Rapé Nukini – Onça
The Nukini are called the people of the jaguar. In Portuguese the Jaguar is called Onça Pintada. A young leader of the tribe who is the top Rapé master of his people made this medicine, This is a beautifully powerful medicine with strong effect, good for deep meditation.
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The Nukini form part of the group of Pano-speaking peoples that inhabit the Juruá valley region and that share both very similar ways of life and views of the world, and a devastating history of dispossession, violence and exploitation since the mid-19th century at the hands of the rubber industry. The Terra Indígena Nukini, adjacent to the Serra do Divisor National Park, now forms part of one of the most important protected area mosaics in Brazil. However the Nukini are demanding the expansion of their official territory to cover a part of the National Park. Whether or not the Nukini are successful, the main challenges facing this group will be to ensure its physical and cultural reproduction and to establish good relations with environmentalists and other stakeholders active in the Park. The interests of these do not always coincide with those of the Nukini and there have been a series of conflicts which made mutual dialogue difficult, as well as joint activities to protect the area, constantly threatened by loggers, hunters and drug traffickers.
The Terra Indígena Nukini is located in Acre, in the far southwest of the Brazilian Amazon region. The state has international frontiers with Peru and Bolivia and national boundaries with the states of Amazonas and Rondônia. The landscape is mainly composed of sedimentary rocks that form an unbroken platform gently dropping from 300 meters above sea-level at the international boundaries to just above 100 meters at the boundary with the state of Amazonas. In the extreme west the relief is altered by the presence of the Serra do Divisor, an outlier of the Peruvian Contamana range and the highest point in the state, with a maximum altitude of 600 meters.
The soils of Acre are covered by natural vegetation comprised mainly of dense tropical forest and open tropical forest, characterized by floristic diversity of high economic value. The climate is of the tropical hot and humid type, with high temperatures, high levels of precipitation and high relative air humidity. The hydrography of Acre is made up of the Juruá and Purus basins, both right bank tributaries of the Solimões (Amazon) river.
The biodiversity value of the biodiversity of the Serra do Divisor National Park (PNSD) is amongst the highest so far found in the Brazilian Amazon. This biological diversity has been used and conserved for centuries by the resident population of the area, including the Nukini whose lands are home to a large part of the biodiversity.
The currently autodenominated Nukini are a people of the Pano linguisic family. It is possible that in the past they used another auto-denomination. In some historical texts the Nukini are also referred to as Inucuini, Nucuiny, Nukuini, Nucuini, Inocú-inins and Remo.
As a result of contact with those involved in the expanding rubber frontier, there are currently few mother tongue speakers of Nukini. Possibly because of having been mocked and discriminated for speaking the language, the Nukini stopped passing on the language to their descendents, thereby creating a younger generation speaking only Portuguese.
As a result of their close contact with rubber tappers, small producers and riverbank communities on the upper Juruá, the Nukini have adopted many of their habits whilst maintaining their own identity, especially as regards social organization.
Nukini residences are generally built using resources from the forest. Some houses have walls and floors made of paxiubão [a palm trunk] and roofs of palm leaves, especially the caranaí palm. Other dwellings are built with walls and floors of sawn planks, generally of good quality timber (amarelinho, bacuri, copaiba, cedro-vermelho, louro, or angelim), whilst stays and roof beams are made of maçaranduba, muirapiranga, louro-abacate and pau d’arco. There are also buildings with zinc roofs, mainly schools and health posts.
The Nukini have a clan-based organization. The eldest members are able to identify precisely the entire patrilinear descent of Nukini families, classifying their members according to the clans they belong to: Inubakëvu (‘people of the spotted jaguar’), Panabakëvu (‘people of the assai palm’), Itsãbakëvu (‘people of the patoá palm’) or Shãnumbakëvu (‘people of the serpent’). However many younger Nukini are not aware of which clan they belong to and do not use this as a criterion for their choice of marriage partner.
Nukini houses generally contain nuclear families. Near to one house there may be others belonging to married children who have constituted their own nuclear families. Residence patterns are often associated with marriage rules, where a son will live close to his father-in-law. This rule however is not always followed and after marriage a couple may chose to live in a place distant from their families of origin.
Descent is patrilinear, as appears to be the case in the majority of Pano peoples, with clearly defined divisions of labour by sex and age. Men are mainly responsible for hunting, gathering and agricultural activities. Women are responsible for activities within the domestic sphere, as well as gathering forest products, making handicrafts and helping with agricultural activities.
In respect of politics, the Nukini now have a system of representation by means of election. Thus the political leader of the community, the president of the production association and the representative of the group on the Consultative Council of the Serra do Divisor National Park, created in 2002, are elected.
Regarding rituals the Nukini, like other Pano groups in the region, currently dance the mariri and sing many indigenous songs, some composed by themselves and others taught by the older members.