People of the Amazon Rainforest - Jebero Natives
By Mike Collis


A Jebero warrior


There are betwen 2,000 and 3,000 Jebero Indians and they live in the Jeberos district which is on the River Marañón. They have their own language which belongs to the Cahuapana group of dialects. Only the elderly speak that language now because most Jeberos speak Spanish or Quechua. Some say that the days of the jebero language itself are coming to an end.

Most of the Jebero people are farmers. Using basic wooden implements they grow sweet manioc, maize, sugar cane, platano, papaya and yuca. They also produce cotton and their cotton weaving work is excellent and the woven products made from it are much sought after.

Because their land is not very fertile their gardens are moved very two years or so.

Hunting and trapping are also another subsistence form of survival and they trap manatees in nets where they are then killed with spears. They normally fish with bows and arrows. They sometimes use blow pipes to shoot monkeys and other game. Pottery is also made by the Jeberos and they produce fine pots which are usually red on the bottom and white on top.

They are well known for their fighting abilities and would often pick fights with neighbouring tribes. After battles they shrunk the heads and ate the hearts, livers and other organs of the enemies they killed because they believe by doing so they consumed the energy and courage of their enemies. The last record of Jebero head shrinking was in the early 1980s when some missionaries were killed.

It is their custom to bury their dead in clay pots. They also follow shamanism and they believe that supernatural thorns cause illness and these must be removed by a shaman.

When a Jebero girls reach puberty they are ritually beaten and have hot chillies put in their eyes causing severe pain.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Jebero people were affected by the effect of the Rubber boom which drastically reduced their numbers. Nowadays they are well integrated into the population.
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