The Kakataibo and Camano Indigenous Peoples : perspectives on identity of belonging between two Amazonian groups
Tapia Arce, Angela Milagro
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A very well-known concept indicates that the Kakataibo Indigenous Peoples are composed of seven communities, and the Camano who is the group of people that retain full control of their relationships with the outside world. In academia, the Camano and Indigenous Peoples who live in a similar situation to the Camano are labeled “Isolated Indigenous Peoples” or “Uncontacted Tribes,” among other names. The goal of this research is to challenge classical anthropology’s conception of the Kakataibo as a single unit, in order to bring another line of the existence of the Camano peoples. Based on my research, my argument is twofold. First, I argue that the conception that states the Kakataibo are a single unit did not exist among the Kakataibo in the past, and in the present moment this sense of belonging is not clear either. Second, I argue that the Camano that supposedly belong to the Kakataibo is a different group from the Kakataibo, based on the oral histories of Sinchi Roca’s past. The Sinchi Roca community is one of the seven current Kakataibo communities, that have “contact” with the outside. In other words, I argue that if the Kakataibo is composed of the seven communities plus the Camano, this and one of seven communities –the Sinchi Roca- rejects belong to the same group as the Camano means that the Kakataibo has a different composition from the coined by classical anthropologists. My argument is supported by a historical analysis of the following three aspects of the Kakataibo: language, territory, and their response to their encounters with the “white man.” The approach to these three issues allowed me to explore the complexity of the relationship between the Sinchi Roca Kakataibo community and its “isolated” counterpart. Despite the fact that this investigation does not indicate who the Camano are, it does reveal some aspects of the relationship that exists between the Kakataibo and the Camano. In effect, because we cannot meet with the Camano, I analyze the oral history of Copai, a Camano man captured by missionaries in the 1950’s – 1960’s. His accounts reveal aspects about the Camano. Copai was held in the Sinchi Roca community, and lived there until his death. In short, through this investigation I offer an alternative to understanding the Kakataibo and their relationship to the Camano.