Matis in Brazil

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People Name: Matis
Country: Brazil
10/40 Window: No
Population: 400
World Population: 400
Primary Language: Matis
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Amazon
Affinity Bloc: Latin-Caribbean Americans
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Matis were once one of the most isolated tribes in the world. Unfortunately, they have been exploited at times by outsiders. The Matis live in northeastern Brazil near the Peruvian border in the Amazon rainforest. Due the small number of Matis, a flu or other type of epidemic could wipe out the entire Matis population.

There are currently no Christian resources available in the Matis language. There are few if any followers of Christ in this small tribe.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Life for the Matis people of Brazil has changed over the past decade. About half of the tribe has moved to towns to take advantage of educational and economic opportunities unavailable in the rainforest. The lifestyle of the half of the Matis who live in towns is similar to other urban Brazilians. They learn to speak Portuguese and enroll their children in government schools. The adults often must take menial types of employment due to their lack of job skills.

For the portion of the tribe that still lives in the forest, much of their food is obtained through hunting game, such as monkeys, wild pigs and birds that they kill with blowguns. Their women also gather edible wild fruits and roots. Fishing and farmed foods supplement their diet. The Matis grow manioc that serves as their staple food.

The life expectancy among isolated tribal groups like the Matis is low, about 45 years. Tribal people often die of parasites, flu, hepatitis or TB.

The rural Matis marry within their group. Couples frequently have many children due to the fact that many of the children do not live to reach their tenth birthday. Adult children must care for their parents if the parent lives to an older age. More and more Matis young people are moving to towns and leaving the ancient lifestyle of their grandparents.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Matis believe in a lifeforce that they call "xo." This force can be manipulated to one's advantage by rituals and offerings. Some Matis believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature such as rivers, trees, mountains, animals, and the sky. These spirits must be appeased, or they can bring harm to the people. The Matis live in constant fear of offending the lifeforce and the spirits. The Matis do not worship either spirits or their ancestors.

What Are Their Needs?

Christian teams can bring modern medicine to the Matis. The Matis would also benefit from water filters so they can have a regular supply of clean water. Most of all, the Matis need to hear and understand the good news of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and deliver them from their fear of evil spirits.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to provide for physical and spiritual needs of the Matis as a testimony of his power and love.

Pray that the Matis people will have a spiritual hunger that will open their hearts to the Savior.

Pray for a disciple making movement to Christ among the Matis to begin this decade.

Pray that the Matis living in towns would be exposed to the gospel by Brazilian believers.

Text Source:   Joshua Project