Edited film made in the course of the Lewis Cotlow Amazon expeditions and in association with RKO Radio Pictures. The film is a compilation of footage shot during three expeditions into the Amazon region of South America (1940, 1945, and 1949) with a narrative constructed around a journey to locate and film the Shuar (Jivaro) of the western Amazon region of Peru. Film opens with a preliminary encounter with the Cuna Indians of the San Blas Islands off the eastern coast of Panama followed by embarkation upriver from the Brazilian port of Belem at the mouth of the Amazon and continuing by motorized dugout canoe into the Mato Grosso region. First contact sequences with indigenous people are filmic reenactments and several of the dances have been dubbed over with contemporary western dance music. Footage of ethnographic interest includes: Bororo settlements in the Mato Grosso; feather headdresses worn by men; river travel; fishing techniques; a wrestling match (most likely among upper Xingu people); Yagua dances and hunting near the Peruvian border in the Andes; and body painting, dress, music, and dances among the Colorado of eastern Ecuador. Film concludes with sequences shot among the Shuar of the Sepa River area, including <jivarias> (settlements), bathing, manufacture of poisonous darts, making of <nijimache> (fermented yucca beer), <tsantsa> (shrinking of human head), and accompanying tsantsa dance.
Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, MD