Wai-wai people

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**History and Geography**:
– The Wai-Wai people were first encountered by Sir Robert Schomburgk in December 1837 in Guyana and Brazil.
– They live in the far south of Guyana near the headwaters of the Essequibo River.
– Approximately 200 Wai-Wai reside in Guyana’s Kanashen region, while about 2,000 live in Brazil, mainly in indigenous territories in Roraima and Pará.
– Settlements in Brazil include Mapuera in Pará and Jatapu-zine, Catual, Cobra, Pequeno Paraíso in Roraima.
– The Wai-Wai have a presence in regions near the Essequibo River in Guyana and various indigenous territories in Brazil.

**Culture and Traditions**:
– Wai-Wai are hunters and farmers, known for their skills in weaving hammocks and crafting pottery, combs, bone flutes, and other crafts.
– Consuming primate meat is a source of pride for the Wai-Wai, distinguishing them from other indigenous groups.
– They have an affinity for musical instruments like guitars, flutes, and hand drums.

**Society and Women**:
– Women play a crucial role in Wai-Wai culture, influencing village size and stability.
– Relationships between fathers and daughters impact control and village strength.
– Village size indicates political strength and riches, with marriage typically occurring after women reach puberty and around the age of seventeen.

**Religion and Beliefs**:
– The Yaskomo, or medicine man, is central to Wai-Wai beliefs, performing soul flights for various purposes.
– Western influence has led to some Wai-Wai converting to Christianity, with some migrating to Brazil in 1949 due to persecution by Christian missionaries.
– The Yaskomo is believed to have abilities to reach different elements like sky, earth, and water.

**Language and Intermarriage**:
– Several thousand speakers of the Wai-Wai language exist, with close affinities to the Arara group.
– The Wai-Wai have a history of intermarriage with other indigenous groups speaking similar languages.

Wai-wai people (Wikipedia)

The Wai-wai (also written Waiwai or Wai Wai) are a Carib-speaking Indigenous people of Guyana and northern Brazil. Their society consists of different lowland forest peoples who have maintained much of their cultural identity with the exception of Christianity which was introduced to them in the late 1950s.

Wai-wai man
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Brazil2,502 (2014)
 Guyana170 (2006)
Wai Wai language
Various local languages
Christianity, Animism

The Umana Yana in Georgetown, Guyana, takes its name from the Wai-Wai for "meeting place".

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