Pemon

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Pemon
Ninapemon.jpg
Pemon girl, Venezuela
Total population
approx. 30148 in Venezuela[1], Unknown[2]
Regions with significant populations
 Venezuela,  Brazil,  Guyana
Languages
Pemon, Spanish
Religion
traditional tribal religion, Roman Catholicism[2]

The Pemon or Pemón (Pemong) are indigenous people living in areas of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana.[3] They are also known as Arecuna, Aricuna Jaricuna, Kamarakoto, and Taurepang.[2]

People[edit]

The Pemon are part of the larger Cariban language family, and include six groups including the Arekuna, Ingarikó, Kamarakoto, Tualipang, Mapoyo and Macushi/Makushi (Macuxi or Makuxi in Brazil). While ethnographic data on these groups are scant, Iris Myers produced one of the most detailed accounts of the Makushi[4] in the 1940s, and her work is heavily relied upon for comparisons between historical and contemporary Makushi life.[5]

The Pemon were first encountered by westerners in the 18th century and encouraged to convert to Christianity.[3] Their society is based on trade and considered egalitarian and decentralized, and in Venezuela, funding from petrodollars have helped fund community projects, and ecotourism opportunities are also being developed.[3] In Venezuela, Pemon live in the Gran Sabana grassland plateau dotted with tabletop mountains where the Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall, plunges from Auyantepui in Canaima National Park.[3]

The Makuxi, who are also Pemon speakers, are found in Brazil and Guyana in areas close to the Venezuelan border.

Language[edit]

Arekuna, or Pemon (in Spanish: Pemón), is a Cariban language spoken mainly in Venezuela, specifically in the Gran Sabana region of Bolívar State. According to the 2001 census there were 15,094 Pemon speakers in Venezuela.

Myths[edit]

Three Pemon youths

The Pemon have a very rich mythic tradition which is merged into their present Catholic and Christian faiths. Pemon mythology includes gods residing in the grassland area's table-top mountains called tepui.[3] The mountains are off-limits to the living, as they are also home to ancestor spirits called mawari.[3] The first non-native person to seriously study Pemon myths and language was the German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg, who visited Roraima in 1912.

Important myths describe the origins of the sun and moon, the creation of the tepui mountains — which dramatically rise from the savannahs of the Gran Sabana — and the activities of the creator hero Makunaima and his brothers.

"Kueka" stone controversy[edit]

In 1999, Wolfgang Kraker von Schwarzenfeld arranged the transport of a red stone boulder, weighing about 35 metric tons, from Venezuela's Canaima National Park to Berlin Tiergarten for his "global stone" project. Since that time, a dispute is ongoing but yet unsuccessful, of the Pemon trying to get the stone back, involving German and Venezuelan authorities and embassies, up to the former president Hugo Chávez.[6][7][8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "XIV Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda, 2011". Instituto Nacional de Estadística(INE).
  2. ^ a b c "Pemon: Introduction, Location." Every Culture. (retrieved 30 June 2011)
  3. ^ a b c d e f See pp.112,113 and 178 of Venezuela: the Pemon, in Condé Nast Traveler, December 2008.
  4. ^ Myers, Iris (1993). "The Makushi of the Guiana-Brazilian Frontier in 1944: A Study of Culture Contact". Antropologica. 90: 3–99.
  5. ^ Schacht, Ryan (2013). "Cassava and the Makushi: A Shared History of Resiliency and Transformation". Food and Identity in the Caribbean: 15–29.
  6. ^ Spiegel online, 10 July 2011: The Kueka Stone – A Venezuelan Indigenous Group Battles Berlin
  7. ^ Universidad del Zulia & FundaCine, 2007: Etapontok Ro Etomo (La lucha continúa) (Spanish)
  8. ^ Berliner Zeitung, 9 August 2000: Indios wollen "göttlichen Stein" zurück haben (German, "Indigenous people want to get back sacred stone")

Further reading[edit]

  • Theodor Koch-Grunberg 1917 – "Vom Roraima Zum Orinoco" ("From Roraima to the Orinoco")
  • David John Thomas 1982 – "Order Without Government: The Society of the Pemon Indians of Venezuela" (University of Illinois Press)

External links[edit]