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Interpreting the Evidence

Waiwai Leaders, 1915

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Global History and Geography

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:


  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Waiwai Chiefs, 1915 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Waiwai chiefs with ornaments on necks, legs and arms, 1915. The Waiwai created very complex ornaments and crafted items that incorporated bird feathers and seeds.
Historical Context
At the time the Portuguese arrived in Brazil, approximately eight million Indigenous people lived in the country.  The arrival of the Portuguese was disastrous for the indigenous population.  They were killed and enslaved by the colonists and died from diseases that came from Europe with the explorers and settlers.  Today only about 200,000 Indigenous people remain in Brazil.

The Waiwai are Carib-speaking people of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and Guyana.  Approximately two thousand Waiwai live in Brazil.  They survive by hunting, fishing, and clearing small areas of the forest to plant crops.  They are especially skilled at crafts such as basket making and pottery.

Essential Question
How does movement of human populations impact culture?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and discuss the cultural diversity of Brazil.
Historical Challenges
Research a Brazilian Indigenous groups. Learn about their food, clothing, shelter, religion, customs, population, etc. How have their lives changed since the Portuguese settled Brazil?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: How much lower is the Indigenous population in Brazil today than it was before the Portuguese came to Brazil?
Science: Learn about the unique plants and animals that live in the Amazon rainforest.