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Legendary Native American Figures: Kanaima (Canaima, Kenaima)

Name: Kanaima
Tribal affiliation: Carib, Akawaio, Macushi, Patamona, Pemon
Alternate spellings: Canaima, Kanaimà, Kenaima, Kanáima, Kanaimö
Pronunciation: kuh-nye-mah
Type: Evil spirit, witchcraft, revenge

In the belief system of the Carib tribes, Kanaima is an evil spirit that possesses people and causes them to turn into deadly animals and/or go into a murderous rage. Assassins, or Carib people seeking revenge for a slain relative, sometimes invited the Kanaima spirit into themselves by taking certain drugs or conducting certain magic rituals.

Kanaima Stories

Kanaima, the Invisible or Broken Arrow:
    The story of the vengeance spirit Kanaima.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Dark Shamans:
    Book on the violent animistic traditions of Kanaima among the Cariban tribes.
Guyana Legends: Folk Tales of the Indigenous Amerindians:
    Good collection of Cariban and Arawakan mythology from Guyana.
Rain Forest Literatures: Amazonian Texts and Latin American Culture:
    An interesting compilation of traditional Arawak, Carib, and Guarani stories.

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Additional Resources

 A Carib Grammar and Dictionary
 Carib language
 Akawaio language
 Macushi language
 Pemon language
 Brazil tribes
 Cariban cultures



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