People of the Rainforest - The Urarinas
By Mike Collis

A Urarina native

For centuries the Urarina people have lived in the area of northwestern Peru on the Chambira, Urityacu and Corrientes Rivers. The name Urarina is thought to have been derived from the quechua words “ura” meaning below and “runa” meaning people. So it is reasonable to assume Ura rina means the people from downriver.

The language of the Urarina is the same as the tribal name Urarina and it is thought that there are about 3,000 speakers.

The Urarinas are a semi nomadic people hunting, fishing and gathering with a little agriculture thrown in. The population is estimated to be around 2,000 souls living in communial longhouses built above the flood level. Young girls often live with a prospective husband before marriage. Women are praised for their craftsmanship while men are much esteemed for their hunting prowness. The women weave palm fibres and make mats, hammocks and bags.

The Urarinas have a legend about a great flood during which a man trying to save himself clung to a Cudi tree. His wife changed herself into a termites nest attached to the same tree. At the same time their 2 sons transformed themselves into birds. Afterwards the man took another wife, the woman in her attempts to avoid him had turned herself into a venomous snake, then a spider and finally into a giant fire ant.

Further interesting reading is Gary Lighthalls article, “Back to a Simpler Life”.
Pleae click here: Back to a Simpler Life - Urarinas
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