The people that we were visiting on this wonderful trek down the Amazon River was the Mura Tribe. I tried to find out as much as I could about them when I got back and they are most interesting. The Mura tribe live on an actual Indian reservation. In Brazil, the indigenous population are protected by the FUNAI (the federal Indian agency, National Indigenous Peoples Foundation). The National Foundation for Indians – is the Brazilian official agency in charge of protecting indian interests and protecting their culture. FUNAI has the legal duty and rights to accompany the lives of indians all across Brazil, and because of this it is the best source of information about Brazilian indians.
FUNAI estimates that there are today about 345,000 indians in Brazil, grouped in about 215 small societies (tribes) . Even though the indian reserved areas are protected from third parties, the indians don’t have privileges in exploring their lands. All economic activity conducted by indians or within their reserves must be overseen by FUNAI. Unlike the north american indians, who have special licenses for, among other activities, establish and explore casinos in their reserves, Brazilian indians have no economic privileges.The Mura, or Múra-Pirahã are hunters and gatherers. They mainly live in Amazonas, along the Maici and Autaces rivers. There numbers had been declining, but due to some intervention by modern medicine, there has been a slight increase in population. They have just about lost their native language, which is called Múra. It is most likely related to Matanawi, which is extinct. Members of the Pirahã can whistle their language, which is how its men communicate when hunting in the jungle.
It is reported that the hunter-gatherers seem to be the only group of humans known to have no concept of numbering and counting. Not only that, but adult Múra-Pirahã apparently can’t learn to count or understand the concept of numbers or numerals. They are the only people known to have no distinct words for colours. They have no written language, and no collective memory going back more than two generations. They do not believe that outsiders understand their language even after they have just carried on conversations with them. They have no creation myths, tell no fictional stories and have no art.
They practice a native religion that is some form of witchcraft. I think is is Quimbanda. Rituals are concerned with necromancy, divination or preparation of amulets, potions or other devices intended to bring supernatural aid, to obtaining resources or to deal with other areas of life. While we were there only a handful of people decided to accept Christ as their savior. It was not a thing we pushed on the indians. We told them about God and asked if anyone wanted to accept Christianity during the daily worship service. No forcing of anything.
The people to me were just beautiful. The kids were very well behaved. Even more well behaved than some American children. Could be that since they do not have the stimulation of television and internet that our kids have, makes for a totally different child. Some of the children were a little timid and so were some of the women. I recall two who turned away when I was taking pictures.