500 around 1930.[2]

The culture of the Nambikwara was the subject of studies by French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, which were later analyzed by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in his work Of Grammatology.

Bands and subgroupsEdit

The Nambikuara Nation is composed of many smaller bands which each have their own name.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Nambikuára, Southern." Ethnologue. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b Kroeker, 2001, p.1
  3. ^ Eberhard, David (1 January 2009). Mamaindê Grammar: A Northern Nambikwara language and its cultural context. LOT Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 978-94-6093-012-6. Retrieved 16 July 2020.


  • Kroeker, Menno (2001). "A descriptive Grammar of Nambikuara." IJAL. 67 No. 1. January. pp. 1–87.
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude (1948). "La vie familiale et sociale des indiens nambikwara." Journal de la Société des américanistes. 37, Paris.
  • Williams, Suzanne (1983). "Land Rights and the Manipulation of Identity: Official Indian Policy in Brazil." Journal of Latin American Studies. Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 137–161.

External linksEdit