The Wariʼ, also known as the Pakaa Nova, are an indigenous people of Brazil, living in seven villages in the Amazon rainforest in the state of Rondônia. Their first contact with European settlers was on the shores of the Pakaa Nova River, a tributary of the Mamoré River. Many of the Wari’ live within the Sagarana Indigenous Territory near the town of Rodrigues Alves (which lies between Rio Guaporé Indigenous Territory and Pacaás Novos National Park).
Europeans at one time used the name “Pakaa Nova” to refer to the Wariʼ, because they encountered the indigenous people near the Pakaa Nova River. The people prefer to be referred to as “Wariʼ”, their term in their language meaning “we, people.” They are also known as the Jaru, Oro Wari, Pacaas-Novos, Pacahanovo, Pakaanova, Pakaanovas, Uari, and Uomo.
Up until the 19th century, the Wariʼ were present in the Amazon’s Southeast, namely the basin of the Lage River (a right-bank-tributary river of the Mamoré River), the Ouro Preto river, the Gruta and Santo André creeks, the Negro river (all tributaries of the lower and middle courses of the right bank of the Pakaa Nova River), and the Ribeirão and Novo rivers (tributaries of the left bank of the Pakaa Nova River).
In the early 20th century, continuous incursions by neo-Brazilians in search of rubber trees forced the Wariʼ to relocate to the less accessible headwaters of the Mamoré River. They were confined in that area until pacification. Today, they live in eight settlements located in the state of Rondônia, Brazil.
The tribe is divided into subgroups, but there is no specific word to define an individual that belongs to a different group. The closest term that is usually applied is tatirim (stranger). A person from the same subgroup is referred to as “win ma” (land fellow).
Today, the Wariʼ subgroups are:
Some individuals still identify themselves with two other subgroups that no longer exist, the OroJowin, or the OroKaoOroWaji. Oro is a collectivizing particle that can be translated as “people” or “group”.
Present relations between subgroups are influenced by dynamics that existed before pacification. Each subgroup is intimately connected with a territory; however, the frontiers between territories are fluid.
An area associated with one subgroup can be incorporated into the territory of another subgroup (if it is occupied by a group that also belongs to another subgroup). This is made possible by the semi-nomadic characteristic of the Wari’ people.
Membership to any given subgroup is not defined by fixed rules. Children may be considered members of either parent’s subgroup, or of the subgroup associated with the territory in which they were born. Cultural or subgroup identities are part of one’s birthright, but socially constructed during a lifetime through relations with one’s relatives and neighbors. The Wariʼ recognize that individuals have multiple identities based on their specific relations and experiences.