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Total population
320 (2005)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Brazil (Rondônia)[1]

The Karitiana or Caritiana are an indigenous people of Brazil, whose reservation is located in the western Amazon. They count 320 members, and the leader of their tribal association is Renato Caritiana. They subsist by farming, fishing and hunting, and have almost no contact with the outside world. Their tongue, the Karitiâna language, is an Arikém language of Brazil.

Studies of population genetics often use the Karitiana as a reference population for Native Americans, using DNA samples made available through the Human Genome Diversity Project and other sources.[2][3] DNA from Karitiana individuals was collected in 1987 by Francis Black and in 2007 it was reported that this sampling was undertaken unbeknownst to FUNAI, the Brazilian agency that regulates contact between the indigenous tribes and the outside world, and that the samples were being distributed for a fee with no benefit to the Karitiana, giving rise to claims of biopiracy.[4] The same newspaper report claimed that further samples were taken in 1996 by Dr. Hilton Pereira da Silva, a doctor on a documentary film crew, on the promise of medicinal supplies that were never fulfilled.[5] A response from Dr. Silva suggests that the news story was faulty and the medicinal samples he took were never used for any commercial purpose.[6]


A 2015 genetic study reached a surprising conclusion about the origins of the Karitiana people. Unlike other Native American peoples, the Paiter-Surui, Karitiana, and Xavante have an ancestry partially related to indigenous Australasian populations of the Andaman Islands, New Guinea, and Australia. Scientists speculate that the relationship derives from an earlier people, called "Population Y", in East Asia from whence both groups diverged 15,000 to 30,000 years ago, the future Australasians migrating south and the remote ancestors of the Karitiana northward finding their way to the New World and to the interior Amazon Basin.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b "Karitiana: Introduction." Povos Indígenas no Brasil. Retrieved 15 Jan 2011.
  2. ^ Zietkiewicz; et al. (1997). "Nuclear DNA diversity in worldwide distributed human populations" (PDF). Gene. Elsevier. 205: 161–171. doi:10.1016/s0378-1119(97)00408-3. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  3. ^ "ALFRED Population Information". Yale University.
  4. ^ "Karitiana: Biopiracy and the unauthorized collection of biomedical samples". Povos Indigena no Brasil. Instituto Socioambiental. May 2005. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  5. ^ Larry Rohter. "In the Amazon, giving blood but getting nothing". International Herald Tribune.
  6. ^ Hilton Pereira da Silva. "Ethical Humanitarian Medical Work, Not Bio-piracy". update to "In the Amazon, Giving Blood but Getting Nothing". Center for Genetics and Society.
  7. ^ Skoglund, P.; Mallick, S.; Bortolini, M.C.; Chennagiri, N.; Hünemeier, T.; Petzl-Erler, M.L.; Salzano, F.M.; Patterson, N.; Reich, D. (21 July 2015). "Genetic evidence for two founding populations of the Americas" (pdf). Nature. 525 (7567): 104–8. Bibcode:2015Natur.525..104S. doi:10.1038/nature14895. PMC 4982469. PMID 26196601. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  8. ^ Skoglund, P.; Reich, D. (2016). "A genomic view of the peopling of the Americas". Current Opinion in Genetics & Development. 41: 27–35. doi:10.1016/j.gde.2016.06.016. PMC 5161672.

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