Shanenawa in Brazil

Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Shanenawa
Country: Brazil
10/40 Window: No
Population: 700
World Population: 700
Primary Language: Portuguese
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 1.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South American Indigenous
Affinity Bloc: Latin-Caribbean Americans
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

“Shane” means blue bird and “Nawa” means people. The Shanenawa are the blue bird people. They are a tribe who live in Acre region of western Brazil. They migrated to this area after problems that came with the rubber boom in the early 20th century. Rubber plantation owners were forcibly taking Shanenawa land and making the tribe members into virtual slaves. The remaining Shanenawa left the rubber producing areas and fled deeper into the Amazon rainforest. Some of the Shanenawa elders are involved in Brazilian politics in an attempt to preserve their ancient way of life and keep their ownership of their lands.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Shanenawa rely on fishing, hunting and farming to make their living. They grow manioc, maize, bananas, and beans. Men hunt wild pigs, birds and monkeys. Some families also have a few chickens, pigs and goats to supplement their diets.

Manioc root and banana porridge are their staple foods. They trade any surplus fish or plants food to buy things they cannot make for themselves like metal tools, cell phones and appliances.

The Shanenawa, like many tribal groups who live near rivers, build their houses on stilts for protection from the seasonal floods. Village elders deal with outsiders and make judicial decisions. The young people prefer to speak Portuguese. The older adults tend to speak in their own language of Shanenawa. They marry within their own group and are monogamous.

Life expectancy for tribal groups like the Shanenawa is low, about 45 years. They often die of preventable diseases like parasites, TB and hepatitis.

No Christian resources are currently available in the Shanenawa language.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most Shananawa practice folk religion and animism. Animists believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature such as animals, trees, rivers, and rocks. These spirits must be appeased by offerings, prayers and rituals. If offended the spirits can bring harm to the people. A village shaman connects the Shanenawa to the spirit world. He gives out charms and amulets to protect the people. He also serves as the village’s primary physician.

A tiny fraction of the Shanenawa claim to be Roman Catholic believers.

What Are Their Needs?

The Shananawa would greatly benefit by access to modern medicine. Their children also need schools to learn literacy skills. Most of all, the Shananawa need to hear a clear presentation of the gospel. He alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.

Prayer Points

Pray for few Shanenawa believers to share the good news with their families and friends.

Pray for a spiritual hunger among the Shanenawa, especially for the elders.

Pray for the Lord to guide the Shanenawa into productive work and a prosperous future.

Pray the Lord raises up a disciple making movement among the Shanenawa in this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project