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Mayoruna Indians



A noted and savage tribe of Panoan linguistic stock, ranging the forests between the Ucayali, the Yavari and the Marañon (Amazon) rivers in north-east Peru and the adjacent portions of Brazil. From the fact that some of them are of light skin and wear beards, a legend has grown up that they are descended from Spanish soldiers of Ursua's expedition (1569), but it is probable that the difference comes from later admixture of captive blood. As a tribe they are full-blooded and typically Indian. It has been suggested that the story may have originated from the confusion of "Marañones", the name given to the followers of Ursau and Aguirre, with Mayorunas, which seems to be from the Quicha language of Peru. Markham interprets the name as "Men of Muyu" (Muyu-runa), indicating an ancient residence about Moyobamba (Muyubamba), farther to the west. One of their subtribes is known as "Barbudo" (Spanish, Bearded). Other subtribes are Itacule, Musimo or Musquima, Urarina. The Mayoruna tribes were among those gathered into the missions of the Mainas province (see MAINA INDIANS) in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, being represented in the missions of San Joaquin (Mayoruna proper), Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Mayoruna proper), and San Xavier (Urarina and Itucale. By the repeated attacks of the Portuguese slave-hunters (see MAMELUCO) between 1680 and 1710, and the revolts of the mission Indians in 1695 and 1767 the Mayoruna were driven to take refuge in their forests and are now wholly savage and particularly hostile to either whites or Indians who enter their territory, even successfully repelling a joint government exploring expedition in 1866. In person they are tall and well-formed, with rather delicate features, going perfectly naked, with flowing hair cut across the forehead. Instead of bows they use spears, clubs, and blowguns, and are famous for the strength of the deadly curari poison with which they tip their arrows. They avoid river banks and do not use canoes. The charge of cannibalism has not been proven. (See also PANO).

RODRIGUEZ, Amazonas y Marañon (Madrid, 1684); HERVAS, Catalogo de las Lenguas (Madrid, 1800); MARKHAM, Tribes in the Valleys of the Amazons in Journ. Anth. Inst., XXIV (London, 1885); BRINTON, The American Race (New York, 1891).

JAMES MOONEY








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