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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Matis tribe base.PNG
Total population
390 (2010)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Brazil ( Amazonas)
Matis language,[2] Portuguese
traditional tribal religion

The Matis people (also called Nutioy, Bimbos, Mikitbo, and Mushabo) are an indigenous people of Brazil.[1] The Matis are commonly named as the Jaguar people. They live in two separate villages with total population of roughly 290. They live in the far west of Brazil, in the Vale do Javari Indigenous Territory, an area covering 32,000 square miles (83,000 km2). They practice both hunting and agriculture.


The Matis language belongs to the Panoan family[2] from the Amazonian area of Brazil.

Recent history

Before contact, the Matis assumed passenger airplanes were xokeke, the spirits of their ancestors. They also assumed bush planes were binkeke, a kind of strange demon-bird. This tribe saw the two kinds of airplanes as distinct phenomena, since passenger planes would appear to be smaller than the bush planes (which fly closer to the ground).[3]

The Matis tribe were first contacted by the Brazilian agency FUNAI during 1975-1976, although it was not until two years later in 1978 that FUNAI employees began visiting the then-five Matis villages, after Matis men overcame their fears about visiting the FUNAI station.

The 1980s proved difficult for the tribe, with the arrival of Western disease killing roughly a third of their population, devoid of natural immunity or any remedies for them. In 1981, over 50 Matis people died of disease, so the survivors moved to the Ituí River. By 1983, only 87 Matis people survived.[1] The decade also saw the loss of three of their villages which now, completely abandoned, are occasionally visited by the Matis to harvest fruit trees.

Time has probably given the Matis a better understanding of events surrounding and following their first contact over 30 years ago. Whereas elder Matis traditionalists are keen to retain and in some cases readopt their old way of life, the younger Matis have been influenced by the modern outside world and want closer ties with modern Brazil, particularly for education.[4]

On October 31, 2009, members of the Matis tribe located nine survivors of a plane crash near the Ituí River and then contacted the Brazilian Air Force.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Matis: Introduction." Povos Indígenas no Brasil. Retrieved 6 Feb 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Matís." Ethnologue. Retrieved 6 Feb 2012.
  3. ^ The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon's Lost Tribes, First Edition, Crown Publishers, United States, 2011, p. 229
  4. ^ "Matis Tribe". Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Brazilian Indians find plane survivors -". Retrieved 22 December 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 March 2020, at 10:30
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